(This article is a reprint from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com)
An article in the Deseret News National featured a study about millennial parents (ages 25 – 34) who report their children are “best friends” and they create relationships with their children that is more like being with peers than being an authority figure. Essentially the study conducted by Family Room LLC found that decision making, especially for purchasing goods and services, is less concentrated and involving youth.
This finding is not surprising to this examiner who has over the past decade studied what it means to grow up in a cyber-powered world and the new role of parents. One of the hallmarks of digital natives (born after 1990 and cannot imagine the world without internet connectivity), is that they experience authority more as a relational experience that involves trust, and less as a matter of hierarchy and formal title. So the fact that millennials are forming parent-child bonds that are more collaborative and less authoritarian makes sense.
In the hyper-connected world, the significance of hierarchy has less gravitas because decision-making and information gathering is decentralized. In this network culture, parents must learn to accept that their children are emerging executives who have access to knowledge and connections around the world, and as such, must be expected to be responsible for their own thoughts and actions at early ages. In this environment, it is therefore natural that the parent-child bond appears more like a peer relationship compared to the traditional parent-child relationship of previous generations. The reality is that parenting in the cyber-powered world must resemble the role of a teacher, a disciplinarian that looks more like a mentor, than the “ruler”.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
The bigger question that was not evidenced in the report on this study is this: are the millennial parents teaching kids discipline to make good decisions and be trustworthy citizens? Cyber connectivity makes it easy for kids to keep dangerous and risky secrets (pedophiles sextorting, drug use, gossip and bullying), so it is more important than ever that parents understand how to create a family environment that is safe to talk about things that inspire fear, shame and guilt so they can maintain an open, fearless dialogue critical to impart wisdom.
On Sept 21 and Sept 28, a two-part workshop on Fearless Communication with Teens and Young Adults is being offered by this examiner at Recovery Happens in Roseville. To learn more and register, go to: Fearless Communication For Parenting Teens &Young Adults.
ABOUT: Banana Moments Foundation is a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. The BMF mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God grants every human being intelligence and free will and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all BMF proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your Donations are greatly appreciated.
As the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner, my personal mission is to educate and inspire parents from all walks of life and social settings to realize their inherent authority to govern the home and educate the child about their own power; the personal power that comes from the spiritual resilience of your chosen faith. And so I write for Examiner.com to express the passion of my mother heart to a diverse audience.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.