Parenthood is one of the greatest gifts. Becoming a parent three times offered me my three greatest blessings. Taking on the role of mother felt right, natural, and beautiful. I felt loved, appreciated, and needed. And then…things changed.
The kids grew up, technology advanced, devices of all kinds emerged, and I chose not to board the technological bandwagon. At the time, I had no idea of the long-term consequences of that decision. Over time, however, I noticed my frustration increasing, the generation gap widening, and my role as parent—clearly shifting.
As parents, we’ve all moved through our very own chapters—from the most challenging to the most exhilarating. It’s a package deal when you become a parent—the highs and lows, the ups and downs—it’s all expected. What I did not expect, however, was the role reversal. There was no advance warning, but it slowly crept in. I’m sure that many of you can relate.
When we were growing up, there was a distinct boundary between parent and child. The relationship was clearly parent-child and there was a real role separation. It was not about friendship. The parent was the teacher, the advisor, the guide, and in most cases the more experienced and intelligent of the two. The parent was valued and therefore respected—helpful and therefore useful.
(Obviously this was not the dynamic in every household, and some parents were far too extreme and dictatorial, but that does not affect the point I’m trying to make here.)
Anyhow, that was then and this is now. Parenting today is a whole different ball game. The boundaries are blurred and the roles feel somewhat reversed. This is definitely a feeling that resonates with many of my coaching clients and workshop participants.
For myself, because I am a more traditional and private person, I initially chose not to get up to speed with technology for I did not see it as a priority. I was not tech savvy nor a great “friend” or proponent of social media, and I was not necessarily up to date on the new “life lingo” that kids were picking up and easily using.
Of course, for professional reasons, I’ve recognized the need to connect through social media, but I still get to choose what that looks like for me. What I don’t get to choose is just how quickly the rest of the world will advance, regardless.
Like many others, I have become very dependent on my children to “get me up to speed.” I know that I’m not alone in this dilemma. Parenting today has a very different look and feel. The child has become the teacher much earlier on in the game, the one who tells. And our children have little patience for show and tell. The child usually steps in just long enough to solve a computer issue—to fix a temporary glitch for us, but then, more often than not, has no time left or patience to teach us.
Children today have all of the necessary resources literally at their fingertips, so parents may feel like they are less “required.” Advice is offered and is readily available on every platform; there is no lack of information on the Internet.
Parents agree that it’s hard not to feel less than, inferior, and incapable when we have to request ongoing support from our children—and we become the needy ones. And it’s hard to feel valued, connected, and needed when all of the necessary systems are already in place for our children.
There is some general consensus that parenting is much more complicated these days. It’s oftentimes quite confusing for us to understand just how the “children of today” are showing up, and just what is expected of us, the “parents of today.”
This blog is not a comment on my children nor is it reflective of all children. It speaks to a generation of young people who think, feel, and act very differently from the way we parents do. Also, it does not come from a judgmental place, but rather from a place of deep introspection, curiosity, and observation.
Nostalgia set in this weekend as I was sitting down to write my blog and asked my son, yet again, for assistance around a computer issue. And here we are: our teacher-student roles reversed.
So how do I maintain my credibility as a knowledgeable parent to my child when their knowledge of computers, technology, and social media clearly surpass mine? I’ve been wrestling with this issue for years now, wondering what is the best way to move forward through this modern-day, “parenting” challenge.
Likewise, how is your parent-child relationship affecting you? Do you, too, often feel just one step behind your children? I welcome your thoughts on this issue. More importantly, I want to hear back from you regarding the following questions:
What do you do when your “go-to person” in your family is not around, not available, or is simply not interested in helping you with your “tech” problems? How do you deal with this? With them? (And especially after all you’ve done for them!)
Remember, we are all a work of art in progress, never truly mastering, yet always eager to learn and grow from each other. So, let’s get the conversation started and use the comments section at the end of this blog to offer and share some well-needed, real-life solutions to this conundrum.
My advice: Let’s begin to focus on how to best parent now and into the future within this new parenting paradigm shift. In other words, let’s start accepting the truth of “what-is” for both parent and child now and advocate for something new that can help us—the parents. This may mean finding a back-up “go-to person” outside of the home or signing up for a tutorial or two so we can ultimately become less dependent on our kids for their “tech” help and regain our respectful roles as parent and teacher to them.