Why the modern child feels ‘unlovable’ and what to do about it

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
Photo: Sad girl via PinkSherbet Flickr

Photo: Sad girl via PinkSherbet Flickr

Return to the Table of Contents: 2015 Spring Edition of Banana Moments Family Business Quarterly

In an open and hyper-connected society, what you believe really matters because the power and control issues of the world can easily convince us of things that are not true and inspire us and our children to focus on things that don’ t really matter. These are the lies that torment if allowed to thrive in the realm of heart and mind; they distort perceptions to inspire anxiety which impacts psychological and emotional well being and kills open communication essential for personal security. Here are some examples for modern youth:

  • I am not loveable unless I send a nude photo of myself.
  • The number of “likes” I get in reply to my post validates me.
  • I am invisible without a profile on Instagram, Twitter or SnapChat.
  • I cannot fit in or stop the pain without drugs and alcohol.
  • The voice behind the stranger’s photo cares about me
  • Alcohol is safe for minors as long as you don’t get behind the wheel.
  • I have no future, no hope. There is no point in going on living.
  • Minor children need privacy from their parents.
  • My cyber social realm is a single point of reference for life.
  • Parents need to be in control of their child’s cyber experiences.
  • My parents are incapable of accepting me & understanding my experiences



Parent malware of the heart and mind

By the same token, parents experience a type of malware that evolves from a parenting paradigm that says with good parenting the risky traps and adult issues will not beset our children. We are judging ourselves and other parents by the issues (my child is a bully) or successes (my child is a straight A student) of our youth, which further reinforces shame and fear and killing open communication about what is happening on and off line at home. Some of the lies, the malware, that torment parent hearts and minds include:

Worrying is not the same thing as caring – it is fear-based thought leadership; it is negative goal setting. It is not love.

#Discipline = punishment
Discipline is about training and heart and mind to focus on the things that empower us to be in control of our self in thought and deed, and  pursue our spiritual imperative – to connect with truth, that is Divine Love. Consequences can be both rewarding and punishing and are meant to be instructive and inspire lessons that are hopeful about our power to overcome the experiences that are punishing.

Note: The ”rod” in Scripture (Proverb 13:24: spare the rod, spoil the child)  is a standard of thought and behavior, not a stick.

#Your Opinion = wisdom
Be careful. They are not the same thing.

The harm that parents can do without realizing it is express fearful and condemning thoughts about the troubles modern children are experiencing hyped in the media ranging from violence, suicide/murder, addiction, bullying and sexual exploitation. When we express our opinion as harsh and hopeless, then the signal our children receive is that we cannot be trusted with their experiences that invoke shame and guilt. And in the hyper-connected world, the children are exposed to so many adult issues that inspire shame and fear, they are more likely to keep secrets. And when cyber-powered kids keep secrets, it is not possible to engage their intellect and will to impart your wisdom that involves boundary setting for personal security.

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez, CEO of Gateway Corp in Sacramento

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez, CEO of Gateway Corp in Sacramento

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez, is the CEO of Gateway Corp in Sacramento. Last month she delivered a presentation on the ethics of treating eating disorders, via a webinar hosted by Rosewood Institute.

Her insights are incredibly relevant for the modern parent.

“Eating disorders can be incredibly challenging to treat,” Rodriguez said, “And the challenge for the professional providing care is to stay in your lane and not violate the dignity of the patient.” It is true that health care professionals cannot make patients suffering from addiction disorders choose to get well. That is something the patient must navigate in their own inner world. Respecting the dignity of the patient, no matter how distorted their perception of reality may appear, is vital in order to create a safe place (in the realm of heart and mind) to unpack and examine the thoughts and logic driving harmful behavior. This is true for the modern parent who can easily be tempted to believe that their children will not be able to learn how to use their intelligence and free will wisely in their on-line worlds. There is great worry for undue influences among the top concerns being, cyberbullying and pedophiles initially. But the deeper, more important question remains: how are you as the parent going to stay in the parenting lane and impart your wisdom?

Tips for the ethical care giving based upon Dr. J’s insights

Balance autonomy and guidance. Consider that your child can think for herself, and then make age-appropriate determinations about how much supervision you provide in their life. Everything you do in the home should be instructive so that your child gains experience in making good decisions for self and the greater good (family and society). Teach your child to make and manage their own schedule, be responsible for communicating details with others, complete their own homework, explore hobbies, career options, and give and receive apologies for offenses.

Watch out for self-serving behavior. The temptation of the modern parent is to keep up appearances through our children. Are your expectations for your child rooted in their personhood (as trustworthy citizens, family members) or are they rooted in performance accomplishments to prove to the world that you are a good parent? Is it safe to examine failure and personal issues at home?

Get educated: Be open to learning how your child’s childhood is informing them. Be open to learning about the technology and cultural trends from your child and other sources. You can set up automated news alerts on various topics, such as social media, texting, teens. Users of iPhones and iDevices in general can take workshops at the local Genius Bar (Apple Store).

Respect confidentiality. Parents can honor confidentiality of the things they know about their child’s personal experiences by agreeing not to share without their permission with the following exceptions:

  • There is potential danger to self or others
  • An abusive situation
  • A medical crisis
  • A legitimate need to update legal records.

Be aware of your own values, beliefs and biases. Your opinion is just that: an opinion that belongs to you. It is not the same thing as wisdom.

Be honest and humble about your expertise as a parent. Accept that your child is the expert about their childhood or teenagehood. Seek first to understand and then to be understood.

Have a crisis management plan in place. Encourage your child to consider that whenever something happens that disturbs their peace, to seek wise counsel. Identify people who are trustworthy in addition to parents, such as a counselor, a relative or a family friend. Perhaps it is a school counselor, or an aunt or uncle. The main thing is that children are reminded they have assets. They are not alone in times of crisis or despair.

Photo: Christi Benz

Photo: Christi Benz

To learn more about Dr. Jessica Rodriguez’ practice for mental health and healing addiction, go to: Gateway Corp

To learn more about creating a family culture characterized by open communication and individual resilience, go to: Fresh Start

Banana Moments Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. To make a donation, please go go: Donations. Your generous support is greatly appreciated.


Proceed to next article: Grace-filled parenting in the chaos of the social network

Symposium on Meeting the Spiritual and Mental Health Needs of Modern Youth and Families – June 13, 2015, in Citrus Heights, California 

Return to the Table of Contents: 2015 Spring Edition of Banana Moments Family Business Quarterly


Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, 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. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna (jullien@surewest.net) and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.