A friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend and was stressing about how long to wait to change her relationship status on Facebook. She didn’t want to wait too long, but if she changed it too quickly, it would look like she was eager to announce the breakup. Ah, kids today. What’s a 21st-century girl to do?
Maybe your kids aren’t on Facebook, but there are issues and threats that affect kids today that we are trying to parent through with zero personal experience. We’re just hoping wisdom and instinct take over. Here are 5 of those issues and how to apply our parental instincts.
There was something really unifying about waiting an entire week to see the next part of a TV plot unfold. Remember watching Lost and patiently waiting to find out who “the others” were? We don’t consume media with the same patience anymore. Online orders arrive in two days, not two weeks. We don’t need to dig deep in our memory for the name of that one actor from that one show. Everything—stories, packages, answers—comes to us almost immediately. And it always has for our kids.
Parental instinct says: Practice delayed gratification whenever possible. Make them save up cash to buy something. Watch a show without binging and discuss what might happen in the next episode. Set and track goals with iMOM’s goals chart.
Instant Peer Approval or Rejection
Kids today are living their lives in front of an audience. It’s often by choice, but even those who don’t choose it can have their goofs and successes recorded and shared. When children’s instincts are to validate every moment, emotion, or image online, they are risking silencing their own inner voice. Within a second of posting a picture, they are told if it (and in essence “they”) are likable, lovable, or worth knowing.
Parental instinct says: Definitely limit social media to one or two platforms and certain hours of the day. But more importantly, help your child work on their in-person relationships—especially the one with you.
When children’s instincts are to validate every moment, emotion, or image online, they are risking silencing their own inner voice.
I remember the first time I saw pornography. I was babysitting. There were magazines in the bathroom and VHS tapes in the entertainment center. I doubt any 15-year-old babysitter would encounter either of those today, but the threat is exponentially greater. Kids can innocently google a word and be led to porn, they can watch YouTube and get offered a related video, and they can even get porn spam. And how can a mom even begin to wrap her head around how her daughter feels when she is asked to send a naked picture of herself (or when she’s NOT asked and feels unwanted)?
Parental instinct says: Have the pornography talk with your children sooner than you think you need to. Use apps to block pornography, and start affirming their self-worth in a conversation that never stops.
The pressure on kids today to over-achieve is on another level. It seems like the only area parents can lighten up is on responsibilities at home. But we are raising entitled kids and robbing them of a huge predictor of success in life—helping with chores. My mom used to joke (I think) that she had kids so housework could get done. We had a list of chores waiting for us every day when we got home from school. I’m almost ready to thank her. Almost.
Parental instinct says: Try to see the big picture. We want them to get into their college of choice, but contributing to the family is the most valuable teacher of life lessons. Sometimes one less activity can lead to more time to invest at home.
When we were kids, the threat of predators was taught as a guy in a white van offering candy. My kids are 7 and 8 and love Roblox. I don’t get it, but I know they can interact with other players. In these kinds of games, there are great opportunities to hang with friends, but the danger of online predators is very real. My son was shocked when I told him that not everyone who says they are an 8-year-old boy actually is an 8-year-old boy.
Parental instinct says: Set strict boundaries about who they can play with and constantly check-in. Also, remind them that you have no secrets and they can talk to you about anything.
What other issues do kids today deal with that we didn’t have to? And what do your instincts tell you to do?