Raising children in today’s world
As we may have all noticed in recent times, raising children can be very demanding. We have all sorts of outside forces, seen and unseen competing for the attention of parents and children alike. Little wonder that the generation before us look at us and openly announce that they would not want to be parents with the responsibility of raising children in today’s world. What has changed?
Are they badly educated by their parents or are they exposed to many more difficulties resulting from the modern way of living? This drastic transformation raises a lot of questions and I think the most important question is: how should we raise our children in today’s world?
Beyond the fact that today’s parents are not measuring up to the standard that our own parents set generations ago, the biggest challenge in raising children today however remains dealing with the outside influences of the society like drugs and alcohol, peer pressure and the impact of television and social media. In addition to societal influences, other perceived challenges in raising children include teaching morals and values, maintaining discipline, handling the financial aspects of childrearing, and dealing with the educational system.
No matter the environment or our time period, the needs of children remain the same. They have needs for love, security, nurturing, training, relationship and a sense of belonging.
Effective parenting information is available from many different sources but applying that information in our daily parenting experience is where the rubber meets the road. Let’s examine a few I have found useful for me that I believe could work for you.
Parental Control & Discipline – In recent years, family life has awfully changed. Once upon a time, parents were totally in charge and children did only and exactly as they were told. Today the reverse is the case in many homes. For example, consider the following scenarios: Clearly, the current wave of relaxed discipline has had negative effects. It has not only weakened parental authority but also left children without the guidance they need to make good choices and approach life with genuine confidence.
• While at the store with her Mum shopping, a little girl picks up a pack of Biscuit and the mother says she can’t have it. The young lass retorts, “No, I want it and starts whining!” In a bid to avoid further tantrums the mother cowers and the girl gets the Biscuits.
• Or perhaps you may have been visiting a home where you were served drinks and the child in the home just picks up your drinking glass and sips your drink without you offering him/her. And the best the parents would say is, “No dear, please drop Uncle’s glass and take yours”. Then they go ahead and serve the child from your drink!
• Picture a grown Adult right in the middle of a hearty conversation with friends and his little boy interrupts and says “I’m tired Daddy, let’s go home!” Guess what? The father abruptly brings the visit and conversation to an end.
• How about sitting at the airport lounge and a little kid is screaming, jumping and probably even kicking you or your bag. Making everyone sitting around them most uncomfortable without any apologies or caution whatsoever from the parent. And when you feel bad enough you may have to caution the child yourself!
• Perhaps you may have heard of a teenager who is suspended from high school for misconduct, perhaps being rude to a teacher or fighting his schoolmate. His parents are upset. At the child? No way! At the school authority!!! They pull the child out of that school to another one.
These scenarios are not exaggerated fictions…they are so, so real! They are examples of real problem that exists in homes where parents tolerate children’s excesses, submit to their demands, and “rescue” them from the repercussion of their misbehavior. Parents now conveniently renounce authority to young children. In our time, we knew exactly who called the shots – it certainly wasn’t us!
As much as we have many parents who strive to teach their children proper values, there are still several others who do not appreciate the value of doing so. How did things get to this point? Whatever happened to discipline?
It all began when some school of thought started urging parents to be more easygoing with their children with the “Be a friend” ideology. They also say reprimanding children would damage their fragile emotions and cause them to resent their parents later in life. They took the self-esteem movement to the extreme and sold it to parents as the best parenting technique – Make your children feel good about themselves! Experts told parents: ‘Avoid using negative words such as no and bad.’ ‘Keep telling your children that they are special and that they can be anything they want to be.’ Invariably, it was as if feeling good was more important than being good. While it is important to instill confidence in children we cannot afford to trade it for indiscipline!
Don’t Over-Protect – Try not to shield your child from the consequences of his or her own actions or mistakes. For example, if your son carelessly damages a toy belonging to another child, you could require that your son give one of his own toys to him. Your child will not quickly forget this lesson on respecting the belongings of others. Letting your children have a taste of the real world. I let my teenage boys get on public transport even when a driver can conveniently drive them around. They take buses, tricycles, bikes and all sorts. I did that and still do when the need arises anyways, so why can’t they? As for the little ones, when they complain “Aunty” or “Uncle” smacked them, my first question usually is “what did you do?” So even my three year old knows better to come report anyone to me if they have been naughty because they understand I won’t take sides with them.
Involve them in Chores – I’m a big fan of chores so you can expect that my kids though all boys have more than enough to contend with. Many parents I know wouldn’t dream of letting their kids come within 5 inches of their kitchen. You are missing out, Mamas. Guess what? My older boys can cook, wash, iron, dress my room and scrub my bathroom. So when they are home I can afford to have no steward or cook because I have my boys! I’m not trying to blow my trumpet here (although there is nothing wrong with blowing a golden trumpet if you’ve got one!) but I’m saying it works for the good of everyone, especially your own good if you teach these kids these chores. They may not like it but hey…hang tough, you are the boss!
Some mothers believe involving the kids in chores would distract them from focusing on their schoolwork or talents. But from what we see of most kids these days, their talent is in clicking around their phones and tablets and studying Facebook rather than face their books! Their best companion today is the social media.
Many parents are so focused on their children’s happiness and self-esteem and believe that if a child feels good about herself, she’ll have more to give others. That’s the modern idea, but it’s often not true. Our kids’ happiness is clearly important but if we place that above their respecting us, caring about others, and appreciating what they have, children are less likely to internalize our moral standards, learn empathy or be grateful. They may grow up thinking their happiness is priority.
We should endeavour to teach our children the right values. Remember, you should not raise your children to have more than you had but raise them to be more than what you are. All the best!
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