We are deluged with information daily and that information comes at us from differing sources which may feed different needs and desires. How we choose to deal with those messages in large part tells us whether we are part of the solution or are actually part of the problem. But who is to determine which is which? As children, we were products of our environment and we were raised in an environment that differs significantly from the environment of today
Unfortunately, we no longer live in a world or a time when we can believe anything and everything we gather to be true. It is up to each of us to be discerning receivers of the information contained in the message. Unless we have been living in some place where there has been no opportunity for us to be indoctrinated, we have likely been a victim of misinformation to one degree or another.
As parents, we have some degree of control over what our children are exposed to and we can ‘protect’ them from some information and ‘expose’ them to other information. We, being human, will expose them to what we believe to be right and proper, and we will attempt to protect them from what we believe to be wrong, or misleading.
Okay, that seems to be a bit of a circular argument. How do we deal with all the ‘information’ to which our children will be exposed? Can we shepherd them well beyond their age of majority or do we lose that opportunity when they matriculate to college from what we’ve seen as a safer high school level of education and/or indoctrination?
We tend to lose touch with our children the more they spend their time away from us. They are more influenced by their own experiences from that time forward. If we are able to be with our children during those years of advanced education, we may still be an active influencer, but that influence tends to be less and less consequential to a point.
There is no magic potion of which I’m aware to deal with our children “straying” from the belief system in which they grew to adulthood. There is nothing that says we will be able to influence them even if they turn to us for guidance. We are simply another point of information gathering. Some will experiment with other belief systems. That can be the product of their total educational experience, their family background and their having been impacted by others as they left “the nest”.
A strong faith can be a help…unless that faith is misleading in and of itself. The siren’s song can be entrancing and misleading simultaneously. If we have kept our ties with our children, maybe they’ll look to us for opinions. Maybe they won’t. There is so much in this world to which we are exposed, that the best we can hope for is that we gave our kids a good footing, that we were decent examples as parents, that we dealt with our own issues capably and at least with some degree of wisdom.
As parents, we have the most important job in the world and that is the job of being a good parent, not overly protective, but still aware and ‘of counsel’ to our offspring whenever they need us. Will we have regrets? Absolutely! No parent can be that perfect example. We can be available to counsel but usually, that is best received if it is invited counseling versus uninvited/imposed counseling.
When the young bird fledges it moves from being unable to fly to flight without crashing. We have been successful parents if our children have fledged and have taken flight on their own paths through life. Our influence will still be present but thought of less and less as they mature and have their own experience base from which to choose.
We will be seen as part of the solution or part of the problem likely only after our children are grown and on their own. For that reason, we need to be mindful of every moment we spend with them while they are still in the family nest. That is where they become the person they will likely be in terms of their values. We only get one shot typically and it needs be our best shot.