You know those social experiments where people watch how much parents interact with their children vs. how much a parent’s face is stuck inside a screen? Suddenly, this is the trouble with today’s youth, parents aren’t interacting with their children and have their face shoved in electronic devices all the time. Parents are too busy and too distracted to look up from their devices to see what their precious angel is doing. We’re too easily distracted. Nose in our screen all the time and we’re missing everything.
Now don’t get me wrong, I agree that we as parents have got to find the right balance. But at the same time, this is the world we live in. Technology is how most adults do business these days. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without my use of technology. The work that I have relies heavily on me being just a text message or email away. I’m not the greatest at keeping it away from the dinner table either because around dinner time is actually when my real work for the day/evening begins. I do what I can though. I work hard to make sure each of my children get one-on-one time with me and I know we are luckier than many. Because I get to be home during the day I can schedule meetings around special school events and be there in the school.
I can show up at school on my kid’s birthdays or show up for their little monthly showcase of what they have been learning. I am there and I am involved, but there is always that tug of work with work and family. And because it’s at my finger tips, sometimes an important email might show up in my inbox that I’ll be checking. And maybe other parents are looking at me and judging and maybe other parents are doing the same thing. The thing is it doesn’t always have to mean we are missing out on the big and important moments in our children’s lives.
It’s Over In A Flash
I’ll be the first to tell you to savor moments with your children. It really is over in the blink of an eye. And of course while you’re living it the days seem longer, but then one day you wake up and you’re visiting colleges with your oldest daughter and helping her pick her classes for her last year of high school that will fit in with the requirements for her top pick college. And your middle daughter is exploring the different high school options that are open to her. Tech school, magnet school, or joining her older sister at the local public high school. Your son is reading you his bedtime stories now, and the baby, well she’s counting down the days until she turns 5 and talking about riding the bus with her big brother next year when she starts Kindergarten. So yeah, it does go quicker than you care to admit in the moment and at some point inside you’re screaming at your children, “Just stop growing up already!”
No parent wants to miss anything. But have you ever asked yourselves what life was like before all of this technology? There are certain aspects of parenting that will always be the same. And one of those aspects being we can’t capture every single moment of our child’s life.
Growing Up In The 80′s
I’m a child of the 80′s. My mom was a stay at home mom for the most part until I started Kindergarten. Well, there was that moment in time that I remember she used to babysit other people’s children at the gym she went to. I don’t know that she ever really enjoyed being a stay at home mom actually.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a good childhood. I know my mother loved me and still does very much to this day. My parents were invested in what I was doing and concerned about the day to day. When my mom did go back to work she was a school bus driver so she was home during the summer with us. But you know what I don’t remember her doing? Watching our every single move.
I remember my brother and I being sent outside to play a lot and my mom staying indoors. She’d come check on us every now and then, but we weren’t seeking her approval and recognition at every turn. And even as babies and toddlers I know my mom’s eye wasn’t on us every waking moment. She had other distractions. She might have been talking on the phone, doing laundry, or even watching television.
So why suddenly do we feel that it’s of the utmost importance that mothers, or parents for that matter, are watching every single move our child makes? In all of the years of human existence I believe we have survived just fine with minimal ooohs and ahhhs from our parents in our early years. If anything, it probably did us good to not have every waking second planned for us with a smother mother watching everything we do.
It taught us that mom might not always be watching, but when she is lets hope she catches us doing something good.
Find Your Happy Medium
Now, this is not to say that we as parents should totally tune our children out. Children do learn a great deal from us being tuned in to them. All I’m saying is parents shouldn’t feel guilty for using technology around our children. And while much of what I do on my phone could be work related, sometimes I’m just on Facebook because lets face it, not everything our kids do is absolutely must see amazing every second of every day. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I sure love seeing the joy on my child’s face on the swings, but after watching it for fifteen minutes you probably aren’t going to be missing much new and exciting.
Everything I do does not have to be wrapped up in my children. It’s healthy for parents to have outside interests. In some cases that could mean technology. I began blogging many years ago as a way to share my story like millions of other moms. It ended up helping me find a good paying work from home job that allows me to be home with my children, while also providing for them financially. I will not apologize for that and I hope that my children understand. And maybe they don’t right now. I know there were times in my life when I selfishly thought my mom felt her job was more important than I was. I usually kicked myself for thinking that shortly after thinking it and I for sure kick myself for it now because with age does come a bit of perspective.
I survived my childhood without my parents seeing every single thing I did. My parents survived and became good people and parents despite their parents not watching their every single waking moment. Their parents and so on and so on all made it through life and turned out just fine despite whatever distractions they had in their lives.
I figure I will do my best to show up for all of the big and important moments in their lives, but also be present and there during the seemingly not so important moments, but they will be just fine even if I’m staring at my phone or a computer screen while in their presence during other times in their lives. And they will likely appreciate that I did not catch every single thing they did.
I view these as life lessons. Their teachers and eventually their boss are not going to necessarily be aware of every little thing they do, but no one wants to be caught with their pants down, so this is a lesson in always doing your best. I can’t imagine how quick a person would give up if they were used to having everything praised, but then suddenly, when out in the real world, they don’t get that. Interaction is not constant, so why would we set up our children to believe that it is?
It truly is possible to be tech distracted and be a good parent. For every parent this might look different. Maybe it means making a firm rule of no electronics at the dinner table or maybe it will mean setting aside other times. But I think it’s important for parents to know that just the mere fact that you either have that tech distraction whether for your own personal enjoyment, or because it’s required by your job, you are not totally messing up your kid. Because at no point in human history has a parent ever been able to sit for hours on end and watch every single thing our children do.
None the less, it’s good to be aware of your children and their needs.