Do you ever sit back and wonder how things changed so quickly? Society is vastly different than it was 20 years ago. This has changed family dynamics as well. Here are some family values I think really need to make a come back.
No Distracting Technology
Before everyone had a phone/computer/tablet, children were forced to find other ways to entertain themselves. They had to get creative. They had to develop an imagination. Children engaged with the world around them instead of being constantly distracted. Technology is a great tool. But like any tool, it has it’s purpose. It should not be used in place of interactive play. This is especially true for the little ones. They need ample opportunity to explore their environment.
It is also okay for your child to be a little bored. They need that time to learn self-control. I know it’s easier to hand your child a phone to play with while sitting in a waiting room. Doing that though is not helping your child develop patience or teaching them to have self-control in less than ideal circumstances. If it’s just a 10-15 minute wait, skip the technology. Children should be able to handle that length of time being bored without misbehaving. If it’s a long wait, make them relax for at least that beginning portion then go ahead and give them the technology.
And parents, this goes for you too. Set a good example by putting the phone down and turning the television off. Set aside time to just pay attention to your children without the distractions. They learn from you.
Communication Was Verbal
Families used to get up and walk to the room the other person was in to communicate. Now people are sending text messages from 20 feet away. There are so many benefits to having a verbal conversation that this really should be the primary means of communication again. There is no tone or body language when you do not have verbal communication. Sometimes the intent of a message is lost through strictly written contact. Miscommunication causes lots of dysfunction in families.
Encourage your family to communicate by setting aside time where you all interact together to discuss things currently happening or ask questions. Do not allow your children to text you without leaving their room to come talk to you. If they can’t come find you to ask you whatever question they have, then the answer is automatically no. Resolution comes from verbal conversations.
Compromise Was A Must
In the not-so-distant past, compromise was a key component to a happy family. Compromise was constantly being sought. On dinner, television changes, bathroom use. And once a decision was made, it stayed. For everyone. This decision was most often decided by the parents. But now we have multiple bathrooms and forms of entertainment. Every person can get what they want when they want it.
This sets children up for disappointment in other areas though. At school or work or with group/team activities children have to know how to compromise. That means they have to listen to what others want. They need to learn that even if they don’t get the outcome they want from the compromise that they still have to respect it. It is best that they learn to compromise from an early age at home. It helps build the type of character they will need later in life to be successful.
Family Came First
Friends and outsiders weren’t accessible like they are now. Family time was priority. These are the people you spent most of your free time with. You were there for one another and defended each other at all costs. It didn’t matter if you didn’t actually always agree. You still always had their back to someone who wasn’t family. You had friends, but those friends were expected to respect your family. It seems like now these “friends” are often causing divides in families.
There are also strangers on the internet now who influence from afar. This is scary because you cannot verify people are who they claim to be, but they are somehow becoming major influences in children’s lives. Convincing them to run away from home or defy their parents rules. It is especially important to have a strong family bond now to try to make unknown outsiders less appealing. If they feel like they belong at home then they won’t be seeking out validation from others.
Extracurriculars Were Extra
Responsibilities came first. Not every dang kid was on a travel sports team or building their own website at 13. There was not time for that! There was school, chores, family commitments, then extras. Now more emphasis is put on being an athlete or on having fun than on being responsible. It is great for children to have interests. They should be fostered. But responsibilities come first.
This is an even bigger point to the parents of these kids. You are the ones allowing it to happen. If you are missing a lot of work and throwing thousands of dollars into your child’s extracurricular activities, you may need to consider the example you are setting. This type of behavior teaches them that having a good time comes before commitments and responsibilities. If your child is not passing their classes then they shouldn’t be missing school to play basketball. It’s great to be athletic, but not at the expense of learning the things you need to know for adulthood. Even if your child is NBA bound, they still need an education and to learn responsibility.
Dating Waited For Maturity
The dating age keeps getting younger and younger. I hear people with children that are five-years-old saying their kids have a girlfriend/boyfriend. This encourages the children to think in these terms. Dating used to go with maturity. You didn’t start dating until high school. A child is not ready to be faced with the feelings and implications that come with dating. They have to be ready to make responsible choices.
Your first true girlfriend/boyfriend has such a profound influence over you. They gain the power to build you up or cut you down. To convince you to do things you may not have done. You want to make sure your child has a strong sense of who they are before they enter into that with another person. That takes time to develop. It surely isn’t developed at 10.
Rules & Discipline Were The Parents’ Choice
People used to be allowed to raise their children how they see fit without everyone else feeling the need to offer their opinion. This included deciding how to discipline their children. The parents set the rules. Not the community. They weren’t overly influenced by fear of what that community will say. It didn’t matter what Johnny’s parents did because your child was your child, not theirs. Period. Now it seems like people make parenting decisions based on what other people are doing. Or in fear that if they do something a different way, they will be deemed a bad parent by outsiders.
Children are learning this and taking advantage. There are kids hitting their parents in public because they know their parents’ fear of other people’s opinions on their discipline. I just want to say, I for one will not judge you for swatting your kid’s behind in public if they behave like this. They are your child and you set the rules. You just remember you are making sure your child can live successfully within the rules when they are older. Who cares if someone else doesn’t like what you do. It’s about being a parent first.
Parenting Ability Wasn’t Determined By Money
Money does not make you a better person or a better parent. I will say it again. Money does not make you a good parent. Somehow there is this notion that the people with the money are obviously going to be better parents. This makes people spend all kinds of money on their kids to show how great of a parents they are. But children need love, attention, and nurturing. Money cannot buy these things. Children don’t need material items to be happy.
If you have the extra money to get material items for you kids that is awesome. However, a better plan may be to put that money back for them when they may need it and focus on the stuff money cannot buy while they are little. If you buy a child a toy, they will probably just want to play with the box anyway. Your most valuable resource as a parent is your time.
Technology, outside influences, and the drive to have more money all the time changed the game. It changed what families value. I would say not for the better in a lot of ways. But we can still benefit from the things available now while still incorporating the good things from the past. It is not all or nothing. Think about which of the values that need to come back you can use in your lives to have a closer family. Feel free to comment other ideas!