Have the rules of child rearing changed? Well, yes, the standards of social acceptance mold the pliable, ever-changing clay form, extracting this and adding that. We’ve adapted from the 1960s climate of an adult-centric structure of open-mindedness, the 1980s weekly advice of Abby and Ann Landers, to the worrisome world combining technology and child safety. Yet, through each decade and shift, the basic rules remain like a beacon of unwavering light. Children still need love, faith, parental support, and discipline.
Cell Phones: Most parents are perplexed by the constant request to own a phone. Technology wasn’t important then. Elementary-aged students are not yet ready to handle the art of friendship through texts and the rabbit hole of websites.
Social Media Accounts: From the moment a child holds a device independently, they almost innately know how to swipe, ease through programs, and exit pages. Parents should always say yes to classes or lessons in computers, especially in safety, keyboarding, and decoding skills. Wait as long as possible to set up a child’s social media platform.
Open Communication: Rather than kids learning life lessons through misinformed friends or, worse, the Internet, consider implementing a house rule of honesty. Children feel comforted knowing every question, even the embarrassing ones, will result in truthful answers.
The Bedroom Basics: Remember when a child’s bedroom had a bed, nightstand, dresser, bookshelf, and desk? The essential four to five components offered comfort, educational opportunity, and beneficial sleep hygiene. Electronic devices, such as televisions, computers, and smartphones, eliminate the possibility of deep and REM sleep, since flashing lights and notification alerts can disrupt sleeping patterns. Shutting down is just as important as leaving all screens in the kitchen at bedtime!
The Gift of Playing: Boredom can be a continuous complaint from today’s child, but who happily spends seven hours daily on a screen. Rather than filling up rooms with toys, give the gift of the outdoors. Designate a perimeter to run, jump, swing, challenge their active imaginations, and develop critical thinking skills. With each opportunity to have an adventure outdoors, they observe and discover new concepts, building onto the valuable skill of understanding cause and effect!
Uninterrupted Family Time: Remember when the corded phone rang during dinner? No one answered the call because meals had an unbendable rule. And, family and friends knew not to call. Fortunately, technology offers a record and recording of every attempt to reach family members—voicemail. Even in 2021, callers can undoubtedly wait!
Respect and Names: Twenty to thirty years later and the next-door neighbor and classroom teacher of childhood still receives the honorary title of Sir, Ma’am, Mr., or Mrs. Respect goes a long way, regardless of age, and remains a good lesson!
Love and Discipline: When the rules of trust are broken, a child needs to know what to expect. With discipline, fairness leads to open conversations and with that, reflection to learn from mistakes.
Chores, Balance of Responsibility: Children are capable of handling much more than people think. Picking up toys at age two, being responsible for dishes and laundry at seven, and cooking meals at nine—chores help connect children to the value of feeling wanted and valued.
God and Faith: When transitions occur from puberty to teen years, high school, and through adulthood, the love and support of parents, siblings, and extended family is just one dependable life-long relationship. Children need to learn from example, the love of God, the value of prayer, and the promises of their faith.
Parents know the little things, but big things matter, too; so, take time to put your technological device down! Start saying yes to playing, talking, creating bedtime routines, and choosing meaningful moments. Childhood goes much too quickly. They spread their wings and fly, even if we’re not ready. By keeping children’s necessities in balance, parenting can result in a poised, confident citizen, prepared to meet the world!