A large part of the parenting technique that we bring to our children today is what came to us from our parents. This old practice was rendered obsolete beyond a shadow of doubt by a myriad of studies. Yet, this conventional parenting method is what is so rampant in many of our homes even today. Anyone hanging on to the remnants of this outmoded parenting method is being likened to those of them who clung on to the flat earth concept long after it had been disproven. 

The conventional method stands no chance in the face of the invading ideologies today. Excessive influences are coming through the flooding impulses of TV, media and the internet. How the forces of the seductive marketing agendas interfere in our children’s mental and emotional development is distressing. Moderation is a far cry and what’s visible to us is just the surface grime. Vulnerable children are brainwashed by these insensible entrapments and we are not able to do anything because our own influence in these spheres is so limited. 

Our society is already grappling with a growing number of young adults incapable of handling life’s social, emotional and behavioural challenges. If any change is to happen, we need to intervene with a heightened sense of urgency. Or else we’ll soon have a generation of young adults with no sense of self identity, self esteem or self worth. Parenting in homes is barely functional these days; there is no sense of structure or routine or consistent expectations for the children to fall back on. Clearly parents are fighting a losing battle and they aren’t going to be able to do much on their own. If we are to expect anything from our next generation of young adults, parenting needs to be put on the forefront of our national consciousness.    

Gone are the days when schools and parents tussle in blame-games where the cornered mother laments, “Their father’s folks are all the same”. Experts have warned that our only way forward is to shift the paradigm from the conventional method of parenting to more practical and professional methods. Studies say that unless we get our parenting right in the formative years of our children’s lives, we are doomed to spend the rest of our lives in remedial parenting with struggling children unable to take wings. Parents need serious enabling if we are to raise children who wouldn’t have to recover from their childhood.

Another common concern for parents is the need to raise children with future-ready-skills. Yet studies have shown that there is no knowing what the future job landscape is going to look like even decades from now. So how do parents make children future ready? Experts now are turning the spot light away from academic rigours to emotional intelligence. Several studies at Harvard have said that 85% of our children’s job success or wellbeing will depend on what they call “Soft Skills”. “Soft Skills” are also being called “Survival Skills” or “Power Skills”. The list of “Soft Skills” includes Skills like, Collaboration, Problem Solution, Emotional Regulation, Frustration Tolerance, Adaptability, Creativity, Innovation etc. 

One amazing parenting model that seems to cover all necessary grounds is gaining popularity around the world. It is led by the likes of Dr. Ross Green and Dr. Stuart Ablon, who studied the subject extensively at Harvard University. They have come up with a wonderful approach to parenting called, “Collaborative Problem Solving/Collaborative Pro-active Solution/CPS”. CPS is a parenting approach applied to both children with behaviour problems as well as regular children. CPS is being widely used by teachers in schools, by psychiatrists in rehab centres, by police with juveniles, by care takers with autistic children and at workplace by employers.  

The philosophy underlying the CPS approach is that, “Kids will do well if they can”. This philosophy provides adults with an opportunity to view children through a different lens and understand challenging behaviour from a different perspective. CPS is an evidence based parenting method with a lot of success stories to their credit. The CPS idea was first conceived in 2008 and it’s been picking up magical steam. Best of all, the development of “Soft Skills” is at the very heart of the CPS program. So if we want our children to become future-ready with future-ready-skills, we need to make CPS a big part of the DNA of our parenting system.

Anyone willing to be guided by the principle of the CPS model is sure to find the perfect tools to nurture children to become their highest potential. Findings have amply demonstrated that implementation of the CPS has resulted in magical outcome. However, what we hope to get out of it can only be as good as what we are willing to put into it. Online training programs and coaching classes are available. For those who want a glimpse in to the CPS model, there is a treasure trove of CPS resources just behind the click of a button. A very interesting one to begin with may be the TED-Talk by Dr. J. Stuart Ablon titled, “Rethinking Challenging Kids – Where There’s a Skill There’s a Way”. Another very useful talk on You-Tube with in-depth explanation of the CPS model is the “Ross Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving”. 

Bhutanese Parenting needs some serious up-skilling and “Informed-Parenting” is the need of the hour. CPS is best suited to breathe some life and freshness in to our parenting culture. “To be or not to be is the question here”. There is neither a mind-boggling psychological literature to delve in to, nor any traumatic buried history to investigate; in three simple doable steps, CPS gives us a “Parenting Formula” of sorts. The prospect of mainstreaming CPS to reach out to every struggling parent in our country seems so heart-warming. I would like to urge all concerned parents to at least look up CPS – let’s at least be well-informed parents. And let’s awaken with a “common sense” etched in our hearts – “It’s easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult”.

Contributed by

Sangay Zam

Former Member of Parliament