Are you giving up on parenting around technology?
In a recent article in the Washington Post – Parenting as a Gen Xer: We’re the first generation of parents in the age of iEverything, Allison Slater Tate discusses how challenging it can be, parenting “among the first truly high-tech parents.”
This article gained a lot of traction on line as Slater Tate echoed the feelings of many current parents,
“It scares me when it comes to my children and how [technology]will mold and change their experience from mine…Technology is the trickiest parenting challenge I have faced.”
She has decided to
“Be okay with not knowing how to handle it [as] like it or not, my generation of parents are pioneers.”
Slater Tate begins and ends the article with a story of her turn driving the middle-school carpool. Each time, she drives past a beautiful river and points out the view to her carload of passengers. Each time, no one looks up from their devices and she gets “a grunt if she is lucky.” She decides that she will continue to accept this behaviour in the hopes that, “One day, my children will be encouraged to look up.”
There is no question that parenting in this generation is tricky. Admitting that is important. What is also important is to remember a parent’s job description.
Our job is to expect things from our children, expect them to be the people they have the opportunity to be. Our job is to communicate those expectations clearly and to hold our kids accountable; teaching them strategies to meet the expectations and providing consequences when kids make the negative choices.
This is what every generation of pioneer parents has done – when the radio came along; or TV or war, famine, strife. Parents keep their kids safe and expect them to pitch in and take responsibility for their livelihoods.
Parents teach their kids by their words and their actions – kids learn 75% of what they learn from us through our actions. When Slater Tate hopes that her kids will be encouraged to look up, there is only one way that this will happen…when she requires her kids to look up.
We, as parents, need to teach our kids:
• That when a parent speaks, we are expecting to be listened to, and acknowledged.
• That we know our kids are capable of being part of a group car ride that can include conversation.
• That we expect them to be connected, communicative parts of society both offline, as well as online.
• That grunting back or ignoring a parent or an adult (or another child for that matter) is not acceptable.
We are pioneers in parenting with these new forms of technology. We might not get it all right – no group of parents ever has. That hasn’t stopped them from trying. We can’t just give up and hope our kids will get it. THEY WON’T! If we want them to learn life skills; communication, connection, compassion, caring for others, manners, health, safety, etc – we need to teach it. That’s when our kids’ behaviours will change.