Is our use of parenting books, blogs, parent educators, forums and parenting seminars an indication we are overparenting or a sign of the times?
I started pondering this question, after receiving a comment that we are helping our kids too much by insisting they sign internet contracts and that we should instead be trying to instil accountability in our children in order for them to make the right choices.
I wholeheartedly agree that we need to give our kids responsibility and build their independence. I have often advocated for kids to do more, for us to allow them to fail and fall, for us to let them take risks and use their own judgement. I have also advocated for parenting with some basic principals based on unconditional love, boundaries and security.
And I will always believe that these are the foundations for my own parenting and for any advice I give to others.
But the world is changing. I would love to say that my kids were born with inbuilt accountability. I would like to say that they instinctively know right from wrong. It would be great if they knew that giving out too much information can be dangerous. I would be happy if they knew from the moment they picked up an electronic device that they were already starting to build their online resume that could be googled by anyone at anytime in many years to come. I would love it if they knew to think about the consequences of the pictures they upload or the status’s they update. I would love it if they already knew “porn” is not something they need to google despite being told by some kid at school that it would be funny. It would be easiser if I didn’t have to warn them that not everyone on the internet is who they say they are.
But you know what? My kids weren’t born with any of this. It is my role to help them with that. I have nearly 40 years of life experience on their 8 or 10 or 12 years. They may know a lot of stuff about technology and how things work…but they are not as wise as I am. They don’t have the ability to look into the future like I do. They don’t even look forward of the here and now, let alone next week. They do not realize the power of this online world.
As a parent it is our role to keep ourselves educated about all that our children can potentially be exposed to in the cyberworld. It is also imperative we build strong connections with our children, in conjunction with boundaries that ensure they respect both themselves and us.
With those things in mind we can better attempt to safely guide them through the good and the bad of the online world. They will not have this knowledge, respect or self regulation without our help. And that is why I will always continue to do all I can to help them become responsible and therefore accountable for their own actions in the online world.
I do want them to be responsible, independent citizens where I don’t have to keep tabs on every single thing they do. But I need to give them the skills and knowledge first. If my kids are not safe, then every other thing I have ever written is worth nothing. If I need to get them to sign a contract to know that they have thought about things to have a greater chance to keep them safe, then that is what I will do.