It is not a pretty picture. Our children are scared to love in the face of AIDS, scared to trust in this violent society, scared to dream in the decreasing job market and scared to breathe inside a dying ozone. At age three, kids are watching cartoons with children singing "Say No To Drugs" in commercial breaks. It is a different world than the one we grew up in.
We race around with our hectic schedules, squeezing in the time to read this article. Our main concern as parents is to give our child the best edge in this ever competitive world. We put emphasis on grades, learning and sports. Do we really have children or just short adults? What is happening to our world?
Learning to Listen
The first thing parents need to do is stay in touch with their children's world. The sooner you get started the easier it is to follow their generation in both its triumphs and trials.
Here are some ways you can keep in touch:
- Read their magazines and books to learn the issues and concerns of their age group.
- Watch television programs and movies with them to see what they are learning from TV.
- Listen to their music. Do the lyrics coincide with the morals you are teaching?
- Develop common interests. Try out a Nintendo game or CD ROM, this will open up things to talk about and show your kids that you can relate on their level.
- Talk to teachers and guidance counselors at parent conferences. They deal with kids five days a week and can tell you the concerns of today's youth.
- Get to know your child's friends and their parents when they visit. This will give you another view of children your child's age.
The communication lines also need to stay open. Two keys roles in communicating are educating your child and learning to listen.
As a parent, it is your duty to make sure your child is properly informed about sex, drugs, puberty, sexually transmitted diseases, drinking, violence, peer pressure and other tough issues that face today's kids. Don't wait too late to start educating. The world moves fast and preys on the naive.
There are many organizations that offer free information on how to talk to kids and cover the facts on tough issues. Most offer free publications. Make a date with yourself to spend a day at the library and locate organizations and information. Before you can educate your child you must first educate yourself. Take the time to learn about these tough topics. It may very likely be the most well spent day of your life.
Some parents feel best easing this information into conversations, but if your child is in one of those stages where he never "has the time" to talk, then make a date with him. These things cannot go left unsaid. Encourage your child to ask questions. This will make you feel less preachy.