Technology is a Barrier to the Parent-Child Connection
The convenience, technology, and abundance of luxury in today’s world truly humble me. The human race just keeps working as hard as it can to make life easier. Sometimes I wonder about how all that ease can make other things more difficult. The speed, convenience, and entertainment has to come with a price, doesn’t it? Take some time to think about human connection, and more specifically how we communicate with our children. I have mentioned in other posts the Benefits of Connecting with Your Kids. Today we will explore how technology is a barrier to the Parent-Child Connection.
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Having my children with me 24/7 during this pandemic truly makes me feel stressed, overwhelmed, and sometimes like a shitty mom.
I know that I am doing my best most of the time. Life could always be more difficult than my family currently has it. I do a lot of self-reflection to keep me in a more positive mindset. Because being positive and happy is better for the health of everyone in my home. Lately, I have been reflecting on our use of technology, especially after watching the Netflix Documentary-The Social Dilemma. Eye-opening and highly recommended.
When doing self-reflection here are the steps I take:
The first step in self-reflection- I think about what gets me frustrated.
Never-ending snacks, fights, whining, nagging, etc. Most of it comes down to that one thing that I always talk about- they want attention and connection! When my frustration grows, it can usually be linked to my halfhearted attempts to fill their attention cups. I am so busy with chores. work, and my phone in my face. Trying to make our home comfortable, help with the family income, and trying to entertain me with my phone. All those things humans have been doing since always- except that phone!
Second, I compare what is happening with other scenarios.
Comparing isn’t always the best plan. I always think of a quote my father recites, ?If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.? ? Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life.
Sometimes a little healthy comparison can help a person understand a problem. Comparing just might give you ideas to make it better! In this case, my comparison inspiration comes from Laura Ingalls Wilder. I recently read her book, Little House on the Prairie with my Daughter.
Here is a quick rundown of the story in case you are unfamiliar- The setting is about 150 years ago. 5-year-old Laura is traveling with her family to the prairie wilderness of Kansas. It is based on this girl’s real-life remembrances. Her family was alone- Ma, Pa, Mary, Laura, and Baby Carrie. Her parents were everything for their children! Connection, Attention, Food, Teaching, Entertainment. There was no family and friends around to help. There were no TVs, tablets, and cell phones obviously.
During these olden times, Laura actually mentions, “children are seen and not heard”. Also, she shares stories to show that physical punishment was commonplace. I would like to argue that physical punishment was not needed nearly as much as we imagine today. This is because they had such a strong relationship and connection with their kids.
Life was hard!
These Parents were working to live but things we much more simple in a different way. It was more simple and more organic to connect with their kids because they were connecting, giving attention, and teaching as they worked. There were no screens to distract them from each other during their tiny amounts of downtime. The entertainment they did choose involved the whole family (fiddle playing, singing, dancing, reading from books)! Another added easily to the connection was living space. Tiny one-room cabins meant you had to be connected whether you liked it or not!
I am by no means saying this was ideal parenting but it was just simpler. We don’t want to go back to that time. But we do need to be mindful of making that connection with our kids. We need to acknowledge the barrier that technology creates to make connecting more difficult.
Third, I think about how I can improve my ways to make things more ideal.
I’ll still do my house chores. I get a lot of satisfaction from having a cozy clean home. I will try to be more patient and inclusive towards my kids. The connection created when they helping and learning is so important.
My work-at-home jobs require me on the computer- Blogging and VIPKid. They mean that the screen will still be getting my attention. I will work harder to know when my family needs attention and choose the most ideal times to work. This is easier said than done with the Pandemic but possible. Check out how I create my routines with the Stay at Home Mom Schedule.
As for the most addicting problem and the least important- social media and phone time! It will not go away- especially since I use it to do my work. The temptation will continue and entrap me from time to time. I am going to challenge myself and others to pick entertainment that nurtures the connection we are trying to build with our kids. Choose entertainment and routines that fill their attention cup, model healthy decisions, and moderation of technology.
An Example of that Old School Organic Connection
We just had a tree cut down in our backyard recently. It was dead and far too close to the house to be safe. We had professionals cut it down and leave it for use to cut up and save for firewood. My husband, my son, my dad, and my brother all worked to prep, saw, cut, and store the tree for firewood. Working together, connecting, attention cup filling, and teaching all happened organically while they were completing the task. People spend less time working and communicating together as families on tasks such as this one. All the technology that keeps us busy tends to limit the requirement to spend time in such a way.
I hope this encourages us all to be mindful of how working and living in this technology-saturated world makes that organic connection HARD!
Here are 3 easy ideas for how to create that old fashioned organic connection.
We are a nature-loving family. I can tell you from full experience it is easier to connect and give attention when we are out in Nature! Away from work, computers, video games, and phones. Nature distracts us, intrigues us, and teaches us to remember how to connect. You can build collections, set goals, and grow interested in caring for our planet together.
Getting your kids to help- teaching them a trade, housekeeping, and life skills are other great ways to get that organic connection and attention. The hardest part while this topic is patience. Kids need patience from parents to succeed, enjoy, and learn when connecting through teaching. You will have to work here to slow down and remember it’s about the connection more and not just getting the work done!
My husband is very musical we have lots of guitars and even a nice keyboard. We don’t routinely use them as I know he and I would both like but when we do the kids love being a part of it and learning about how to play and how to enjoy the art of music.
If you don’t have the instruments or like me you don’t have the ability to play them there is always seemingly unlimited music available to stream. This is one of those occasions technology can help give that connection a little boost! Sing your favorite motivation song every morning or create your own songs during bath and chore time routines. Music can make connecting magical!
In Little House on the Prairie, Pa played his fiddle often after the chores were done. Laura connected with him through the song lyrics and the mood of the music he played.
Great points, I especially like the comparison to Laura Ingalls Wilder and how it was easier to connect with children then, which requires us to be mindful of it now. A good reminder that all things, technology included, are better in moderation 🙂