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Parenting in the 21st Century

Building strong bonds and raising resilient children.

The digital age has ushered in a new era of parenting, and new parents find themselves navigating uncharted territory. With the constant influx of information, technology, and changing societal norms, raising children in the 21st Century can be both rewarding and challenging.

To help parents thrive in this environment, we’ll explore some effective parenting habits tailored to their unique circumstances.


While technology has its benefits, such as giving parents a break from juggling having to hold their child while also trying to finish a meal or house chores, it’s crucial to find a balance between screen time and real-world interactions.

A study by Sheri Madigan, Dillon Browne, Nicole Racine, Camille Mori and Suzanne Tough titled Association between Screen Time and Children’s Performance on a Developmental Screening Test found that excessive screen time has the potential to hinder the optimal development of children.

It also advised paediatricians and healthcare professionals to provide guidance to parents regarding suitable limits for screen exposure and engage in conversations about the potential repercussions of excessive screen usage.

As parents, one should model responsible screen use and establish screen-free zones and times in your home.

This current generation of new parents are mostly made up of millennials (and possibly some of the older Gen Z group) who grew up playing outdoors, so it’s important to also encourage your own children to have some outdoor play, face-to-face communication, and quality family time without screens.


Technology is a part of our lives whether we like it or not, but it needs to be used wisely.

 Teach your children about online safety, privacy, and responsible Internet use, while also adopting the installation of parental control software to monitor their online activities, and discuss the potential dangers of social media and cyberbullying.

If you have young children, for example, it’s advisable to use YouTube Kids app instead of the general YouTube app as the Kids app does not have the Shorts function, and you can also easily set the age limit for videos shown.

It’s still important to monitor what pops up in your child’s YouTube Kids feed as there may be a few stray video entries in it from time to time.

Be the role model your child needs. PHOTO: KHAYR ZAKARIYYA


Remember that children learn by example and they constantly observe their parents’ habits and personality.

As parents, you can shape your child’s behaviour and values by modelling the qualities and habits you want them to adopt. This includes demonstrating empathy, kindness, resilience, and a healthy work-life balance.

Encourage them to be open-minded and respectful of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. You can also share books and stories that promote these values.

If children see negative behaviours such as aggression, disrespect, dishonesty or hostility, they may internalise and replicate these actions in their own lives and interactions.

According to a study titled Negative adult influences and the protective effects of role models: A study with urban adolescents by NM Hurd, MA Zimmerman and Y Xue, numerous studies have uncovered a strong link between the presence of role models and favourable

The study noted that Werner (1995), in her extensive Kauai Longitudinal Study, observed that role models played a vital role in shielding high-risk children from various challenges they encountered.

Irrespective of the source, whether it was a family member, neighbour, or schoolteacher, the recurring theme was that having an adult figure who demonstrated positive behaviour significantly benefited resilient children.

Similarly, Yancey et al (2002) discovered that adolescents who could identify a role model in their lives achieved higher academic grades, possessed greater self-esteem, and reported a more robust sense of ethnic identity compared to their peers who lacked such influential figures.


Create an environment where your children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions by encouraging open and honest conversations about various topics, including their fears, dreams, and concerns.

Actively listen to what they have to say, and validate their feelings, even if you don’t always agree.

However, it’s important to note that as children transition into their teenage years, it’s typical for them to reduce the frequency of their conversations with parents and become more selective about the information they share.

Before encouraging your child to open up, it’s also important to understand why they might choose to keep things to themselves. When children confide sensitive matters to you, it’s crucial to recognise that it requires them to be vulnerable, and it may be something they prefer to keep private.

Additionally, children might refrain from sharing their experiences with parents due to concerns that it could compromise their independence, lead to unsolicited advice or have their feelings invalidated.

Through creating open communication, you would then consequently encourage a growth mind-set in your children by praising their efforts and persistence rather than their innate abilities. Teach them that failure is a part of learning and that they can always improve through hard work and determination.


Setting clear boundaries with children is a fundamental aspect of effective parenting, and consistency is key when it comes to discipline and setting these boundaries.

Boundaries provide structure and guidelines that help children understand the expectations and limits within their environment. Clearly define your expectations for behaviour and consequences for breaking the rules. Make sure both parents are on the same page to avoid confusion.

When boundaries are well-defined, children feel a sense of security and consistency, knowing what behaviours are acceptable and what consequences may follow if those boundaries are crossed.

Clear boundaries also foster healthy development by teaching children important life skills such as responsibility, self-discipline, and respect for others.

By consistently enforcing these boundaries with love and understanding, parents create a stable and nurturing environment that promotes the child’s emotional and social growth. However, also be willing to adapt these boundaries as your child grows and matures.


Empower your children to make age-appropriate decisions and learn from their mistakes. Encouraging independence in young children will aid in their development as it encourages them to take on responsibilities and build essential life skills from a young age.

When parents nurture independence, children gain a sense of autonomy and self-confidence. This process allows them to develop problem-solving skills, resilience, and a growing understanding of their capabilities. As children learn to complete tasks and make choices on their own, they become more self-sufficient and better prepared for the challenges they’ll encounter as they grow.

Providing a supportive environment that fosters independence helps children become confident and capable individuals who are ready to navigate the world with increasing self-reliance.


New parents often juggle multiple responsibilities, including careers, households, and parenting.

Remember that taking care of yourself is also central for your well-being and your ability to be an effective parent. Prioritise self-care by getting enough sleep, eating well, and finding time for hobbies and relaxation.

Parenting can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to seek help and build a support network. Connect with other parents for advice and emotional support.

Parenthood in the digital age brings both challenges and opportunities. Millennial parents have the advantage of being tech-savvy and adaptable, but they also face unique pressures.

By embracing these effective parenting habits, new parents can raise happy, healthy, and well-adjusted children who are prepared to thrive in our ever-evolving world.

Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, so be patient with yourself and your children as you navigate this incredible journey together. – Izah Azahari