Inform. Inspire. Empower

A parenting goal to start the year

Making a family, stronger, more harmonious this year may not require a complete overhaul, but rather a few strategic tweaks.

Help your children balance their online and off-line lives

Take an active role in your children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.

What are values? Someone may ask. Values are important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture. They are about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values have major influence on a person’s behaviour and attitude and serve as broad guidelines in all situations.

Illustration of a family watching television together. Google Photo

Share Your Values

Today, teenagers are bombarded with conflicting, ever-shifting standards of ethics and morality. At the very time, they’re in the process of formulating a system of beliefs. This is not only confusing for them but troubling for their parents. This is because they can no longer rely on society to reinforce the values they teach at home.

It takes a whole village to raise a man

Previous generations depended upon a complex matrix of people and institutions to uphold the community’s moral codes. Extended family members, neighbours, religious and civic organizations, and schools expanded a parent’s sphere of influence beyond the home. What’s more, most mothers and fathers felt they could depend on other parents and adults in the community. They were to back them up, to adhere to the same basic values and rules of conduct for their children. In many cases, that safety net has been stretched thin, a consequence of the high divorce rate or longer work weeks. Other societal changes that have taken place over the last several decades also coming into play.

Infuriating matters, we often find ourselves competing with the ever-more invasive influence of media. This influence tries to unify the increasingly fragmented audience by an appeal to its insatiable appetite for sensationalism, sex and celebrity worship. If we’re to counterbalance these outside influences, it’s up to parents to build their youngsters a moral and ethical foundation. Though it may not always seem like it, you are the guiding influence in your teenager’s life. Don’t hesitate to express your views on drug use, sex, racial intolerance, hate crimes and other matters that affect your children. This, especially when setting a limit or administering discipline. First, however, you must thoughtfully reflect on your positions. Discuss with your youngster what you believe and why. (S)he may not like the rule or punishment, but at least he may come away satisfied that it’s not being imposed arbitrarily.

Children need to know where parents stand if only to have a belief system from which to craft their own. They may disagree with you, defy you even, but eventually, they will probably respect you for your convictions.

Instil Values by Example

Your words as a parent will carry more weight if you model the values and habits you want your teenager to emulate. Walk the talk, so to speak. Adolescents, whose parents smoke are three times more likely to take up cigarettes than children from homes where tobacco is not used.

Nevertheless, the fact that parents may fail to practice what they preach, either now or in the past, does not preclude them from imparting ethics and morals to their children. Being perfect is not a prerequisite of parenthood. The inevitable protest, an indignant “But you do it!” has a surprisingly simple comeback.

Parents who perhaps experimented with drugs, alcohol or sex years ago face a similar dilemma. Is it hypocritical to prohibit your teenager from doing things that you did when you were his or her age? In a word, no. You are acting as a concerned parent who has learned from experience and wants to protect her child.

Do better with digital

From TV to Smartphone to social media, our lives are dominated by 24/7 media exposure. Despite this, many children and teens have few rules around their media use.

What are your kids watching on TV and online? Devote some time to researching age-appropriate media, and remember that screen time shouldn’t always be alone time. Watch a show together. Play a video game together. Understand what they are doing and be a part of it.

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