If you’re a Baby Boomer grandparent who will help raise your grandchildren, you have past parenting experience. But you may be wondering how to raise kids in today’s world. You’re right to think that raising children will come with different challenges of parenting today than you encountered 20 to 30 years ago.
It can be overwhelming to navigate these changes in the context of raising children. Consider the tips below to help you along the way.
Adapt to Technology
Kids are more connected today than ever before. Laptops, tablets and smartphones have infiltrated our lives at unimaginable rates. Children have access to technology from a very young age.
Understandably, you may be hesitant to spend time getting to know these gadgets, apps and tools. But it’s imperative to your child’s welfare that you take the time to do so. By neglecting to understand the world your children live in, you could put them at risk. Such risks include cyber bullying on social networks, psychological issues related to excessive video game usage and exposure to (or involvement in) inappropriate sexual behavior.
Start by familiarizing yourself with social networks such as Facebook and the photo sharing network Instagram, since this is where kids spend the majority of their digital time. Finding balance between protecting your child and interfering with his privacy is a fine line to walk. It’s important to establish boundaries and guidelines. The Parents’ Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media provides great tips to protect your children from online predators, help them manage their reputation and keep communication open.
Plan for Expenses
According to the National Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising one child has increased by 40 percent in the last 10 years alone. By the time you account for shelter, groceries, daycare, gas and medical care along with discretionary expenses such as team sports and birthday presents, you can expect to shell out $227,000 in 18 years, which averages more than $12,000 annually. That figure doesn’t even consider the cost of a college education.
If you raised a child in the 1970’s or 1980’s, the costs associated with raising kids today may come as a shock. How can you possibly make this work? The answer is to start saving now. Even if your second parenting tour is right around the corner, every dollar saved will make a difference. If you’re a retired grandparent, this could mean taking a part-time job and tightening the belt on expenses.
Focus on Health
These days, the overall health of our population seems to be in a freefall. Reports on obesity are frightening, while cancer and other life-threatening diseases seem to be lurking around every corner. The abundance of fast food restaurants, popularity of video games and glamorization of drugs and alcohol can make it difficult for both child and parent to weed through unhealthy messaging and focus on healthy habits.
Consider this: 71 percent of parents with overweight toddlers misjudge their child’s weight and assume the toddler is a healthy weight or even underweight. It’s your job to be aware of health issues and help your children develop good habits. Encourage team sports, take the kids for a hike on the weekends and place limits on screen time in front of video games and social networks. When cooking dinner for your kids (and yes, you should cook dinner instead of ordering takeout), focus on vegetables, lean meats and whole grains, and stay away from dishes heavy with cheese or cream.
If you need healthy eating inspiration, check out the Mayo Clinic Kids’ Cookbook. This recipe book has fifty great recipes to get your kids excited about healthy eating.
It’s clear that the challenges of parenting today are dramatically different from a few decades ago, but you can be a fantastic parent (or grandparent) by focusing on awareness and planning. Your children will thank you for it — someday.
What do you notice about the struggles and differences facing parents today?