The other day on Facebook, I posted: Sometimes I feel bad that I’m not a more interactive mother. That I don’t guide the children in doing projects. That I prefer them to find something to do and come to me only if they really need something, like food.
A friend commented:
You should do what all the smart moms are doing and turn the tables. Call your preferred lifestyle “free range parenting” or “self-directed childhood” or something and write articles about how it’s superior, so all those craft-doing moms will feel properly ashamed of themselves.
(And she got 17 likes on the comment, nearly as many likes as I got on my status, so it’s a good thing I don’t even care about those numbers.)
Anyway, you wouldn’t believe it, but I found that article! On my own netbook! Halfway through a cup of coffee. While the kids watched Netflix. Here it is, and maybe it will be helpful to some other mom. *
Is Interactive Parenting Harming Our Children?
New studies may indicate that the best way to parent your child is to put away the glitter, turn on Spongebob, and walk away.
“We live in a society where children expect their parents to entertain and interact with them on demand,” says a prominent child psychologist. “They grow up thinking that they are the most important person in the room. That’s not real life. It’s only doing kids a favor to correct that early on.”
This is good news for moms who feel obligated to do crafts, read to, or talk to their children on an hourly basis. “Always be gracious, always be loving. But learn to tell your kid ‘I’m not really interested in hearing about that.’ Learn to say, ‘Go do that by yourself.” Practice saying, ‘Go away.’”
This may seem contrary to every single meme ever shared on Facebook, but parents in memes don’t seem to need any space to themselves. “Keep it realistic. Kids can be demanding and their conversation is boring. You don’t have to respond to every single request and topic.”
For parents who are concerned about excessive amounts of screen time, experts point out that a deep understanding of the surrounding culture only benefits people as they grow up. “You might think your kid is just watching the entire run of ‘Good Luck Charlie’ for the seventeenth time. What she’s actually doing is forming connections and understanding the presuppositions that underpin our modern society.”
So should you throw away all the craft supplies and let them watch unlimited Netflix?
“Of course not. But do it on your time. Better yet, let them do the craft while you sit nearby doing a word game on your phone. They learn independence and you don’t suffer a thousand hells until you end up finishing the craft for them. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
So go ahead. Tell your child to find something to play on the Playstation while you chat on Facebook. You’re doing your kid, and our society, a favor.
* Advisory note to my children: This is humor. You may not use it as an argument against my and Dad’s decisions regarding your screen time, electronics use, and whether you should put away your book and participate in table conversation.