Being a Mean Mom

Raise your hand if you have spent more time looking at your phone than your child while at one of their activities.

Just me?

I didn’t think so. I have occasionally torn my eyes away from the screen while sitting in the stands and seen the other parents pouring over laptops and cell phones. I would name names here, but we would have had to have actual dialog to know that information about each other.

I can only tell you how media has affected my parenting.

1. Focus – Writing a blog post, answering a friend’s prayer request on Facebook or answering an email from a customer…these only begin to cover the activities that pull my attention from my kids. I do not think they need me 24/7, certainly not since they are closer to leaving the nest than entering it. I do think they need me to be fully present when we are together. This is a mark I often miss.

2. Time Management – In typical fashion, the greatest weakness can be my greatest strength. Being a military wife often means I play the role of single parent. When I am responsible for taking my children to nearly every activity, I still have other responsibilities to meet. Sometimes I play chauffeur to my kids and let them know in advance that I will be working. Until I finished my degree last year, it was often schoolwork. Even now it may be customer calls or responding to email. This is a reasonable trade off for being able to have an uninterrupted family dinner or stop for ice cream on a hot summer afternoon.

3. Prayer Life – Many parents feel it is unnecessary for teens to have a cell phone or a laptop, I am not debating that here. We are a pretty tech-centered family, especially after nearly three years of cyber school. What I do think we must realize is that the many forms of technology in our children’s lives warrants prayer. There are games that improve their hand-eye coordination, but keep them from spending time in physical play. There are friends with cell phones who do not share the same values as our family and may send inappropriate messages and photos. The use of a computer with internet access opens up the world to our children, and our children to the world. While they are still at home and we are paying for the devices and services, we have the right to check any device at any time. If there is one single piece of advice I would give in this area it would be that as parents we must understand the technology our kids are using so that we can take steps to protect them. We cannot sit back and be ignorant of how new media works if we allow it in our home. As they become young adults, we must educate them on how to protect their privacy, guard against temptation and make wise choices on their own.

How has technology affected you as a parent?