This week I am concluding my parenting book club blog with the 9th and final part to “Parenting Well in a Media Age” by Gloria DeGaetano – Chapter 8:
“Toward a Personally-Generated Culture”.
We are parenting at a time in history like no other. It goes without saying that the media / industry generated culture has had, and will continue to have, a HUGE influence on us as human beings. As much as we cannot imagine life without it, at the same time, in many ways, it can place an enormous amount of pressure on us.
I am sure that when many parents hear or read that “a strong parent-child bond” is an essential need for their children they might feel that it’s almost stating the obvious – of course the bond should be strong. However, in this media age, hard as it is to believe, many children today are not getting this basic need met. The same goes for children having time to be themselves and having time to think, just BE and reflect or even having the time to be bored, #2 of the Vital 5; children having to use their imaginations and having time to play pretend when they are little, #3 of the Vital 5; children having time to be creative and carrying out small creative acts that inspire them, doing things that makes them feel alive and connected to life, #4 of the Vital 5; and children learning to give to what gives them meaning, #5 of the Vital 5. Many of them are just not getting enough of this essential nurturing and nourishment in their lives.
One of my favorite quotes from DeGaetano is the following from pages 219 and 220 as I think it sums up this concept beautifully:
“If what we are doing isn’t leveraged to meet our core needs, it’s like always making the icing for the cake, but having no cake baked to put it on. The Vital 5 bakes the cake” – Gloria DeGaetano
The Vital 5 – Gloria DeGaetano
3. Image Making
I personally believe that this is what our children need. When they do not get the required dose of “Vital 5” it can lead to an undermining of who they are, what they represent as individuals and who they will become and place them at risk of becoming overly-influenced by a media / industry generated culture. When we as parents can parent from a place of authenticity and know that we are nourishing our children’s very deepest and most basic needs, watching our children become the unique human beings they so deserve to be, becomes a very rejuvenating, energizing and rewarding experience for us.
In this final chapter, the author leaves us with these questions:
- What’s your vision for yourself and for your children?
- If you could have the future the way you want it, what would it look like?
- What are you willing to do to make sure that future happens?
These are all very thought provoking questions and questions that I have been asking myself a lot recently. This is DeGaetano’s opinion but, certainly for me, it is hard to argue that any child could thrive when “inadvertently” denied the Vital 5. They need the five to thrive, we all do and when many of us were younger, we perhaps got them without our parents having to really try. More often than not, the slower paced “way of life” just fed them to us. Today, this is not necessarily the case and I do believe that it is much harder for parents to ensure their children get their basic, essential needs met.
In the face of the HUGE, highly addictive and influencial media wave that’s always there showering us with their “water”, I believe parents have to put calculated effort into making sure our children get these Vital 5 to allow them to become young adults with a well defined, strong sense of identity that is personal and unique to them.
The author concludes the chapter, and indeed the book, by quoting Proverb 29.18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” but re-frames it to look like this:
“With vision, the people thrive” – Gloria DeGaetano
For all of you who have joined me on this 9 week journey immersed in the book “Parenting Well in a Media Age”, I hope that it has inspired you as much as it has inspired me. This is a book I would highly recommend every parent read to help them parent well in today’s exciting yet challenging media age. My parting question to you is this:
“What are you going to do to make sure your children thrive with the five?”
Stay tuned, next week, I am going to be presenting some stats on just how much the media has crept into our children’s lives over the last 10 years.