You don’t have to search too hard on social media to find advice about how to raise your children.
As a matter of fact, you really don’t have to search out that advice at all. Chances are, you have plenty of friends who are more than willing to share their parenting beliefs with you.
As I scrolled through Facebook last week, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the diverse opinions that were being shared by my friends. Perhaps because I am connected to more than 4,000 of you on the social behemoth (I would be lying if I said I know all of you on a first-name basis and I’m not conceited enough to think that all of you are my friends because you truly enjoy my company, but that’s beside the point), diversity is manifested within. That was reflected in the advice I was seeing. Within a two-day span, I saw articles that lectured me on why my middle-school-aged children shouldn’t have phones, and articles on why they should. I saw articles about why I should be spanking my kids, and articles about why I shouldn’t.
Most people who have children think they have the cumbersome burden of parenting more or less figured out. Many people who don’t have children think they have it figured out, too.
Like any fallible human being with an ego that sometimes gets in the way of common sense, I’m pretty sure my methods of raising my children are correct. But I do try — albeit without succeeding at times — to refrain from pushing my advice about how to raise my kids on others. (Though, like many of you, I do reserve the right to share with my Facebook friends an occasional article that backs up my point of view.) I don’t want to be so presumptuous as to think that anyone who doesn’t raise their kids the way I raise mine are doing it the wrong way. Because I’ve seen some parents who apply much stricter guidelines to their kids who are the same age as mine, and they doubtlessly think I’m too lenient. I’ve also seen some parents who apply much looser guidelines to their kids, and they doubtlessly think I’m too strict. And I’ve been in those situations where someone tsks-tsks at my methods, and I’ve seen red — just like you have.
In fact, there are few things that get my dander up as quickly as someone insinuating that I’m raising my kids the wrong way. If I will not allow my kids to attend ball practice on Wednesday evening because it conflicts with church, that’s my business. If I allow my kids to miss Sunday evening church to play in a game, that’s my business, too. And, for the record, I’ve done both.
None of us are raising perfect kids, but any of us worth the title of mother or father are doing our best to raise respectable young men and women who will someday be good mothers and fathers in their own right and ultimately take our place in society.
I tend to hold out more hope for today’s youth than some of my peers. I think today’s younger generation is generally on the right track — which obviously means their parents aren’t the complete failures that most parenting articles would generally have us believe. And, if I do say so myself, I think we’re doing a particularly good job right here at home. I’ve seen a lot of kids from various other communities, mostly on the ball fields and courts, and I can say this honestly: we have good kids in Scott County.
A lot of the liberal-leaning articles I see on parenting tend to assume that raising children by the same standards we were raised by will stunt their emotional development and hinder them socially. A lot of the conservative-leaning articles I see on the same subject insinuate that all the ill in the world today is caused because children aren’t being raised by the same standards we were.
I tend to think there’s some truth and misguidance in both lines of reasoning. It’s probably unfair to compare parenting advice across generations. It’s a different world now than it was when I was in middle school. Kids today play more video games, spend less time on their bikes, and interact way more with kids their own age even though less of that interaction is taking place face-to-face or even ear-to-ear. None of that is necessarily bad. Our grandparents’ generation thought our parents’ generation danced and partied too much. Our parents’ generation thought our generation watched too much TV. But they turned out okay, and we did, too. I’m convinced our kids will, as well. And if the bad apples that are threatening to spoil the bunch are becoming more plentiful, perhaps it has less to do with parenting methods and more to do with parents who are absent in the first place — either physically or mentally.
As for all that parenting advice on social media, I’ve always figured this to be the best approach: you raise your kids as you see fit, I’ll raise mine as I see fit, and we’ll both hope, pray and trust that they all turn out to be okay.