Parenting in the Age of the Internet

My SIL told me about a movie she watched recently called “Trust“. It made her sick to the core and put her off having children after watching it. After she told me the story, I felt violently ill, too. As a mother, I thought I was going to burst into tears just hearing the story. Here is the trailer on Youtube:

In a nutshell, the movie is about a 14 year old girl who is preyed upon by an online sexual predator. The story is fictitious but it brings up a topic that is very pertinent in the age that we live in. As much as I loathe to write about it, I think we need to face the reality of it. It is every parent’s worst nightmare and in the age of the Internet, it could happen to any of our children.

The only way to protect our children from something like this is to talk about it and create awareness. We need to make sure we have an open relationship where our children feel they can talk to us about anything. This brings me back to an article I wrote some time back about building up a strong relationship with our children. Cultivating this relationship should begin early – from the moment of conception if possible. We have to remember that nothing should ever be too important that it takes precedence over our relationship with our chidlren.

And while we’re on the topic, I cannot stress the importance of the role that fathers play in parenting. In the old school of parenting, fathers are often seen as nothing more than the breadwinner – the person that provides. But fathers need to be more than that. They are not only role models for their sons to aspire to, but they are also role models that their daughters should look for in their future partners. Who else can show a young girl what she is worth and raise her expectations on how she should be treated by a man?

I love the story of Gwynneth Paltrow’s experience with her father in Paris:

“When I was ten years old, my father and I took a trip to Paris, leaving my younger brother and mother in London where she was filming a movie. My dad believed in one-on-one time with us, and sometimes that extended to a weekend away. We stayed at a great hotel and he said I could order whatever I wanted for breakfast (French fries). We went to the Pompidou museum, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre – the usual spots. It was pretty great. On the plane back to London he asked me if I knew why we had gone, just he and I, to Paris for the weekend. I said no, but I felt so lucky for the trip. He said, “I wanted you to see Paris for the first time with a man who would always love you, no matter what.”

You don’t have to take your daughter to Paris to show her how special she is, but you do have to let her know how special she is. I wanted to highlight this especially because many fathers undervalue their contribution to the role of parenting. Some believe they can only contribute by teaching their sons on “how to be men”. But most often neglected, I believe, is the role they provide for their daughters.

And for our sons, I think one of the most important lessons we need to teach them is to be able to talk about problems. Just because the movie was about a girl doesn’t mean our sons are any less vulnerable to such attacks. All children can be prey.

One of the biggest problems that come with raising boys is the common expectation that boys shouldn’t cry. There is a big problem with “boys don’t cry” because it teaches them to bury their problems rather than talk about them and find ways to deal with them appropriately. If there is one thing we can do for our sons, it is to teach them that getting help and talking about their problems are not signs of weakness.

What other issues do you think are important to address in this age of parenting?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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