Think for a moment what the hardest job you have ever had to do was? When you think of hard work what comes to mind. Police, military, doctors, nurse, 911 dispatchers. De-miner, oil patch worker, firefighter. There are countless jobs that are quite demanding and can be at time very difficult and stressful. Politicians are constantly under pressure from media and the public. I would imagine that they find there job to be very difficult when everything they do and say is under constant public scrutiny. That not a job I would want, I think I would rather be De-mining a mine field. However none of these jobs hit the mark when it comes to the most difficult and challenging job you will ever have.
The job I am talking about is the job of parenting. This is no easy task and raising kids today is nothing like it was 20-30 years ago when I was a kid. Today Kids are surrounded with all kinds of pressures and media technology and influences that we simply did not have when we were growing up, nor did our parents have when they were kids. Our parents did not have it easy raising us, however raising kids today continues to get increasingly more difficult every single day. The common cry amongst our kids of “you don’t understand”, which I have heard on numerous occasions, has more truth to it than we can possibly know as parents. We convince our selves we understand what they are dealing with but in reality we don’t and can’t possibly understand the pressures and social influences that surround them.
Personally I feel it’s nearly impossible to truly understand our kids, there thoughts, feelings and emotions, pressures that they are dealing with. We only have a outward appearance or the visual and audio representation of the things our children are dealing with. When my daughter cries to me that I don’t understand I try to respond with “Then help me understand”. How can we as parents help our children navigate through unknown territory that is the world we now live in, having not grown up with the pressures, and technology that our children are growing up with, how can we even begin to grasp how an immature mind that is still developing copes with these things, how can we as parents help them cope, overcome and navigate and obstacle course we have never had to deal with ourselves. The digital age has brought with it a whole new set of problems that even a mature mind, for many people struggle to cope with. Digital and social media have become the primary means of communication for kids, and with it comes the social peer pressure in a very public forum. The publicity of online peer pressure makes it much more difficult for our children to say no to things they should not be doing. Its no longer just a few friends on the playground pressuring to do something, now its hundred of kids online pressuring through social media and other public forums.
This goes beyond simple peer pressure however, when looking at the case of Rehtaeh Parsons the peer pressure was not online, but rather after she had made some poor choices. Social media quickly made her story public, the Result was a young girl took her life because of public humiliation. 20 years ago Rehtaeh may have still been alive, as public humiliation would not of been a factor. Our children live in a world where one bad choice can lead to intense public bullying and humiliation which can ultimately drive them to take there own life.
As a father of 3 girls, It is not easy task raising them in a world filled with so many tools that can and will be used against them in a manner which could never of been imagined 20 years ago when I was growing up. It seems that it is worse for girls when it comes to social media. How can I as a father help my children when they become the victims of such public attacks and humiliation. I have no delusions that my girls will never at some point become the victim of public humiliation and public peer pressure. In fact I fully expect that they will, at some point in there lives, what scares me is how will I deal with it when it does happen? How can I prepare my children for a time when this type of peer pressure and problems do happen. Even the most well behaved children can have vicious lies and rumors spread about them publicly on the internet and social media sites such as Facebook, instagram, twitter. Even if they don’t uses these services themselves, they will here about it from friends and family who do.
We make an effort to teach our children diligently in the ways of truth and righteousness. Proverbs 22:6 says Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. This of course will not guarantee that our kids will not make mistakes, possibly find themselves in a publicly humiliating situation or have to deal with peer pressures and problems that we could never dream of when we were kids. However it does give the promise that if we do our best to teach kids the way that they should go, they will make the right choice in the end.
Given the trials, pressures from media coming at them from every angel, Telling them that they are not good unless they buy this, or do that, have the latest in fashion, weigh less, eat less …., raising and parenting young kids these days is no easy task and certainly different from what we grew up with ourselves.
A while back I was having a conversation with my daughter who is now 10 years old. We were talking about friends and the importance of picking good friends. We discussed why its important because friends can be a influence for good or bad in our lives. I explained to her how I have noticed that her friends are influencing her behavior and thoughts and attitudes. She told me that is simply not true. As we were talking I explained to her how I have noticed some minor differences in her behavior with different friends, vs hows she behaves at home when no friends are around. Her behavior is different depending on who she is with. After explaining to her my observations she was quickly expressing sorrow and sadness fearing she may have somehow disappointing me and apologized. I found myself reassuring her that I was not upset with her, but rather wanted to help her understand that her friends have been influencing her even if she did not realize it herself. I reassured her that at this point I am not concerned with the influence her friends are having at this time, but its important to be aware of the influence they are having, be conscious of how we are behaving, acting, thinking when we are around people. I explained to her she needs to be a good influence on her friends, don’t allow them to influence towards those things you know are wrong. This experience taught me at least one thing. Even if we don’t or can’t understand what our children are dealing with on an emotional and psychological, spiritual, or physical level they still rely on and depend on us as their parents to provide guidance, and help them recognize when they are about to, or have made mistakes.
From teachings of the presidents of the church: Joseph smith we read john Taylor, the third President of the Church, reported: “Some years ago, in Nauvoo, a gentleman in my hearing, a member of the Legislature, asked Joseph Smith how it was that he was enabled to govern so many people, and to preserve such perfect order; remarking at the same time that it was impossible for them to do it anywhere else. Mr. Smith remarked that it was very easy to do that. ‘How?’ responded the gentleman; ‘to us it is very difficult.’ Mr. Smith replied, ‘I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.’ ”. We as parents must teach our children correct principals so that they may govern themselves in the ways of righteousness. We may not be able to understand our kids, what they are dealing with but if we teach them correct principals, then that will be the guiding force in there lives when faced with a difficult decision.
We as parents must also understand that it is vital to build good solid and approachable relationships with our kids, we need to listen to them, seek understanding so that when faced with a problem they will feel confident in coming to us and not there peers, while they may have good intentions, may lead them to even more trouble than they may already be in. And as parents we must turn to God in prayer for our children, and live so that the spirit may be a guiding influence in our lives, so that we can be open to inspiration and guidance from our loving father in heaven who can help us help and guide our children.
We may never understand our children, but we can always be of help, support a most important we can always LOVE them. For all parents who are struggling to raise their children, may god bless you, your children will be turn out just great as long as we turn to God in faith to guide us in raising them in faith, truth and righteousness.