An important aspect of parenting is the transmission of norms and values in children that are aimed at safety, respect for each other and development tasks. Based on their relationship with parents, children learn norms and values that occur within and outside the family situation. From this starting position, children start to explore society more and more. For example how do you interact with others, how do you react to bullying, how do you keep yourself safe etc. Like a child, our society is constantly developing, adding different aspects in child rearing. One is the uprising of Social Media, which has a significant impact on many and seems to become increasingly present in our daily lives.
On Social Media, adolescents can experiment with their identity, game, trade, date and send videos, photo’s and (in)direct messages. There are platforms where they can present themselves and stay in touch with others. Users of Social media must have the ability to judge where the boundaries lie and what the consequences are of posting personal and intimate information. Therefore, it is essential that children and adolescents learn how to use the positive and reduce the negative effects of social media. Parents play an important role in providing this media-education to their children.
Media education is important, for reasons that the ‘online world’ is just as natural for children as the physical world in which they grow up. Being able to deal with media appropriately stimulates their development in a positive way. Adolescents need to develop a critical attitude towards media and it is important that parents actively guide their children to help them navigate this. Media education involves all (un) conscious actions of caregivers. It increases the understanding within children and adolescents of the information on Social media, seeing what is realistic and how it can influence them. Parents should make agreements with them about their Social media usage. As well as, exchanging their views, comments and information on Social media to engage a conversation about it. This way young people learn what appropriate and inappropriate behavior on Social media (‘netiquette’) is, they can independently view the media critically and have control over their own media usage.
Do you experience love and joy during family gatherings? Have you had a ‘good enough’ family gathering recently? During the season of Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year gatherings, some of you may feel excited to meet your loved ones to connect and reunite however, some of you may struggle to find the peace in mind to meet the family who once hurt you or are even still hurting you.
So why does family hurt?
Family is the first place where we learn about the world, and our main caregiver is the first relationship within which we learn about ourselves and others. Ideally and generally, the family system is a safe haven for us to feel connected and comforted, to look for guidance and support, and a place where we can always physically or emotionally return to whenever we need.
However, no human being or parents are perfect and we all have our own subjective perspectives and personal experiences that colour our way of being and our interactions with others. Our caregivers’ overprotection may affect our self-confidence in solving problems and in discovering and fulfilling our potential; constant criticsm and invalidation may lead to us developing a negative self-image; an over-emphasis on their expectations of success and achievement may develop a resultant deep sense of incompetence; frequent emotional blackmail by withholding of affection and threatening with fear may lead to a deep sense of guilt and shame.
Thus, family reunions could bring back a lot of sweet and warm memories and remind us how important it is to have a family. On the other hand, family reunions could also reopen wounds that have not healed. Sometimes, interactions with our loved ones can affect us in ways we are not aware of. With better self-awareness, we can feel better prepared to reunite with our family and make the most of the interaction, hopefully exiting it with lesser feelings of being triggered and lesser emotional flashbacks.
Here are a few things we can do to better prepare for family reunions.
Before the gathering: Recognize and be aware of the fear and hurt that you could be holding as you anticipate the upcoming gathering. Notice if there are particular family members that these emotions are directed towards.
During the gathering: Be mindful and aware of your own feelings when interacting with others.
After the gathering: Find a quiet place and try to identify the emotional flashbacks you noticed with curiosity and compassion towards self. If necessary, it would be great to find a professional to support you, working together through this journey of self-healing.
Psychotherapist & Counsellor