For many families, the process of parenting has become incredibly complex and difficult. While it’s true that raising children has always been an important job, changes in society and the average workload mean that many parents are struggling to keep up.
In a significant percentage of cases, families are feeling much more socially isolated than ever before, but their professional, personal and familial obligations are on the increase. That leads to a feeling of exhaustion and a tendency to neglect important areas of life. Many children end up practically raising themselves, which results in a deterioration of the parent/child relationship.
In the end, parents feel as though they’ve lost a connection with their children. Their kids no longer look up to them or respect what they have to say. In cases where the child has existing behavioral issues, the parents may feel as though they don’t have as much power as their child. They may be blamed for their inability to limit their child’s inappropriate behavior, despite feeling helpless to stop it.
These feelings don’t mean that there isn’t any option available for busy parents of problem kids, however. The key is to understand the increased complexity involved in today’s parenting and to work around the obstacles to produce a happier, more connected family.
Parenting Issues #1: Increased Work Expectations
Worker productivity has been rising for the past several decades, but that doesn’t mean employers are reducing their expectations. In fact, most people work far more hours now than they would have in the same job just ten years ago.
This can be attributed to a general focus on increasing work hours due to leaner staffing. It can also be attributed to the changes caused by technology. Mobile phones and the Internet make it much easier to do work remotely, and they encourage employers to expect their employees to stay plugged-in. Initially, this may not seem like a problem, but studies show that even ordinary full-time work causes most people to feel like they need to juggle work and parenting—making it hard to find a balance.
Parenting Issues #2: The Focus on Parental Blame
Parents also experience greater demands from the community around them. While it’s true that a child’s formative experiences have a great impact on his or her personality, parents are being held responsible for their children’s actions to a greater degree than ever before. If a child shows evidence of behavior problems, teachers and neighbors may attribute the issue to inappropriate care on the part of the parents, regardless of the real situation.
This can lead parents to blame themselves as well, increasing isolation and potentially causing them to “crack down” on their children when a different parenting approach might be required.
Parenting Issues #3: The Disappearing Extended Family
While many people like to present the nuclear family – made up of just mother, father and children – as the biggest traditional family unit, this type of family is actually relatively new. In most cultures, the extended family has traditionally been more common. Extended family arrangements make parenting significantly easier, as they provide plenty of support from aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and other relatives.
Unfortunately, changes in the way we live have made it difficult to receive parenting help from our extended families. Many parents live far away from their own families, producing a series of detached nuclear units that struggle to keep up with their own needs and those of their children. It can be a struggle to parent effectively in these circumstances.
Parenting Issues #4: Kids and Technology
It’s almost impossible for kids to live in today’s world without some kind of technology. Whether it’s a laptop, a tablet or a mobile phone, almost every child is connected. This makes it much easier for children to find things out and stay in touch with their peers, but it also puts obstacles in parents’ way. Monitoring your children is a lot harder when you don’t know who they’re talking to or what they’re doing online.
That has led to an increase in concern about their children’s safety on the Internet, and the problem of parenting children that are constantly engaged in external stimulation instead of taking the time for reflection and being mindful. We’ll look at the issue of mindfulness and reflection vs. external stimulation in the next article, and later we’ll cover safety on the Internet.
Tell Us What You Think