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.
Here is the first point that we discussed in Part 1
2. The Online World is a an Extension of their Social World
This might seem like a statement by Captain Obvious, but technology is now an integral part of culture. Unless you’re Amish, (in which case you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog), the online world probably plays some role in your everyday life. The rise of technology and the pervasive use isn’t necessarily the result of postmodernism, but the way it’s used now, especially by our kids, is certainly a reflection of postmodern culture.
The way we as parents use the Internet is probably radically different from the way our children use it. It’s the difference between Google and Facebook. The older generation (us) is best described as the Google generation. When we use the Internet, we are generally seeking information. We type whatever we want to find out into Google, and then we get the answers. Our kids are better described as the Facebook generation. When our kids go online, they are generally seeking interaction. If they want to know something, instead of typing it into Google, they will log on to Facebook and ask a friend.
I was first struck by this difference while working as a youth worship pastor. I was born into a generation that straddles the fence between the two mindsets. Both Google and Facebook achieved prominence during my college days, but the way I use both is right in between the above distinctions. Needless to say, as I started getting friend requests from the high school kids in the youth group, I quickly began to see my news feed flooded with the emotional and relational drama of these kids. I remember multiple times sitting on the couch with my wife, laptop in front of me, shocked by the kind of stuff these kids would write on Facebook, and the drama they would let play out publicly for all their online sphere to see.
Although we as parents may not understand it, we cannot underestimate the social role online communications play in our children’s lives. The Internet is not merely a research tool to our children, it is a legitimate extension of their social world. We might think its silly that our daughter gets her feelings hurt by something said on Facebook, or that our son has a falling out with a friend because of being de-friended. But if we treat these instances as trite or as pointless things that happen online and not in the real world, then we will only add insult to injury to our child’s already fragile confidence.
We need to first be sensitive to the role of online interaction to our kids, and then be proactive about encouraging our kids to use those interactions to love their friends well. Cyber bullying is an awful new reality in a postmodern, online world. Wouldn’t it be great if cyber-encouraging became so pervasive as to overtake it?
****Tune in for part 3 of this series in 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?
Postmodern Parent | Cody Kimmel. I am a husband, father, pastor, songster, writer, and most importantly, believer in the one true Messiah, Jesus Christ. I write a blog athttp://codykimmel.wordpress.com.