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The amount of time we’re spending with our children is shortening.

Understandably, this is because we’re working longer hours.

But what is worrying is that some of us are also spending more of our leisure hours with our televisions, laptops, tablets, and smart phones, rather than our children.

At a recent parent-teacher-child meeting held at a school in Thimphu, it was pointed out that some students had submitted essays wishing they were a social media platform like Facebook or a television set, rather than a child. They feel that only then would they be loved more.

Some students also said that these technologies and social media platforms were causing their parents to fight.

Alcohol abuse and divorce were other activities that disturbs the young minds of our children.

No society is perfect but when it comes to better parenting, there is much we can learn and do to better ourselves judging by the way some of us live our lives.

Better parenting is not possible if we are not there as parents in the first place.

Alcohol abuse and divorce are issues that have been around for some time. On alcohol, efforts continue to be made by the government and some non-government organisations in the form of education and awareness, counselling, and rehabilitation. Recognising that alcoholism is a disease that requires medical and family attention is a first step many of us are beginning to understand.

But when it comes to divorce, we can do more.

Getting divorced is an easy process in Bhutan requiring little paperwork. This is in stark contrast to some public services that can entangle applicants in red tape for days, sometimes weeks.

It is ironic that the one service that should rightly be cumbersome is not. A time consuming divorce process could give some couples who intend to split just enough time to re-think their decision. Not all breaks are repairable but a few are based on impulse and can be mended. There could be requirements added to the process such as undergoing couple’s counselling and other sorts of interventions before a divorce is approved by a court.

The requirements to obtain a marriage certificate could also perhaps get more stringent, not in terms of red tape, but in having certain conditions met like the number of years that a couple has lived together prior. There is a weakness in the system as made apparent by incidences of fake marriages taking place for visas.

Ensuring that both the father and mother are together is the first step towards achieving better parenting. We can achieve this by making sure marriages are built on solid foundations and that in times of trouble, both are open to repairing their relationship through counselling. However, this is not to say that single parents cannot do the same what two parents can.

Following that, tackling an issue like not spending enough time with children becomes a comparably easier task.

There is a need to begin educating ourselves on what good parenting is.

The BBS programme on parenting where a parent is interviewed along with their child is an initiative that deserves to be sustained.

Some schools are beginning to observe “parenting month” which is another important initiative. Through such programmes and events parents can be made aware of where they are lacking.

We have to learn how important it is, as a parent, to make time for our children, not just physically but mentally as well. We need to know how our actions, our behaviours, directly influence our children. If we can clearly see the link and be constantly reminded about it, perhaps, we will serve as better role models.

Studies have shown that good parenting helps to foster qualities such as empathy, honesty, self-reliance, cooperation, among others. It also promotes intellectual curiosity, motivation and a desire to achieve.

Which parent would not want their children to have such qualities.

It our duty to ourselves, to our children, and to our nation, to be the best parents possible.

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