As we get older, we adjust and roll with the rapidly changing world without making a fuss about it. It was when my kids were all grown up and busy building their careers and families that my life became calmer. Then I could sit back and contemplate the fruits of my labor. My nostalgia took me back to my mother, who said that the values I instilled in my children will determine the type of adults they will become. It must have worked because they are awesome. However, I’m so grateful that I don’t have to raise children in the 21st century.
Modern challenges for growing children
By the time my children were young adults, I felt satisfied that they were ready and prepared for any obstacles. Now, I see and read things every day that makes me wonder how I would have dealt with the challenges faced by Generation Z and Generation Alpha children and their parents.
I am certainly not saying that none of these parenting challenges existed in the nineties when I had teenagers, but modern technological and digital advances seem to take the place of parenting in many cases today. Could that be why teenagers have trust issues with which they prefer to seek online solutions instead of turning to their parents for advice? Suggesting they talk to counselors, coaches or teachers might send them into the lion’s den. This is if I base my concerns on horror stories about trusted figures turning out to be molesters.
What scares me is reports about studies that focus on the link between the psychological maladjustment of children and the perceived maternal and paternal rejection. Wow, that is a mouthful! Then the advice is to make sure you show unwavering acceptance, love and guidance to your teenager. In my day, we didn’t need complicated studies to know the importance of showing love and support.
Lack of motivation
I see parents complaining about the lack of motivation in their teenagers. They fail to plan careers, find jobs, move out to live on their own, and get their own cars. Could the tendency to be reclusive and to limit interaction with others to their virtual friends be why many teenagers show no desire to leave the homes of their parents? Living where others feed them and do their laundry makes life a whole lot easier. Also, it allows more time to spend in their virtual worlds without interference.
Is it even possible to keep a balance?
If I had to parent a teenager in 2019, I would possibly struggle to keep a balance between showing love and guiding my child appropriately. How do parents know which pressures their teens face at school and from peers and bullies online? When they do learn about their children’s stresses, it might already be ongoing patterns that lead to anxiety, depression, and thoughts of self-harm.
Alcohol, sex and drugs are nothing new, and they have tempted teenagers for decades. However, it seems that modern culture has desensitized children. To me, this appears to be one of the most significant challenges for current parents. Children are encouraged to reach out to crisis lines instead of burdening their busy parents with their problems.
Dangerous sexual behaviors have become par for the course, and even though sex is part of the list of desensitized subjects, discussing it remains crucial. In my day, the birds-and-bees talks were done at about the time when our children reached puberty. Nowadays, even preschoolers are familiar with these issues.
I cannot resist sharing this memory:
We were young parents in the eighties. One night, we were watching a rented comedy, and our 3 and 4-year-old boys were also present. I have to mention that we live in South Africa, and English is not our first language. The only English the boys ever heard at that time was what they heard on the television. At one point in the movie, one guy tells his friend that he held up a woman with his erection that day. He had his hand in the pocket of his pants, pretending to carry a gun. My husband and I froze as we anticipated the inevitable question to explain an erection. Fortunately, his 3-year-old brain stopped at the first unfamiliar word, and he looked up and asked: “Daddy, what is a who-m-a-a-n?”