Nature vs Nurture is the old debate. Lets say, for the sake of this article that Nurture wins. Then we have a new debate. Parent Nurture vs Friend Nurture. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately (we will decide below) I think with today’s youth, friend nurture wins. Here is why:
1) Friends Are Everywhere
15 years ago you could only see your friends at school and on play dates. Now, you can see friends on your phone, on your cell phone, on your computer, on your email, at school, on play dates, on Skype, on Twitter, on
Facebook…..You can’t get away from them. The amount of hours friends spend nurturing their other friends far outweighs the amount of hours it is even possible for a parent to spend nurturing.
2) Adults Seem More Distant
The technological divide makes it even more difficult for kids to relate to parents and adults even when they do spend hours together. Even if parents wanted to spend time nurturing and influencing their kids, it is much harder to relate because of the fundamental differences developing in the way youth like to communicate and what they communicate about.
3) In a Harder Economy Parents Are Home Less
We get about 800 emails a day to RadicalParenting.com and I am seeing a great rise in the number of kids who are home alone and parents who are parenting from afar…or parenting through technology. In a very odd way technology is causing parents to have less influence (see number 2) but also the only thing keeping them together in a down time when parents are picking up shifts and teens are getting after-school jobs.
4) It’s Cooler to Have A Friend Family
Friends, literally changed the game. It is cool to have a group of friends that feels like family. I have three very close friends and I love spending holdiays with them, calling them to check-in and having them bring home significant others to get approved by me. I am not their mother, but they are my friend family and I am theirs. This is not only extremely improtant to me, but also a ‘cool’ thing to have in my generation.
5) Parents Are Important Beams
I run a website for parents to help nurture their kids, I cannot totally discount them. I think my parents had far more to do with who I am than my friends and am grateful for that. While writing this article, I realized that if a person is like a house (go with me on this a little…), 20 years ago the parents were the walls, foundation and roof, while friends were the wallpaper, the furniture and the paint. Today, parents are still a part of the house, but they are the beams, while the walls and floors might in fact be the friends.
Good or bad? You decide, as long as we are aware of the shifts happening, I think nothing can be bad.
This post is dedicated to Apollonia Polaine who has recently given me advice on friends, and has been a great friend even though she is far away!