In my last post, I discussed how to teach your kids values in a world of pluralism. As parents, we are facing very new and unique challenges as the world becomes increasingly more postmodern. Part of the challenge is that our kids are growing up in a culture we often don’t understand. The way we learned growing up isn’t necessarily the way they learn things. Our sympathies aren’t necessarily theirs.
Although we are speaking the same language, our words may often get lost in cultural translation. I know that if I were to sit down for dinner with my wife and ask her how her day was in English and her respond in Arabic, it would be difficult to communicate. The same can be true with our kids. As parents, we owe it to ourselves to do all that we can to learn the language of our kids, so, in this series, I am going to cover what I feel are three big aspects of the language of postmodern culture that we as parents should know to communicate well with our kids.
1. “Because I Said So!” Really Won’t Work-
I know this title might seem like a no brainer. As many parents find out early on, children are born with a mind of their own and it doesn’t take long for them to stubbornly reject our counsel. However, with this new cultural shift our children’s stubbornness might not be the only reason they reject our “because-I-said-so” explanations for why they should do things.
Postmodernism can be defined many different ways depending on the context, however one of the constants is the suspicion of the “because-I-said-so” explanations. This new culture is one existing in the shadow of two world wars, genocides and oppression, and an overall abuse of power in every sphere of cultural life. Because of this, the postmodern generation is suspicious of authority. They are suspicious of people who say they need to believe something just because they say it’s true. This new paradigm of suspicion poses an interesting challenge for parents.
We now live in a culture that does not support parent’s authority. If the people in charge are under suspicion in a postmodern world, parents often become public enemy #1 in the eyes of their children. So what are we supposed to do? Do we just surrender and let our kids disobey and question without any reaction?
Fortunately, there is a way to communicate in an authoritative way to a postmodern culture! The postmodern generation doesn’t reject authority because they flat out hate it (although it might seem that way to parents sometimes), they suspect authority because they don’t trust it. Now more than ever, it is essential for us as parents to earn the right to be heard by our children. Our culture doesn’t afford us this right by our position only. If we want them to listen to what we have to say, especially about religion and ethics, we need to show them that it works. We need to communicate with them through an atmosphere of grace and integrity. If our children trust our authority in their lives, they will be far more inclined to listen to us.
****Tune in for parts 2 and 3 of this series in June and July****
So please tell us, have you seen this to be true in your own family? How have you dealt with it? Do you feel your response was effective?