You can see me, but am I really here? If there’s an electronic device in my hand, I’m at least considering giving my attention to someone or something other than you. If I’m texting, using social media, surfing the Net, checking emails or looking at a screen while in your company, I’ve essentially checked out of our interaction and chosen to direct my attention elsewhere. You’ve basically been shown that you’re not worthy of my full, undivided attention.
Sounds kinda harsh, doesn’t it? But it’s true. Think about it. Be honest with yourself. When your attention is split between two or more things, none of those things gets the full attention it deserves. I’m sure you know where this is going, so let’s go there.
Nobody’s perfect. We all do things that aren’t gonna win us any parenting awards. I tend to believe that (and maybe this is my feeble attempt at making myself feel better, but anyway) very few parents can say that they never, ever attend to their phones whilst enjoying their kids’ company. If you can honestly say that, then “Bravo!” I aspire to be more like you (sincerely). In fact, I’ve been trying to be more like you for a while now.
My starting point involved simply opening my ears to what my kids were clearly saying (and obviously feeling) about my smart phone use. “Mom, can you please leave your phone in the car during my soccer game; or if you do bring it out, only use it to take videos of me?” Or, “You were texting. Did you actually see my cartwheel?”
And the kicker; the one that would blast a Texas-sized hole through any mother’s heart was, “I said, ‘I love you, Mommy’ and you said, ‘That’s great honey’ instead of ‘I love you too’. But it’s okay Mommy, I know you were busy doing important stuff on your phone.”
Important stuff? IMPORTANT STUFF on my phone??? There exists on this earth no stuff of greater importance than telling, and more importantly, showing my kids that I love them and enjoy their company. Other than pics and videos of my kids or phone calls or texts about my kids, there is no really “important stuff” happening on my phone!
Since that heart-crushing moment, I’ve made a conscious effort to be a good role model for my kids and to educate myself on the rather toxic relationship between electronic devices and engaged parenting. I am committed to, whenever possible, be fully engrossed in the precious time spent with my kids.
Unless they are away from me (and my phone is the contact number) I leave the phone in another room. I’ve taken to charging it during waking hours (from 5:30-8:00 p.m. to be exact) instead of over night, so it’s occupied elsewhere in the evening and not in my hands or anywhere near me during family time. Simple, but effective.
So, until the day comes that we are all perfect parents, how ‘bout we make a pact to simply do better today than we did yesterday and to try again tomorrow what we didn’t quite master today. Let’s all put our phones down and enjoy our kids. Uh-oh, gtg – don’t wanna miss this cartwheel!
Do you sometimes feel like electronic devices take away from your family time? Let’s talk about it.
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About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)