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Keep Communication Lines Open With Your Children

Why The Digital Age Makes Parenting Harder

Parents, it seems, are also accessing the help line more than ever in a hope to find help for themselves, and the issues affecting their struggling teens.

The helpline revealed some disturbing increases in trends over the past four years, namely;

  • High school children (13-18 years) are the biggest users, making up 56% of all children who made contact
  • Parentline responded to over 9000 calls for assistance from parents and carers, with 55% of the children being discussed aged between 10-18 years
  • Duty of care interventions have increased over the past four years by 121%.
  • 26% of duty of care interventions related to suicide attempts.

What is it then that’s causing such an influx to these services?

Some may argue that this a good thing as people are reaching out for help and I am certainly not criticising the incredible efforts of help lines such as these.

I have, and will continue to applaud them, as the fact of the matter is, they save lives.

What I am interested in, however, is what are the underlying causes in such an increased need for help?

As someone who has worked closely and tirelessly with teens over the years, it is no mystery to me that our young people are struggling more than ever.

As digital natives, they have no reprieve from the world around them or the increasing pressures to conform or meet unrealistic and unachievable expectations.

Further complicating this is a generation of parents who, understandably, are struggling to maintain connection with their teens who are now predominantly choosing to connect with the cyber world over them.

In a nutshell, this leads to a greater disconnection from the very thing that can provide young people with the consistent and loving support they need, that being family.

Why The Digital Age Makes Parenting Harder

Transitions are never easy for young people but, in my experience, every day for a young person is a transition as they and the world around them change at such a dramatic pace.

As parents keeping up with this, it can be exhausting. There are issues now that we as young people did not have to deal with on this scale.

Self harm is now at epidemic proportions and suicide is a contagion that is at an all time high. These issues are not going away and no child is free from being confronted with them at some stage.

It is so hard for us to relate to our teens who live in such a foreign world. For the sake of both you and your child, the job at hand seems to be staying more connected with your child than ever.

Being patient with the struggles they have and not judging them for it. I hear so many derogatory comments about our young people and their attachment to their devices.

They were born in to this digital age and whether we like it or not this is a part of their reality. Our job is to become familiar with their reality. Increase the one-on- one time you have and open up conversation lines.

Once they know that you are speaking their language and they are not going to be judged, they may feel more comfortable in turning to you in a state of crisis.

I am not, for a minute, assuming our job as parents is not harder than ever; it is. If it’s hard for us, just imagine how hard it is for them.

Written by Jules Allen

Jules Allen is a former MasterChef contestant and a single mother with four children who has been a foster mother to 29 children over the past 15 years.

Jules considers herself as an ‘earth mother’. With four kids: two sons, Jay and Ishy (16 and 17), daughters Elisha (21) and India (18). Her family is a blend of her own, adopted and foster children.

The importance of good food in healing damaged lives is paramount to Jules, and she does this by raising awareness through school talks around the country and encouraging the next generation to do what they can to make a difference.

Jules is an ambassador for Meals On Wheels - an organisation legendary across Australia for its work in providing nutritious meals on a daily basis to those in need.

Her contribution to foster care and child protection, her charity work for many organisations, including helping rebuild Women’s and Children’s refuge in the Soloman Islands, and her ambassador roles for National Adoption Awareness, Foster Care Australia, the Pjama Foundation and Brookfarm, were recently recognised by the ABC’s Australian Story, who featured an in- depth story on Jules’ dedication, commitment and contribution to many deserving charities.

She has just launched her Waccii Nurturing Tea company, with all profits supporting Waccii (Women’s and Children’s Care Initiative Incorporated).

Jules Allen is a contributing Parent expert for The Carousel.

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