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Five Parental Concerns that Your Parents Never Worried About!

February 8, 2013

6774634275_73b52d6267_zIf you’re having children today, chances are that you were brought up in the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s. While the eras of wide collars, oversprayed hair, and grunge may not feel so far away, raising kids is a little different today than it was when you were growing up. While kids today have a lot of advantages that we didn’t, there are also a few developments that call for some extra supervision and concern. Here are five examples of phenomenons your parents never needed to worry about when you were a kid!

  1. Helmets. Remember riding your bike around the neighborhood, your hair and ribbon barrettes flowing in the wind? That feeling is a thing of the past. Bike helmets, essential in protecting your kids from head injury, are ubiquitous, and your kids will grow up sporting them without thinking anything of it. But you won’t just need to buy bike helmets for your kids. Ski helmets for little learners, as well as helmets for skateboarding and snowboarding, are de rigueur as well.
  1. Food allergies. When you were a kid, you probably got to school and popped open your lunchbox many days to find a peanut butter and jelly sandwich inside. But with growing awareness about nut allergies, as well as gluten allergies, lactose intolerance, and other problematic allergies, many schools, daycares, and playgroups are outlawing snacks or lunches which contain nuts, and birthday party menus are sometimes planned with care if a child with a gluten allergy or other intolerance will be in attendance.
  1. Cell phones. When I was a teenager, my friend’s father had a “car phone” in his trunk that plugged into the ignition of his car in order to function, and was only to be used in case of an emergency. Today, fourth-graders have their own cell phones, and 3 year-olds know how to play Angry Birds on an iPhone. While being able to be in touch with your child at any time has its benefits, remember to limit their texting plan and do not allow them to have a password on their phone. Check up on their texts, calls, and app usage, with their knowledge, from time to time to promote mutual trust and good cell phone behavior.
  1. And of course, the phenomenon that has changed all of our lives, parents or not: the Internet. Not only will your child have access to news, learning tools, and study aids, but he’ll also have access to some inappropriate websites as well. Monitor his internet usage, and consider installing software that will inhibit his searches so that he’s only seeing kid-friendly material. And establish some ground rules around social media that protect his identity, safety, and restrict bullying and cruel gossip online.
  1. Different study habits. Instead of checking out books from the library, searching for the right information within the pages, or borrowing class notes from friends, kids are, rightfully, using the Internet to gain access to information that will enhance their book reports, science projects, and history essays. But make sure that your kids are using sources that are reputable and are giving them correct information. And when it comes to homework, completing their assignments without the crutch of the Internet will result in a few more errors, but far greater independence and capacity for learning new concepts and facts.

Each of these items can be a benefit to the safety and the development of your kids. But they’ll also mean a bit of supervision and forethought on your behalf. As parents who are raising children in a different world from the one in which they were raised, we need to learn from each other and develop new ways of coping in an environment that changes by leaps and bounds with every year and every child.

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