This might sound bizarre. Because, if you have watched the movie ‘Searching’ (2018, starring John Cho), you would definitely disagree with me, saying, “The movie is about how a parent lost his daughter, which does not set good standards for parenting”. And I agree with every word of yours. However, watching the movie made me realize some of the mistakes that I might be committing to upbringing my daughter. Although she is just six years old as of now, yet the movie has a lesson to give. If I continue committing the mistakes, my daughter might not be able to relate to me as she grows up. Like many urban-age parents, I need to keep myself updated with the new and the novel.
Parenting in the Age of Social Media
Parenting in the present age of social media is a daunting task. We have to protect our kids on multiple levels – physical, mental, emotional and even psychological. To keep that in mind, here are 5 interesting parenting lessons I learned from the movie ‘Searching‘.
Parenting Lesson 1: Listen to Your Kids
In the movie, David was not a good listener. This is what I inferred. Even if he was, his daughter did not communicate her feelings towards the piano lessons, her encounter with drugs and other things to her father. When I advise parents to listen to their kids, they often retort as ‘uh, we do. Tell us something new’. However, listening and hearing are two different things altogether. When a kid says something, I have seen parents doing, ‘hmm, nice’, without actually paying attention to what the kid has to say.
When we reply to our kids while checking mobile updates, television or (in my case), reading newspaper, it is not termed as listening. By not listening to our kids, we miss out on so many things. We might not realize this but kids do understand the fact between listening and hearing. If we do not listen actively, they take a step back. They either try to prove their statement or gradually stop communicating. When such kids grow up, we miss out on the happenings in their lives. Parents who listen to their kids actively
bring up, good communicators.
When I catch up with the mothers of my daughter’s classmates, they often complain that their kids don’t update them with the school events. They are surprised that I even know what the colour of their ma’am’s outfit is at times. While some kids are inert, others are not able to express themselves even to their parents. The best thing to do is to talk to the kids as soon as they return from school. The events are fresh in their minds and they are quite eager to share their experiences. Asking direct and open-ended questions is a great help. Instead of questions like ‘what did you do in school?’ ask questions like ‘so, what was the best thing you liked in school, today?’ or ‘how are your classmates?’ et cetera.
Parenting Lesson 2: Know Their Friends
Yes, you should be aware of your kids’ friends and companions. If David was aware of all the friends her daughter use to talk to or visit, it would have been a little easier for him to locate her. There are different types of parents. While some parents casually take care of their kids’ friendships, others who believe in helicopter parenting keep a close tap on their friends. Such parents keep on questioning their kids about their friends and even investigate the behaviour and nature of the friends to make sure they are apt for their daughters and/or son. While this is good to an extent, but too much of investigation might ruin the friendship and relationship that your kid is trying to build. Then there is a set of parents who think that there is no need for friends because the kid has siblings. Sometimes, parents try to be friends and don’t want their kids to make ‘other’ friends. This is disturbing for the kids, who come in contact with people with the same wavelength as theirs and desire to make new friends. By forcing kids not to make new friends harms their personality to an extent.
To know more about their friends, firstly parents should behave in a fashion, friends do. This is difficult for the parents of teenagers though. Equations of friendships keep on changing with kids these days. With my daughter of age 6, I just have to make sure that she is not learning a bad habit through her conduct. This is because she does not generally meet her friends outside school. But with parents of teenagers, it is different. Such parents can ask their kids to maintain a diary with a phone number of friends. Parents should not question much on this list so that the teen keeps on updating it. Further, in case your son or daughter is a little late or is not receiving calls, then you should be a little patient before ringing every person on the list. This might embarrass your kid in case if there was no need for concern.
Also Read: Teach Your Kids an Important Life Lesson
Parenting Lesson 3: A Different Perspective
In the movie, David was looking at things from his perspective. He understood things based on his perception and conditioning of the mind. And hence he accuses his brother-in-law of doing something which he never did. If such instances happen on a regular basis, kids lose interest in making their parents’ understand their perspective of things, which is usually fresh and different. The most talked-about ‘generation gap’ has a role to play in building perspectives. Parents should learn to see things from the child’s perspective. When I scolded my kid for not making the curve of letter B perfectly, my husband asked me to see things from her perspective. A little kid might not be able to understand the nuances as much as we do. That is actually the truth.
When a teenage daughter cries over a ruined friendship, the parent cannot say ‘don’t cry over petty matters’. For her, friendship is a big thing. What if, God forbids, your business is ruined or the inexpensive crockery that you invested in gets damaged. It is the same for that kid who loses on friendship. So, first, take a deep breath and try to understand her perspective. Be glad that the daughter is opening about her grief to you. Secondly, listen to the entire thing and then calmly advise taking a neutral stand. Or don’t advice and just be there for her, helping her recuperate. Changing perspective helps in fostering every kind of relationship.
Parenting Lesson 4: Build Strong Communication
It all boils down to communication. The channels of communication should be strong enough that the need for nagging does not arise. Right from the beginning, make sure that the communication is kept clear, precise and the basis of concern for each other. In the movie, if David had communicated well with his daughter after the death of her mother, things would have been very different. Things do not take care of themselves. People need to interfere and make things good in events of extreme incidents. Instead of reprimanding the child for not communicating, make sure that you politely make him or she understand the importance of communication.
Since the very beginning, my power of tolerance is very low. While I tried to keep calm when my kid was young, but as soon as she started understanding I returned to my old self. However, I realized my temper was harming the way I and my daughter communicate. So, gradually I have started responding ‘that’s okay’ to her goof-ups with a smile. Then when she is normal and sure that I will not scold her, I ask her the reason for the goof-up she did. She tells me and I realize that it would have been a big mistake if I would have scolded her for this.
Parenting Lesson 5: Mind the Use of Internet
Margot in the movie ‘searching’ was dependent on the internet and social media to communicate and express herself freely which she was not able to do so in real life. This is the age of social media. You, as a parent, cannot prevent your child completely from not using it or falling prey to its glitz and glamour. However, making the child understand the perils and advantages right from the beginning might help. My daughter likes watching kiddie pretend play videos on ‘YouTube’. However, I have set a time limit to her usage and even days when she can watch them. I do not allow her to watch the videos on the mobile phone but laptop. Further, I make her do similar activities, later on, to make it all the more fun for her. This makes her mindful while watching the videos. Mindfulness during social media is quite important.
Secondly, kids learn from the behaviour and habits of their parents. If we, as parents, are cautious in using the internet, our kids will definitely walk in our shoes, without any doubt. Parents of teenagers cannot hover around their phones and laptops keeping a close tap. However, they can discuss freely what should be seen and what should not be. Once again, communication plays an important role here.
In the End
Watching the movie ‘searching’ opened up my eyes and made me realize the role of parents, family, cousins and friends in the lives of kids. These people form the world of the kids and hence, should be cautious and mindful in their acts. Little acts go a long way and make upbringing easy for the parents and life easier for the kids as well. Happy parenting to you with these parenting lessons!