21st Century Parenting. Is it a factor in the mental health crisis among young people?
Parenting today is pretty demanding. Well, life generally is pretty demanding. There seems to be a lot of rushing and pressure to be productive and to fill our time with stimulating, challenging and exciting things. Whatever happened to boredom or having nothing to do?
I was listening to the radio this week and an author (I can’t remember who) was saying that in his childhood, times of boredom generated resourcefulness and creativity. These are really valuable life skills that can be drawn on in times of trouble.
Forty years ago, children were not entertained much, signed up to numerous clubs or indulged with as much of their parent’s time. Instead, they were challenged to think of things to do like climbing trees, building dens and skimming stones and even colouring! I personally saturated my desire for colouring back then, but it is now becoming fashionable and can be classed as mindfulness, something are all being encouraged to incorporate into our lives. These pastimes were not highly exciting but we were in touch with nature, focused on the moment and having some experience of independence and choice. We made decisions, we accepted that things went wrong and adapted, we expected to be responsible for our own pleasure and the sorting out of most of our displeasure.
Did this prepare us better for adult life by teaching us decision making, adaptation to change, responsibility for ourselves and problem solving which are certain skills we need as adults?
Did our resourcefulness build our self-esteem and confidence?
Maybe the same can be said for the paper-round and Saturday job: did we get an inner boost to our self-worth when we opened that brown envelope containing our week’s pay that being given pocket money doesn’t provide?
Did having more chores to do in the home and/or garden give us the feeling of belonging and being valuable because we were contributing?
Sometimes it is easy to get swept along with what we, as parents, should do for our children and what we should give them. It seems like the answer we often come to is more!
Maybe it would be in our children’s best interest to nurture their resourcefulness and creativity by allowing for some boredom and some opportunities for them to contribute more.
This blog comes with a warning: if your child takes on a paper-round, as mine did, be prepared that when said child goes on a school trip, you may find yourself covering that very early and very chilly paper-round… in disguise of course!