In the past children were brought up with more family guidance because family was close by and generations of families had a hand in the raising of children. Children were influenced more by their family than their friends because of this tight family community. Parent, grandparents, aunts and uncles all stood together with the same values, behaviors and influenced the younger members toward social and emotional competency.
Things are different today. People are more mobile so generations of families tend to float apart and children are less influenced by generational supports. They grow up developing the ways of their friends and their friend’s families, babysitters, teachers, television and the internet. Life has changed and with it we have lost the ability to mold our children. It has become necessary to pay attention to the direct instruction and modeling of behaviors that are respectful to others and that encourage our children to contribute to each community they are part of as opposed to that community pushing it’s values on our children. We want our children to have empathy for others, to better their world, and to grow knowing they can influence their environment in positive ways.
Knowing how to make good choices is essential. Children have to choose how to respond to others, to discuss an issue, to understand emotions in themselves and others and how to work, play and live in a world community where there are so many choices being presented to them each day. If a child is given a basic set of rules or a system for making choices and knowing expectations, they will feel more confident and less anxious.
Long ago, children knew where and who to go to for confirmation, support, and encouragement. Today children often only have their immediate family, and a circle of people who live on the periphery of their family and are less likely to have the same concern as extended family. This compounds the need for parents to pick and choose who will influence their children. It requires families to pay attention to those people in their children’s lives who value what they value.