Parents often blame themselves for the issues of their children. Others wonder, obliviously, why their children ever get into trouble. Parents can be at fault, but mostly it is not them directly. It’s their inability to deflect all the negative influences that are bombarding their children. That’s part of the reason it’s so tough to be a parent, especially these days. Both parents need to be involved! Following are some areas where your awareness and involvement can protect your children from having preventable issues.
Youthful absorption: Brain and intellectual development (from Leapfrog.com)
This is one area where parents can directly influence their children in positive and negative ways. Children as young as three to four months react to, and can begin to share, a parent's repeatedly depressed or anxious mood. Also, when exposed to witnessing domestic violence or intense conflict at home, it is known that long-lasting detrimental effects on social and emotional development, and the brain itself, can begin as young as six months of age. In simple words, be careful how you act around your children! Even infants can be impacted adversely. To assume they are too young to absorb their surrounding environment has been proven to be false.
Don’t rely on educational TV to teach your kids. A child's inborn motivation to problem solve, which begins in the first three to six months of life and lasts into adulthood, is better responded to in interactive play and discovery with caring adults and other children. The best caring adults are parents and grandparents. Ninety-five percent of parents said it was important to read to kids, but only 20% actually did it more than once a day.
Play, love, interact, and teach your children as early as three months old, and don't stop until they beg you to stop.
Technology and Social Media
These days, a parent has to be socially aware of the myriad of things bombarding all young people. In my day there was TV, movies, and radio with strict ideas on censoring. In today’s world, there are computers, video games, and smart phones that can deliver any kind of uncensored information, much of it negative. Sex, violence, obscene behavior, questionable values, hate speech and more are all available with a few clicks on the internet. If you want to control the values in which you believe, you must be aware of the social media habits of your children. Computers, when used by children, should be used in a public area of your home. Look at ratings on video games and limit their use. It is also much safer to give your older kids simple cell phones and not smart phones. They will complain but you are the parent.
Know your children’s friends. Just knowing their names is not enough. You need to be familiar with their families and personality away from adults. Those old enough remember the character ‘Eddie Haskell’ on “Leave It To Beaver” know that he had one face for ‘the Beave’, and another for his parents. You really have no idea what thoughts friends are whispering in your child’s ear. You have to give them the tools to combat the thoughts that are dangerous or socially unacceptable. Those tools are values, confidence, and communication.
Really get to know your kids’ schools and teachers. They have control of them for many hours of their lives. Know the principal and his philosophies for the school. Does the staff watch for bullies? What’s their curriculum? How do they handle misbehavior? Do they communicate with parents regularly? I emphasize not being a nuisance, but do show concern. Ask your kids how they are doing in school and if they enjoy it.
Knowing schools is more important when you and your child chooses a school for higher education. Some universities are known for tacit, and sometimes not so tacit, ideological manipulation. Some colleges hire professors known for their extreme views. There are even professors hired with criminal backgrounds. Look into the staff, administration, and professors. If you like their backgrounds, you’re good to go. If not, then move on to another school. If your child is paying for their own education, you can only advise. If you are paying for their education, your opinions count heavily.
Children need privacy as a simple right. But they are not responsible enough to have the right to hide things from parents that parents might object to. As they grow older, they become more responsible and deserve more privacy but they must earn your trust. Share your thoughts on privacy with your children. You have to balance their need for privacy with your common sense and responsibility to protect them. Children fool and mislead their parents everyday. Don't assume you're kids are angels. If they are, they won't mind your concern.
You are the guardians against the negatives your children can and will experience. Know what to protect them from and how to do it. All children need to know how to protect themselves and to be confident in their parents when they need to talk. Their current safety and futures depend upon you dad, and you mom!