Publisher’s Perspective: Parenting in 2018 – Part 2 (opinion)
Parenting in 2018 — part 1
Click here to read part 1 of Tribune Publisher Rob Galloway’s columns on parenting in 2018.
Earlier this month I talked about technology and trying to navigate those stormy seas with your kids. I left off noting that it starts with us — that kids will often imitate what they see their parents do.
One of the questions that I posed to the group was: “What’s the best piece of advice your parents gave you that you still use today?”
One of the answers I received came from a married mother of four. She said: “Each year, each kid. Meaning that there is not just one answer for a situation and that the answer for today may not be applicable in a month.”
I asked the question wondering if parenting in today’s society is as truly different as I think it is compared to my parents — or is parenting at its core, still very similar?
I know for sure my parents didn’t have to deal with technology like we have today. But doesn’t every generation have something that the one previously didn’t have to deal with? I’m certain the answer is “yes.”
Another answer I received came from a single mother of two. Her response: “Talk to your kids often. Like, REALLY talk. Go to those hard-to-talk-about places.”
I’m sure most parents have something that they learned which has stuck with them and used in their parenting arsenal. If I think about my personal lessons, and look at the other responses I received, none of them speak to walking uphill to and from school in the snow — or other outdated clichés that we like to joke about when it comes to parental advice. They are all applicable in today’s world.
So where am I going with this? Well, there’s some real meat to chew in those two answers I shared. While there certainly are generational differences in parenting, one could argue that the foundation of parenting can be found in being able to talk to your kids and having an understanding that every situation is not the same and should be treated as such.
Kids don’t come with a handbook on how to handle. It’s because every situation is unique and you the parent are the best person to help navigate that world for your child.
You will make mistakes along the way. Give yourself some slack and know that if you don’t handle the situation the way you thought you should in the moment, you can apologize to your child and tell them you’ll do better next time. They’re human. You’re human. We’re not perfect. But regardless of the circumstance, it’s always easier if you really know your child — how they react to situations, their personality traits and so on.
Every parent who I asked how well they knew their child answered in the “well” to “really well” range, which is great. However, there were some cracks with parents who were divorced and raising kids in separate households. I fall into this with two of my kids. I can attest that while I feel like I know my kids well, I also only have them half the time, which means there’s so much more that I don’t see.
Parents get divorced for a reason, right? At some point they don’t see their lives moving in the same direction. Which also is to say if you’re splitting time, then the kids do not have the same experience in each household. Rules may be different. Punishment may be different. Rubber hits the road for your kids regardless so my best advice is this: Try to find that common ground and talk through what’s best for your child.
It’s not always going to happen perfectly, but if your child can learn and grow from it, then ultimately it (and they) will be fine. Much like you have to figure out how to be a parent, they will figure out how to best fit in each parent’s home.
Kids have expectations just like parents do. They may not be as complex, but they are seeking things like love, understanding and acceptance. It’s so important to be present in their lives and making sure you take time out to do things together as a family — that’s where they find these things. It’s not in the shallows of the internet, but in the relationships they build through real life experiences.
As one parent put it: “Expressing love from an early age is possibly, in my opinion, the answer to connection later.”
By doing this, you’re building a foundation for them that will better prepare them to be a productive member of society. It’s so easy to allow outside influences to dictate the direction of how to raise a child.
It’s much harder to stay the course that you know is the right direction, even when it doesn’t keep up with the Joneses — which sounds like a topic to dive into next time.
Publisher Rob Galloway can be reached at email@example.com or 530-542-8046.