Customer is King – Competent Parenting in a Digital Age

Customer is King – Competent Parenting in a Digital Age

The generation of children that has learnt the value systems of the market place. They are what they got from their parents and the system that told them perform or perish. Their home with dad and mom careering had become a part of Pharaoh’s and Mammon’s machinery. Screen was their only friends and their peers – the narrow clique. Even their school used them for sports glory. Corporate had come home and HR was not enough to hold them. They cried for identity, affirmation, embrace and some values like toehold, to hold on, as they soared, slipped, tumbled, crashed through online. If we cry and break our heart and make space and time, gather understanding and tenacity – they may give us a chance to “parent” them their style.


Status Quo Transformation
1.      Customer is king – satisfy us, fastidious Digital screen brings a perfectionist edge. Parents also said – perform or perish. X gen gives what they got. We have to pray compassion into them. Train them in the spirit when young.
2.      Attend on us – fast and furious – impatient This is also the result of demand put on the child by results eager parents. Giving home chores early helps them to learn to serve. Harvard research shows that kids who did home chores do better with education
3.      Meet our need and our demand – supply fast This is the role models they saw and heard. They got little mercy, bonding or understanding. Please parent let’s supply the heart needs of children – embrace, affirm. They will learn it is more blessed to give than get.
4.      If not we find solution elsewhere – impulsive Kids had to find solutions for their pain, failure and loneliness outside of home – as parents were not available. Always make it a point to give them home time – especially before they fall asleep – not in fantastic holidays but in daily interaction at home
5.      Utilitarianism – stick with what works School and home needs to develop projects in which altruism and sacrifice can come out. They want to do and act – direct them to works of compassion
6.      End justifies the means This is what they hear all the time – science says so. Reward them simply. Don’t push them hard in sports or studies. It’s OK not to come first
7.      We know best – opinionated Talk and walk with them. Don’t let them find their opinions with peers or screen. Play board games that teach rules, play, win or lose in fun atmosphere with home interaction
8.      Match our taste – we dictate terms Take time for generational truth and value transfer. Don’t command but coach. Teach while doing things. Plan action for teaching and training. Train to have value added stable tastes
9.      There are no permanent relationships – there are only long-term interests Get involved in searching for good friends – inviting them for home parties. Get to know their friends’ parents. Attend all school functions. Make kids world, your world. Create activity days – not only parties at home to cultivate friendships. Keep time to do things together with your kids – even Gym. We have designed Den and Dare for Dad and kids.
10. We demand perfection and protocol – digital games leave no room for error Put them in charge of projects at home or church. Allow them take responsibility. Make them lead all family compassion projects. Schools and church must adopt CSR activities to bless the neighbouring poor.
11. We give zero tolerance to mediocrity – intolerant, exacting Take time for mistake management. Teach the worldview of second chance. Justice is redemptive. Sit alongside son’s hot seat. Let them understand the cross early – innocent suffering for the guilty. Model forgiveness always. Reason out and never balk.
12. Excel, perform, prove or you perish – sink or swim Study the brain tracts of your child. Is she visual processing or verbal? Encourage them in their God given faculty. Potential defers from child to child. Attend our Every child a star program.
13. Fierce loyalty to things and brands, projects and programs This is what early cartoons will do. Change the cartoons. Let them not become brand loyal. Do not give money and many things too early. Give them yourself, Your time, your energy and your love. Early bonding helps – even from womb
14. Love equals consume – love is physical Digital screen will stimulate thrill and sex seeking. Become digital wise. Monitor screen time. Connect to their online – tell them the online rules early. Home cooked simple meals will teach bonhomie. Don’t promote star class demands when they are young.
15. Experimentation is the spice of life Help them through adolescence with stable relationships. Set boundaries for physical contact, out of home time, out of home places. Talk them through step by step. Strict moratorium on body exposing selfies
16. Attach – detach fast. I am for me Develop for kids their friendship circles. Church learn millennials fostering in church programmes
17. Plan is for the hour – not even for the long day Digital screen reduces attention span and encourages on the spot short term behaviour. Somehow reduce screen time. Develop contractile hobbies.
18. Variety and short-term relationships or short-term profit Develop your child’s spirit with reading character developing Bible stories and stories of great endeavour. Action packed moral thriller stories.
19. No holes barred competition – might is right – fit survive They tragically play out concepts of Evolution. Raising a pet helps. This is the Why generation – give them answers. They need to expend physical energy. We have lots of physical activity on camp with challenge course done in teams.
20. Demolish the opposition – brook no opposition Encourage team behaviour. Digital games are all for smash demolish until me is king. Get back to tug-a-war and other physical team games viz. adventure trails



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Profile Dr Lalith Mendis Dr Lalith Mendis topped his batch on his graduation from Colombo Medical Faculty in 1976. He won the coveted Final MBBS top student’s Herath Guneratne memorial Prize & gold medal, Prof Rajasuriya Clinical Medicine Prize, Pharmacology Medal, Pathology Medal. He passed the MRCP (Part 1) in 1978. He was Clinical Registrar, Dept of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine (1979 – 1980) & moved to Pharmacology. He won the Commonwealth Scholarship in 1979. His last academic post was as Lecturer in charge Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Kelaniya (1993 – 1999). Dr Lalith Mendis is the Founder Director of the Empathic Learning Centre, He has researched the effect of digital overuse on children & youth and developed empathic therapies to reverse inattention, impulsivity & hyperactivity. Dr Mendis hosts the monthly Digital Forum at his centre and has delivered lectures & conducted seminars on this theme in leading schools & Corporates in Colombo. He has also lectured in Germany, Malaysia & UK. Author of five books on the topic, his books Right Learning & Recovering Childhood, Children Our Heritage & Let the Children Come to Me are in their second print. His books are available from all major bookstores in Colombo. His latest book “Parenting Heart & Brain - in an age of digital domination” has a preface from the former Dean of the Medical faculty of Colombo. “I have been seeing children affected by too much cartoon abuse. This is not about ADHD but normal children with agitation & hyperactivity & inattention in studies”.

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