Like many of you, I’m on a constant journey of learning about Pokémon because my grandkids love to collect the cards and talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the different characters. And even though the toys that kids today are excited about are different than they were 20 years ago, I’m reminded of this same experience with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and American Girl Dolls when my kids were young.
My hope is that idea can set you up to think about something else that has gone through a change compared to what we’re all familiar with. As parents or grandparents, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and out of touch with the world that kids and teens are experiencing. When I was a kid, there was no such thing as social media. However, there were still social and relationship issues.
That change is actually surprisingly similar to the fact that my grandkids prefer Pokémon instead of the toys that their parents grew up with because the big idea behind the toys hasn’t changed. They still want to create elaborate worlds where the toys either play with or fight against each other. And they still want to tell the adults around them all about what’s happening in their pretend world.
The parenting issues we face today are similar, too. The ways they show up are very different than the ways they’ve shown up in the past, but the issues behind them are still pretty similar. In light of that, it’s especially important that we work to figure out the deeper principles we are passing along to our children and grandchildren. For instance, no matter what context the communication takes place in, treating other people with love and kindness is important. That’s true whether the interaction takes place in person, by phone or text, by email or on a social media platform.
It’s also a timeless fact that telling the truth is important. How that looks has changed now that kids are able to hide files digitally instead of the old method of hiding things under the bed in a shoe box. Including others is important, even when the exclusion has moved from the playground or the party invitations to the group chat in the latest app. What I’m getting at here is that there is obviously a learning curve for adults as we work to figure out what our kids are doing as they’re out there in the digital world, but it’s not a whole different version of the world where we have no valuable insights.
Sure, we don’t know the terminology, and we won’t know what app is hot without doing some research. But we do know many of the challenges kids and teens face as they’re growing up and figuring out their identities. We know that they need to feel loved and accepted. We know that they desperately want to be included and viewed as remarkable. We know that they will often feel frustrated and confused as they try to navigate relationships.
All of these things are happening in different ways than they happened when we were growing up, but many of the core issues are the exact same issues. We’ll probably (definitely) have to get creative to help apply some of our solutions to a world that looks a lot different, but we can all relate to our kids and grandkids as they deal with the highs and lows of navigating a challenging, frustrating and beautiful world!
— Dan Seaborn is the founder of the Zeeland-based group Winning At Home Inc., which supports and nurtures marriages and families. Email questions or comments to email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Winning At Home: Times change; issues don't