The times are a-changing not just for us adults but for our children as well. Kids have cell phones and use iPads and social media in the classroom, while many of us spent our school time playing Oregon Trail and tearing off the edges of dot matrix printer paper. With all the differences in how our children are being taught, perhaps it’s time to reflect on how we parent as well.
Some sayings that seem to be innate parts of parents' vocabulary no longer apply in today's world. Here are seven pieces of parental guidance we may want to rethink using.
It's not necessarily true that college leads to a good job or is necessary for having one anymore, and thank goodness, because college prices are getting out of hand. The fact is that the digital age is providing us with a million new ways to earn a living that don’t involve shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for your child's education.
You don’t need to learn about Plato to be a successful entrepreneur, and you may not need a bachelor’s degree to become skilled a well-paying trade. If your child wants to be a doctor or lawyer, then, of course, she needs the formal education, but the path isn’t for everyone. Nowadays, it doesn't have to be.
This is a staple parents use with young children especially. Yes, there are moments in motherhood when we don’t have the time or energy or willpower to talk through a decision we made, but overall, I believe that children deserve to hear the motives behind the decisions we make as parents. Hearing the why behind a choice or request may help them understand us better as people who love and protect them rather than see you as a tyrant who doesn’t want them to have any fun. Letting children into our brains can help build trust in the relationship, which becomes so necessary when your children become high school students.
How often has your child come home in tears telling you someone was mean to her? Have you consoled her by saying, "She's just jealous?"
Sure, that may be true sometimes, but it’s also possible that kids aren’t angels and don’t always treat people the right way. Perhaps the reason she was mean to you was because you teased her first, gave her a look, or did something to make her feel like less of a person worthy of respect. Rather than glossing over the issue and assuming your daughter can do no harm, probe a bit more and see if there isn’t a bigger issue at hand.
No, no, no, no, no. Disagree with me on any of my other points if you’d like, but please take this one to heart. If a boy is teasing a girl, if he is throwing sand at her or pulling her hair on the playground, he is being a jerk. And if a boy is being a jerk or physically unkind or exhibiting violence or abuse in any way, it needs to be taken seriously, if for no other reason than because that boy needs to learn how to properly communicate his feelings to a girl. Not to mention that growing up believing that a boy being mean to you is a sign of affection can seriously set women up for abusive relationships. We act out in adulthood what we learn as children. Don’t teach your daughters this.
I get it. Piano lessons and soccer uniforms are expensive, and we want our children to see things through to the end. We want them to take it from 0 to 100 and be proud of their accomplishments, but come on. Do we do that as adults? Can you honestly say you’ve never started a project, class, book, sport, or job and quit before it was over? Sometimes we’re genuinely not a fit for something, and that’s okay. The time your child spends fuming in the outfield waiting for the season to be over could better be spent doing something they genuinely love, which will make everyone happier in the long run.
Kids are clumsy and don’t always pay attention to where they’re going, and sometimes we’re in the middle of cooking dinner and can’t take the time to hug and kiss every boo-boo. I’m a mom – I get it. And there’s a chance that responding to every scrape and bonk could end up preventing young children from learning any sort of resilience, but I think I’d rather have that kind of kid than one who goes without having any of her pain acknowledged.
First off, sometimes jokes are just mean and not funny. Also, there’s nothing wrong with being sensitive. We need sensitive people in our workplaces and schools to show us the weight and breadth of life around us. It’s okay to cry or be angry when something upsetting happens, and it’s okay to feel a lot of emotions all the time. Sensitive people are often the helpers the world needs.
With everything in our world changing from how we grocery shop to how we meet our partner, let’s reconsider how we parent, too. While we may be emulating our parents in certain respects, that doesn't mean we don't need to rethink our behavior from time to time. Our children look to us as role models, so let's support them as such.
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