What’s Old is New Again

Sometimes the idea that what’s old is new again can be positive. But when I listened to the podcast and heard how the alcohol and pot of the 60s and 70s are now favored by teens – well, it wasn’t a good thing. We’re talking about the era I grew up in and yes, teens were doing plenty of experimenting and rebelling. However, it seemed to pass quickly for most and the consequences were not too significant.

Fast forward to today and I can tell you I worry about my grandkids and the choices they may make. The use (and abuse) of alcohol and drugs has been normalized and the behavior often glorified. There does not seem to be any rules to this game, but the consequences are severe.

So where do parents start? This sounds so simple – spend time together as a family. The podcast mentioned the alarming small amount of time dads and moms spend with their children. Time together is how you build affection and trust. This is the basis for communication.

Talk about yourself and the pressures and choices that came at each age. Be honest in sharing your own experiences.  That doesn’t mean I have to tell every little detail about what I did, or didn’t do. But I can share my mistakes and the consequences of my choices.  I can share my values and beliefs.

Allow for some experimentation. What I mean is it is natural for kids to experiment. That is how they learn. As a parent you can allow experimentation in areas where there is little or no long term danger. Let your child experiment with various school activities, part-time jobs, types of hair style and clothing. A wise parent learns when to close her eyes or bite her tongue. I choose to look past the trendy clothes and purple hair. The clothes change and the hair grows out. Instead i focus my energies on open conversations about choices that affect my grandkids’ futures. We may not always agree but they know they can speak freely with me.

Children are growing up in the same world as we adults live in but their experiences are very different.  The one thing I, and you as a parent, can do is be present. Do not turn over all influence to peers and media. Children and teens need and want, support, guidance, and caring from their parents. If that is what’s old is new again, I think it is a very good thing.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

More Posts

Consistent Parenting

On March 3rd, we discussed positive parenting strategies, including giving appropriate choices, explaining decisions, listening to the feelings and concerns of your children, setting limits, and acting out of love.

It’s important to not only use these strategies, but to use them as consistently as possible.  If children are receiving different messages from one or both parents, the child may get confused and be unsure of how to act.  It will help your child understand what is expected if you and any other parental figures are consistent.

How do you know if you and/or any other parents are inconsistent parents?  Do you say “yes” when the other parent says “no”?  Do you make a rule, but fail to follow through on the consequences when your child breaks the rule?  Do you say “no” to your child’s request, then back down and say “yes” if the child persists?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s probably room for improvement.

One way you can improve consistency is to create boundaries.  Determine what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable, and what consequences are appropriate if children behave in unacceptable ways.  Remember when determining consequences, it needs to be something you can follow through on.

Clearly explain to your children the rules and consequences that have been decided upon, and why they have been chosen.  For example, “If you run into the street while playing outside, you will have to play inside for two days.  We want you to be safe and not get hurt, so we need to know you will stay in the yard.”

Be sure they understand what the boundaries are, and what will occur if these boundaries are broken.  Depending on the age of your children, they may have some input on rules and consequences.  This gives you a good opportunity to listen to and consider their thoughts and reasons.  You may find it is appropriate to change a rule or consequence based on what your child says, but always remember:  you make the final decision.

All parental figures need to consistently follow through on the rules and consequences.  If a child breaks a rule, the consequence needs to immediately follow the incident.  If consequences are not used consistently or immediately, it can be hard for children to make the connection between the behavior and the consequence.

When is it most difficult for you to be a consistent parent?  What strategies might you try to help you stay consistent in these difficult situations?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

More Posts