The New York Times (one of my favorite sources of information) had an interesting article in the Sunday Style section about children and parents of this generation. This article was about a mother/daughter bookclub in Greenwich and the relationships between the mothers and daughters. Bottom line, the daughter’s think their mothers rock. That their parents are role models.
The parents of this generation seem to be younger, more astute and hip to their kids. The clothing styles are the same whether you are 40 or 15. We listen to the same music. We are involved in their education. There can be constant communication through cellphones. Parents of this generation did all the drugs and drinking, so perhaps they are more aware when their kids use. Perhaps they are more equipped to talk to their kids about issues such as drinking, drugs and sex.
The premise of the article is that the world is so unsure today that having a postive family life are the roots of stability which is reassuring. Parents, particularly parents that have already gone through the teen years or just remember theirs, always say “just you wait.”. I have to admit, and perhaps I will eat my words, I am not too concerned about those “teen” years.
One of the biggest mistakes parents can make is being such a friend to their kid that they end up not being a disciplinarian. That is not good. There is a balance between being a friend but setting rules and teaching life long lessons. Setting boundaries are the most important lesson you can teach your kid. In the end, respect comes from those decisions as long as the decisions are explained. For us, the key has always been treating each kid with respect and honesty. You will always be the parent but parenting at a younger age is different than parenting as a teenager and different than parenting as a young adult and parenting as a full grown adult.
Why I am not concerned is because I see the relationship we have with our first teenager and it is a solid one. We really know what is going on. Our kids, so far, embrace our achievements and want to understand through us how they can achieve the same thing. We are all their role models. They are proud of who we are. They enjoy conversations about books, religion, politics and pop culture. They are interesting to us and we are interesting to them because we have an interactive relationship. We set the boundaries but we challenge them and are interested in their positions. I think that is what has made this generation different. We are working together with our kids to make a better world for all of us vs. just telling them how they must behave. We want to know them and they want to know us.
Each generation is so different. Who knows what will happen the next time around. Will parents not identify with their kids, will they have them earlier, will kids go the complete opposite of their parents, will the next generation rebel. We will see but for now, I am thrilled having our kids and seeing other kids look to their parents as role models. It creates a healthy and happy environment.