Today, with the Internet and mobile communications the hierarchies that provided structure for authority are flattened, and formal authority is just not as strong a signal as it once was. So for digital natives, who are children of the Web, authority is relational experience. And in this regard children are naturally seeking more authenticity in how we as parents, teachers, coaches and employers convey to them the authority of protective cover, instruction and discipline.
Children know when you are faking it.
They are growing up in a world where distracted lifestyles have become the norm; attention is the scarcity, and trust is their currency. We are multi-tasking and dealing with the stress of economic uncertainty. And they know the real deal when they experience it.
Kim Fredrickson, M.S., is a marriage and family therapist in Roseville, California who teaches self-compassion as a fundamental way to reinforce our capacity to relate to others because she has found that cyber-powered lifestyles can leave us critical of ourselves and disconnected to God.
In a recent interview, Kim shared some of the main features of her new book, Building a Compassionate Relationship With Yourself, which is a must read for the modern parent.
“We want to be the best parents we can for our children,” Fredrickson said, “but unless we are connected to ourselves and have a healthy way of dealing with our own fears, inadequacies and anxieties we will be more easily swayed by the social pressures that our children experience.”
With the advent of texting and social media, the social pressures our children experience are the lies of popular culture aimed at them like a fire hose, 24 hours a day. There has never been a greater requirement for authentic, emotional bonding between parents and youth.
What is this authenticity for parenting? Expressing God’s love as boundaries that protect security and liberty. According to Fredrickson, some of the signs that indicate you are not being authentic include:
- You do not forgive yourself for mistakes or imperfections, and so you cannot admit to your children when you are wrong, but you expect to correct them nevertheless
- Without realizing it, you may expect your child to be a certain way, to achieve certain things, so you can be validated (GPAs, colleges, careers)
- Your relationship with your child becomes a means to make you feel okay (over or under parenting)
Parenting is one of the most challenging, rewarding and important roles and no one can be considered more expert about the relationship between you and your child, than you and your child. So in this time of economic transition and global competition, when we are not kind to ourselves, when we are not forgiving ourselves, when we cannot have compassion for ourselves, and when we are not holding ourselves accountable to the standards we expect of others with a merciful heart to keep trying no matter how hard it seems, it is not possible to offer these things that are the character of God’s love to our children.
“We can’t teach what we don’t practice ourselves. When responses of compassion are a part of us, they will flow out of us in the ways we respond to ourselves, and the ways we respond to others.,” writes Fredrickson, “Lessons learned about how to be self-compassionate are mainly caught, not taught. This means that when other see this demonstrated naturally in everyday life, they will learn it naturally, and it will become a part of them, too.” (p.52)
Fredrickson’s book takes you step by step through the process of identifying the situations and thinking that tear us down, and offers tools and exercises to build ourselves up in ways that are edifying and inspire confidence and humility that is empowering.
Purchase Kim’s book at: Kim Fredrickson.com
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Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM, Tuesdays.
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