By Rumki Chowdhury
“No.” “Never.” “You’re too young to understand.” Or… the simple death stare, followed by silence. That’s what most of us, millennials, grew up with. Our parents almost never had to explain themselves because we rarely asked the question, “Why?”
As a millennial ma or baba, we can say, “No,” but our children will ask us to explain further. We can try the death stare, but our children will return it with their own.
My children sometimes ask me “why” after “why” after “why.” The same questions may even come up throughout the week, weeks or months. This is a rewarding experience, which develops our parent-child communication, thereby strengthening our parent-child relationship.
Here are Five tips on parenting Generation Alpha:
- Relate back to Your Own Childhood: Even if your child’s experience is different from the ones you had growing up, you will always find some way to relate back to them. Drama with friends, for example, starts as early as kindergarten! I share my own experiences and end it with, “You only need ONE really good friend. The rest will come later.”
- Become a Spokesperson for Individualism: Standing out is cool in the 21st century, but the peer pressure to fit in seems unavoidable. My oldest daughter is 8-years-old and her closest friends have had cell phones from a younger age. Some are allowed to have social media. “Why am I not allowed?” she asks. “There are predators out there. I want to keep you safe as long as I can.” Not to mention, she doesn’t need a phone because I teach older kids at the same school she attends! I tell her, “You don’t have to be like the others. You are YOU. Stay YOU.” She genuinely replies, “I know.”
- Ask Them Questions: Answer a question with a question. Most often, your children will figure out, for themselves, the logic behind your “No.” “Why am I not allowed to cut the vegetables?” She asks. “Why do you think?” I ask her. “Because the knife is too sharp and I can hurt myself?” “Exactly!” “But, I can do it!” She insists. “This has nothing to do with what you CAN or CANNOT do.” To my knowledge, my children have not tried sneakily using the knife.
- Relate Back to Your Spiritual Side: Spirituality does not necessarily have to do with religion. It can be personal beliefs, habits, routine, lifestyle. It can be as simple as walking every evening as a form of meditation or taking a short breather in between meals. I am a practicing Muslim so when my daughter raises her voice at me, for example, I explain how she will reap more rewards by showing me more respect. This explanation doesn’t necessarily have an immediate effect, but my spirituality motivates my patience level.
- Spend Time Communicating: We don’t allow phones or other electronics at the dinner table. This time is spent talking to each other, leaving to open communication.