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June 1, 2015

The Digital Era: A Response

Teach your children well.

The following are my thoughts as inspired by Dr. Alcalay’s submission to this blog. As you read through his article you see that we are teaching our children to look outward to non-person-based objects. He further states that this overall set of behaviors is affecting our adolescents’ identity and self development as well as their emotional health. I would like to remark on that.

 

As parents continue to choose to allow their children to focus on external non-person objects, they are inadvertently agreeing to ignore that very child. In general, by allowing children to have an external focus, parents are not helping with the development of the child’s own truth or definition of self. There are a further number of challenges that develop as a result of an absence of focus on the child. Without an understanding of Self, the child may grow not knowing what they prefer, what they like, what they wish to experience, or what they dream.

 

Without interaction with others, the child may not develop a sense of who they are separate from others. They probably will not develop a sense of social comfort or social skill. Consequently, the child may feel a sense of being not good enough because they don’t have a way to develop a good feeling about their self. At the beginning, we learn who we are by seeing our dreams in others and then transferring that into our Self. For instance a child under 3 has a blanket or stuffed animal to which they are attached. This object is so they can internalize the primary parent: that person who gives them safety, acceptance, and understanding. Without a sense of self that is positive or theirs, the child can become frustrated and fearful leading to anger and aggression as a secondary reaction to the prior emotions.

 

If our children begin to feel frustrated and angry and they do not have parents with whom they are interacting on a teaching caring level, they become more internally judgmental. Consequently, they then may become more angry and lonely and frustrated. At this point, they may learn to believe that bullying is okay and that aggression is okay. If the television, games, and more are desensitizing them to aggression, bullying and more, this can be a lethal combination. Consequently, they may grow to think their aggression is an acceptable form of expression for their fear-based emotions. Worse, they may not even have a language to express their fear-based emotions.

 

In the absence of knowing who they are and knowing their emotions, it most probably can lead to an intense sense of shame: the feeling that they are not what others think they are; that they are not good enough; that they are different than others and therefore not acceptable; and so much more.  It is at this point that you may be able to see how easily all of the external focus can lead to an increase in anxiety and obesity. 

 

There’s a further thought, if in fact our children of today are not learning who they are as a person, they are not defining their integrity, remorse, or responsibility in the way that we, the generation of their parents, learned. This can lead to an intense sense of entitlement. I think most of us are aware of the problem we are having in this country with entitlement. Furthermore, without remorse or responsibility being strong in the development of sense of self, our growing children become detached and further desensitized to their own expression of aggression and anger.

 

Without socializing with others and learning who they are, our children will probably have a much greater propensity to take things personally. Add to that the fear they are not good enough and then they would be even more apt to take things personally.

 

At this point I think all of us can start to see how the children growing up today run a high risk of not only not knowing who they are but not being able to define themselves through or with or separate from others. Consequently, they may flounder. We are also seeing a rise in suicide, substance abuse and sleeplessness coupled with ADHD and anxiety. That is for another response. Meantime, do we need to wonder why? At what point do we step in and create a stop? At what point do parents begin to say “my only job is to develop in my child the ability to have happiness in this life”? At what point do parents begin to understand that their only job is to create safe boundaries within which a child can explore and grow. When we allow the media, games, and entertainment to raise our children there are no boundaries and there is no safety.

 

While there is no handbook on how to raise a child? People like Dr Alcalay and I are here and willing to answer any and all questions you may have. We invite all of you to write back or call with your feedback, questions, and concerns. Feel free to tweet @kristenbomas or respond on the website of Facebook. We welcome an interactive platform so that we may serve you and your needs.

 

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