Parenting In The Digital Age
When my first child was born I knew that I was going to do attachment parenting using a positive parenting model. Everything I had read and my own experiences growing up led me to believe that this was the parent I wanted to be. I researched everything I could about attachment parenting and even joined a natural childbearing class which I still have friends from 15 years later. But, my life did not roll out the way I had envisioned.
I think that what comes to us when we become parents is the opportunity to struggle with our own weaknesses. A couple of my weaknesses (out of many!) include that I tend to avoid confrontation and I have a difficult time setting boundaries.
Combine that with an attachment parenting style and you can end up with children who are rude, feel that chores are beneath them, are anxious, depressed and show signs of ADHD. I've been seeing a parenting counselor but every day with my children feels like a battle where I must draw lines and watch them fight me and melt down.
I divorced their father when my son was two and unfortunately, he and his then partner did not believe in setting ANY media limits. "We are lousy parents. We send the children down to the basement to play Lethal Weapon XII and watch The Family Guy. I’m not the parent I would like to be—I don’t take them to soccer practice and swimming lessons. I barely manage to get food on the table, much less something nutritionally appropriate."
Today my son struggles daily with this addiction.
I've tried limit setting where you make clear the limit (2 hours of media a day) and when you enforce the limit you 1. first empathize (Boy, that game sure looks fun), 2. reinforce the limit (and you've had two hours now) and 3. give a choice of how to implement that limit (would you like to come help me with dinner or do some reading)?
But, he's 10 now and media has become so ingrained in his lifestyle that he doesn't know how to manage time off media unless he is fully occupied with something he wants to do and the older he gets, the shorter this list gets. He also experiences negative thinking and anxiety whenever he is not distracted with media. He has not learned how to be bored. So, the limit is set but he falls apart unless he has a friend over. And, nowadays most of his friends also just want to be on media.
He still enjoys being outside but the problem is that there are NO OTHER KIDS in our neighborhood that we know to play with. When I was a kid, all I had to do was walk out the door into my neighborhood and I could find someone to play with. Nowadays, we the parents must set up all the playdates with other kids. There is scheduling and driving involved. When I pick up my son from school, I am always grateful if there is a child who wants to come home with him.
My daughter is a little bit older so she had more time in a household where media was not the babysitter. Although she spends a lot of time on her phone, she is also able to manage time alone and because she is older now, she is able to easily find and meet her friends on her own.
I am revealing this parenting struggle with you because I wish I had been able to see into the future to understand the necessity of setting limits in our media drenched society and how much harder it would be to set limits with a 10 and 15 year old rather than a 2 and 7 year old.
Here is an article that says it all.
I wanted to leave you with my favorite parenting blog. I am currently working on learning how to set strong limits and remain connected with my children and still failing.
I know there is so much parenting advice out there but I hope that sharing my experience with you will add to your arsenal of parenting tools.