Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Covenant

Raising children… The single most challenging and rewarding task put before us. If it is done well, it is both of those things. Children change so often. Just when we think we have a handle on what’s needed, what’s needed changes. 
Today’s adolescents look like adults. They are adult sized, which I suppose we were as well at their ages. But there is more to it than that. Teens today present with a greater world sophistication than we did. They dress like adults. My children go to school with children from Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. There is no question they cannot get an answer for via the internet, yet I’m fairly confident that they don’t ask for moral advice or guidance, and frankly I’d be leery of Internet based advice! Thanks in no small part to the internet, teens today are exposed to much more sexuality and information about sex than my peers and I were. Despite this, I worry about the emotional depth of their knowledge, because once again, they look like adults, but they are still children.

On occasion I hear parents lament how quickly children grow up. We lament the huge and negative impact technology has played on our adolescents, sometimes resulting in premature adultification. I am cogent that if my son got his first Facebook page at too young of an age, the responsibility lies only with me. In my excitement to embrace technology, perhaps I should have set better limits for him. As a parent, I think it is of utmost importance that we understand the technologies that our children are using. To ignore Facebook, twitter, or tumbler, just to name a few, means that we are making a choice to not be informed about most of the major ways that our teens are socializing and communicating with each other.  I believe it is imperative that we be our children’s Facebook “friend”. I believe it is imperative that we follow our children’s twitters, and give them feedback when appropriate, not necessarily feedback on their digital post, where we will likely embarrass them, but face to face. Children need to learn to be good cyber citizens, and as we guide them in their social interactions in the community, we also need to guide them in their interactions in the cyber world.

These are some of the topics I think about often.  I am not an expert by any means. I am a dad who is engaged in parenting, and probably making more mistakes than I wish. Time will tell… as will my children, but hopefully not in a memoir! I am writing about these things mostly just to think out loud, and possibly to get some thoughtful feedback.

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