By Julie Fuertes Custodio, as originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am not judging how the kids these days behave. This article will merely point out the things we do, in my opinion as a parent and as a teacher, that may hinder the way our children grow up the way we want them to. This will not try to compare one generation to the other in terms of which is better and will not indict “bad” parents and extol “good” ones. Having said that, let me just write down my thoughts and those of some other adults I know when the topic “Kids these days” come up.
- Kids these days need to look up and look around more. You don’t need statistics or testimonials to know that most of today’s young people have their heads down on the glaring and moving graphics of their electronic gadgets. Sometimes it makes us wonder if they know what is going on around them at all.
- Kids these days are easily bored. Whether waiting for their turn at the doctor’s clinic, waiting for the food orders to arrive or waiting for the school service to come pick them up, they are bored. Parents see to it that they manage their time wisely by providing them with things that will entertain them: electronic gadgets.
- Kids these days rely heavily and put emphasis on fast: Fast food and fast internet connection among others. Delayed gratification is something they need to learn because the truth is the truly good things in life are earned the long and hard way, with much patience and perseverance.
- Kids these days are emotionally involved because of the technological advances including how fast and how graphically the news are delivered. Should children know in detail things that are happening elsewhere whereas they know nothing about what is happening in their own immediate environment? Should they be exposed to the violence happening around the world without understanding the impact of these things in their lives? Should we allow our children to read and watch things beyond their understanding?
- Kids these days should learn how to form, think of and write their own opinions and not rely on what they read online. Everything is available in the internet. At the click of a button or a tap of a finger, they are able to copy and paste research work painstakingly done by others without reading and understanding the contents, oftentimes without acknowledging the author. There are a lot of cases too where they just copy and paste unverified work without checking other sources.
- Kids these days want to work with computers. Nothing wrong with setting the mind to work using computers in the future. The question is, are there children who would want to work in the agricultural and fisheries sector, the human aspects of running a business, the face-to-face management or utilization of the hands and creativity in work-related tasks?
- Kids these days feel empowered because they know they can get what they want easily. Parents feel they have to give the best to their children, beyond what they need. They do not want to see their children having less than their peers, as though this would make their children mediocre or deprived.
- Kids these days feel entitled, that is, that that the world owes them what they want and when they want it. This sense of entitlement can prove to be a fatal disappointment when things don’t go the way the children expect. At this point, even when the children have grown to be adults, they will be having difficulties dealing with rejection, being denied the things they want to have and do because of the realization that they need to work hard and wait for the results.
- Kids these days feel that they can handle all the challenges thrown at them because Mom and/or Dad are there for them at all times. We cannot always “clear the path” and face the adversities for the children to merrily make their way to their goals (which more often the parents have set and not the children themselves).
- Kids these days are so dependent on the yaya to do simple tasks for them like getting them a drink of water, carrying their lunch boxes or even getting their clothes from the cabinet.
Parents should think about the long-term effects of their parenting style. Parents should guide the children to make their own decisions and choose what steps they should take to realize their dreams. Remember that you parents can’t be with them 24/7. There are a lot of life lessons and life-changing decisions that children have to make on their own in due time but if they know what to do and have been guided properly, then there is not much to fear. Parents should not be in competition with other parents or families because all children are unique in their own way. How should we deal with the kids then?
- Teach your children the proper way to “fight” their own battles using their own strategies and those that you have taught them, with you as their role models. Walk your talk because these children see you as the benchmark for the words of wisdom you lovingly throw at them.
- Let them know they are loved even if they can’t have the expensive toys or gadgets that some of their classmates or friends are enjoying.
- Teach them about responsibilities and chores and pride in the work that they have accomplished themselves.
- Teach them to appreciate the simple things like having fun without gadgets.
- Teach them that needs come first before wants, that working hard to get these things will help them realize that not everything can be had at the click of a mouse or a tap on the screen or a tantrum on the floor to get their message across. They need to learn to wait and that sometimes, the answers vary from “yes”, to “no” to “wait”.
- Be consistent with your home “rules” and “policies” and make sure they are not too harsh nor constricting nor too many to follow.
- Try not to live your dreams through your children by helping them cultivate their own dreams and not yours because it is their lives, their happiness that they will live with even when you are gone.
- Above all, build a strong CORE foundation for a happy and healthy future that you envision for them: a strong character and a moral fiber like an inner compass that guides them to the right path.