Can you remember a time when you never had a cell phone, laptop, or even tablets? In the short lifespan of our generation, we have seen some incredible advances in technology. Our grandparents were children themselves during WWII and even lived through the great depression. My grandma said one time that the greatest achievement of her life was the ability to have indoor plumbing. It was considered a grandeur during their early lives and now it is not even second guessed, until there’s a clog. Even hardwired telephones were a luxury.
The point is that we now live in an era where every advancement that our grandparents experienced in their lives is now commonplace today. I find it surreal when I listen to their childhood stories. They were grateful for so little, yet we are ungrateful for so much. We live in an era of instant gratification and where indulgences of the yesteryear’s are now ordinary for us. I couldn’t even imagine having to go to an outhouse, bucketing water into the house and heating it over a stove or fireplace for hot water, or talking to a dispatcher to connect your call across the country. Could you?
In my lifetime, I remember when desktop computers in the household were an extravagance. The only cell phone I could afford was a small Motorola prepaid flip phone and it was expensive to put time on it. At least by this time, indoor plumbing, heating, and cooling was run of the mill. Heck, tablets didn’t even exist during my childhood and teenage years. In school, we had to do math in our heads with pencil and paper. While basic four-function calculators existed, our teachers would fail us if we were caught with one. Now my two children have their own tablets. I see preschoolers with cellphones and all in one tablets. I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing but what I am saying is that your priorities as parents do have to change with the times. The only technology our parents had to worry about during our childhood was the television and then the telephone. During our teenage years, if we were lucky, desktop computers started entering the households. I was one of those fortunate students to have a desktop in the house but it was one desktop for our whole family. The only places I remember having free access to computers was in my specialized classes at school or the library. And WiFi, don’t even get me started. A Citizen’s Band (CB) radio was the wireless technology of the time, and an expensive luxury if you had one.
Now that you’re a parent in this advancing age, how do you raise children to coexist. We are embarking on new ways to parent as we struggle to find balance between teaching our kids to live with these advancements and coincide with it ourselves. In my parenting experience thus far, one major revelation that came upon me was the fact that I cannot raise my children the exact same as how I was raised. I cannot have the same expectations as my parents and even my grandparents had when my parents were children and when I was a child. Why? Because our expectations have to shift with our environment. My parents will never understand how my grandparents survived without indoor plumbing and I will never understand how my parents survived without forms of instant communication. I mean who really writes letters anymore when there’s email, chat, video chat, and even blogs like this.
But how does our parenting change? What should we expect from our kids now? Does this mean we throw our hands in the air and give up because we just don’t know what to do? NO! We adapt, relearn, and go with our gut. On the bright side of this is when our child messes up, we have more things to take away. And these seem to be end of the world things from childhood to adulthood. It’s even hard for me to put down my electronics sometimes but I force myself to do it and enjoy my family. See, coinciding with even technology as an adult is difficult. Some expectations are going to be the same. You still need to teach respect, honesty, integrity, and all around good morals and values. Since they now have the ability to learn, react, and have an opinion due to instantaneous information from online search engines, utilize that in your favor. The nice part is you can pull up the good and the bad in each scenario directly to provide an underlying base. The bad part about all of this is their innocence and childhood is somewhat dampened with the emergence of instant information. Their opinions become dependent instead of independent in some cases. The one thing I stress is research. Thankfully there is a lot of insight online for a single topic so they have the ability to thoroughly vet the topic before developing an opinion or interpreting the proper facts. Again, go with your gut. If you feel something is wrong, it probably is. If you feel that you’re going in the right direction, you probably are. Did I get flack for buying my then two year old and then my newborn tablets? Yep. But in my case the timing and circumstances aligned. My now 4 year old daughter loves her games and has learned a lot from it and my 17 month old daughter loves watching cartoons from hers on long road trips. Again, adapting to the environment.
I just want to finalize this with the fact that I am not perfect in any way. I make mistakes and regret some of the decisions I have made regarding my children. Like sometimes there’s too much TV time in a day, or even a week. Sometimes I just give my daughter her tablet to play so I can get just 20 more minutes of sleep. I’ve even given her cake and ice cream for breakfast with milk, just sounded good at the time. But in the end the good she remembers outweighs the bad for the most part, so I must be doing something right. Trust yourself, you’ve got this parenting thing!
Until next time!
~RPags (and $0.02 from my Husband)