How is raising children here in the twenty teen’s different from when I was growing up? Sure, things are different. External things. Technology has exploded and every family member has at least one personal device. School work is researched and accomplished on computer. Entertainment is by computer, handheld or otherwise. Television has a couple hundred channels and TV as we know it may be on the ropes in a couple years in favor of Netflix and other computer-based forums. All these compete for kid’s attention.
Speaking of attention, most kids have the attention of a gnat. Try having a conversation with one. Their minds shift gears so fast you would think they’re emulating a NASCAR racer. While I tried to draw all the knowledge I could out of adults, kids today want to teach us. And they usually do when it comes to anything tech.
Everything in their life is so fast-paced it can be overwhelming for parents to keep up. Moms and Dads need to ask themselves, “Who’s in control?” There are overwhelming influences vying for the attention of the youth. Teachers now have social and political agendas to pass on to young impressionable minds. They may not agree with the values their parents are teaching them. Their peers are a huge influence, convincing them to go with the latest trends or they’re not cool. There’s pressure to try cigarettes, pot, drugs, alcohol, get tattoos, piercings and other self-destructive things that they’ll regret later in life. Parents need to be the most prominent influence.
How do they do that? I believe it’s by limiting outside influences as best they can. Not to shelter them, but to take enough interest in their lives that the kids know their parents care about how they turn out. Of course they care, but they need to demonstrate that they do by showing it. Open communication is a must. Drawing out perspectives by asking questions to provoke thought is essential. Also, use family activities to consume the children’s time will keep them busy and away from the wrong people. It’s important to involve kids in what Mom and Dad are in to. Use that to teach the value of work, play, respect, and especially setting goals for the future.
Kids value reality most of all. Parents who unconsciously use the motto, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say” will be dismissed and ignored. Young people place a high premium on integrity. They will respect a parent who backs up what they teach them by practicing it themselves. The old saying, “Actions speak louder than words” carries a lot of weight with kids.
Most of all, parents should let their kids earn their trust and reinforce that trust. Respect works both ways. A parent who respects their offspring may get some back in return. It all comes down to good old fashioned parenting.