By: Tonnecqua Faleti
In these times of social validation, we are all trying to navigate through the reality of parenting and building healthy relationships with our children. Let’s be real, parenting is a full-time job. I know that we would like to believe that parenting is Tik Tok videos and matching outfits but from my experience it is far from it. Parenting can be defined in many ways depending on the parent and the child. In this day and age, the world is a very scary place to raise a child. While most will mask their emotions, failures, and challenges; I want to shed light on the many realities that we are currently working through.
You may look at what seems to be a perfect family posing in a beautiful family picture with bright wide smiles and thousands of likes and comments, and never stop to wonder what it took to get that perfect picture. All the hard conversations they have had with their children, all the quality time missed with their spouse, the house that is a total mess in the background, the grocery shopping that they have been avoiding, the attitude that they received from their child or how misunderstood their child might feel behind that smile. Building and navigating a family in a world fueled by media influence can either make or break you. As parents we try to shield our children from as much as we can without sheltering them from real life. The best way to approach this dilemma is to allow them to experience real life situations while you are there to help them navigate, but while also realizing that you will not be able to shield them from everything.
My son recently turned 10 years old in March and all I can say is it has been rough. From the electronic addictions, social media influences, YouTube pranks, down to his overall pre-teen attitude, we are constantly trying to figure out how to adjust our discipline and communication strategies. There are times when we can laugh and joke about seeing little peach fuzz growing on his lip, and then there are other times when we are sitting down having hard conversations about police brutality on African American men. We can be so blinded in all the rave of celebrities throwing their children huge birthday parties and buying them bling that we begin to push those fantasies onto our children without talking to them and seeing what it is that they truly need from us. I cannot say that I know how celebrities are raising their children off camera, but what I can say is their situation is not your situation and there is nothing wrong with that.
The reality of it all is, we are living through Covid-19, mass vaccinations, social distancing, gun violence and virtual learning and we are all freaking out. While you may see others living their best lives, taking family vacations on tropical islands, and living happily ever afters, there are many families trying to figure out what this new norm will mean for their families. Parents are experiencing layoffs and are not able to provide for their children, contemplating mandatory vaccinations, deciding between in office or work at home and trying to create new ways to make fun while being away from grandpa and grandma who were a major part of your tribe.
In all honesty, I do not have all the answers and we too fall victim to social media influence but each day we are trying to be true to our reality and journey as parents. What does that look like for us? Doing our research on vaccines and school policies for the next term, dressing up and going out to a nice restaurant from time to time, spending one on one time with each child to see how they are coping, scheduling date nights every few weeks, getting active as a family, taking safety precautions, making healthier decisions, exploring new hobbies and the biggest one in our home, PRAYING and having faith.
Whatever you are doing, do it your way and go at your own pace. Take a break from social media from time to time and get in touch with your reality.
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