Parenting Without Batteries

I got my Newsweek in the mail yesterday and found myself all riled up over this issue’s “My Turn” essay.  So riled up, I actually sent off a letter to the editor this morning.  Here it is (with a link to the essay):

Dear Newsweek,

I’d like to submit these thoughts in reference to the My Turn Essay “The Family Road Trip:  Strangers in a Minivan,” which appeared in your July 2-9, 2007 issue:

I have a hard time mustering sympathy for parents who complain about the communication gap between themselves and their hard-wired, techno-prolific children.  Just because today’s youth have more choices for amusement and entertainment doesn’t mean that they aren’t still just that:  CHOICES.  It is not an inevitability – as some would throw their hands in the air and declare – that youth today will end up preferring their virtual world to ours, despite our efforts.  Parents need to model to their children what the choices and priorities will be for their family.  After all, it is often the parents purchasing the next new gizmo, and it is the parents who should have the final say in how, when, and where those gadgets will be used.  Don’t just lecture to your children about library books, take them to the library!  Don’t just wish your children would tune in to the world around them; unplug your own earbuds, fold up the laptop, turn off the cell phone!  In this brave new world, I believe there is a time and place for the technological advances that seem to pop up like dandelions around the American family.  But kids in the Digital Age still need what kids in any Age have needed:  parents to provide guidance, boundaries, communication, and something that cannot possibly be provided by anything with a lithium battery:  childhood memories.

  • How very well said! This is bringing me out of my lurking. I absolutely agree with what you said. As a disclaimer, though, I should say that I only have a 4 year old and haven’t had to deal with any teenage-type issues, but I do know what happens if I let my son stare at the TV for too long.

    I think that, as Americans, we’ve grown used to having everything we want when we want it – which is usually Right Now. Kids aren’t always born as well-rounded, polite, and intelligent people. It takes work from parents, families, and friends to help them get there. Unfortunately, it seems, some parents aren’t willing to put in the effort.

    I hope they publish your letter!

  • Amen! Yes, I have all of the gadgets…but we’re pretty select where we use them. I was mortified when a friend brough her 2 year old son to eat lunch with us at a fast food restaurant and slapped the full-size DVD/movie player up on the table in front of his food. When I inquired, she said “he won’t last in here unless he gets to watch a movie.” I was floored. How do we teach our kids to relate and to interact in public/social situations if they learn to rely on electronics to distract them for something as short as a quick bite to eat with friends?

    Because of a missed flight, I had to take a 9 hour road trip with my 5 year old a couple weeks ago. We sang, he played with play doh, we made up goofy songs and we talked. It was, without a doubt, the most wonderful bonding time we’ve ever spent together…

  • Mom

    Good job Stacey!! xoxoxoxoxoxo 🙂