Some of the most interesting conversations that I have with my father these days center on parenting, and how much different it is raising kids in 2021, than it was raising my brother and I back in the 1980's and 1990's. The main difference? Technology. Sure, my brother and I had video games and a TV in our room, but it didn't completely consume us like kids and their devices today. We grew up on a farm and the outdoors was all the adventure we needed. But now kids have phones, computers, video games, tablets, and countless apps to keep them busy. What happened?

Maybe parents have become too laid back. I'll admit that my approach to discipline has been different than my parents. A recent survey talked with a group of parents with kids over 30 years old, and another group of parents with kids under 16 years old. They were asked what some of the most important rules for raising kids. Lets start off with the 'old school' rules.

  • Respect your elders
  • You don't always get everything you want
  • Kids have to do chores
  • You sit and eat dinner together as a family
  • Behave, especially while in public

I think all of those rules should still hold true today. Which one of those would you get rid of? I've tried to get my kids to think about all of those rules, although I could be stricter on the chores list. Now, let's look at the rules of more 'modern' parents.

  • Positive reinforcement instead of punishing bad behavior
  • Giving them room to learn from their mistakes
  • Give them space to be playful and silly
  • Do your best to connect with them
  • Help them identify feelings and process them.

Not nearly as much discipline in those last five rules, is there? Listen, parenting isn't easy, and there isn't one set of rules that works for every kid. How I raise my kids isn't the way you should raise yours. The hardest part, in my opinion, is striking a balance between the two. There needs to be discipline or they'll walk all over you. But at the same time, they do need room sometimes to learn and make decisions on their own.

As I look back on how we've raised our kids, there are some things I wish I would have done differently. But we've been blessed with three unique kids, who in the end, I think will end up being good people. I'll take that parenting win in 2021.


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