Are we failing as modern day parents?
We are living in a society that has reached its peak in evolving and developing. Modern technology is an irreplaceable part of our everyday lives. We can’t imagine a day spent without internet or our smart phones. The science achievements are growing up as fast as they can. We are at a point where we are carrying all the knowledge there is in this world in our pockets. We are just a click away from any kind of information we need to know at the moment. So, without doubt I can say that technology and science are going forward in a very fast, almost running pace.
What about the emotional evolution? Are we learning something? Do we have a higher emotional intelligence than our parents, how are our children evolving emotionally?
Recently I have read a statistics coming from professional therapists, that say:
- 1 in 5 children has some kind of a mental health problem;
- 37% increase in teen depression;
- 43% increase in ADHD;
- 200% increase in suicide rate in kids 10-14 years old.
I found this information quite disturbing. Have we forgotten the most important aspect of our children’s health and happiness? Are we just running in circles in order to offer more possibilities for entertainment and education, all the while forgetting what is really important?
We have created a society that leaves us with no free time to spend with our children in order to afford them the basic emotional necessities. Almost every child has one or even both of the parents working more than 10 hours a day, which leaves them with seeing the parent for only 1-2 hours. They are spending their days in the day care or kindergartens with an adult they are probably not attached to, and who will probably not answer all their needs and demands.
Even when there is a stay at home mom to take care and raise them, they will still miss their daddy. This is the case in our family. My little boy is growing up in my presence, we are together 24/7. I have seen his first tooth, the first step… He is attached to me and connected in every way, showing affection, kissing me and hugging me whenever he gets the chance, communicating everything from scary dreams to bursts of joy. He cares for me and is sorry if I get mad at him.
But, when it comes to his daddy, aside of their playing together during the weekends when my husband is not tired, he does not seem attached. My boy got used to passing his days with just mommy, and he is even upset if it happens that my husband is at home a whole day. At times he doesn’t even want to kiss daddy goodbye. He still doesn’t feel comfortable with him as much as it he feels with me, to give him hugs, kisses or any kind of caressing. It saddens me to the core when I see how my husband’s face changes when my boy starts screaming: no I don’t want to kiss daddy. And if I was in my husband’s position being a working parent this would probably have happened to me as well.
I believe that this detachment comes from the fact that his daddy is not as present as I am. He is too young to understand that this is the sacrifice one of us has to make in order to have at least one parent at home with him. He does not understand that his daddy also wants to pass the days playing with him. That’s why, in my opinion, the detachment and even anger are present. And this is an emotional loss for my boy.
Another thing is that even when the both parents are present, they are usually – digitally distracted. I have noticed this on myself. Although, as I said before I am almost always with my son, I am catching myself quite often staring at my phone. It happens that my boy is asking me something, and I am just responding – yes honey, that’s right, although I do not know at the moment what is the thing that is right. This is even more valid for my husband, since he is also working from home, and therefore is quite often distracted while present in the room with us.
We are providing all kinds of toys and the best schools and colleges, and yet they are missing the fundamentals of a healthy childhood. We are kind of lost in the many parenting styles: gentle parenting, respectful parenting, old fashioned, no punishment parenting and so on, the list is long.
While we are concentrated on one side of our child’s development and growing up, we are totally neglecting some other aspect, since we don’t have enough time to implement everything we have read about.
If we are offering enough emotional support, we are forgetting to establish clear limits so that they begin to understand that the world doesn’t revolve only around them.
If we are providing them enough outdoor time, we are usually neglecting their need for healthy food. When you are at the park for 2-3 hours it gets difficult to prepare a real meal, and they usually get hungry so it means that possibly they will be getting a fast food snack.
When we are trying to organize their time, inventing creative plays for them, we are usually forgetting to let them be bored, since the boredom is the first step to their creativity development.
We have prolonged our days so we are able to finish everything, and that reflects on our kids’ activities too. They are staying awake much longer, compared to our childhood’s bed times. And they do need to sleep more.
We feel in debt to our children since we are not giving them all the time they need with us. And since we want them to have a nice time with us, quite often we let them be the boss. We are making them entitled.
We have created technological babysitters to entertain them, so that we can finish our tasks in peace.
How can we expect our children to grow in mentally healthy adults with a high level of emotional intelligence, when their environment is not providing them the basic necessities for happiness?
We have to wake up and go back to the basis. Changes are possible and can be made every day. Children adapt quickly. It is scientifically proven that the brain has the capacity to rewire itself through the environment. We can still raise happy and fulfilled individuals. Our first and most important role is to be a parent to our child, not a friend. They will have many friends to offer them what they want, but only their parents to provide the guidance they really need.
The most important thing we can give our precious kiddos, are wings and roots. Wings to fly in the world, and roots to stay grounded and firm in their beliefs and principles.
We need to provide a well-balanced lifestyle, and teach them the difference between what they want and what they need. We must not be afraid to say no to our children every once in a while. They need to know that they can’t have everything, they need to know that they should work hard in order to obtain something, that they too should make an effort. We should teach them to take responsibility for their actions. To be independent.
Our best intentions, work against us as parents.
We shouldn’t over-protect them from small failures. What they need from us is to train them to overcome life’s challenges.
Therefore, don’t peal the fruit for your five old boy/girl, they can do it on their own. Don’t make their beds in the mornings. It is their bed, they should learn to take care of their living space. Involve them in at least one chore a day. They can help with taking out the trash, setting the table, making the bed and so on.
I am sure you have noticed how so many children are throwing tantrums? When I asked my mom for an advice on the matter, she didn’t even know what a tantrum is. Recently, I’ve read somewhere that those tantrums are coming from an unbalanced nutrition and sleep routine. I believe that this is true. I have noticed that my son throws tantrums when he hasn’t slept enough or had too many unhealthy snacks.
We shall all concentrate most on providing nutritious food and healthy snacks for our little ones. Fruits and vegetables don’t have to be cooked or prepared in any way. Just wash them well, and put them in your backpack. A carrot, nuts, a banana or an apple are quite a delicious snack when playing outdoors. And make sure that you implement a consistent sleep routine, so that your child gets enough sleep.
We should probably avoid using our smart phones while spending time with our kids, as well. We need to teach them that it is not okay to use our phones during meals, in cars, restaurants or as a cure for boredom. And they do learn best by examples.
We should be our child’s emotional coach. We need to teach them to recognize their emotions, and how to deal with them. Parents need to teach kids greeting, sharing, turn taking, table manners, empathy.
It is not too late, we can still set them straight and prevent them from becoming unstable, unadjusted adults. We can still make the change we want to see in this world.
Humans are not made to be perfect. We all make mistakes. Even though we devote ourselves to being the best parent, it is still the most difficult task. We are bound to make many mistakes in the process.
When we are aware of our mistakes and we explain how sorry we are for them, our kids learn from that. And they will hopefully not repeat them as parents. They will probably make some other mistakes that won’t be repeated by our grandchildren. That is how improvement happens. With acknowledging every mistake and transforming it into progress, every next generation will produce better parents.
My Quiet Spot
Read also: How to raise a world changer