Try as we might to be sophisticated and forward thinking parents, it is easy to look back fondly at the “good ole days,” and criticize our child’s latest gadget or fascination. We hated it when our parents criticized us, but we rationalize that today’s generation is different. My mom used to scold me for having my head in a book or for listening to the radio for hours on end. She would insist that I go out and get some exercise. Today, when our children are stuck at the computer or video screen, listening to their ipods or instant messaging their friends, we consider it nonsense. We lament their lack of exercise. Each generation seems to idealize what was “in” for them years ago and demonize the trends of today. Since rebellion and self-expression are two of the most significant components of the air stage of development from ages 11-15, it is reasonable to expect these years to be filled with fads and fancies. Parents that are most successful in dealing with these challenges are secure and tolerant. They remember their own teen years and try to be supportive rather than judgmental or critical. Winds of popularity shift frequently, so if we as parents remain grounded, loving, empathetic and rational, we can laugh with our children years from now as we walk down memory lane.
As for the sophisticated technology of today, we would no more want to limit ourselves to watching the old black and white television sets of yesteryear than we would want to go back to washing our clothes by hand. When I buy the latest new front loading washer, I am being smart and efficient. When my child wants the latest new video component for the family computer, they are being foolish. Or are they? Thanks to videocam technology families distanced by war are staying in contact. By staying current and keeping up with the changing times, we as parents are better prepared to embrace the winds of change while setting healthy limits for our children. Books and theories that promote “going back” in time to simpler days speak to our nostalgia, not to the very real challenges of being discriminating, responsible parents in an ever changing world.