Parenting today is a completely different ball game to parenting 20 years ago. Today we have the advance of the technological era in the mix: Snap chatting, Instagram, Musical.ly, Facebook and many more social media influences in our children’s lives that are literally there and accessible 24/7, with messages popping up every few minutes tempting them to engage.
I am a mother and teacher. In the last few years and progressively more today, I can see and feel the pressures and imposition of technology and the way it is being used by our next generation.
Yes, children need to move with the times and keep up with their education, be computer savvy, know how to update, research and produce assessments, however, this does not mean that they should lose their playfulness, lightness, ability to have a real face to face conversation and know they are a gem of a child. I see the loss of all of the above happening across the board with children because of their absorption into the social media world.
I remember in university how one educator shared the idea of the ‘television’ being the uninvited guest into our homes, and how our lounge rooms all faced towards this one uninvited guest. This point stayed with me and I began to realise the intrusiveness of this set-up and what we were inviting into our living rooms.
So from this presented point, I have since designed my living areas to not face the TV, but to face each other. The point of my sharing this with you is that back then it was a shock to me that I had chosen to be part of inviting this uninvited guest into my home each day, just through the way I set the furniture around, setting people up to face the TV and not each other… so you can imagine the shock when I became aware of just how disconnected our young are through the way they are engaging in technology and social media. It is filtering into every facet of their lives and is sold to them as the ‘way of connecting’.
Is the social media world today a reflection of our disconnection within humanity or is our disconnection in humanity a reflection of the much reduced level of connection we are accepting today from our participation in the social media world?
As a parent and teacher, I see and feel…
- Children (as young as 8 through to teens) learning that connecting with people is through typing on a phone or on social media. No longer are many kids confident to have chats together and connect through play, call each other up, or meet up just to be around each other.
- Children relying on their phones like they are a safety blanket. It is disturbing to speak to children and hear how anxious they feel without their phone or how it feels like a family member has left them when they don’t have it.
- Children being ‘acceptably’ bullied by other children and even accessed inappropriately by unknown people through social media sites… and the children, or their parents, not doing anything about it because the children want to be part of that communication and don’t want to lose what they think is connection.
- Children being sold the belief that they will be out of the social circles at school or in their friendship groups if they haven’t kept up with the chats that have gone on during the evenings.
- Children spending more time on devices rather than just being allowed to be children or being lovingly interacted with. Children being given phones, iPads, Xboxes etc. to play on in their bedrooms, in their lounge rooms, in the car, when mum or dad need quiet or space or are busy. Is it any wonder that when they become pre-teen or teens that their devices and social media become their world and their attitude towards the adults around them is then a reflection of the previous years of lack of true connection?
- Children without their natural confidence and truly joyful smiles and laughs on their faces.
In a nutshell, a lot of children are becoming more familiar with the virtual or social media world and are losing their beautiful way of naturally engaging and relating to others.
We all, each and every adult on this planet, have a responsibility to connect fully to children so they know what true connection is, so they can then bring that to the social media sites if they so choose, but not because they need to or feel less without it.
Parenting for me today is about connecting to, living from and parenting from my deep inner wisdom.
It is with deep thanks and appreciation to Serge Benhayon, the presentations of Universal Medicine and my being willing and open, that I have over the years implemented self-care tools that today allow me to stand in and live, without perfection, the wisdom within. Meaning, I know I have all the answers inside of me; I just need to take the responsibility to remain with the clarity of my heart by purposefully caring for my body and from here, parenting becomes simple, even in a world of out-of-control technology and social media stimulations.
Parenting and teaching from my inner-wisdom allows me:
- To confirm the gem and grandness of children to them, highlighting who they truly are instead of it being about what they do.
- To express fully to children, like yesterday sharing with a gorgeous relative of mine how magical it was to watch her dance and play in the shallow waves at the beach as if no one was looking and to appreciate the playfulness that is there.
- To make sitting, chatting, holding, engaging with our eyes part of our everyday communications with each other – and providing the space for children to feel that this is true communication so that it becomes a marker in their body, allowing them to know without doubt when they are, or are not met, with that level of connection. From here they are supported to bring that connection to others.
- To have open and honest chats that explore things, like how certain food makes us feel, certain environments etc., or when we notice if someone in our family is acting different and then to be a supportive enquirer.
- To educate and speak about everything in life, and support children to trust their feelings to equip them with the ability to choose and know that there is a way to honour these feelings.
- To feel comfortable not being the most popular parent or teacher when you feel from the depths of your body that a particular App, or even having a screen phone, is not supportive at the moment. Saying a loving ‘No’ is parenting which can support children to grow up with a deep connection to themselves and others.
- To be the loving listening ear when things come up that need discussing or to be shared. Believe me, a lot happens for 10 -13 year olds, much more than when I was that age. Growing up is tough today and when you grow up with engagement and connection, you also see and feel the lack of it around you… and that can be tricky at times.
- To allow kids to practise having responsibility, physically, through household chores, but also with taking responsibility for their actions or way of communicating… and that means that consequences need to be felt and not watered down or glossed over.
- To support children to see and feel that sometimes, if someone doesn’t accept you because you are not participating in the thing they are doing, it is not you they are rejecting, but the fact you are not enjoining them in that unsupportive activity.
- To treat kids as equal, wise, gorgeous, precious and divine beings, knowing that even though our activities or responsibilities may differ, we all bring our own unique flavors and qualities.
- To live and reflect a living way that is true love and true religion in itself, with children being brought up knowing that they are equal Sons of God who can equally keep their light shining bright.
All children grow up. They become our next teachers, doctors, construction workers, health workers, lawyers, social workers and so on… and it is well worth supporting them to be able to truly and comfortably relate to, and care about people, for our future generations are one day going to look up to them for guidance. And if we are open to the divine cycles of reincarnation, it will be us returning to be guided by them.
So what light are we leaving behind for us to return to? Perhaps this is the grander question to consider.
By Johanna Smith, Bachelor of Education (Major Special Needs, Minor Psychology), Certificate of Early Childhood Education, Complementary Health – Esoteric Practitioner, Student of Counselling Diploma