Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Parent on the iPhone Rant

Okay, dearest readers, I've been holding back on this little rant for a while. This blog post,  entitled "Dear Mom on the iPhone," came out back in November of 2012 and has led to a huge response - both positive and negative - in the blogging community.

I don't mean to single out this one post or this one blogger's opinion, as there are articles everywhere regarding the detriments of choosing our electronics over our kids. Like this one in the Washington Post that discusses the psychological ramification of too much screen time in parenting.  Or this doozie of a blog, that calls it outright child abuse.

So can I give you this humble blogger's opinion?

Seriously. I get that some parents are too plugged in. I get that, being attached to some sort of screen 24 hours a day is too much, especially for parents of young children.

But I also think that raising children who expect our 100% undivided attention 100% of the time is crazy irresponsible.

First, it sets them up for unrealistic expectations of personal relationships. Do you know how miserable my marriage would be if I expected my husband to be completely focused on me and my needs all. the. time.? What about friends? Teachers? Bosses? My job as a parent is to raise God-loving, compassionate, independent, socially-aware, functioning members of society. NOT co-dependent, emotionally needy, high-maintenance adults.

Second, it limits their imagination. Some of my best childhood memories were created after my grandmother (who cared for me, my brother, and my cousins in the summer time) would say these words: "Get out of my sight and hearing!" It was a silly but certain reminder that it was not her job to entertain us. So we played outside. And built tree houses. And rode our bikes. And we were spies. And super heroes. And ninja turtles. (I was the only girl in a yard full of boys - can you tell?)

For my own wee ones, they have "free play" every morning after breakfast. Depending on our day (and how well their free play is going), this can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. That's right: Three. Hours. Basically, from breakfast until lunch. And they love it. And I love it. I love hearing them mimic events in their life: movies we have watched, books we have read. I love hearing them play "mommy and baby" and listening to my words come out of their little mouths as they replay bedtime or bath time or even time out. Even more, I love hearing the stories they pull out of thin air and pure imagination.

And do you know what I'm doing in the meantime? I'm carving out "mommy" time. I have my devotions. I sip my coffee and enjoy breakfast. I check facebook. I blog. I catch up on texts. I catch up on housework.

Which leads me to...

Third, it teaches them that it's wrong to take care of themselves. As these tiny people grow into those God-loving, compassionate, independent, socially-aware, functioning members of society that I mentioned earlier... they need to know that it's okay to take time for themselves. Whether it's creating a Healthy Me for a Healthy We in their marriage, or setting healthy boundaries in their friendships, or simply realizing that an emotionally sick person cannot change an emotionally sick world - I have to teach them that taking care of themselves is an important priority. And I can start teaching them by setting the example: "This is mommy time. Go play." 

I am their mommy. Their first line of defense. Their best friend (for now, at least). I am their playmate and their chef. Their chauffeur and their counselor. Their teacher and their advocate.

We carve out time in each day where they have my full and undivided attention. We have story time. And early morning snuggle time. And evening talk time. And lots of little moments in between.

But we also have time apart. Time for them to develop into individuals - and not just attachments of their parents.

They have their time. I have my time. And everyone - EVERYONE - in our house is better for it.

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The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood