4 BIG-HEARTED PARENTING TRENDS YOU MAY WANT TO EMBRACE
Most of us have a love/hate relationship with parenting advice. It can be annoying, contradictory, or even atrocious. But it can also be revelatory and occasionally life-changing. It can make us feel like a failure or provide new, eye-opening possibilities for responding to our parenting challenges.
So how do you decide which advice to follow? Ask yourself: Does the suggestion – whether from a friend, research study, or the internet – resonate with your values? Will it bring some peace (and maybe even joy) to your family? With those questions in mind, we offer four big-hearted parenting trends to know about.
-Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
PARENT WITH PURPOSE
Make a Difference...
Here are fun, simple ways to connect with others and create a support system for you and your children, right in your own neighborhood.
1. Be part of screen time: According to researchers, how we interact with our children around technology can matter more than how many hours they spend in front of screens. Yes, too much screen time can be harmful if it blocks out important tasks of childhood like reading together, conversing, enjoying nature, and old-fashioned play. But what seems to be more important than the amount of a child's screen exposure is the family's relationship with technology -- for example, whether parents and kids enjoy screen time together; how well we involve our children in creating a family media plan; and the quality of their digital diet. Also note that a parent's reliance on his or her devices could pose a threat to a child's well-being.
2. Move beyond fear-based parenting: Often a parent's irrational fears (of physical harm, of our child's unhappiness or failure) deprive kids of the most fun, adventurous, and resilience-building aspects of childhood: pushing their physical limits, interacting with new and different people, learning from their own mistakes. In short, discovering how to navigate the world on their own. Find your own balance (nurturing vs. overparenting, safety vs. independence) while training your eye on the reality of the risks, not imagined fears. Understand that coping with setbacks can provide kids the strength they need to bounce back from life's challenges.
3. Embrace body neutrality: This is simply the idea of intentionally allocating less time to physical appearance (our children's and our own) – and finding peace with our body rather than being defined by it. (Yes, it's easier said than done.) This idea also involves celebrating what our bodies can DO, rather than what they look like – encouraging our family to have fun living as healthfully as possible (diet, exercise, sleep) instead of focusing on the outer shell.
4. Teach that kindness matters:
OK, we're biased on this one. But researchers tell us that when parents don't emphasize caring and kindness, kids assume what parents value most is achievement and personal happiness. The result? A decrease in empathy, and an increase in cheating and bullying. We also know that practicing kindness makes children and adults happier and healthier. It's not just your own kids who benefit when compassion is put front and center, either. It's also critical for the well-being of the planet. Our recommendation: Make "caring and contributing" a family priority.
Learn About It...
Walk or bike to explore your neighborhood and beyond. Have each family member describe the aspects they especially appreciate, their favorite building, and the sounds/smells they like or dislike.
Talk to your children about whom they can go to if they need help and how valuable it is to have trusted neighbors and friends.
Have each family member share what they believe would make your neighborhood and community stronger.
Brainstorm how your family can bring more people together, and create an action plan to execute your family's best idea.
It's not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It's our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.
-- L.R. Knost, American author, editor, and activist