How Can We Support Busy Parents and the Next Generation of Australia’s children?
Picture the typical Australian family; what does it look like? Chances are, had this question been posed in years gone by, the answers would have been different from those we would receive today.
The concept of ‘the family’ has altered, so much so that – in 2005 – the Australian government issued a renewed definition of a household family for statistical purposes. The current legal definition of a household family is “two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering; and who are usually resident in the same household.” This definition clearly reflects something of the fluidity of the modern family. In more recent years further change is taking place.
Factor in an increasing proportion of working mothers with children under 18, same sex parent households and blended families and we can begin to understand how traditional definitions of the nuclear family no longer applies in modern Australia.
The Implications for Now and for Tomorrow
The implications of the new dynamic are complex. On the one hand, we have a generation of young Australians – growing up with stronger, more independent female role models; a clearer more flexible definition of the role of males in households all of which can only have a positive impact for the future.
There is also room to consider the possible increasing danger of family break down due to modern stresses. The traditional support networks young parents once relied on, grandparents, siblings and others are often no longer available, thus threatening the possibilities of adequate love, direction and guidance at critical developmental stages in a child’s life.
Accessible Education for Parents
It is a natural response – as a parent – to want the best for our children. We work in order to give them an appropriate start in life as we see it and the intention is always to spend quality free time with them whenever possible.
New resources are needed to reach the work life balance we seek to make available to the family as a whole. Family social cohesion, harmony, and maximising quality time is of the essence. New strategies, tools and support mechanisms are needed by young families to assist in the vital task of child raising for the future. Governments, NGOs and community engagement programs are all needed to consider the way forward to achieve this in the digital age.
Considering factors involved in the new age parenting and not papering over yesteryear models is the way forward for real parents working with real kids now and in the decades to come. Failure to give due consideration to issues facing modern parents can only result in disaffection within families and young people being ill-formed to travel the road ahead.
Margaret Bell, AM - Founder and CEO of Chain Reaction Foundation.
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