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ParentingPanicButton » parenting advice, parenting teens, parenting tips » Parenting Your Teens and Media-Part 2

Parenting Your Teens and Media-Part 2

Parenting of teens and children has been here since the beginning of time.

Before adolescence came to be, we simply had childhood and then adulthood.   However, there has always been a transitional period from childhood to adulthood.   There has been some kind of quintessential struggle, in that to rear a child is a juxtiposition of directing a child towards independence, and holding them back when they are about to jump too far, or miss a step.  Raising children brings the challenge of choosing our battles, staying uncharged, calm, and rational.

Media, in all of its different forms has been here since the beginning of the written word.

It’s been here in its most primitive form on cave walls, and its most current form in various virtual medians. There have always been people who are resistant to new forms of media, and there have always been people who are on the cutting edge of newer, quicker, more diverse and illustrious forms of communication.  Yes, in past times even the telegraph, the telephone, the sewing machine, the comic book, the radio, the television, and even the computer.

We can manage the infiltration of media and technology into our house, and we can be the purse which facilitates the ownership of such items.  We have the power to decide if we have a TV, internet and more.   The basis of the decision about what we expose our children to must be as follows:

We must be guided by our observable assessment and intuition of the readiness of our child for the stimulus.  The focus can be on whether the child has the inner-soul development that will let the stimulus in, without having it take over their will.  Does a 5 year old know when to turn the TV off?  Does a middle school student know when to switch from the video game to the homework?   Does the 9 year old know to turn off the computer and put him/herself to bed?

I must note that as I write this entry, I am a passenger in a car on a long road trip to Los Angeles.  The urge to relieve myself dictated a stop at a Fast Food Restaurant.  (Their bathrooms are usually cleaner than gas stations)  I approached the counter.  I was hungry, and being in recovery from my addiction to fast foods, I combed the menu, like a child in a candy store.  What should I order?  I could order everything.

Eggs, pancakes, sausages, hash browns seduced me.  In remembering my health issues, my love for my family, and my love for myself, my eyes migrated back to the “279 calorie oatmeal with fruit”.  I ordered it, and used my will power and self control to manage the lament I was feeling all the way to the car.  I made that rational good choice out of my “inner forces”.  An “adult” who has lacked the nurturing and parenting which inspires and develops strong will and self-discipline, who is still relying on the “limbic” impulse for decision making,, may not actually be an adult at all!

Marshall Mckluen, the ‘60s visionary who wrote and lectured on the assets and liabilities of media and particularly television, pointed out that every new invention creates the possibility of making what preceded it obsolete.  It depends on the conscious and unconscious intention.   Power screwdrivers have been a great time and effort saver, yet we still find uses for a conventional screwdriver.  Cars are a daily necessity, and yet we still ride bikes and walk.  E-books and audio books offer incredible choices in keeping well-read, and we still buy books.  We can hear and see any kind of music in the world with audio devices, and yet we still pay high prices for live concerts.  In Mcluen’s illustration of the invention and subsequent societal saturation with the car, he suggests that we must acknowledge that this changed our relationship with walking.   Before cars, walking was mandatory, and imbedded in it was a natural form of exercise.  After cars, walking became optional, and now we must decide and intend to walk, if we are to do it more than from house to car door.

Mcluen was not saying we should not use cars, just that we should use them and not have them dominate us. Rudolf Steiner , father of Waldorf Education indicates in his response to the Industrial Revolution his assertion that while the organic elements in the forest seem to emulate a “soul” essence, the taking apart of those elements and “manufacturing” them into a random machine leaves that machine “soul-less” making it incumbent on the human behind the machine to make moral and ethical decisions.  As is indicated in the ancient texts of the Jewish Talmud, a knife is neutral; it can heal, or kill.  A human will dictate that outcome.

Rick Concoff c 2012

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