How many of us parents love lecturing? How many times have we droned on about the "Un's" of life? Unhealthy, unnecessary, unethical, unhygienic! In the end, our talks become nothing but unpopular. Poor kids!
Heard of the age-old idiom, "Parent what you preach?" Well, all right, it was 'practice', but you get the gist. How can our children eat healthy when we are the first ones to grab quick options - Junk ala food? How can our children learn the importance of telling the truth, when we lie and call in sick to work because of a late night?
Can our children balance the use of technology? It’s no easy task when we can’t remember the last time we switched off our cellphones. It’s hard work. But leading by example is always a safer bet.
This is a shaky attempt at not-sounding-like-a-lecture. But here's what we should NOT do with technology in front of our children:
Use technology after a cut-off time
We all love rules. By 'we' I mean parents of course. So if your house rules limit the use of technology at the dinner table, at someone's house, or after 5:00 p.m. STICK TO THE RULES!
Let's not sneak into social platforms just to see how many people "aweeee'd" at
a recent picture of our toddler. As small as it seems, this sets a bad example our children are most likely to follow.
Have distracted conversations because of technology
"Mom! Are you listening?!"
"Uh-huh. Go on..." There comes your distracted reply as hyperactive fingers type away, while you sneak glances at your child.
Sound familiar? How many times have we talked to our children while distracted by all the buzzing and the alerts? Imagine how rude it is when other adults do this during a conversation.
Bad manners. Insensitivity. A detrimental attention span. Zero conversational skills. These are all scary by-products of this careless act.
Become a Selfie MOM or DAD
I have several married friends who are selfie obsessed. I can’t imagine how their children take to their parents’ habit. Selfie-mania and narcissism is a growing epidemic. (Note: Kim Kardashian - *shudder*). There should be laws against this or something.
Do we want our children growing up with this self-obsessive message? Physical outlook is important, but not enough to overshadow our kid’s personality, confidence and talent.
Use (technology) while driving? Seriously?!
Apart from the fact that we could go to jail while driving and using technology, this is just plain ridiculous. Why can't it wait till we get home? Or even if it is that important, ever heard of 'stop-park-and-use-phone'?
We don't want our children to think that it's ever OK to use phones, notebooks etc. while driving. Because we all know why it's not.
I love television. Even as a little girl, I was hooked to my favorite shows and movies. I had a favorite actor at the age of four. Yes, I was hopeless. So as a TV-holic, I know how hard it is to fight tv-binging urges in front of your children.
Our children need to know how 'unimportant' television is in life. They call it the idiot-box for a reason.
So abort mission! ‘Homeland’ or reruns of ‘The big bang theory’ can wait.
Not replace outdoor activity
We all know the importance of ‘play’ in our children’s lives. But our kids have access to a lot of fun gadgets and that always makes it harder to introduce outdoor games.
There has to be an easy way right? For starters, outdoor play should be a priority when it comes to sedentary, indoor games. We can make a schedule that has at least one hour of outdoor play four times a week(if not every day). And if you do have video games at home, go for educational options or ones with a physical activity like dancing and sports. Play of all sorts is fantastic for parent-child bonding.
Drool when the next iPhone or iPad hits the stores
Back when we were children, most
parents didn't drool over material objects. Or at least not in front of us. I can't remember my dad ever making a big deal about the latest Toyota. Or my mom getting depressed over a designer bag. They knew their means and limits, their wants and needs.
That makes sense to me now when I look at the whirlpool of gadgets suffocating us all year long. Before I finally got my iPad, I'd often pass remarks around my kids like, "I wish I could get my hands on that beauty!" I. was wrong. Period.
Let's not glamorize gadgets in front of children. That's exactly why they will grow up feeling dissatisfied and greedy.
Replace books with online reading
The crinkly fresh feeling of paper as you dig into a book. Bliss!
Replace that with a florescent white screen flooded with dancing words. As you scroll up, down, left and right. Convenience and quite frankly, a huge necessity too!
Nighttime book reading was like oxygen to me as a kid. Now it has been replaced by blood-shot eyes and hysterical scrolling. So how do we stay in sync with our online reading yet encourage the love of books ? It’s tricky but not impossible.
Let’s start by reading with our kids in the evenings, instead of alone on a computer during family time. There’s plenty of time to do that once the kids are asleep. A weekly visit to the library can do wonders. You can even arrange reading activities at home for your kids and friends. Reading out aloud and group discussions are always winners.
Prefer typing over actual writing
Remember writing? Scribbling away to our heart's desires. Whining about bad handwriting and trying out different styles. I can't remember the last time I wrote on paper except to write my grocery lists (no wait, they are also mostly written on my iPhone).
Why not get down to the basics? Encourage writing with actual pencils, pens and paper. Have our children write hand-written letters to grandparents, friends etc. Make them love the simple act of writing by doing it ourselves. Creativity and simplicity at its best.
Display every breathing minute of your lives on social media
You just potty-trained your toddler and what do you know? A status goes up the next minute! The possibilities to embarrass your child when he or she grows up are endless.
Admit it or not, our kids will read between the lines and get an interesting decoded message as they grow up. "I have to let the world know what I am doing. Otherwise it really won't matter." This is a huge blow to their self-esteem and confidence, to say the least.
Balance. Balance. Balance. We can’t have enough of it. Let’s think twice before we put everything up on the social media. But important milestones and happenings can always be shared with family and friends.
By Nida Shahzeb