In today’s fast paced electronic world, families can get caught up in their individual lives and drift apart. What starts out as distance can spiral out of control to infidelity, drugs and abuse. HTV was able to speak with Dr. Jangda, a certified psychiatrist practicing in the United States, about the habits of healthy and happy family units. She gave us the following five tips:
Children and their sneaky electronic habits can make even the most trusting parent into suspicious monsters. With their own busy schedules and children being adept at hiding their personal lives, it’s difficult to know what exactly is going on behind those smartphone screens without offending and distancing your child. Dr. Jangda, a parent of three children herself, emphasizes that there should be “open dialogue between family members, but within boundaries.” The modern child is more impulsive and anxious than ever, with increasingly adult lifestyles and choices open to them. Compare an average child’s day from now and ten years ago and you will see a stark difference. Books have been replaced with tablets, libraries with the internet and play dates with fancy parties. It is therefore highly imperative to be strategic with them. Create an environment of ease and friendship so your household is open. An example would be interaction with the opposite sex. Although the typical Pakistani parent may ban any boy/girl communication, with the variety of social media available it is impossible to stop it completely. It is better to have an open discussion and know who they’re talking to instead of closed doors and dangerous outcomes. After all, its better they’re talking to kids you know than strangers off the internet. Keep your rules and boundaries clear so they know when to stop.
Respect is a Two-Way Street
Dr. Jangda said “It’s simple: If you give love and respect, you expect the same.” She further added that without a hint of doubt, all parents love their children, and they all have a different way of showing it. So, there is no question about love here. Respect, however, is a whole different matter. Whether it is God-given or survival of the species, parents and children love each other from birth, but respect has to be earned by both parties. Being the parent makes you the initiator of every feeling so respect your little ones’ feelings, desires, decisions and even their mistakes. Talking in a cordial manner, regular hugs and kisses as well as prioritizing their right wishes will inevitably make them respect you.
“Have dinner together as often as possible.” says Dr. Jangda. It might be difficult having all three meals together with various schedules, but aim to have one meal, such as dinner time, as a family. Turn off the television and phones so there are no distractions. Talk about your day, any updates in your personal lives and make sure everyone gets a chance to talk at the table. Have a genuine interest in each other’s wellbeing and stay connected through sharing your lives together.
Know Who’s Boss, But…
As a parent, you are already in a position of power over your child and it is important for them to understand and respect that. However, being in this position comes with responsibility and making your children feel powerless is a Dr. Jangda “no-no”. For example, teenagers are sensitive about their private lives and snatching their phones to check messages might give you the dish on what their up to but will not win you any parent points. Instead, try being their parent, friend and mentor. Guide and counsel them on what is right and wrong and the dangerous consequences of not following your advice. Trust in your own parenting abilities and them with their decisions and even if it sometimes goes wrong, make sure they know you’re there for them.
Parents Also Make Mistakes
Remember you are not infallible and can make mistakes as well. Be prepared to listen carefully and make a decision on sound and calm judgment, not quick and angry emotions. Times have changed and the blind belief in our parents’ correctness has been replaced with a need to question and investigate, and parents have to roll with the times. Instead of responding with authority, try a dose of empathy and that might go farther with your post millennium child.