Why is parenting this generation of kids such a challenge? This parenting expert, Dr. Karen Ruskin explains the reason why: we are living during a time of great transition, of real transformation. Specifically, we are living during a time of Familial And Relational Transformation (F.A.R.T.). This is the FART generation and it is not a joke!
There was a time not so long ago, that parents for the most part knew what they were supposed to do. They were to feed, clothe, teach their children values, nurture, rule the household, and discipline them. The notion was that children would grow up quite similar to the parents themselves, only the hope was that financially they would be better well off with higher education. Sure, there was always the minority of children who grew up to become an athlete, a celebrity . . . But that was not the rule, they were the extremely rare exception and certainly most children did not realistically think that anomaly would be who they become. During this time I speak of not so long ago, which is now considered more of an “old school” approach to and understanding of life, not only did parents know what they were supposed to do, children for the most part knew what they were supposed to do as well. Children would obey their parents, as that was the expectation, and obey society’s expectations as a whole (e.g., school). They would get educated, get a job, keep that job, get married, have kids, and expect the same of their children. This time not so long ago simply is not what is these days.
Rather, this generation, the FART generation is a significant key component of and explanation as to the very reason why parents are struggling with how to parent. What a family is defined as, composed of, and the expectations of the members within the family are all going through a transitional process, a process of transformation, a process of familial and relational transformation. Parents are left with a lack of concrete answers on how to parent this generation because it is more of a recent development that has been in the making. There is no generation before us to imitate after. Until the overwhelming majority of parents of this generation get the new style of parenting down to parent this generation of youth, in essence, know what to do to parent this FART generation, they will continue to feel overwhelmed by parenting, and at a loss for how to parent successfully.
An old school approach to the parent-child relationship dynamic and to life overall included an old school parenting style. In general, the basic difference that most parents chat about when referring to the basic quickie summary distinction between “old school” parenting versus “new school” parenting is as follows:
Old School Parenting:
Fathers are not too involved in the parenting, other than disciplining which was not uncommon to include physical punishment. “Authoritarian” style parenting ruled as the parenting philosophy which included a strict/fear-based parenting style. I am the parent and that is why you will respect me or else . . . For many families this style included spanking. The social environment reinforced this philosophy in the types of programs shown on television, how families were portrayed, how children interacted with their parents and parents with children on these programs. Schools reinforced this type of parent-child dynamic in their expectations of the students’ behaviors, and kids expectations of one another in the school environment in terms of what is deemed socially acceptable versus not.
These days those who are still stuck in old school parenting ways find parenting frustrating. It is these parents who find themselves often fighting with their children young and old in arguments that are volcanic. These parents typically report their young children have poor behavior, do not listen, and throw temper tantrums with consistency. These parents whose children are older report their teens are disrespectful and irresponsible. Many of these children young and older are physically aggressive both with other children and with their parents. Old school parenting does not fit the youth culture of this generation. Rather power struggles occur with consistency with no one as the victor and the parent-child relationship is wounded and disharmonious. Or, it is these children who are extremely quiet and easily manipulated, they are followers in their social environment as they never had a voice in the home thus do not have a voice socially. It is these children that often appear to others as sad. Often these children have a sense of low self worth. In summary, a child of this generation who is parented from an old school parenting approach typically develops into a one extreme or the other; aggressive in their interactive style with others or submissive, not a healthy give and take relational style.
Although there appears to be a large majority of this generation of parents who have moved beyond old school, there are indeed still quite the many who are stuck in an old school parenting mentality. It is not uncommon to have a marital couple in conflict with one another in their parenting approach where one is more old school and the other more new school. This conflict not only negatively affects the parenting relationship dynamic and chips at the marriage unit as a whole, but it is often extremely confusing for the children.
New School Parenting:
Mother and Father are involved and attuned to each child’s individual needs. Logical consequences to behaviors not physical punishment is the overriding parenting methodology. “Authoritative” parenting (not permissive) rules as the parenting philosophy in what is generally considered new school parenting.
These days, parents who are parenting from a new school approach, often report experiencing more success than the old school approach. An authoritative approach where the voice of children are to be heard, certainly fits better for this generation of youth culture and family dynamic. Children who are parented with a new school parenting style often are empathetic toward others with a healthy sense of self worth where there is a loving parent-child relationship. Although, the new school approach is not enough for THIS generation as far too often new school has rather become more of a children rule the house outcome where parents are left frustrated feeling like they are not heard, obeyed, nor listened to. It is not uncommon for me to observe this style of parenting taken too far to where the parents do not have a voice. The children have such a powerful voice to where they become controlling and disrespectful verbally and in some families physically as well to where children even as young as age 3 hit the primary parent as part of their interaction when they do not get what they want. Without this matter attended to the unhealthy parent-child relationship dynamic will continue on into the teenage years. The problem many parents report is that they do not know what to do differently.
Parenting Style Shift:
It is my opinion that this generation of children are in need of a parenting style shift that is past the old school approach and past the new school approach. Children need parents to be mindful of theories, philosophies, techniques, methodologies, and concrete interactions that fit for this generation of children to succeed as individuals, to succeed in their relationship with their parents, to succeed socially in their interactional dynamics with peer groups and friendships, and other adult figures. For the children of this generation to become adults on all levels of healthy and positive character and success as individuals and relationally, our children of today need our help. I am here to help parents of this generation to parent.
Parenting Roles And Children’s Roles Were Once Clear:
In an old school parenting world as well as in a new school world, each did its part to promote and keep stable this parent-child dynamic and parenting system. Not only did parents and children keep the dynamic stable, it is the external forces in our culture that supported, validated, reinforced, and helped to keep stable the parenting style that reigned supreme. For example, media offered programs that promoted these values, other families down the street would obey the same system, with the occasional “odd” family that colored outside of the box. That was then and this is now.
What Our Children Are Learning:
Nowadays, media not only does not promote family values, family stability, media works against it. Children are learning about relationships, how to live in their world, and what success is through all the significant forces in their world. For an example, what child in this generation does not think that creating a video that goes viral, or being on a reality show and reap financial riches means that they are successful? This is a markedly different view of success and how to obtain it then what was.
Children observe television programs where the child roles their eyes at the parent and treats them more as a friend then as someone to be respected both in front of their friends and when their friends are not around, and the parents accept it. Television programs lack in displaying family unity and rather display broken homes that are no longer termed “broken” and rather typically is referred to as; “modern”, or should I say; typical, standard, viewed more as the norm. We are a culture learning that relationships are disposable. Many children learn that there is no loyalty for employers to employees due to their parents’ work situation. We are a culture of eat or be eaten and don’t worry about the other person as long as you are okay. This impacts the entire family system, how children interact with their parents, their siblings, and others outside of the home environment.
Far too many children of today are learning to feel entitled, that everything is all about “me, me, me” and they should have whether they can afford or work hard. Children of today experience immediate and instantaneous response to questions through google, texting, emails. Technology has played a significant role in exacerbating a human reactive response of impulsivity. What is considered a friend (e.g., Facebook, on-line games with “friends” you have never met but yet are friends) has changed with technology. Communication in these friendship relationships has transformed and continues to transform each day. What is inappropriate communication when using technology versus what is acceptable is being defined and yet again re-defined.
As marital affairs becomes more accepted, as polyamory is more openly discussed not as something deviant nor as a lifestyle choice, but rather as just who that person is, these are just but a few more examples contributing to children learning about what value they are to place on significant relationships in their lives. Certainly they are not learning to put top value.
“Patience is a virtue”, ha, where and in what contexts are the youth of today learning that? “I want what I want when I want it” is more of what the youth culture of this generation has become. The voice of children are heard loud and clear and louder in many families than the parents’ voice. The voice of children comes from their voice and their friends’ voices and what they are seeing before them on television, what they are observing in other families . . . all informing who they are, and with parents at a loss for how to parent, communicate, educate, discipline, interact with, and participate with their children.
When a child came home from school not too long ago they would play outside by themselves or with a neighbor or friend, all activities were not structured as there was time to free play. Nowadays technology, structured scheduled activities, and lots of homework keeps kids of today good and busy and families’ struggling financially keeps parents good and busy working. What happens to the family relationship dynamic if both parents are working, kids come home from school and keep themselves busy with some form of technology? Technology has become the ‘baby-sitter’ and/or ‘play-date’. Add in the scheduled structured overdose of activities to transport your children to, with technology, I ask you; Do you have time for family game night? Do you as a parent make time to just chat with your children? Is there creative play time? All of this plays a part in this FART generation. All of this and more are just but pieces of the puzzle of the explanation to help parents to understand the context upon which children are being raised in and thus why parents are struggling. If the family is not taking the time as a theme with consistency, as a lifestyle throughout their days to hold strong the family relationship, what happens to the family? What impact does that have on your children’s view of family, of unity, of connection, of themselves?
Family Unfriendly Environment:
We are living in a time where parents have to raise their kids in an environment that is family unfriendly where kids are against parental authority simply because it does not fit the context of their life. Look around you at the context upon which children are being raised in. In 2011 the U.S. Census Bureau reported that for the first time in American history, married couples are in the minority at 49%. That does not signify relational stability and conflict solution resolution strategies where spouses are hearing each others voice and working through their challenges together. According to a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over the past four years, states have slashed $1.6 billion from mental health programs. How does this suggest societal reinforcement of health and wellness for families in mental health need and promote stability?
There are external forces at play outside of the family unit that has significantly impacted and transformed the parent-child relationship. Some of these external forces include the omnipresent forms of social media (internet, texting), demanding school system, drugs and alcohol easily available, bullying, intense consumer marketing to kids, economic uncertainty. All of these forces contribute to the context upon which children are growing up in. Therefore, parents who feel like they wish they had a parenting book are not alone, many parents feel this way. Many parents desire a style of parenting for this generation of parenting. New school parenting as well as old school parenting simply do not stand a chance in parenting this generation.
What’s A Parent To Do:
A world undergoing transition requires a shift in parenting. Many feel alone as they are the only parents struggling and yet when I speak with parents it so seems the majority of parents have struggled, are struggling, and/or will struggle at some point during their parenting journey. It is not to say that this generation is the first to experience parenting challenges. Each generation has its own challenges. Rather I am suggesting the reason why this generation is experiencing the particular theme of parenting challenges that it is as parenting can be helped if we hope to have a more harmonious parent-child relationship, and if we hope to help our children be emotionally whole, healthy, and happy which is included in being the best version of themselves as a child and as an adult.
This generation of parenting challenge is not just to families in and of themselves, parenting is a challenge to the institution of parenting as a whole due to the notion that we are of the FART generation. This is a serious situation that unless parents are mindful of the need to make a parenting shift now, they will continue to struggle lacking in a successful parenting experience with a negative outcome.
Parenting for this generation is not and cannot be the same as was not so long ago! We are the generation of familial and relational transformation. That is because we are living in a relationship revolution! We are the FART generation.
As a parent ask yourself the following questions and see if you can answer them:
- What is your overall goal as a parent in your child rearing?
- Is your overall goal to have a successful child?
- What is a successful child?
- Is the definition of a successful child clearly defined? Does it mean different things to different people?
- Does a successful child mean emotionally he is happy more often than not? What is defined as happiness?
- Is being a successful child getting grades of a ‘B’ and up, per class, having several friends, teachers reporting your kid is a pleasure to have in class, a kid who obeys your requests and achieves parental expectations, not only participates in but excels in more than one structured extra-curricular activity? Or, is being successful some of these statements, all of these statements, portions of these statements, or is it different, or more than that? Does success go beyond the aforementioned?
- What about morals? Values? Ethics? Compassion? Empathy? Passion? Motivation? Determination? Creativity? Self Worth? Capability? Curiosity? Intellect? Emotional strength? Physical Strength? Independence? Team-player? Self Empowerment vs. Entitlement? Conflict resolutions skills? Communication skills? Is success including these components?
- Is a child who possesses a strong work ethic, high motivation, has passion, drive, ambition, and focus important qualities? Are these qualities included in the term; success? Are these qualities important in your opinion, for your child to possess?
- As a parent do you know how to parent in such a way that your child is a child who has character? Is a child of character a child of success or is character not the focus? What even is a child of character defined as in this new world, the world of our generation? Is raising a child to have great character of importance to parents? Do you as a parent, a spouse, a friend, a person – have character?
- Is being successful as an adult mean your salary allows for your family to have enough money to eat, own a home, own 2 cars, go on vacations, sign your children up for extra-curricular activities, summer camp, money saved in the bank that can keep you going for a year or more if you lose your job, investments? Is a successful adult mean you have a healthy marriage? Work for a company? Work for yourself? What about emotional success? Is part of being successful for a parent being happy? Feel emotionally stable? Kind? Compassionate? Empathetic? Strong work ethic? Hard worker? Motivated?
- What qualities and character traits would you use to describe yourself? Your spouse? Your child? What qualities and character traits would you like to improve upon about yourself, your spouse, your child?
- What steps have you taken and can you still take to help your children to be the best version of themselves that they can be, and what does that even mean? Are you the best version of yourself? How could you improve who you are as an individual, as a parent, as a spouse to role model thus show by example to have your child experience the best of their parent?
Parenting Plan/What You Need To Know:
- Know what your overall goal as a parent is.
- Know what your role as a parent is. Is it your job, your responsibility to help your children to have any number of the various qualities named above as who they are?
- Know how to help your children to have the many qualities listed above.
- Know what the parent-child dynamic is.
- Know what your children’s role in their relationship with you is.
- Know what your parenting philosophy is in order to know how you are going to achieve your goal, fulfill your parenting role, and help your children fulfill theirs.
- Know that it is important to spend quality time with your children just enjoying and relishing in who they are as well as the relationship between you and your children.
We as parents have the ability, the skill to learn and adapt, we are capable of making shifts if we understand the need to do so for the emotional safety, sanity, character, health, happiness, stability, and success of our children as children and who they become as adults.
The summer of 2009 I released my cutting edge parenting book entitled; 9 Key Techniques For Raising Respectful Children Who Make responsible Choices. Parents want real strategies, real solutions, doable techniques that are concrete and an overall parenting philosophy upon which to raise their children in this new world, this generation of kids and families. Parents of this generation not only want a guide, they need a guide for how to navigate through parenting challenges with the goal to help their children experience a successful childhood to grow up to be successful adults. This book is that guide. Over the next few years I plan to expand my first parenting book even further, to continue on my journey of helping parents to help themselves and their families during a time of great transition and transformation for the family relationships and children of this generation. Until then, I offer you my parenting philosophy for parents of this generation along with 9 key techniques to raise children who are successful which in my opinion is helping a child to be a person of; character, self worth, compassion, empathy, independent, leader, team player, responsible, respectful, nurturing, kind, motivated, ambitious, focused, communicates, passion, and more . . . all of the wonderful traits a parent hopes to develop within their children for their now and their future. Purchase your signed copy today!