Technology has without a doubt changed the world around us. While some of us may have grown up acquainted with such things, we now live in a world in which the Internet and media have virtually transformed the experience of “growing up” and being a “kid.” Perhaps your parents discussed how different your upbringing was from theirs with the various technologies at your fingertips, but now we can all agree the experience children currently have is a far cry from any previous years. It seems more and more difficult to protect children from growing up too fast and nearly impossible to prevent them from being exposed to sex, drugs, and alcohol even when they simply overhear the evening news. While many parenting gurus and conservative cultures suggest pulling the reins and covering your children’s eyes and ears, the most beneficial reaction may to be to refrain from sheltering. Instead, attempt these helpful tips in order to not only raise your children properly, but also maintain a strong relationship with them along the way.
A Tricky Balance
The balance between being a parent living for your children and maintaining yourself is tricky because the more you can be a role model to them, the more they’ll follow your lead and make better decisions for themselves. Freedom is a beautiful thing because whether you like it or not your kid will end up the freshman 15 ridden, drunken sorority girls by college (if you slingshot raise them) without gently letting them make their own decisions. Here are the 3 ways to bring encourage a closer relationship with your kids.
1. Be Your Own Rock star:
To have your children love and simultaneously respect you, it is important for you to be the one exposing and communicating the realities of the world to them from your own perspective. You are very influential as a parent and they are watching your every move—therefore, balancing between being a parent and being your individual self becomes tricky.
You have to have a life outside of your child. When your child sees you living your own life and not living for them (and through them), it actually benefits both you and your children. Your children will start to respect you when they see you in a light of self-love. You’re not being the crazy soccer mom; you’re not pulling your hair out. Sometimes the very way to bring your kids closer is to retain your individuality, have your own interests, friends, and career. Don’t assume you’re a bad parent by pursuing your own interests—it is a beautiful thing for your children to see you as the rock star in your own element and in your own interests. I personally loved that my mom worked during the week and couldn’t always attend every single dance competition I had—it was important for me to see that she had her own life and passions. The more respect I had for her the more respect I wanted to have for myself.
2. Avoid the Slingshot Effect:
My boyfriend commented about raising children after watching the new film “Expecting Mary.” In the film, the main character finds herself pregnant and subsequently runs away from home because her parents want to cover it up to maintain the family’s image. Afterwards, he said, “I’m not going to let my daughter date until she’s 18!” Enter the slingshot effect—which refers to a parenting technique in which parents create unrealistic rules (such as no dating until college) in order to scare off pubescent boys, and trouble, from their daughter’s lives in order to shelter and protect their daughter. While discipline and rules with your child are necessary, using such drastic measures almost always results in a child rebelling and losing all forms of self-control. Help your child make smarter choices (rather than impulsive, rebellious ones) and understand restriction and consequences instead of painting the world in rules. Instead of sheltering your children from reality, allowing healthy discussion with healthy boundaries will allow your child to live you for letting them experience life for themselves.
3. Trust Them and Let them Choose:
One of the healthiest ways your child can grow is via experience. We were all young once and wanted to go on a date with that new hot senior or get a cell phone at (probably) too young of an age. Let your children experience what made you into who you are today by creating healthy boundaries and letting them make their own choices. Inform them of consequences of their actions and how the world works amongst such consequences as well as what you went through at their age. But allow your children to make some form of mistakes or they will never grow. If you let them, your children will gain strength of character, confidence, and self-respect by making life choices. Let your children choose their lives and who they will become so they can acquire their own identity through life experiences.
About the Author
Bridget Nielsen is the author of The Secret to Finding Passion in Your Career and a blogger for the Huffington Post helping kids and college graduates re-discover their passions, confidence, and self-love. Her 23 year old youthful age and her studies on each generation gives her a unique and creative perspective to relate to children while understanding parents, and their needs. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University with a double major in Fine Arts and Business Administration.
Win TICKETS and other Movie Swag!
Expecting Mary is wonderful for moms and their kids and expresses the power of friendship, standing up for what you believe in, and loving others in your community. It has a Juno and educational element and is incredible for teaching teens, in a beautiful way, about teen pregnancy, not judging others, and living a loving life. Click below to enter to win tickets to see Expecting Mary and a prize pack from the movie!