It occurred to me today that, try as we might, we will never unlock the secrets to successful parenting.  Successful; it’s the key element here.  How do you define success when it comes to parenting?

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!


  • At 2011.07.07 16:19, Grace said:

    I had a mum of teenagers tell me that she has to constantly warn her kids about FB and how the photos they put up there can be detrimental to their image and reputation.

    She uses the argument that potential employers use FB to check up on people that they interview. Their (and I must admit, clever) response is: “Well, if that’s the case, no one would put anything up on FB ! Or even use it !”

    Maybe it’s a bit of both – change in generations as well as perception.
    Who knows.

    But I don’t think I was ever that clever with a come back line 🙂

    • At 2011.07.08 11:22, Maria said:

      Hi Grace,

      Over the last couple of years photos that were taken when I was out partying have been making it up on Facebook. Nothing to debauched; just a whole bunch of people crowding into a photo.

      I suppose the difference is, I have managed to create an acceptable reputation through work etc that a few photos from 15 years ago isn’t about to undo all that.

      Thanks for the visit.

      Love & stuff
      Mrs M

    • At 2011.07.08 12:27, Nicole @ myIdeaLife said:

      I have so much tension with my Mum over how to bring up my boys – it’s better now but I had to tell her in no uncertain terms to back off. I suppose in years to come if we’re lucky we’ll have to face the next generation’s new fangled ideas and hope we can adapt and accept. But I loved the quote – that was my childhood too and if I can tear myself away from the computer I may be able to ensure my boys get to play outside without smartphones. Lovely post,

      • At 2011.07.08 12:53, Maria said:

        My 10 year old daughter really hates the fact that I don’t let her to go the park by herself, especially when she hears stories of how I did. I explained that if something happened to her that I would be held responsible or irresponsible. But if I was kidnapped when I was ten the blame would solely be on the kidnapper, not the parent.

        And it bugs me because I’m sure we’d all be alot more saner if the kids felt like they were in a little more control of their lives and I had some time to myself.

        I love my children but I don’t need to spend every minute of the day with them.

        Love & stuff
        Mrs M

      • At 2011.07.09 15:01, Kleonaptra said:

        It is true that employers check fb and to the teenager that said it couldnt be true because then no one would use it, I say this – People are stupid. Ive seen people bash their boss on fb even though they KNOW they are on their friend list! No one thinks before they click and if adults are doing stupid things, how can we trust kids? I believe this is why we are truly afraid.

        I had a person gush to me on finding out I was pregnant, “Oh, its just the greatest thing you’ll ever do! Your greatest achievement!” I have my issues with that statement but my reply was, “No, a well adjusted and functional adult would be an achievement” Because any fool can have a child.

        Im quite happy to fly by the seat of my pants and not stress about my choices – my instincts have never failed me, its only going against them thats gotten me into trouble, and I KNOW, no matter what kind of job I do, she’s going to say it wasnt good enough. Thats just a fact. We all want to change things our parents did. So, just getting on with it and not worrying has got to be the best we can do, and we cant do better than that!

        • At 2011.07.12 21:19, Cecilia @ Parenting Controversy said:

          Kids need to brand themselves via social media… seriously?

          Sure, they need to be careful about what they post. I’ll be encouraging my daughter to be herself online, and to simply be careful about what she publishes. There will be no mention of her personal brand.

          I wonder how long it will be until the majority of teenagers are busily creating glossy premeditated online personas for themselves for the benefit of prospective employers and future mother-in-laws?

          What about a online personal brand cleansing service?

          In the words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin.

          • At 2011.07.12 22:31, Maria said:

            Hi Cecilia,

            You make some excellent points. And it take it one step further, it’s all nice and grand to have a fantastic ‘persona’ but what are you like in real life? Because it doesn’t really matter what my CV says, if I’m not a nice person, then no-one is going to be able to work or get on with me.

            Thanks for the visit.

            Love & stuff
            Mrs M

            (Required, will not be published)