Thursday, October 21, 2010
Last week, after finishing up my seminar: Adolescent Psychology-The Parent Version at a middle school, a parent approached me. She slyly asked," So, do you think its bad that out of total frustration with my 13 year old daughter and her inability to be separated from that stupid computer and facebook that I grabbed it out of her hand screaming, "Give me that f???cking computer!!" Well, I said, who hasn't dropped the F bomb once in a while out of total frustration. But now you gotta go and fix it. I needed more details, and she explained that said daughter, a younger son and she were sitting on the couch together (that sounded nice) watching TV together. (again that sounded nice) Her daughter was also typing away on her laptop IMing and facebooking friends in addition to the TV watching. The mom, sick of seeing her daughter constantly attached to either her phone or computer asked her to stop using it, feeling like it was tainting an otherwise nice family moment. I'm guessing the look the daughter gave the mother was not a friendly one, and before you knew it the f bomb was on the table. Here is what I think was going on. The daughter likes her family's company and still enjoys watching some TV and hanging together. This is a good thing!!! She could have been holed up in her cave with the door closed and the stay-out sign posted. She had found a way to be able to stay connected to her friends, and enjoy her family's company. Mom on the other hand felt her daughter was being rude, and I think was tired of playing second fiddle to a machine. Listen, second fiddle is better than no fiddle, I told her. If you were at a restaurant, a family dinner or other event that is people related, that behavior is indeed rude, and there should be a no phone/no computer rule to protect that time. But the fact is no one was talking. The son and the mom were glued to the tube, and the daughter was glued to both. Mindless TV, mindless computer, pretty much the same thing. I say be happy for her company, and maybe between commercials a few words might be exchanged. Here is the conversation I recommended post F bomb. Mom to daughter: "hey honey, I'm sorry I lost control the other night, I went a little crazy, its just that I love spending time with you, but feel like either the phone or the computer are your regular companions. I get how important your friends are to you, and I am happy that at the least we were in the same room. What do you think makes me get so crazy about your computer and your phone? After she gives you her lecture which I'm guessing will sound pretty much like the lecture you would have given her, ask her what she can do to make you feel OK and less crazy about the computer and the phone? Your lecturing her will just put her in shut down mode, her lecturing you at least gets her talking, and you might just hear something you like.