Educating in Complexity: A Reflection on Parenting in Modern Society

In an episode of the series “This is Not Sweden,” a concerned mother, troubled by her daughter’s disruptive behavior, turns to Google for advice on how to address the issue. This scene vividly illustrates how society’s evolution has made parenting increasingly challenging. We now feel the need to have all kinds of information and assistance at our fingertips to maintain control and strive to be perfect parents. Yet, paradoxically, it seems that we are more lost than ever. As our children grow up and with an abundance of information available to us, we sometimes find ourselves regressing.

The Loss of Intuition in the Digital Age

We regress in seemingly simple matters such as intuition, seeking answers on a screen when the answer is alive, small, and right in front of us. The frantic pace of modern life prevents us from taking the time to carefully examine what lies behind these behavioral issues. Instead, we turn to inappropriate sources for answers. What we see is just the tip of the iceberg: children misbehaving. However, these misbehaviors are merely poor decisions that need to be addressed. We demand short-term results, resorting to punishments to achieve immediate effects that only temporarily halt the misbehavior without helping children develop essential life skills. We must realize that education is a long-term journey, and results are obtained over time. This necessitates abandoning urgency and keeping in mind what we want for our children in their future.

Educating in Complexity

We educate in complexity, not simplicity. We craft elaborate plans without room for boredom. Children do not need the best brands of clothing, endless toys, or their schedules packed with extracurricular activities. Happiness entails much more: getting dirty, splashing in puddles, spending time with friends and nature, quality time with parents, eating ice cream, swimming in the pool, and experiencing small moments. Children need free time to become themselves.

Educating for happiness means allowing them to be themselves, respecting their individual nature, loving them as they are, not as we would like them to be. They should not feel they must earn our love; they should simply have it. We should value their effort over the outcome. We often forget that they are in a process of learning and growth and are not miniature adults. Children are not difficult; the challenge lies in growing up in a world where adults are overwhelmed by trying to do it all.

Remembering Self-Care

We must not forget self-care. It is difficult to enjoy life when you are exhausted. We can always progress and must strive to do so. Not all answers are found in books or the advice of others; sometimes, the answer lies within ourselves. Reflecting on ourselves is when we truly grow, which includes examining the wounds of our childhood, healing them, and working on them to avoid projecting them onto our children.

The Importance of Values and Example

As society continues to transform into a “every man for himself” environment, where violence increases, we again neglect the essential: the importance of educating in values and through example. As adults, we are always mindful of what we say or how we say it, but sometimes we forget about our actions. Children are watching us all the time.

Living slower and respecting the rhythms of childhood provides children with serenity and allows them to develop naturally. Earlier is not necessarily better. We must learn to listen to childhood with our eyes; we do not see it, we hear it without listening.

Simplifying the world of childhood creates space for relaxation and creativity; learning becomes meaningful. Self-imposed pressure and the need for control prevent us from relaxing. We must choose our battles wisely to avoid exhaustion and focus on what truly matters. Time slips away, and one day we look at our children, wondering when they grew up so fast, because we couldn’t or didn’t know how to enjoy every moment with them. That day, you look in the mirror and do not recognize yourself.