Dec 14, 2015

Smart Phones and Parenting

      Photo Credit: Sally Anscombe/Flickr Select/Getty Images

I came across this story on Huffington Post today about a mom who did an experiment with her children. She was curious to see how often her little 2 year old boys would turn and look at her while they were playing. Her experiment will astonish you. It will make you humble. It will cause you to think twice before spending any more quality time with your smart phone.

Our children (no matter how old) desire all of us. They want our attention, our smiles, our waves, our claps, our nods of affirmation, our looks of warning, our laughs, our participation. Not only do they want all this, they NEED it. This is how they learn. If not from you, then who? As a parent you are shaping their world by what you do and don't do. What you sacrifice and give them now, you will reap the benefits of later in life with a beautiful, genuine relationship with your grown children.

I've noticed this trend over the past few years. I see parents of little ones looking down at their phones instead of staying engaged or playing with their precious children. What in the world could be more important than that very minute of time with the most treasured gift you have in all the world?! What treasures of time and relationship building opportunities we loose when we are distracted by this lifeless piece of metal in our hand.  It is an unfortunate side effect of having so much technology so close all the time. It is hard to limit yourself.

It's not only a problem that parents with little children are tempted with; us parents with older kids do the exact same thing. It's a horrible message we send our kids. In effect our actions tell them you are not as important as this is right now, I can't be bothered right now. Children learn by watching and then imitating. These kids will interpret the message and imitate our behavior. They will then become kids with their noses stuck in their ipads, phones or computers. It starts with us.

It's easy to blame the technology. It's easy to blame the kids. It's easy to blame society. It's even easier to make excuses. It's hard to own the responsibility. It causes us to swallow our pride, quit justifying ourselves and humbly admit that maybe the problem originated with us, the parents. NPR has a fantastic article that discusses this very thing.

But the wonderful news is that kids are so resilient. Just because it might be like this now, doesn't mean that it has to stay like this. You can change, your kids can change, your relationship will change - all for the better. But it takes being purposeful. It takes setting limits for yourself and your kids. It takes being teachable instead of being an excuse maker. In an age of excess and instantaneous pleasure, it will be hard.

Practice being present in the moment. Right here. Right now. When you're surrounded with those you love and who love you, give them all of you. Giving someone your attention says you're important, I value you, I want you. 

Isn't that what all of us want?


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