"I Don't Know How You Kids Survived".....Why Parenting in 2017 Has to be Different to How our Parents Did it.
“I don’t know how you kids survived.”
Do you ever hear this? When you are agonising over a decision regarding your kids, stressing over an issue that your child has shared with you or wondering whether you are being too strict, too lenient, too restrictive, too nosey…..
There seems to be this view from those that may be a tad older, that we are all stressing too much about it all and that we should just parent how they parented. I’m pretty lucky and don’t cop this very much, but discussions with friends have proven that the general consensus from the older generation is that we all just need to calm our farms and just go on our merry parenting way like they did.
The problem is this…..
Our children are not growing up in the world that we grew up in. They don’t have the same carefree existence that we did and a speaker on kid’s wellbeing that I had the privilege of hearing the other day, made me really reflect on why.
Imagine our life when we were little. You rarely heard about anything much. The news came on at 6 o’clock and that was pretty much the only access that we, as kids, had to worldwide events. Now, our kids hear about world events just minutes after they take place. A bombing in Syria, a crazed driver in Melbourne or most recently, a bombing outside of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. And it’s not just through the news. Their social media is flooded with details and firsthand videos within the hour, their friends are changing their profile pics in support of the victims and people are searching for their loved ones by sharing Facebook posts that get shared exponentially within minutes.
A teen pop sensation, a stadium full of people…...and a suicide bomber. Not a combination that we would have ever considered twenty years ago.
It would be lovely for our kids to be growing up in the same carefree, play in the street until the street lights came on, kind of childhood that we had. But the reality is that they are not. And the stresses and pressures and anxieties that our kids are coping with are real.
While sitting listening to this speaker, a nationally renowned uni lecturer, it dawned on me. My kids were born into a world where a terrorist attack is not just something that you hear about once or twice a year, on the news, in a far off distant land.
It’s a possibility, in cities that they have holidayed in, or live in.
When travelling somewhere by plane, it crosses their mind.
When booking a family holiday, it crosses their mind.
When booking Ed Sheeran tickets, it crosses their mind.
It could happen in Melbourne. It could happen at an Ariana Grande concert…...it could happen anywhere. Now tell me that that’s not stressful.
And it stresses me out too.
Mental illness, teen suicide rates, the immediacy of a world of information and detail that we were once oblivious to.......
It’s not all doom and gloom. Parenting, growing up, raising kids…It’s not all about considering all the horrible things in the world. It’s fun, entertaining and full of moments that make you burst with pride, joy and love…...But it is different.
There was one phrase that struck a chord with me, as I sat in the audience listening to this strong, intelligent woman.
“Children’s shoes are an awkward fit for most adults.”
But maybe that’s what we need to do. When our teens are struggling…..put ourselves in their shoes, their world, their everyday. I’m the first to admit, that I struggle with this. I’m a fixer, a rescuer…..my general response is to just stop stressing and focus on what we are going to do about it. I had never really stopped to think about just how different our kid’s world is. And had I ever really taken that into account? Parenting has to be different in 2017 because the world is different in 2017.
I don’t have the answer. In fact, most of the time I feel like I have no idea what I am doing and whether I am doing it right. Or, whether my kids seem to be turning out ok, despite having such a clueless mother. But I do know this….
I have joked before with friends, that I would not want to be growing up as a teenager in 2017. But I am raising one....