21st Century Parenting

The world is moving at a rate not experienced before and parents are presented with new and daunting obstacles as they look to guide and support their children. Given this, how do we as parents also balance the need to protect our beloved children and the need to prepare them for life’s challenges? Is this new a phenomenon or has parenting been a verb for generations? 

When my wife and I talked about having children, we had many ideas on how to raise them; some we agreed on some we did not.  However, one thing was certain; we knew our goal was to raise our sons to be independent and to know the true meaning of kindness.  It was also our intent to work ourselves out of this job within 18 years. The challenge today for parents is allowing their children to experience mistakes or enabling them by deflecting and excusing their mistakes.  The more we protect our children, the less we prepare them for adult independence.

Now that our two sons are in the throes of their own parenting, the daily obstacles our grandchildren experience are significantly different than those their parents experienced. Hal Runkle, author of Scream Free Parenting, believes parenting has changed in recent decades as a result of the 24/7 news cycle, the internet, the ability to know the whereabouts of our children, and the smart phone…immediate access to ANYTHING in seconds. Runkle also said, “An adolescent with a smartphone is allowing them to have a weapon of mass destruction.”

Parents also face parenting during a time of over exertion and increased levels of stress among children. I saw parents at my granddaughter’s dance recital anxiously leaving with their daughter early in order to make the kickoff of a soccer game. Before they left, my granddaughter asked her friend to come over on Saturday, but she couldn’t because she had guitar lessons. By the way, the child was six. When thinking of examples like this, I am not surprised by data from surveys that suggest the number one concern of our students is high stress levels. Perhaps one plan of action could be to curtail your child’s busy schedule and give them more downtime with friends and family. Chances are the child will feel more relaxed, and the connection between the parent and the child will grow, strengthening the loving bonds that are the true foundation for a more complete, relaxed and confident child.

The world parents facenow in is vastly different from the one in which they were raised. What has not and cannot change is our need as parents to encourage our children to grow wings and fall while they learn to fly. That is the greatest gift we can give them.
All Saints’ Episcopal School is a leading college preparatory day school in Fort Worth, Texas. Grounded in the Episcopal school tradition, All Saints’ offers programming of national distinction in the academic, fine art, athletic and spiritual disciplines, which brings to life our philosophy of promoting each student’s individual genius within.
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