With a number of technologies getting the attention lately, there are many ways that today’s fast paced and competitive lifestyle is proving detrimental to our children. Without the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, today’s kids find themselves fighting an uphill battle that is more real and permanent than the roads our parents and grandparents claimed to have walked on their way to school. Consider some of these experiences that today’s children are lacking when it comes to the kind of environments they are provided:
- Parents who are emotionally available.
- Limits that are clearly defined.
- Adequate sleep and balanced nutrition.
- Time outdoors and opportunities for moving in general.
- Boredom spaces including opportunities for unstructured games, creative play, and social interaction.
Instead, in recent years, children have been filled with far less effective parenting methods. Consider some of the things that parents are instead giving to their children:
- Parents who are digitally distracted.
- Letting children rule the world, today’s parents are often labeled as indulgent and permissive.
- An entitled attitude that leads children to believe that they deserve everything without being responsible for obtaining it or working to earn it.
- Sedentary lifestyles.
- Instant gratification supplied by endless stimulation, technological nannies, and a complete absence of boring moments.
As you listened to the mother explain the recent progress report from her three year old daughter’s school, your neighbor shared that the only sections that did not indicate the highest marks were control of her emotions. The mom went on to explain that too often her daughter screamed when things did not go her way. The mom’s explanation, however, was interrupted by yelling at her two children to return to their own yard. Perched in her chair in the driveway, your neighbor shouted back over her shoulder to her two young children who were now two yards away climbing on a neighbor’s retaining wall.
You were able to hold back your amusement, while at the same time wishing that there was some way to offer advice that it was likely her own yelling, a quality of parenting from a distance instead of moving toward the activity, was serving as a model for the kind of behavior the school was talking about in the young preschooler.
Few things in life are as difficult. One of the factors that makes being a parent so difficult is the amount of advice that is available. With shelves of books printed on the topic, new parents can be overwhelmed by the options they have for advice. At the same time that all of these publishers are offering their wares, well meaning family members are often offering contradictory advice. When parents are in the thick of practicing their craft, however, the option to offer advice can seem off limits. At the other end of the spectrum, however, lie even bigger challenges as the nation continues to battle with the opioid crisis in America.
Although you can so easily see what would make your neighbor a better parent, you are aware of the fact that in spite of your best efforts you feel as if you have failed your children. And while your children Gabe you almost no problems when they were little, you are now have a 30 year old son who is one of the more than 2 million Americans each year are affected by prescription opioid misuse. In fact, as you watch the news about the opioid crisis in America you are all too aware of the struggle. You only wish that instead of being constantly on the look out for signs of heroin abuse you merely had to get up out of a chair and call your small children back home. you live in constant fear of a call that your son has become a victim of an opioid overdose. Hoping for any progress against the opioid crisis in America you have attended seminars and counseling sessions. You realize that changes to government recommendations and aggressive pharmaceutical company marketing have led to a dramatic increase in the last 25 years in prescriptions of oxycodone for long-term use in patients with chronic pain, but this does not help with your family’s personal battle in the opioid crisis in America and opioid addiction.