Keeping Up

#Howto #Whyto

‘Fess up, how many of us are really up to speed with our kids’ interests? You might bristle at their constant online activity or wonder why the hell they spend every waking minute playing Fortnite, but lack the online savvy to know what they’re actually up to. But the cool mom knows that being involved in kids’ field of interest is a great way of keeping channels of communication open, and showing our offspring how much we support them. .

From the time they start snorting like Peppa Pig in the middle of every sentence or becoming fascinated with boats/planes/worms/whatever, our kids’ interests are helping to shape their personalities. Even if you really couldn’t care less about the latest L.O.L doll or fail to share your kid’s rampant enthusiasm for a sport or hobby,  by supporting their passions and interests you’ll be learning about what makes them tick, while encouraging two-way convos. For the less-than-tech savvy among us, there’s a good article about new apps here

From sports teams to superheroes, these interests are part of what makes them who they are. But trying too hard can be cringe-making for all concerned as they get older and parents essentially become massive embarrassment vessels.

Yeah, it’s a minefield. But here are a few tips on how to keep up to speed with your kids’ interests. 

1. Don’t force them to share your interests

Maybe you’re dying for your kid to be a ju-jitsu hero but they’re all about the L.O.L surprise dolls, or you’ve been dressing them in your team’s colors since birth but they really couldn’t give a crap who wins that soccer game. If you have to drag them kicking and screaming to a class or they roll their eyes every time you try to whip up some excitement for an upcoming game, don’t force it. If, on the other hand, they can’t stop doing cartwheels, or are obsessed with karaoke, you could see if they’d be up for capoeira classes or taking singing lessons. See what they love, and encourage it. 

2. Feign enthusiasm if you have to

It’s easy to dismiss our kids’ interests as silly fads, but showing an interest – even if you have to dig deep to fake it – is the only way to know what’s really floating their boats. Watch their favorite shows with them, flick through their magazines, ask questions about those L.O.L dolls or that YouTube star, be curious.

3. Try and find the appeal in their favorite shows, music, clothes.

Find your favourites on their playlist, watch a few Netflix shows with them and let them explain the in-jokes. Get enthusiastic about their fashion choices, and ask them for advice about your own. 

4. Don’t say everything’s shit nowadays

probably preaching to the choir here, but don’t be that parent who dismisses virtually all modern trends as a load of crap. Whether it’s online gaming, Snapchat or Baby Shark, don’t constantly bang on about how annoying it all is, and just never say things were better when you were young,  unless you want to sound like every annoying adult ever. 

5. But do talk about your own interests

Be enthusiastic about your favorite sports, books, TV shows; tell them what bands, fashions, books, movies you were into when you were their age…open up a dialogue and let them see that you’re a human being, not just a parent. 

6. Accept that sometimes you’re just not cool

My eight-year-old daughter likes reggaeton. I also like reggaeton, but last time we did a reggaeton dance workout together she howled with laughter and said ‘you look like a cowboy!’. While it’s all lolz in the living room, I’m pretty sure she’d divorce me as a parent if  I tried to bust some of my very special moves at an end of school party. Know your coolness limits, people. 

7. Ask, don’t guess

Have proper conversations with them about what other kids are into, if there’s some big furore kicking off about a drug or a social media scare, ask them openly about it rather than getting into a panic about imagined dangers. They might not be 100 percent honest in their answers, but at least the doors of communication are open.

8. Get up to speed on Apps

One minute you’re congratulating yourself for knowing how to use a SnapChat filter, the next minute the kids are laughing at you for being so last month. Know your Voxer from your Vsco? Nope, nor me but it’s vital that we understand how these things work, and evaluate any possible risks.  Even if you’re a luddite (in fact, especially if you’re a luddite), you’re going to have to get to grips with the endlessly evolving messaging apps and whole lot more, if you want to be able to communicate with your kids on their level,  Know how to block a bully or spot a dubious character. 

9. Share things with them

Literally and figuratively. Share media content and memes that you think they might find funny or interesting (even if they ignore them 90 per cent of the time); share embarrassing stories about your day, even if they’re only half listening. Tell them who you secretly think is hot, even if they say they don’t want to know. Share books with them, share clothes with them (even if that just means letting your 10-year-old wear your sunglasses or your 13-year-old steal your last pair of un-laddered tights). Share secrets with them, if you want them to do the same with you.

10. Ask them to show you how stuff works

Following on from points 8 and 9 Perhaps the easiest way to get kids to share their interests with you is to bow to their superior knowledge. Ask your five-year-old to show you how to do a forward roll or draw a horse as well as she can, ask your 10-year-old how to play Minecraft, ask your 13-year-old how to get eyebrows like hers. Asking for help with something is a compliment in disguise. Get them to show you how the new apps work and how you can use them to communicate with each other.

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