The Boston Globe did a really sweet article today called Dad, Can You Put Away The Laptop. Its seems that our younguns, and I mean the 4-10 year old set do not like this new fangled technology. Why? Because it seems mom and dad spend more time on their "stupid" phones and laptops, and not enough time playing with them. Now if I was one of those parents, I would feel such guilt and sadness that my kids felt ignored by me that I would immediately shut off my phone, close my laptop and give them my undivided attention. What was so interesting about the parents interviewed was that was absolutely not their response. Their responses were loaded with a good dose of rationalization. Hello defense mechanisms!!!! Here's is what one of them said: " If I didn't have a smart phone I wouldn't be able to do both. My kids can't really appreciate that if I spend 15 seconds (oh come on, you know its more than 15 seconds) to respond to an e-mail, than no ones' waiting for anything from me and I can be at the school play or concert." OK so what if someone is waiting for you. Unless you are on a suicide hotline, or a doctor saving a life, I honestly can't see how waiting till your kids are asleep to answer your e-mails will make much difference. But that's just me. Life is about setting limits. Modeling for your kids on how to set limits on yourself is an important life skill. Certainly work is important, but we work at home now, because we can. One 10 year old,who was sick and tired of having dinners with her family constantly being interrupted by parents who would "take a few bites of food and then open their phones finally told them: " You shouldn't always be on your phones because we barely get to see other. I only really see them in the morning when we're rushing to get to school and at dinner I felt kind of ignored!" Good for her!
Parents, you reap what you sow. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot constantly be on your phones and laptops, and then get mad at your teens for taking too long to get their homework done. Monkey see. monkey do! You are the most important model in your child's life. Whether its driving and talking on your phone, or being on your phone while at their games and concerts, or at a family dinner; or having a glass of wine at a family party, or at a restaurant out with your kids, and then getting behind the wheel of a car to drive, your kids are watching every little thing you do. And when it comes time for them to make these decisions for themselves that will ultimately affect their safety, you will be the model they look towards for common practice. "Why should I disconnect when you don't, they will argue, or "you drink and drive," or you talk/text and drive. And honestly, there is no retort that isn't completely hypocritical.
Showing your family that they are priority #1 is the most meaningful gift you could ever give them. Much cheaper than giving them IPhones. Have a technology free family time, that everyone commits to. Even though it feels like forever, you don't have your kids with you for that long. Make that time count!