I recently watched a terrific middle school production of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", this was top of my list of favorite books when I was middle school. I think what strikes me more as a parent is that the parenting in it is pretty awful, except for Charley of course. The parents seem to not understand that to raise children you need to teach them boundaries and accountability - luckily the Oompa Loompas do in the story.
I raise my children with a goal that they understand a few things - the world owes them nothing except a chance to prove themselves, that being kind is part of being part of this world, that we should behave as we want others to behave toward us, that you don't hit first but that at times bullies need you to strike last and stand up for what is right and to embrace who they are and who they want to be.
I also raise my kids and struggle with understanding that they are not me at the same age. They are growing up in a digital world and while we as parents often are befuddled by the fact that they can sit next to their friends and only communicate via a scree. They are actually preparing for the world they will inhabit, it is different than ours. They have their own version of social skills. They are very change agile and unafraid. They question everything and while this is very frustrating at times as a parent it is also truly something to celebrate because they do not accept anything just because it is told to them, they want to know why and how.
It is not easy because they make us face things we are not comfortable with - we work differently, we learn differently and we see machines as less integrated than they do. We may use social media but it is static - we view - they see it as action - they use it. They see the possibility of continuous evolution. I was in 6th or 7th grade when my father was very annoyed that I could use a calculator for tests. His argument was that I should not need one and be able to do math at that level. The teacher explained that I was going to live in a world where I would never not have access to a calculator.
Now full confession I do roll my eyes and get annoyed when a cashier cannot give me change without putting it into their register for the right amount to be calculated, but my kids do not. They do not see this as an issue because in their world this is the reality they have always lived with. They are right they will not be in a situation ever where they will not have access to something that could help do these calculations and that is a skill, utilizing these devices, they need for their world much like my father had needed to know how to do this in his head for the world he inhabited.
Parenting is about adjusting to the world our children live in but the foundations of teaching kids the joys of not always having immediate satisfaction, that setting a goal and accomplishing it is really a great feeling, that you survive when you are in a bad situation if you learn from it and are lucky to have friends and family to support you and most of all that they need to treat others with kindness and respect. The devices and their world are not the same one we were children in and while it is easier to try and make them conform to what we are comfortable in I try and remember I have to parent to make them great.
As Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate around this time of year it is ok to give them the things they like and expose them to things we may have enjoyed while teaching them to appreciate the gift of love they get.