It seems that we hear this question more often today than what we used to. What is it about parenting today’s children that seems to be more difficult in this new millennium than in the previous one? Is it really more difficult or is it that we don’t have good parents anymore?
Parenting has always been difficult throughout history. If you don’t think so, simply pick up a history book and read about the settling of America’s wild west when parents didn’t have antibiotics or easy access to general medicine. Imagine being a parent then and not knowing what you would do if your child got sick. Or, what about being a parent during the sad days of slavery and being afraid of what your child would say each and every day that could get him into trouble. We could go and on about the challenges of being a parent in the “good old days.”
Parenting today’s children forces us to face different challenges than what our forefathers had to endure. Parenting has never been easy; it’s not meant to be. Those who are parents face daily challenges. The “look & feel” of the challenges may change over time but the level of difficulty remains the same. Our parenting challenges today seem to be more about the emotional rather than the physical. We may now have antibiotics for the body but we don’t have quick fixes for the emotional.
Parents today need to become better listeners so they can engage in meaningful conversations with their children. During those conversations, parents must listen with empathy but not be afraid to speak clearly about the principles that never change such as respect, teamwork, courage, and honor, just to name a few. Parents must role model those principles too. These principles act as the antibiotics, not for the body, but for the character of a child. Living by these principles and teaching today’s children how to apply them in their lives is our best approach to strengthening their emotional being.
Whether you’re a parent or a mentor of a child, make an effort to live by and role model principle-based living. Your example will bring health to young people around you.