Last night, on a blog I actually enjoy following, I came across an article about how modern parenting is just another name for parents who disregard those around them, who don’t get involved in their children’s education and who act like they don’t care. The author brings up three different situations in which he got – justifiably – angry. And what he writes are things that would have made us all angry:

“The first time, we were in a restaurant. We were three grown-ups at a table, trying to talk about some things, but we simply couldn’t understand each another because of the screams coming from three kids who had chosen a spot right next to our table as their playground. All this, while their parents, who were sitting two tables away, happily kept on with picking their noses and admiring the way in which their offspring had managed to disturb the entire restaurant. None of them bothered to say anything in the vicinity of „stop it with the noise!”. (…)

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“PS: I’m so looking forward to seeing these generations of kids raised according to „modern parenting” and „personality development” principles reach adulthood, or even adolescence.”

This PS made me react by writing this piece. Because I keep wondering – when has modern parenting become just another name for insensitive parents with spoiled children?

This sort of parent has always been around, and will continue to do so, regardless of the society. What the author of this article is describing are situations that we’ve all probably come across, both before and after we had children. And they bothered us, regardless of whether we were parents at the time or not. Because these situations come from a lack of respect, indifference and carelessness.

Modern parenting is, first of all, a challenge for parents. Yes, sometimes it’s easier to be selfish and only think about yourself, without caring too much about those around you. But to accept the challenges of modern parenting translates, first of all, into putting a lot more effort in understanding the child, in identifying his needs (primarily his emotional ones), and into answering them with consideration. Modern parenting is challenging because it’s doesn’t go mix well with carelessness or imposing your authority over the child.

Modern parenting is all about a relationship built on respect, rules, consequences (not punishment!), all efficiently communicated. What does that mean? Well, first of all, it means that you give up on the idea of a relationship built on the power you have over the child: you’ll do this because I said so. It also means anticipating situations, so that you can either avoid them or manage them using clear rules.

You don’t want to be embarrassed by your child at the restaurant? Well, first of all, a restaurant is not an ideal place to bring your child, especially if you want be with friends, that you’d like to talk to and relax with. For a child, a restaurant is boring.

But if you do choose to bring your child, than be ready to:

1. Bring with you all sorts of things that will keep him busy (pencils, a coloring book, a doll, a toy car – or any other toy that doesn’t make noise!), but even the salt and pepper shaker or the sugar packs can be turned into an imaginary train that the child can play with.

2. Talk to the child about what you’ll be doing: that you’ll be going to a restaurant, that it’s important that they don’t make noise there, that there will be many people there, that you’ll eat and that he’ll be allowed to choose between a lemonade and an orange juice (for example). Build him a script, so that he knows what to expect, and avoid places with loud music, that will definitely excite him and make him talk and act even louder (to cover the noise).

In modern parenting, the relationship between a parent and a child is based on respect, expressing needs, and setting rules that will be gently reinforced. A child will not know what the rules are in a public place, unless the parent communicates them. And efficient communication is what makes the difference between modern and classic parenting. Because both partners (parent and child) express their needs and desires. And they’re mutually considerate towards them.

A kid needs attention in order to be happy. When he screams, he’s fidgety and doesn’t listen anything anyone’s saying, all these are clear signs that he’s looking for attention. And these situations occur especially when parents speak to other adults and the child feels excluded.

A kid needs rules. When parents communicate their rules and expectations beforehand, the child knows what he can do and how far he can go with his behavior (which limits not to push.)

A child needs parents who know how to also enforce consequences (not punishment!). There’s no such thing as rules without consequences. And in modern parenting the parent makes an even greater effort to enforce them. It’s easier to just let things slide in order to buy yourself a moment of quietness, but in time, your child will learn that if he acts out, his parent will eventually give in.

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And you don’t establish consequences during or right after the delicate moment. You communicate them to the child in advance, and you will remind the child about them when needed.

Modern parenting isn’t about being insensitive or disrespectful – neither towards the child, or those around. In modern parenting, the child is encouraged to show empathy towards other people (which is a key element in the development of emotional intelligence), he learns how to respect the environment, people, to be aware that his actions will affect those around him. And again, modern parenting means a greater effort from the parent, because he becomes a model for the child.

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