That, I believe, is the Catch-22 of parenting in our society. We understand why things get dysfunctional, but that doesn't mean we're okay with it. There are so many ways that children become pawns under seemingly harmless circumstances. Most parents love their children and would lay down their lives for them, still their daily habits and tendencies steadily deduct mental health points from their children's psychological banks.
As an example, I often get really annoyed when I see some parents and their little kids in public having supposed quality time, but the adults are more fixated on their devices than they are on their kids. Sometimes the kids are obviously an annoyance because they are distracting the adult from sending that text, or surfing the web, or posting whatever the hell is so much more important. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those devote-every-minute-to-your-kids people. To the contrary, I'm the grown-folks-need-time-and-space-to-be-grown-folks-apart-from-their-kids guru.
What I truly believe though, is that in our extreme busy-ness, when we carve out time to do some kid-friendly things with our children, we have to force ourselves to show them we are interested in who they are, what they are doing, and what they have to say. That means turning off the device sometimes-- especially during these summer months with more time spent in parks, on beaches, at museums, street fairs, etc.
Having been an adult for many decades, one of my pet peeves has always been, if I'm devoting some time from my schedule to spend time with someone (going out to dinner, being on a date, taking a walk, a drive, or whatever) and I'm talking to that individual, then I expect he or she is actually listening (or at least pretending to listen). When we're supposed to be doing something together, can't the device be neglected for a time?
So parents, put yourselves in the kids' shoes. If they're finding rocks or calling, "Look at how high I'm swinging," don't just glance up from your device and go, "Uh huhn." Pay attention for a few minutes. Self esteem begins with feeling acknowledged. Not having that feeling from parents is one of the many ways kids grow up with abandonment issues. The way you feel if your partner or date or mate gives a one-eyed glance and a grunt when you make an observation is what children feel when you wave a hand and say, "Go play!" as you continue your discovery of enticing new web content. Dismissed. That's the feeling.
And, for the record, having your little one pose for pictures is not quality time. It's the interaction that counts. (I'm actually a little afraid of what's going to happen to all these little kids whose whole lives have been photo opportunities.)
Okay, enough said on a Wednesday morning........ Am I being too harsh? (since those Smartphones really must be just too amazing).
FYI: Salt in the Sugar Bowl is still available! Get your copy for a quick summer read.
- In the Triangle? at Quail Ridge Books
- Online: Main Street Rag Publishing Company or at amazon.com