No, that’s not a typo and no, I’m not running that late. That greeting is for all of those moms who missed celebrating the day with their children because they were so busy surfing their timelines, seeing what their “friends” wanted them to see from their own celebrations.
While we at RFM strive to deliver on our mission of inspiring healthy families each month without being preachy, I feel compelled to get up on my soapbox when I see our families becoming less and less healthy with each new online fad. So much is being said about distracted driving, a dangerous epidemic indeed, but what I’m seeing just as much is distracted parenting. And since I am just as guilty as the next guy at times, I guess I’m preaching to myself as well.
We are so wrapped up reading about the storied accomplishments of our online friends’ kids, we have our own kids standing by, often begging us to watch their own feats, which may seem small, but not to them. “Mom, watch. Mom, are you watching? Mom, watch!” Who has heard that, while you’re busy texting or browsing Facebook? I know I have. And it won’t be long before the kids will be of the ages that they won’t care if we watch or not. In fact, they’ll prefer we don’t. At this stage, my kids are in school and after-school care until five o’clock most days, and in bed by nine (I know, it should be earlier). Can’t I stay offline and give them 100% of my attention for a lousy four hours a day? What kind of mother am I if I can’t?
Last month, I had the pleasure of spending Mother’s Day weekend at Virginia Beach, and after making the choice to consciously uncouple from my phone and laptop, I had the best family weekend ever. The one low point was watching a family next to us on the beach. The dad and son seemed to be having a great time digging to the center of the earth. The daughter, about seven I’m guessing, was sitting next to her mother, looking around in a desperate-for-something-to-do sort of way. The mom, with iPad in lap and iPhone in hand, never looked up in the time I observed the family. Okay, I don’t know the situation, of course. She may have been on a horrible, unavoidable work deadline. She may have been reading a novel. Or she may have busy typing a love letter to her children. I’ll never know. All I know is on Mother’s Day, the mother was more interested in her two devices than in her two children. We’ve all seen it and/or done it before – at soccer or baseball games – thinking the kids won’t notice if we sneak onto our phones between at-bats. Then it happens: We don’t look up in time, and we miss that goal or that big hit. And while the newsfeed will be there when the kids go to bed, that big goal, and that moment the kids looked up at you proudly, only to see you looking down at your phone, is forever missed.
So there, I preached. I preached to me, I preached to you. Maybe you didn’t deserve it. If you aren’t guilty as charged, I apologize. But if you’re like me and too often have your priorities horribly out of whack, let’s make a pledge together to disconnect from our tech devices and reconnect with our families.
There is so much in this issue for you to enjoy as a family, including an interview with an amazing father who says helping kids succeed means more to him than winning the Super Bowl. Now, there’s a parent who knows how to prioritize!
From all of us at RFM, here’s hoping you have a super summer and a very happy (and fully engaged) Father’s Day!