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Published November 17, 2010, 12:00 AM

Parenting today's kids topic of talk

A child growing up today is influenced by the Internet, music, fashion, school and cell phones, among other things – a considerable difference from the 1800s when influences were just school, community, religion and family.

By: Wendy Reuer, INFORUM

A child growing up today is influenced by the Internet, music, fashion, school and cell phones, among other things – a considerable difference from the 1800s when influences were just school, community, religion and family.

“There’s more and more influences on our kids, so that just reinforces the need to talk to our kids, earlier and earlier,” said Pat Olson, a parent and counselor with the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center.

Olson hoped to help parents understand the need for open and early communication with kids Tuesday night as she spoke during the “Choose Respect” discussion at Ben Franklin Middle School in Fargo.

A healthy relationship between parents and kids should include trust, mutual respect, honesty, listening and being approachable. She also said parents have to recognize both the bad and good deeds of kids.

“We get hung up on (kids’) bad behavior and then lose sight of their good behavior,” Olson said.

She said it is also important to try to understand the impact of experiences kids can have.

“We can’t compare our child’s experiences to ours. We have to look at it on their timeline, and we can’t minimize it or invalidate it,” Olson said.

Parents in attendance were mostly concerned with how to parent in times of cyberspace and Facebook, asking Olson for advice on the best age to allow kids online.

She called cyberspace issues an epidemic in Fargo-Moorhead, whether it is online bullying or predators finding kids through social networking. She said parents must know what their children are posting and clear limits and expectations should be set.

“Talk to your children and ask what they are doing on the computer. Just hearing, ‘I’m talking to Johnny’ is not enough. Know who Johnny is,” Olson said.

Discussion with kids should also include the topic of sexuality – not just a talk on sex, but include the topics of sexual orientation, body image, love, affection, gender roles and relationships.

“The more we can talk to our children, the more proactive we can be, instead of reactive,” Olson said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

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