Modern Day Parenting
For the first time in history, we are entering into an era of parenting that has been uncharted territory. In a world of quick fixes and instant gratification, constant distractions and 24/7 babysitters with the click of a button at our fingertips, it's hard not to be confused and overwhelmed as a parent! In a short amount of time, our own minds have been warped into comparing ourselves to everyone else's "highlight reels", we've never been so insecure with our lives, our decisions and the actions of our children. We are the last generation to know what it was like to sit down to a home cooked meal on a regular basis, to spend our elementary years playing ball in the cul-de-sacs, only worrying about making it home for supper without a skinned knee after a game of kick the can. We didn't experience they intensity of competition in sports, or at least not prior to Varsity level, and we certainly weren't expected to put in significant practice time by the age of 10. We didn't know what every other kid in school was doing at any given minute, and if we did, it was from a hand written note or a home phone call that our parents could sneak in on at any time. We knew that if chores weren't done, we simply didn't get to join in and the dynamic of a family meant carrying alot more weight then just calling them your sibling, it meant working together as a team and forming bonds far beyond any screen. We learned that good things take time, some times a long time, and sometimes, at the expense of blood, sweat, tears and heartbreak. But we also knew, we were going to survive it and come through stronger.
When we did wrong, we learned by consequence, and it wasn't always a fun one, and certainly not an easy one ;) We learned to fear and sometimes despise our parents, only to find out when we had our own children why they did the things they did. I mean, who the hell would've guessed they actually knew something and were right?! ;) Pffff. Gotta love those lessons that keep on giving and sneak up like the karma they really are ;)
There are also many parts of being an adolescent that hasn't changed through the decades. Such as making off the handle remarks and making really crappy decisions that sometimes didn't pan out quite the way we had pictured (however, usually grateful not any worse then they did). The development of their brains and how each stage brings with it a new learning curve. How at the end of the day, they just want love, attention, affection and connection - after all - don't we all? That throughout their entire adolescent career, they want to be accepted, not only by their peers, but also their parents, teammates and community. How they're (we're) bred to want to "fit in", or that our minds (from a primitive stand point) are trained to think there's a "them" and an "us", thinking it has to be black or white. Or, wanting it all to make sense and have reason behind it, as if the "why" is going to change the outcome or circumstance.
It's funny to think how much we've evolved in such a very short amount of time. The amazing advancements technology has brought with it, and yet how very scary it could be if we choose to stay out of touch with the repercussions of what could be and how our children may pay the price for it. You see, when we (I'm 34) got a good ol fashioned "basic" cell phone, we were roughly of the ages of 16-18. This just included texting and calling at the time. By the time we got smartphones or more advanced devices, we were mid 20's. Meaning our brains were developed enough to realize the difference between social media and real life. Or the fact that Mario Kart and the real world weren't the same thing. That the bullets on the screen and the one that came from the chamber of a loaded rifle were very different. Now, we've handed this next generation loaded weapons in the form of a controller, smart phone or electronic device with little to no education behind them. We give them to children at an average age of 3 years old without realizing, or perhaps caring, that we're feeding the same brain receptors as that of a heroin addict. And we've done so without even realizing that their brains aren't equipped in the way ours were. We forget that when they leave school, they no longer get to go home and just leave a bad day behind then, instead, they hear a ding on their device, and see it on repeat on a screen of someone that wants to take their even worse day, out on you. And we expect kids to have the mental and emotional capacity to discern between what is real and what isn't - in all realms. Now we, as parents entering this new and confusing time struggle with ourselves to know what is safe and what is within the "normal" parameters of just exploring, as most adolescents do. I invite you to take a glimpse into the struggles of the modern day parent.
If you were to compare your childhood to your children's, what would be 1 primary difference? And how do you think that difference has impacted the generations outcome?
"Affection. I didn't grow up in a home with affection and it's something I try and be mindful of in my home. It's important for my son to know affection and that he is loved."
"Social media, gaming and electronic devices. We never had these constant distractions from realities. "Connection" means something totally different, they're always "connected" now, and they never want to leave the house! They don't have a reason to move and have social skills."
"Time, acceptance and unconditional love. It is nerve racking to see the way our kids are being pushed towards the state of constant perfection and distraction. They're expected to constantly be busy or entertained. We were always given time from our parents, now it seems so limited with everything they have going on. It's hard to keep a family structure."
"Parents showing poor sportsmanship. It's become all about the competition and expectations. It isn't fun anymore. We learned alot in sports that taught us life lessons, and winning all of the time and setting unrealistic expectations aren't apart of real life or healthy for kids to expect."
"There's so much more seclusion. Their guards are so much higher and they're unable to cope with difficult or uncomfortable situations. They have no understanding of the impact on another. When we fought with someone, we were face to face, we knew the damage that was being done with our words and actions".
"Patience. I thought my parents were short tempered, but I think I'm alot worse. I wish I could be more calm and allow them room to make mistakes without getting so upset."
What do you feel is the hardest part/biggest pressure with modern day parenting?
"Knowing what are safe parameters to explore in and fail in, while they're still at home. How are they going to learn for themselves if they don't make some "bad" decisions?"
"Teaching my daughter she's beautiful and to not compare herself to everyone else."
"Judgement. Always feeling like you're judged, no matter how good or bad your kid is being or doing."
"Social media and electronics and the balance of them. What is a healthy amount of what is now being deemed as the new "social time" and what is teetering on addiction?"
"Finding balance between regulations/freedom vs "strict/controlling. Being able to hold your own as a parent when you see others allowing so much more. Trusting yourself and knowing that it isn't about others, it's about their safety and what you feel is best for that child."
"Allowing them to learn on their own, without being concerned what others think of the way I parent or labeling my kid as bad. What happened to kids being kids? Sometimes just doing stupid things and having to learn the hard way are the best teachers."
"Words - kids being kids vs hurtful attacks. What is normal sibling rivalry vs damaging another's self confidence. I just assumed it was brothers being brothers, but I'm starting to see there's more behind the words."
"Adolescence is a very fragile time for their growth and their self-image, having social media seems to have intensified this process. "
Do you struggle to create boundaries in your home? If so, where is most challenging?
"For me, it's more about the follow through and enforcement then creating the boundaries/rules. Remembering that true parenting isn't letting them escape because it's the easy way out for me."
"Yes, I feel bad constantly taking things away because they aren't upholding grades or chores. It feels like a constant battle at home and I question if it's really making a difference."
"No, there is no conversation in our home that is forbidden. Every topic is welcome to be discussed. My kids know that anything is welcome at the table."
"I know I have to accept the fact that this is the new day in age, but I think we're going to find a big backlash with allowing all of this freedom."
"Enforcing consequences while being emotionally available. There's alot more going on then we realize and it's hard to be the enforcer, while knowing there's an important emotional piece usually at play."
Do you, as a parent, feel pressured to provide your children with electronics and allow them gaming and social media time?
"Yes, when speaking to other parents, or the world, they make it sound like you're crazy no too! The world has no boundaries!"
"Yes, I never know what is a healthy amount of time and when it's too much"
"YES! Kids are handed devices younger and younger and it's becoming the new expected norm to just let them have it. It's become the new babysitter for alot of parents, and I'll admit, there are times when I use it as leverage as well. I have alot of internal battle around this and I don't think that my elementary aged children need devices, nor are entitled to be on ours on all of the time. And yet, they are one of very few, who don't have it! So I struggle to know what is a "good age" or if I'm the only parent who believes this!"
Do you feel social media has added to the pressure of being a parent?
If so, can you elaborate?
"Yes, it's constant comparison and constant judgement."
Yes. Unable to keep anything straight. They can erase everything, you're unable to see what was provoked or who is at fault. As parents we want to protect our kids, but also can be unsure if it's ours that are doing the damage. It can be hard to discern and noone wants to own up, parents or kids!"
"Yes, it makes me doubt myself and I see all of these highlight reels of everyone around me and second guess if what I'm doing is right."
"I feel a constant expectation to provide more and more. Alot of guilt, that it isn't enough."
"For the most part, no. But I also took myself off of social media, partially for that reason. I'm confident in my decisions as a parent, even though it isn't the new "social norm", I trust that I know best, even if it isn't the most popular."
How about you? We'd love to hear your feedback on this important topic! Please share your comments or concerns!