Recently, it has been much discussed by researchers, educationalists and parents’ groups that the challenges of being a parent in the 21st century are far reaching and certainly not those faced by parents ever before.
Children have so many additional challenges and dangers in addition to growing up that parenting today requires extreme diligence and careful navigation.
Our children are all exposed to the multimedia world daily and, with this, comes intense pressure and enormous responsibility. They have access to an enormous amount of information, are subject to the negative aspects of the internet and influences that can impact daily life in addition to coping with growing up.
Today’s society constantly questions one’s whole identity, success, social background, and the media sets unrealistic examples and goals.
It is with strong solid parental support and, of course, solid, effective, nurturing schools that children and adolescents are able to cope and develop positively with all these surrounding influences.
Parenting is not, and never will be, an exact science and, within any family, what works for one child may not be effective for a sibling. It is however, about leadership and taking control, enabling children to be children and adults to be the positive leaders.
As the Head of a School, I have indeed seen how parents now want to be their child’s best friend and not upset their child in any way, or make decisions that the child will not like even in children as young as four or five.
Real life is competitive, and children’s emotional resilience needs to be well built to face rejections and the results of their actions. Not ever saying no can result in children struggling to cope in everyday life and have far reaching effects.
Evidence exists that children who do not have clear boundaries and expectations or experience of competition do not have the resilience or emotional skills to cope with the challenges they face as they grow up.
Research shows that children need to witness strong role models showing who is in charge and taking control of situations with all the experience that being an adult affords.
Yes, children and adolescents get upset when a decision is made that is unpopular, however, tough decisions made by parents in the best interest of the child and whole family are what being a parent at times is!
This means that children are then allowed to be children, not having to cope with elements of life that emotionally they should not have to and have clear boundaries and witness parents as positive role models setting clear expectations.
Your child will, of course, still love you and in time value you more, as positive, effective parenting enables children to understand better the world they are growing up in and crucially cope emotionally.
However, as parents, we should not worry about the challenges you encounter in being a parent. Remain positive and allow them to motivate you to become a better parent as you are helping your children to grow into responsible and sensible adults.
After all, our children love happy, strong, positive parents more than perfect ones and we must remember, as role models, our children imitate our actions and behaviour.
21st century parenting is so much more than being a child’s best friend or buying the latest technological item. It is about leadership, being a role model and sometimes having to make unpopular decisions because it is in the best interest of the child. After all, if we as parents do not do this, no one else will.
‘Children have never been very good at listening to their parents, but they have never failed to imitate them!’ – Anonymous
By Penelope Best, Head of School,
Eupheus International School, Loulé