“No you can’t be excused from the dinner table yet because your brother is still eating.”
We all sit together as a family for dinner as much as possible and stay and chat until everyone has finished. This is just one of the rules we have in our home to cultivate family bonding. Each day I question at least one parenting decision and the lasting affect it will have on my child and his or her ability to navigate the world.
Truth: Our parenting decisions affect the future of the world.
In our over-connected lives the idea of a family dinner where you just sit together to talk and eat has almost vanished. Instead, we often encounter distracted eating, playing games while others are at the table, a lack of conversation, and the just the overall loss of connection as a result of media and technology. I blame this on the absence of strong grounded family values.
As a mother of two young children, my mission is to raise strong confident children who are independent but also interpersonally connected to the world around them. I want them to really learn from both their good and bad experiences to grow as an individual and then spread that knowledge. I want them to value work ethic and create value wherever they go.
Truth: Social media affects our family values.
So, do I need to be "counter culture" in order to stick to my philosophy? If we're being honest, our values have shifted drastically from focusing in on what is true to our souls to now focusing on what looks and sounds good from the outside, often negating the substance we actually need. How about when we would actually just let the kids be kids, use their imagination, play, get dirty, and dare I say... be bored? Additionally, there is a very real pressure today to have our kids in several different extracurricular activities on top of sports, and of course, school. This follows a false belief that the more goings-on you have, the better, the more successful, the happier your kid will be.
Truth: You have the power to re-establish culture, values, and beliefs in your children, and ultimately society.
Without taking the time to nourish and cultivate a belief system, one is lost and wandering around looking for validation from the outside world. This all starts in childhood and with the type of parenting that occurs. The challenge in our over-planned and overwhelming society is that being on the go doesn’t allow for time to truly connect. Instead of staying "on top of it" the challenge should be for each family to step back and determine what their core values are, to define their family mission, and decide how do they want to navigate and contribute to the world as a unit.
Culture is very close to the word cultivate which means “to work on” so know that it does not happen overnight. As Heraclitus said “change is the only thing constant in life” and that is so true. As a parent you have the power channel that change for the betterment of your family and thus contribute to our society differently. While we can’t change society as a whole, we can change ourselves and how we contribute to culture. Maybe it’s not actually about counter culture parenting, but reintroducing the importance of culture to our civilization one family at a time.