Not only am I a Modern Parent myself, but as a child psychologist, I work with a lot with Modern Parents. This allows me to have some good insight on what is on this generation of parent’s minds.
Today’s Modern Parents have to tackle the same concerns that their parents’ and grandparents’ generation of parents needed to address – PLUS MORE. Not only do we need to put time, energy, and effort into raising smart, well-liked, and good kids, but we need to figure out effective ways of parenting in an environment that often encourages laziness, shallowness, and entitlement.
Furthermore, I know that today’s Modern Parents are unfairly being stereotyped as being lazy and incompetent, but from what I’ve seen, most Modern Parents out there are going above and beyond to figure out how to raise kids that are interesting, personable, and moral in today’s world.
So what are Modern Parents most concerned about? Here are the top 4 topics that I find I am asked about the most by other parents – and simple suggestions on how to begin addressing these concerns in your Modern Family.
#1 Modern Parents Fear Their Kids Lack Values
Worry: Many parents I talk to express some worry that their kids don’t seem to understand that there are more important things to life than taking the perfect selfie or owning the hottest tech toy or sports gear. Modern Parents are very aware that living a happy and fulfilling life means that there is a healthy balance between responsibility, fun, and personal growth. How do we teach our kids to develop personal passions, values, and beliefs?
How To Address This Worry: The first step to addressing this worry is that you need to be clear about your own passions, values, and beliefs before you can work with your child. When you are clear about what is important to you and why these values are important to you, then you begin to have a clear blueprint to guide you on making parenting decisions. In addition, your child will see you model what it means to live a fulfilling life as you go about your day-to-day schedule addressing your responsibilities, all the while engaging in activities that also feed your personal growth.
I’ve written before about how important it is for parents to develop and regularly engage in activities that relate to their own passions, values, and beliefs because this teaches our kids several important life lessons:
- Parenting is only part of mom and dad’s life. They are way more than just caretakers – they are people with interesting hobbies and interests that make them fun people to be with.
- Education and personal growth does not end after high school or college – living a fulfilling life means continuing to pursue knowledge in areas you are passionate about.
- Spending time with friends and family is important to work/life balance, and modeling to kids how to make and keep positive friendships is an important life lesson that every child needs to learn.
- Practicing spiritual growth – whether that is through organized religion or other means – is important for understanding who we are as people and for discovering our purpose in life.
Don’t have a clear understanding of your own passions, values and beliefs? Read this past blog post for a step-by-step plan on uncovering what matters to you and your family. Every family is different and unique, so it makes sense that every family (and family member) should discover what is deeply and truly important to them.
#2 Using Modern Conveniences Is a Tool, Not a Way of Life
Worry: Tired of your child relying too much on spell-check to spell, texting instead of speaking to their sibling in the next room, and social media in the place of making and keeping real friends? Well you are not alone. While many Modern Parents like the convenience that technology brings to us, they are very worried that technology is taking over their kid’s lives in a negative way.
How To Address This Worry: Even if you are tempted to take away all forms of technology and get back to basics, it’s best if you teach your kids how to integrate technology into everyday living in a way that encourages communication, education, and building healthy relationships. Let’s face it – our kids are going to need to use technology as adults, so it’s our job to teach them how to use technology successfully.
Modern Parents need to develop family standards regarding technology use and create rules based on these standards. Once mom and dad know where they stand with regard to technology, they need to clearly communicate the rules to the kids.
One way to do this is by sitting down together and creating a signed contract that specifically lays out the rules and expectations regarding use of cell phones, gaming devices, and social media – and the consequences if these rules are broken. Need help with creating a contract between parent and child? Check out this previous blog post.
I’m going to admit that this isn’t necessarily easy. I’ve had to develop rules regarding technology in my own family, but it is was well worth the effort. My son is now 19 and doing great in college, and he knows that studying comes first and then playing video games, watching his favorite tv shows, and keeping up on social media is something to be enjoyed during his down time.
#3 What if I Don’t Have a Traditional Family? Will My Kids Be OK?
Worry: Modern Parenting comes in all shapes and sizes. The traditional family, where Mom and Dad are married and have no divorces between them, can be a very effective way to raise great kids. On the other hand, I have come into contact with many non-traditional families who are equally successful at raising smart, moral, and interesting kids.
I define a non-traditional family as one where one or more caring individuals come together to raise great kids in a warm and loving manner. Non-traditional families consist of families who are divorced, divorced/re-married, gay/lesbian, mixed-orientation (where one parent is gay and one parent is straight), single-parent household, co-habitating couples, etc.
How To Address This Worry: Family structure is not the most important factor in raising good kids. Science tells us that other factors such as having a the type of parent-child relationship, parental financial stability, and exposure to childhood adversity (such as maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence, or living with another person with serious mental illness) all have a huge effect on how kids turn out – no matter the family structure. In addition, more and more research is finding that kids of same- and different-sex parents fare equally well.
The bottom line is that all kinds of families can raise great kids, as long as the parents involved concentrate on creating and maintaining a loving, yet firm relationship with their kids. As a parent in a successful non-traditional family myself, I know that it’s more than possible to raise great kids who are happy, healthy, interesting, and moral young people.
#4 Modern Parents Are Scared Their Kids Lack Motivation
Worry: I’ve written about this before. There is definitely an Underachieving Phenomenon going on right now and Modern Parents not only need to be aware of this, but they need to know how to address it if they see this happening in their own families.
Most Modern Parents aren’t interested in raising super-achieving robots, but they do want to raise kids with an inner drive to pursue a meaningful career and to understand the value of a hard day’s work. Now, more than ever, parents need to concentrate on teaching their kids the skills it takes to start a task and to complete it to the best of their ability in order to develop into independent and successful young adults.
How To Address This Worry: You can begin addressing your child’s motivation issues by learning all about the 3 stages of motivation – activation, persistence, and intensity. By understanding where your child is stuck, you will be better prepared to identify the correct parenting tactic needed solve this problem. I will definitely be writing more about the science behind how to help kids learn to become self-motivated in the months ahead.
Just the fact that many Modern Parents are worried that they are not doing a good job tells me that this generation of Modern Parents is willing to do what it takes to raise great kids. If we want to raise classically great kids in a modern world, we need to be open to learning new parenting techniques to use alongside of the tried-and-true techniques that continue to work. For example, we know we need to set boundaries with how our kids use their time. This is wisdom that was handed down from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. However, Modern Parents also need to figure out where to draw the line with how much time our kids spend on modern tasks such as using the computer for schoolwork, keeping up with friends on social media, and extracurricular activities.
Want to up your parenting game? Download my free ebook “The 10 Parenting Habits That Science Says Creates Successful Kids” to learn even more tips and tricks of the Modern Parent that are based on scientific research.