There are some things that are almost impossible to imagine until they happen to you. Being a parent is probably top of that list. Nothing can prepare you for the feelings you experience when you become a parent, and not much can help you anticipate the myriad of challenges that parenting brings. Every parent worries about getting it right because nobody cares about a child more than that child’s parent.
From the moment a parent takes a child home from hospital and for the rest of that child’s life, parents care. They fret, they hope and they try to do the right thing.
And here is the tricky bit. If parents were able to raise children in their own family bubble, doing the right thing might be pretty easy. The really big challenges come when the world meets your family life: juggling work and childcare, holding back the commercial pressures that are driven directly to your child, and grappling with peer pressure that draws children towards all sorts of behaviours that within the confines of family life seem unfeasibly risky or sometimes just downright daft.
When I set up The Parent Zone in 2005 it was because I was sick of parents being first ignored and then blamed – often in the same breath by the same policy makers. Companies would target children with their products and services using every marketing tool in their armory and then blithely expect parents to cope with any negative consequences. And it wasn’t just companies. Schools would do nothing to provide parents with information about what their children were learning in school, and then blame parents for not being involved in their children’s learning. If parenting is tough, the bottom line is that the world at large seems set on doing whatever it can to make it tougher. Our job at The Parent Zone is to make it easier. Simples, as my 14 year old would say.
Those of you with a keen eye for detail might recognise that as a rather big challenge. As with all rather big challenges, we break it down to the following:
But how does technology affect parenting? This is the big question. It's the defining aspect of this generation of parents. Check back next week to read how The Parent Zone approaches the benefits and challenges of technology for the modern family.