The other day, I received this message: “Hi Arnav, I know you may not be in this part of your live, but I am a parent of 3 young children (all under 14), and I’m curious, as someone whose in their late 20s, whose experienced becoming an adult recently in the modern era of social media and smart phones, any advice for parenting young children?”
- Provide emotional stability and self esteem
Many of the world’s problems with regard to adults who are having difficulty in certain aspects of their life (maybe in finding a partner) or are not doing things of social good (I.e. committing crimes) can often be correlated back to emotional wounds from their childhood/teenage years from their own experiences at school, or with their family.
A big phrase psychologists now say all the time is that many young adults have to work on healing their inner child.
As a parent, you control the family part and can monitor the school part by having open and good communication with your child.
So, I would look at the way you and your partner conduct yourself, the way your extended family conducts themself and monitor how teachers/their classmates are conducting themselves, and also does my child feel comfortable communicating all things going on (good and bad)?
It’s hard enough to consistently get better as a human, it’s much harder when emotional instability is affecting an individual.
For example, why does a kid who has family problems at home maybe perform worse or have more absentee issues at school than a kid who doesn’t have any family problems? Most like emotional instability.
It’s harder to perform in school if there are problems going on at home.
I remember listening to a Kobe Bryant interview once, and he talks about this story with him and his father. I think he was like 12 years old and there was a basketball game and Kobe didn’t score.
After the game, his thought process is, dang my dad is gonna chew me out for scoring 0 points.
Instead, he was surprised, as he dejectedly went to his dad, his father said, son, whether you score 60 points or you score 0 points, I’ll always love you. Never doubt that.
All is to say — you create a child/teenager that loves themselves, has self-respect for them self, knows their value, knows they are loved, that’s going to be a heck of an adult.
2. Let them make mistakes, and fail
As a parent, you want them to have the easiest path possible and you want to provide your guidance to prevent mistakes and failures as much as possible.
Obviously, there’s a fair amount where you should guide them.
But at the end of the day, especially after 18, they are on their own.
They need to be able to think on their own, make decisions on their own.
And mistakes and disappointments are a part of life. There’s a famous saying, it’s not matter of whether you will get knocked down, you will get knocked down in life. What really determines your character, is how you respond to that adversity?
Your kid will make mistakes, will have disappointments. It’s not those disappointments that will define them. It’s how they respond to them, that will.
3. Your job is to accelerate their dreams and passions, not yours
I think a lot of parents can unknowingly feel like they want to use their child for the dreams they didn’t accomplish or they want to mold their child in the way they see as best in the society the child is growing up in.
The reality is your child will most likely have different passions and dreams than what you hope for.
Rather than imprinting your vision of how they should live their life, let them figure out their passion points and desires, and accelerate those and encourage them to be the best version of them self in that particular field.
4. Don’t wrap your self-esteem in them
I think the biggest thing parents do is wrap their own self-esteem up with their kid.
I think parents that wrap their own self-esteem in their kids — that’s a symptom of the comparison game — you always want to be able to brag about your child at family gatherings and things like that.
But realize, you and them are separate entities.
Certainly, from 0 to 18, you can provide a lot of guidance and they are a reflection of your parenting.
But after 18, in many ways, your child becomes an adult. Your control becomes more limited.
What they do from 18 onwards is more a reflection of them — their thinking, their habits, and their actions and not yours.
They determine their future with their actions.
5. In terms of modern day stuff — like video games, social media, etc., again, to me, it’s about teaching them to create healthy relationships with them, not hiding them from it
With regards to social media and smartphones, there’s a certain amount you can influence as a parent and limit in terms of for example, saying no social media until you’re 14 or something like that.
The reality is they have to live in the modern day world so trying to shield them from something that’s inevitably going to affect them, I’m not sure how much good that does, because it will eventually affect them.
Again, I think the biggest thing that you can do is create a healthy relationship with the modern day things like social media.
Teaching them for example — let’s maybe limit social media to 15 minutes a day, and let’s remember that people are showcasing their best lives, and to not get into those comparison traps of feeling like my life sucks because I’m seeing everybody else seemingly bragging about their great life.
On the flip side, there’s a certain amount you have to embrace too.
You know, when you were growing up, someone couldn’t become a full-time content creator that easily as a teenager. Today, that’s a career. Social media influencing is a career.
E-sports video gaming is a career.
Again, it’s a career path for a small percentage of the population, that’s for sure, but it may be a path for your child, who knows, you never know?
These would be my 4 pieces of advice in parenting a child in the modern day.