The “New” Parenting – parenting with too much technology

One of the stressors, I hear from my clients today is: How can I be a good parent with all these distractions? Between my cell phone, texting, e-mails, etc. I feel I never get a break.

Parents always felt overwhelmed and busy but now add technology that has made our work weeks much longer and we feel like the world never stops. The new work week looks way different then the days of 40 hours a week. Most people work 60-80 hours a week due to longer commutes and always being “on” due to technology.

This is just part of the battle. Technology also causes communication issues within families. I hate to tell this true story but it gets exactly to the point. I was at dinner the other night and I saw a family of four sitting around the table waiting for their food. The mom was reading the menu but the dad and the two kids were all texting or searching on their phones. It made me sad to see a family actually have the opportunity to spend quality time together and not take advantage of it. Unfortunately, the example I gave above is quite common and becoming the norm. I know in my own household if I’m in the house and my husband is outside in the yard he will call me on my cell before walking inside to talk to me.

We have created a society of instant gratification and laziness. We see the problems in kids. Their lack of physical exercise, social skills and obesity are big issues today. Its one thing to have a group of friends but nowadays we hear kids say” I have over a 100 friends on Facebook” but yet they only have met a few in person.

We are up against new issues in parenting and relationships in general and there are no new rules or handbooks to handle this situation. Some tips still apply to keeping a happy healthy home.

1. Communicate – we always tell parents to spend some quality time with their kids. It used to be have family dinners together. We now have to add to the dinner, that there should be no technology! The dinner table should be sacred time where every one joins in the conversation.

2. Be an active listener – in the world of technology, we don’t have as much face to face time BUT when we do it’s important to be a good listener. Make sure to have direct eye contact. Watch your non-verbal language, show you’re listening by nodding your head, facial expressions, etc. Listen to the whole story or question, pause to think about it and then answer. Really listen when someone talks – don’t think about your answer or another topic, show your care.

3. Socialization is a key factor in our happiness. Join in with family events; community, friends, etc. make sure a lot of your socialization is in person, we need face to face interaction.

4. Lose the attachment – all the latest technology is great and helpful but don’t NEED it. Don’t allow your life to be controlled by technology. Have technology free times such as after 8pm at night. This is your time to spend with family, read a book etc.

5. Be a good role model – you teach your kids through your actions. Kids are visual learners so if your kids constantly see you on the phone, texting, etc they will follow suit. If you’re ignoring your kids to text or sitting at the dinner table with your laptop or TV on, you will have your kids repeat the same behavior. Kids will imitate what they observe. What do you want them to see?

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