A friend of mine requested that I blog about the following topic – What advice would you give future parents bringing children up in today’s society? She’s handed me a loaded gun.
Parenting. The one thing in our lives that we wish had a handbook. How to be the Perfect Parent A-Z. Creating Successful & Happy Offspring User Guide. All of the fluffy titles that you wish are on the shelves so that you can do everything right and create this perfect entity. They just do not exist and if they do they are a sham. There is no one-size fits all parenting program. People are too different. All of the things that work well for one may not work as well for another if at all.
The best advice I can give to future parents, especially in today’s society, is to love your children. Love them with every bit of you because this world is so quick to chew them up and spit them out. I hear so many stories of these babies feeling so alone in this world, so bullied, that they are taking their own lives. Eight year olds. Can you believe that? We have eight year old babies committing suicide. I don’t think I even knew what that was at that age!
We see mini-series like 13 Reasons Why based off of novels that are so many children’s actual realities. I don’t think that bullying is any different than it always has been with the exception of it being harder and harder to escape. My generation and above don’t really believe it or understand it and I believe that is primarily because we did not have the social media of today when we grew up. We aren’t dependent on it. Back then if you were bullied at school you were at least safe when you got to your front door. You had a break. A reprieve. These children do not seem to have that these days.
The downfalls or embarrassing moments that these kids nowadays face are captured on snapchat, youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Google me, bitch, and you’ll find whatever moment that they haven’t been able to live down on constant rotation. Your embarrassment that one day in that one class that one year is now playing all over the world with not only your class making fun of you but someone millions of miles away. It’s not just children bullying these babies but also adults. Think about how many memes you’ve seen today alone or how many videos you’ve scrolled by or watched where someone’s baby is getting jumped on. We don’t think about the fact that this will haunt them forever. We’re quick to say that this is temporary, it’s not the rest of your life, no one will remember this after high school – how can they believe that when that video of them getting jumped by ten other kids has 12 million views?
Talk to them. I don’t condone the whole go into their social media accounts and read their diary tactics. One, my kids are not teenagers yet, but you should create an environment where they should feel comfortable enough and safe enough to talk to you. My mother was and is my best friend. We’ve had uncomfortable discussions. I’ve had to tell her about people taking advantage of me or picking on me but she made that easy to do. Do not shut yourself off from them. If you’re a bully why would they take anything to you? If you act as if you are infallible they cannot relate to you nor trust that you will understand where they are coming from. Talk to them about the things going on in the world, the things that they see on the news, and make them a part of the conversation. They need to understand the world that they live in and how to rise above the controversies.
I don’t think there is anything more valuable than spending genuine quality time with your kids. Take them to do things and if money is tight going to a park is free. Go outside in the backyard with them. Just be present. You don’t want all of their memories of you to be that you were at work all day and they had to fend for themselves. TV is not a babysitter. You have to teach them things! Read! It is a common misconception that the school is going to teach your child all that he or she needs to know. They are only going to take them so far. Your child is dependent on you for the rest.
A subject that a few friends and I seem to always gravitate toward is this whole everyone is a winner concept. Um, what the what? No! There is a winner. We need to stop feeding this crap to our children that mediocrity is acceptable. We don’t push them to put their best foot forward and be the best that they can be because everyone “wins”. In a society like that no one wins. Honestly. They aren’t challenged the way that we were. There is no competition. Back in my day there was the winner and the first loser – HARSH – but honest. You didn’t win. Almost doesn’t count. Push harder. You should want to be number one because WE are NOT number one.
This is just a snippet of my end of the conversation.
What is yours?