I have spent hours and hours trying to work out why parents today seem to SHOUT more than parents of yesteryear. My most educated guess is stress? To clarify, by “shout”, I mean shout when they wish they hadn’t!
I personally feel that one of the underlying reasons for this is the effect that the media has on our lives today. There’s just no escaping it: whether it be on the TV, in magazines on every shelf everywhere, on our Phones, iPads, Computers, on Facebook, on Twitter. It’s the new CULTURE that has come upon us and in terms of “time”, it has happened FAST and it’s COMPETITIVE and it seems to permeate our every pore.
Despite our best attempts to minimize our exposure to “screens” I am sure that our brains are almost continually “back lit” and as research is proving, it is leaving us in a more emotionally “reactive” (heightened or more “alarmed”) baseline state.
The logical conclusion to draw from this is that if we are more “wired and reactive” then perhaps we are more likely to shout? How might this be manifesting itself in our children? More aggression, more zombie like, more distracted, less likely to listen, less creative, bored with the real world as compared to the virtual world? I don’t know but I do believe that it can’t all be good AND many parents are complaining of seeing just these sorts of traits in their children.
“The media have become the mainstream culture in children’s lives. Parents have become the alternative. Americans once expected parents to raise their children in accordance with the dominant cultural messages. Today they are expected to raise their children in opposition to it”.
I would like to introduce you to a book called “Parenting Well in a Media Age” by Gloria DeGaetano, the founder of the Parent Coach Institute and author of many other excellent publications. I think that this book really does hold many valuable suggestions for helping parents identify, recalibrate, reinstate or restore their true identities and parent well.
As DeGaetano states in the introduction of her book:
“If we don’t generate our own culture, we relinquish our human identity to an industry-generated culture. If that happens, we lose vitality for our parenting and hope for our children”.
This book is set out in 8 easy to read chapters and I plan to write one blog per chapter per week highlighting the main points. If you feel that you may have lost some vitality for your parenting, I hope you can join me and that the process of doing so may help motivate and inspire you to consider the points made in the book and perhaps make some positive changes to the way you parent your children.
As many of us will have experienced, change doesn’t happen over night, effective change happens more gradually. Trying to read a book and implement lots of changes all at once will, in all likelihood, never happen, the other parenting books gathering dust on your book shelves are probably living proof of that! I am going to encourage you to join me, take it slowly and focus on one thing per week.
Doing so will hopefully help you identify some of the changes you might need to make to allow your parenting identity to be more reflective of YOUR values and beliefs and not those of the culture we have all been immersed into but have not perhaps truly bought into. This will require strength to “buck the tide”, active participation in a process and trust in yourself and in the relationships that you have within your family.
Together, over the course of the next two months, we will aim to build a foundation that will hopefully allow you to be more open, aware and accepting of trying new things so that you can develop a more resilient parenting model that stands the test of parenting today, but above all, create a calm, peaceful, respectful home environment where there is less shouting and less “rushing” around.
As DeGaetano concludes in her introductory chapter with a quote from Neil Postman:
“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see”.
She believes that our “living messages” must live in a personally generated culture and that together we can create that culture for our children.
I am very excited about the positive changes that having access to this information may bring you so please stay tuned for next weeks chapter – “Today’s Parenting Challenges”. And, trust me, they are not what you expect…
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