Thursday, October 30, 2014

Comment on "Parenting as a Gen Xer"

For the first time in my life I find myself a conservative. When I read the article on the Washington Post about what it is like to be parenting as a Gen X-er, I had a pretty strong gut reaction to the author's conclusion:

"The truth is, my generation of parents are pioneers here, like it or not. We’re the last of the Mohicans. We can try as hard as we want to push back and to carve space into our children’s lives for treehouses and puzzles and Waldorf-style dolls, but in the end, our children will grow up with the whole world at their fingertips, courtesy of a touch screen, and they will have to learn how to find the balance between their cyber and real worlds. It is scary. I don’t think I even believe there is a “right way” to parent with technology. But acknowledging that what we are doing is unprecedented – that no study yet knows exactly what this iChildhood will look like when our children are full grown people – feels like an exhale of sorts."

I really was uncomfortable to read "I don't think I even believe there is a 'right way' to parent with technology." I thought, "but there is a wrong way."


I fully buy in when my pediatrician recommends no screens for children under the age of two, and limited thereafter. I have watched my son become addicted to screens and struggled through breaking that addiction (despite the good that came from it). And so as we grow, I have tried to set very strict limits on screen time. I have spent an inordinate amount of my energy and time trying to tolerate the ranting and raving and arguing about having more. I've made compromises, sure. It doesn't seem fair to cut it out entirely after we've discovered so many wonderful things out there...TV programs, apps, YouTube, iTunes, etc. But I have steeled myself to be patient with the mess that is inevitable when I invite them to help me cook, clean, or just go outside to play instead of plugging them in.

I want to conserve childhood the way I remember it - spent playing outside, helping around the house with chores, and discovering national treasures by traveling the country together in our van. I want to conserve the value of an honest-to-goodness book sitting in your lap. I want to conserve the natural childhood wonder that comes with observing leaves blowing from trees in autumn, snow melting in your palm, and seeing the first buds on trees in the spring. When my children remember back to their early years, I want them to remember how big the world felt when they rolled down the hills and climbed the biggest rock they could find. Because in this world where information is at our fingertips, I want them to know where that information came is born of curiosity, which is something everyone has access to when they are children.

1 comment:

  1. I love your last sentence. You say it all.

    Agreed. They must think, instead of "plug in" for the answer.