21st Century Children
“I believe the children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.” Whitney Houston
The 21st Century is marked by a myriad of complexities with rapid and mind-boggling changes. It is vastly different from the era during which many of you and most certainly I grew up. As a parent of a 21st century Tweenager, I am aware of the reality that my spouse and I are his primary teachers. We have the responsibility to make decisions that will guide his next steps.
There is no doubt that if he is to set and meet his personal goals, aspirations and visions for his life, our child will need some pretty awesome thinking skills outside of those catalyzed by his use of technology. Today’s children need to be forward-thinkers and develop the ability to recognize problems and their solutions almost simultaneously. Without this ability, the ‘fix’ might become obsolete in a flash.
Teaching Children Old Rules In A New Era
In addition to the ‘head-spinning’ rate of changes that characterizes this century, children today must be able to adapt wisely. With a constantly moving goal-post, gone are the days when people waited to meet face-to-face to communicate. Long gone as well are the days when we were able to apply specifics from the proverbial ‘rule-book’ and stick to or reference them as infallible truths. That rule book has been thrown into the trash or placed in the infamous ‘File 13’. Wisdom is the guiding stick for today’s children and it is up to parents to teach them how to befriend her.
As an example of how times have changed and how we all will need to adapt our thinking about old rules, recently a work colleague of mine suddenly tendered her resignation and it caused a ripple. Sudden as, instead of giving the required 30-days’ notice, she gave eight days’. Back in the day, your time and mine, an employee quitting his/her position must first consider the repercussions of basically walking off the job. To give less than the required notice was tantamount to walking off. In fact, a new employer would not make an offer of employment unless they are satisfied that you will be free and will be following the proper protocol of ending your previous employment.
When I asked my colleague about her sudden departure, she told me that her new employer required her to start in 10 days and if she did not accept that, the offer was off the table. To my mind, this was unconscionable but that is the 21st Century, an era in which former social protocols no longer apply.
My question then is, “How do we prepare our children to have respect for or pay homage to these protocols and rules of engagement when societal norms and practices are rapidly changing? Will this be an effort in futility?
4 Tips For Children In This New World
Here are five wisdom tips that my spouse and I have taught our son that might be useful to your children in these times:
1. Practical Honesty:
Our children constantly keeps us honest. You might have heard or use the saying, “What is good for the goose is also good for the gander,” and it is one that is practiced daily in our house. We follow some conservation measures such as turning off the light in the room as we exit. If Dad or I inadvertently leave a light on and our son happen to notice, not only does he turns it off BUT he makes sure to “call us out” on the infraction. He keeps us honest – our words and actions must match.
2. Learning Never Ends:
No one is infallible. We constantly make errors of judgement, misquote someone or Scripture, make references that may be irrelevant to the particular conversation, etc. When this happens, we have to show our children that it is okay to make mistakes by apologizing and not become defensive. It shows them that learning is a life-long process.
3. Effective Communication:
Irrespective of the era, communication has always played a vital role in living and learning. From generation to generation, the ability to effectively communicate – verbally or non-verbally – has always been crucial. Encourage your child/children to express themselves clearly, concisely and appropriately. Teach them to use their “voice.”
Recently, while on vacation with my son we were discussing how to budget. I tried to explain making wise purchases but he held a contrary view. I asked, “Why do you think like that?” His response was, ”Because I am an independent thinker, Mom, just as you taught me to be.” A bit taken aback but I could not entirely ignore his position after that. He spoke his feelings, clearly, concisely and in language proper to a mother/son dialogue.
4. Thinking Globally:
My son started high (secondary) school this month and during his preparation for the entrance exams, I was amazed at the ‘wide-net’ information that they were required to study. Back in the day, we did these topics at the university level. Today, children are required to start thinking globally earlier than we had to; they are 20 years ahead of us.
It is therefore incumbent on parents to expose their children to other cultures, languages, international issues happening around them. The space has become more compact.
Another parent told me recently that her daughter’s best friend lives in Holland. This was a ‘wide-eyed’ moment for me and my first question was, “What do they have in common and how do they communicate?” Her response,“They have a lot in common. They communicate through Skype, Viber, Whatsappp, Facebook and they meet at least twice per week and have a great relationship.”
That was me schooled on connectivity and today’s children.
Raising Smart Working Children
As children, you and I were taught to believe that whatever we get out of life is a result of what we put in. If we worked hard enough, we would reap real and valuable rewards. Putting it crudely, my mother used to say,”There are no free lunches.”
Now, as we raise our children, it is important that we stress the importance of hard work. However, we cannot stop at that; not in this century of technology, reality television and globalization. Hard work is still essential, practice still makes perfect but we also need to encourage and show our children how to work smart.
Today’s high-achievers, millionaires, people making a difference around the world not only work hard, practice their craft, hone their skill set with rigorous training and upgrading but they do so smartly. They know their strengths and they understand the importance of identifying that of others and delegating tasks accordingly. These achievers scour the world for the best talents and use them to maximize the productivity and profile of their businesses.
Our children should believe as well that they can use the available resources locally and globally; and apply conscious effort to their vision. That is what my spouse and I try to do daily – help our son step into his dreams through hard work (homework assignments, sporting activities, chores, etc), making available to him the tools he needs in this technological age to make the connections and encourage his development of people skills to bring it all together.
Time will tell how well we did.
Clara Brown is a longstanding member of Claudette’s Daughters of Sheba Facebook group, a friend, an Insurance Executive and a very wise woman. She holds a Masters in Business Administration and lives in Kingston, Jamaica with her spouse and their son, Jared. Check out her most recent article, “Tap Into Your Gratefulness Force In 3 Steps.”
Share your thoughts on these wisdom tips as well as your own experience of raising children in a rapidly changing world in the comments section below. Also, Subscribe and receive a daily email update of posts as well as the monthly newsletter and affirmation poster.