3 Main Concerns in Parenting Today

I arrived home at the normal time, and before I even got out of my car, I could hear the screaming. When I opened the door, my 6-year-old son said, “Dad! Elena cut her head open!” Hardly the words I wanted to hear. Then I noticed the blood trail going to the bathroom. A quick side note: There are lots of situations where I freak out or get angry and make things worse. Head trauma is not one of them. When I was 2, I was hit by a train (that story is right here). I’ve broken multiple bones, including my skull, and endured tons of stitches (all in my head). So I’m used to head trauma. But when I walked into the bathroom, my wife was frantic and my daughter was wailing at a decibel level that should have broken the windows. Fortunately, her wound wasn’t as bad as I thought. I put a cold, wet washcloth on it and then lay her down in front of her favorite TV show. She slowly became peaceful. Then I took her to get stitches.

My daughter has a scar from that day, but the wound did heal. It’s so difficult to see our kids experience pain. When they feel pain, we feel pain. The worry and concern can feel intense. I’ve even gotten mad at my kids when they got hurt because of the anxiety it’s given me. Has that ever happened to you? While cuts, bumps, and bruises heal, there are other ways our kids can get hurt that have lasting effects. These are the things that keep us up at night. But there are ways to prepare our kids that can help them deal with and avoid these threats. We just need to be proactive. Here are 3 of the biggest concerns in parenting today and how to prepare our kids.

1. Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety among kids has been on the rise and is the biggest concern in parenting today. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that 40% of U.S. parents worry that their kids will struggle with anxiety or depression. COVID had a significant impact on our kids’ mental health, but anxiety was on the rise even before 2020. The pressure to succeed in school, participate in a large variety of activities, and have an influential brand on social media is overwhelming.

Listen to their concerns and empathize. Assume you don’t know what they’re going through—because you don’t. Talk to professional counselors and psychologists for advice and perspective.

2. Being Bullied

I saw a Facebook post recently from a person discussing the deep pain of being bullied in high school. Thirty years later, the pain is still there. Bullying is a big concern in parenting today. It has a profound effect on a child’s well-being and self-confidence. Your kids may not come to you to tell you if they are being bullied so it’s important to ask them and look for the signs. If they are being bullied, you need to be an advocate for them. Give your child strategies to deal with it, but also talk to school administrators and follow up. It will probably take a number of conversations.

Also, don’t assume your child could never be a bully. Kids in middle and high school have a limited ability to think about the impact they have on others, and they crave attention. It’s often less about being intentionally mean and more about getting attention and affirmation themselves. Putting someone else down is an effective way to do that. So have an ongoing conversation with your kids about the right way to treat others.

3. Being Kidnapped

This is every parent’s worst nightmare. At least, I know it’s mine. I grew up in an era of latch key kids and roaming the neighborhood without much parental supervision. So, I understand when people say there’s too much overprotection in parenting today. But kids do not have the brain development to fully understand cause and effect and consequences. Allowing them to go to 7-Eleven by themselves at age 10 is probably low risk. They’ll probably be fine. But it’s also high consequence because it only has to happen once.

However you decide on what risks you’re willing to take, be sure to prepare your kids for predators and give them a game-plan for how to respond. Before sending his disciples out, Jesus of Nazareth warned them about the dangers of the world. In Matthew 10:16, he told them, “I am sending you out like sheep among the wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Before our kids go out into the world, they need to know the dangers.

Sound off: What are some other concerns in parenting today?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s the hardest thing about being a kid today?”