The concept of treating your children like adults probably seems like a silly idea to you. But hear me out! As we enter 2021, there’s a truth we need to accept as parents if we want our children to not only succeed but lead a happy and healthy life. We live in a very different time. The world that we ourselves were raised in as children is no longer the world we are raising our children in. Not better, not necessarily worse, but most certainly different. And therefore, our tactics as parents must change dramatically if we want our children to adjust and acclimate to this modern era.
Today, we are reaching connectivity at unparalleled levels, which can be a huge perk for our society. But when it comes to raising our children, it certainly breeds some challenges. Information now spreads like a virus, and it is harder than ever to shield our children from the realities of this world. Social media is flooding our children with near-constant exposure.
It is up to us as parents to create an environment where our children can safely and healthily handle this onslaught of connectivity, media, and information. And this first and more substantial shift I believe parents should make is to stop treating their kids as kids.
See Yourself as an Educator
As parents, we need to show our children earlier than ever what the real world entails in an environment where they can safely digest and process the new information. Otherwise, the world and the media will control the narrative for us.
My husband, Ari, and I see our most important duty as parents are to be educators. We teach our children so much more than facts about the world. We teach them how to see and digest all the things that will inevitably come flying at them as they mature. If we do not proactively take this mantle of educator, social media networks and other influences will gladly take the reins from you. And God knows where that could lead. It is far too much of a risk when we discuss the mental and emotional happiness of our children. It is up to us to behave proactively.
Trust Your Children with Big Ideas
Today, we must enhance the techniques that our parents taught us. It’s not enough to give your child a weekly allowance. We treat our children as adults by showing them how to budget their money. We also share with them details about what we do for work, how we are paid and guide them through the financial decisions we make as a family. This allows them to see and learn from our adult experience.
Ari and I have even taken this concept one step further. In our household, we even allow our children to curse. While this may sound controversial and surprising, we have been met with fantastic results. In the Rastegar household, our children are allowed to curse only if the word is used correctly, and they are certainly not allowed to abuse this privilege. The result is the formation of a deeper understanding and relationship with language. We have actually found that this has led to a decrease in instances of cursing altogether.
Again, we trust our children with large ideas. They are equipped to handle so much more than we often give them credit. We, as parents, just have to give them permission and the environment to exercise their maturity.
Manage Their Relationship with Technology
Technology has gotten a bad reputation in today’s society. We are constantly reading articles about how our devices and social media are destroying our brains, communities, and futures. But here’s the truth: it’s impossible to move backward. Technology has become an integral part of our modern lives, and that will not change.
Rather than shield your child from technology, treat them as adults and show them how to manage their relationship and exposure to devices and networks. Under your guidance, they will ultimately find their own boundaries. They will also build discipline with their devices, and they will cultivate a healthy relationship with technology. This is critical for their success in school and in life as they continue to adjust to the world of today.
Combat the Loss of Innocence
The issue that comes with treating your children as adults is the fear that we are destroying our children’s beautiful innocence. And that we deny them the chance to feel the extreme joys of adolescence. This is a fear I hold deeply. But there has always been such a fine line between babying our children and becoming the dreaded helicopter parent. Letting our children fail in controlled, safe environments has always been critical to successful parenting. Now, it is simply more important than ever.
I have concluded that we do have a duty as parents to ensure that as we prepare our children for adulthood, we are not accidentally stifling the curiosity and the spark that childhood brings. We must still let them explore with all the wild abandonment children seem to possess naturally. We must encourage them to explore their creativity, feel their joys to their greatest extent, and not expose them to unnecessary realities that could cripple their childhood. But we must also ensure they are simultaneously prepared for the particular challenges of our modern age. It is a fine line and a fine balance. And one that must be calibrated and re-calibrated with each interaction we have with our children.
Creating a Stronger Bond with Your Children
By treating our children as adults, Ari and I have found that we have only created an enhanced connection with our children and that their childhood experiences have only deepened and flourished. We have raised them in a way so that the world can never cripple them. Rather than guarding them against the real world, we have educated them and prepared them to handle it themselves. We have empowered them to walk into the world with their eyes open. They can differentiate between the joys of life and the tougher moments. We’ve ensured that their emotional wellbeing is cared for as they mature and grow through this modern world. It can be a difficult task as a parent, but it’s the one the world today is giving us. It’s the one we signed up for.