In broad terms, we all want our children to be happy, safe, experience life, given opportunities and grow up into well rounded, honest, hard-working, charitable human beings.
When you break that down into step by step instructions, is when parents fall short. And the reality is, we will fall short. Hopefully not too short and not too often but there will be things that we do, or don’t do, that our kids will not forget.
And why will this happen? Because parenting changes with every generation. It doesn’t matter what kind of world we grew up in as kids, or the challenges our parents faced because they are different now. Sure there are some fundamentals that never change but on the whole parenting changes every generation.
This probably isn’t news to anyone. How many times have we bemoaned our mother’s advice? Breastfeeding is preferable these days as is attachment parenting. Both of these things confuse my mother. When I was born it was bottle-feeding and leaving a child be; don’t want to spoil that child.
With every generation, parents are always faced with something new; something that has not been dealt with before. Whether it is new research, new technology, a social trend, it’s territory that hasn’t been chartered before.
And since every generation of parenting is a new incarnation it is bound to be flawed; there will be kinks in the system. And just when you think you’ve worked out the kinks, something else comes along that changes the goal posts and you start over again.
What are the issues that parents and children argue most about? The ones where parents can’t see the importance and the one’s where the children scream ‘my parents just don’t understand’.
Social media is a biggie. How can parents use their wisdom to help navigate their children through an issue they haven’t experienced for themselves? I understand the basics; teaching them about personal privacy and safety, be wary of strangers but social media has a pull like nothing I experienced as a child.
Kids need to go on a journey of self exploration and identity forming paths but to have it documented on social media is something I didn’t have to deal with. And I’m kind of glad about that.
Or have I got it all wrong?
There was an article in smh.com.au recently saying that kids need to brand themselves when it comes to social media. That was common when I was at school; I had to watch the kind of reputation I was creating for myself. But do kids need to be more diligent now than ever before?
And there are issues that do exist with every generation like drugs and sex.
Have these changed over the generations or is it just perception? ‘Drugs weren’t so bad a decade ago’, ‘more teens are engaging in sexual activities than ever before’. Are these true?
I recently read this facebook status that’s been doing the rounds. It summarises nicely just how much things have changed.
My curfew was the street light. My mum called my name, not my mobile. I played outside with friends, not on-line. If I didn’t eat what my Mum cooked, then I didn’t eat. Sanitizer didn’t exist, but you COULD get your mouth washed out with soap. I rode a bike without a helmet, getting dirty was OK, and neighbours looked out for you as much as your parents did. To all those who drank from a garden hose and survived!