Children close their ears to advice, but open their eyes to example. ~Unknown
Parenting children has always been more of an art than a science. There is no vast data set that we can review to tell us the perfect bed time or the best way to approach school for our child. The fact of the matter is, all kids are different and require a different parenting approach. Just like there is no one right way to compose a song, there is no one way to parent a child. Parenting is truly an art form.
As parents, we have all learned what to do (and maybe what not to do) from our parents and grandparents and other “artists.” We all have family and friends who are a font of parenting knowledge. Speaking personally, I find it so helpful when my mother-in-law says, “Ya know what those boys need…” (note sarcasm). While, at times, we may find this advice helpful the truth is, parenting kids today is more different and more difficult than ever. There are an ever growing number of influences that impact our parenting.
Technology and social networks are one such influence. As parents, we find that our parenting has become much more public. Some could say we live our lives one post at a time. Social networks have changed the way we interact with one another and the way we parent. By the time my kids are old enough to have a Facebook account, there will be thousands of carefully annotated pics of them on various social networks. The accomplishments and the follies of our parenting are often posted for the world to see and comment on. In some ways it is great, because we often discover that we aren’t the only ones struggling with a particular behavior. However, I am curious to see the impact of growing up on social networks may have on our kids. Will they be more outgoing due to having their parents post their milestones or will they rebel and drop off the social network grid?
We need to help prepare our kids for a world lived online. This means modeling good digital citizenship. Now, I am not saying not to post pics of your kids on Facebook, but I would encourage you to ask their permission before using their image. You could also ask them to help craft the message that goes along with the post. This helps them have more control and allows them to understand that not every picture is suitable to post. I would also encourage you to have a conversation with your kids about the guidelines you use before posting. An easy acronym to remember when discussing guidelines is T.H.I.N.K.: is the post… True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and/or Kind. Finally, maintain technology free family routines. These may include regular family dinners, outdoor activities, or family game nights. Allowing your family to connect without devices will encourage conversation, bring you closer together, and help kids to understand the power of family. For more information on setting limits or managing technology at home, check out https://www.commonsensemedia.org/.