The task of parenting is one of the most demanding, challenging, stressful and rewarding jobs that comes with no instructions manual. Moreover, it’s a very subjective activity that is always under the influence of many internal and external factors and as times change, so do the parenting styles.
Here are a few suggestions on how to be a new age parent.
Consider a different approach
The dualistic approach to parenting that is based on the system of punishment and reward can be risky as it may teach children that they’re only loved and accepted if they follow the rules and pleas us. The basic need of all children is to be loved unconditionally and to know that they’ll be still loved if they make a mistake.
You might consider a different approach and base you parenting on open communication, clarity of your language, fairness and most of all, on modelling yourself the desired behaviour. The relationship you have with yourself doesn’t have to be in contradiction to the one you have with your child. On the contrary, the more you invest in loving and taking care of yourself, the better your approach to parenting will be. Focus more on controlling yourself rather than on what you want and don’t want your child to do. React mindfully and not habitually and relate to your children in a calm and grounded way.
The way we as parents communicate with our kids and the language we use directly impacts their self-esteem, growth and development. Research shows that too much negative language full of limitations and bans interrupts the kids’ desire and will to learn and explore, stops them in their tracks and produces a string of negative hormonal-neural reactions in the brain.
This is why parents need to encourage open communication with their kids and use positive and affirmative language while acknowledging the specific needs of their kids.
In previous generations, the focus was mostly on achieving high academic success, but with modern generations, it’s more about developing critical thinking, decision-making, imagination and confidence. By encouraging your kids to explore and think creatively will help them develop their imagination and creative skills, but it will also teach them how to approach challenges and solve problems by themselves.
It all starts at a very young age with doing puzzles and making things with building blocks but as the kids grow, you can slowly add more challenging tasks that will teach them how to take on the responsibility for their own actions. For instance, tweens and teens need their freedom but it’s necessary for them to learn that it comes with certain boundaries, such as spending money. It’s the parents who pay for their mobile phone costs and provide their pocket money but you can take it a step further and let them take control of their spending to see how they can manage.
There’s a great opportunity with practical prepaid cards for kids that are much safer than carrying cash and allow you to always know how much and where your kids are spending money. As they can only spend what is loaded on the card, it teaches them financial responsibility and money management skills.
Create a family digital media use plan
In this time and age, it’s practically impossible to exclude technology from your family’s daily lives but there are ways to incorporate it successfully and make it work for you within your parenting style and family values.
When used appropriately and thoughtfully, digital media can become your ally and enrich your daily lives. What must be avoided is allowing it to replace face-to-face communication and interaction, outdoor play, family time, exercise and quality sleep. To achieve this goal, create a family plan about the use of media and devices and set up clear limits regarding when and how long kids can use their devices. Know your kids’ friends offline and online and join them in things they enjoy – see what it is they enjoy watching and what games they love to play and steer things a bit in the direction you want like picking educational videos and documentaries.
Parenting has always been the hardest job on this planet and every new age brings new challenges. As long as you keep to your core family values, have open and honest communication with your children and encourage their individuality, you will raise independent and responsible kids.