2012 was indeed an interesting year. It was a year filled with trials and tribulations, triumphs and technology. As parents we are left with much to consider and concern us. The impact of the Sandy Hook school shootings overwhelmed us and certainly ended the year on a sad and scary note.
Many of the top stories of the year will continue to resound and assert an impact on the outside world. Many of these events will probably affect how we parent as well as what the future may hold in store for our most precious cargo.
In review topping the year’s list of noteworthy events were the following:
1.) The Newtown shootings
2.) Superstorm Sandy
3.) The passing of Obamacare
4.) The re-election of Obama
5.) The Colorado movie theater shootings
6.) An improvement of the economy
7.) Obama’s support of gay marriage
8.) The US sweep of the Summer Olympics including the women’s gymnastic team’s ‘Fierce Five’ taking Gold and Michael Phelps making Olympic history as the all time winner of the most models in Olympic history.
9.) The Sandusky verdict and disgrace and death of Penn State icon Joe Paterno
10.)Anti-American riots in Libya & outbreak of war in Syria
How do we make sense of year filled with tragedy and trauma? On a lighter note technological toys such the ipad mini and growing popularity of social networking sites such as Instagram and tumblr provide parents with more to monitor as our tweens and teens continue to access the world outside in ways we never dreamed possible. And I thought I was lucky because my brother and I had our own phone line! Who knew in just a few mere decades our phones would have the ability to connect with the world and literally manage our lives?
Communication between parents and children has never been more essential than it is in today’s times. While many may scoff and even recoil in reference to the access technology now allows our children, I for one rejoice. I am grateful that during a catastrophe such as Sandy I was able to quickly connect with my kids. Our county and school district provided invaluable information during this time. I was even privy to where I could go to charge my cell phone to ensure I could continue to receive the essential information being circulated.
As my kids grow older I am grateful that I can contact them when they are at the mall or en route to a friend’s house. These connections afford me the knowledge that as my kids take steps toward autonomy, they are literally okay. Around our house an uncharged cell phone comes with a heavy consequence.
Sure it is hard to keep up with all the social networking posts and texts. I have to admit however, that it is because I am a parent charged with keeping my kids safe that I insist on being social network savvy. And while I am not the biggest fan of all this access to the world at large, I believe in many ways I know more and stay more connected with my kids than my parents did with me when I was growing up.
When one of my children is teaching me how to use the latest social networking App, I can see how empowered she feels. There is no greater feeling than receiving a text from your child telling you about her day, whether she played well in a game or got an A on a test. Just a simple ‘hey’ can make all the difference.
Communication conquers shame, embarrassment and fear. Whether the highlights of 2012 will encourage your child to go for the gold or feel comfortable telling you she has a new girlfriend or he has a new boyfriend, encouraging communication is the key.
Our children are growing up in a time where active duty is common. The rigors of proudly serving the country are no longer kept silent including the challenges and associated hardships. Media access allows our children exposure and provides insight and knowledge about how discord and war can ravage a country. The benefits of being an American have perhaps never been more admirable. In addition, enhanced communication and connection with the world at large beckons our future leaders to think in more expansive ways perhaps at younger ages; in a sense technology has broadened the world in which our children live; it requires their mindfulness, understanding and solution oriented thinking. Their world is now a much bigger place.
In the end it is not about where we are now but where we are going. 2012 was in many ways a difficult year, the good news is that we will continue to move forward.