The expression – Our world has changed beyond recognition – is an understatement. The world we grew up in seems like a distant dream. We were prepared for a life that is much different from what we see today. There has been a massive overhaul in values, traditions, expression, perceptions and education among other things. As parents we often wonder what are we preparing our children for. In the past most people brought their children up the same way that they were brought up. It is different today. We are the generation that was prepared for a particular world, live in a very different world and have the task of bringing up our kids for a very different world we can’t even imagine. We are raising not the children of today, but responsible citizens of tomorrow.
Over the years, depression and anxiety rates have sky-rocketed among children and parents. And as parents, not only is it our job to remain balanced and cope with our own mental pressures, but also support our little ones in doing so (Let’s be real – even our teenagers are our little ones). Giving our children a balanced life while worrying about social media influence, rising drug and substance abuse, current climate crisis, political disasters, personal setbacks is not a joke. All this while working multiple jobs to provide for the family. It can feel exhausting all the time. Here are some suggestions that can help to make things a little better for us and our children:
Come to terms with the current scenario
The social media, peer pressure, climate crisis, all the other things bigger than us is here to stay. Worrying and panicking is only going to worsen it. Our children can be very perceptive of how we feel. When we worry, they worry. It is important that we come to terms with everything that is happening today and not compare it to the past. We are moving ahead into the future and that is where we should focus. Let us face the challenge life is throwing at us and find the best solution we can to cope with it.
Understanding what our children struggle with
Kids today live under the kind of pressure like never before. Is it realistic of us to expect them to be ideal children to us? They don’t feel like going to school in the same way that we want to take the day off. They vent their frustrations the way adults do it. They know their minds the way we think we know ours. Then why is it acceptable when we do it and troublesome when they do it? It is imperative on our part to put ourselves in their shoes without prejudice and understand their challenges to be empathetic about it. We can certainly provide a different perspective and give them the freedom to choose what they think best. This teaches the children careful deliberation and selecting the best solution.
Keep an open conversation while treating them like an equal
Gone are the days where children listen to their parents “because they said so”. Their words and actions have to be respected in the same way that we expect from them. The ‘time-out’ and ‘discipline’ method can have adverse consequences. It is important we model the action and consequence technique without making it authoritarian. The tenets of gentle and authoritative parenting can be helpful here. To be clear, authoritative parenting is not the same as authoritarian parenting. Find the difference here.
Re-establish family values and traditions
While we take pride in inculcating our family values and traditions it is important to consider whether they are still relevant. We are not helping our children by teaching them values that was built for another time. It could result in them having to deal with constant emotional dilemma between what they are taught and what they think they should do. This isn’t to say that all ethics and morals are to be sacrificed, but putting them into context with our children’s life today so that it makes sense to them and encourages them to live in those values. Narrating stories on how life was when we were young will give them an idea of what values helped guide us through life and how they can adapt it to their lives.
Demonstrate our place in their life as a parent
As parents we need to walk the fine line between being carefree friends and strict disciplinarian parents. It is true that we have seen more life and have more experience than our children. Having said that, we need to create a safe environment for them to be able to approach us and ask questions. We also need to be open to admitting that we don’t know everything and we can involve them while finding answers to those questions. Often we try to be their friends and lose the ability to direct them towards a better path. Let us remember that our children can have as many friends as they want, but only we can be their parents. Like mentioned above, we have to treat them with equal rights and respect to gain their confidence, yet place ourselves in a predominant position in their lives. It is a tightrope we have to walk.
Model and Follow-through
Children don’t listen to what we say, they see what we do. Most of the time when we speak, kids don’t pay attention or pay half an attention. They are intelligent enough to understand when we don’t practice what we preach and comfortable enough to question us. We basically need to think how we would expect our children to deal with a similar scenario in the future and model it. This helps create a sense of stability in their lives and reduces overwhelm. This also means we as parents have to confront certain ideas and patterns we have been following all our lives and revaluate them. It is an opportunity for us to grow as human beings and as parents.
The above points are just a start. There are a lot of things we can do to make sure we are raising our kids to cope with the pressures of tomorrow. Find a few more helpful links at the end of our blog. There is no one-size-fits-all. Work out what is important to your family and start from there. The only way to keep it manageable is to take it one day at a time. We cannot know what’s in store for our kids and anticipation is often a source of big anxiety. Our world will continue to change. New threats and challenges will emerge. Worrying about it will not change it, nor will clinging to the past. Focus on today and the needs of your kids here and now. No matter which era, it will have its good and bad. By teaching our children how to be intuitive and listen to their inner voice, we can prepare them make good choices and work towards better outcomes in life. Changing our perspective and modeling the above is the best gift we can give to our precious ones.
At Green Schools Green Future, we encourage our children and their parents to do thorough research and be well-informed. This will certainly help us to empathize with our children and help them grow and flourish no matter what kind of a world we live in. To learn more about our project click here. To support us in our cause click here.
Written By Kritika Rao