04 March, 2010

The Times, They Are a Changin'

I sat with two dads discussing the way things have changed over the last few years.  It was like sitting around a family dinner table listening to uncle Bill talk about walking to school, in the snow, five miles, up hill both ways.  At times, it was one of those conversations.  

One of the dads has three older kids and a 13 year old from a second marriage.  He is the stay-at-home dad who delights in doing it and spending time with his daughter.

As often happens with conversations about kids and teen agers and parenting, we found ourselves talking about technology, rules, mobile phones, and the differences between kids and technology now as apposed to the way it was ten years ago or twenty years ago – and there is a significant difference.  

We chuckled in puzzlement as we relayed stories of kids sitting next to one another using a DS or mobile phone to text over actually having a conversation with one another.  I have yet to figure this one out, but my daughter tells me that it happens.  She currently finds it stranger herself as “Why not just say it.” But… it is the age of technology and text.  

We sympathized with the parents who find their kids talking on the mobile phones at all hours of the night and the parent who had to make a rule that there would be no IPOD at the dinner table.

We collectively celebrated the dance instructor forbidding technology during rehearsals – after all, the dancers are there to learn and dance and prepare for performances, not to text the person next to them or listen to other music.  

Times have changed.  As parents we are adjusting the best we can.  My daughter, to the shock of everyone she knows, doesn’t want a mobile phone; and, I am not going to force that technology on her.  She would rather be drawing or moving or reading than at the computer.  I don’t know how long this will last, but I am hopeful it will last a while!

The oldest father suggested that I take advantage of her lack of enthusiasm or desire for technology as long as possible.  He said that he used to talk with his daughter.  While he would drive her to this and that event or class, they would talk.  He knew what was happening in her life.  Now she has the phone and… they don’t talk any more.  

Some of this is natural – kids grow away from their parents at a certain age or during phases of their adolescent years.  

But listening to this dad… my heart went out to him.  It was obvious that this time and this relationship with his daughter was ne that he treasured and is one that he now misses.    That doesn’t mean it is gone or that it won’t evolve into something else, but it is that process and that cutting of the cord that can prove difficult.  

One thing I have learned at work and in life is that technology is great, and yet it is also not so great.  We rely upon it, we live our lives centered around it from time to time, and it can prove invasive.  It can also make our lives easier, more efficient, and can save our lives.  

Like anything, it is something that needs to be used in moderation; it is something that we need to learn to use and teach our kids to use in such a way that it enhances the quality of life over diminishing it.  

I love talking with my daughter and can’t imagine a day when our conversations are all via text or don’t happen at all.  Could it happen, yes… but until it does, I am going to take advantage of every moment I hear her voice!  



Mama Llama said...

You voice some of my greatest fears here, TE. I guess that is why I'm trying now to dedicate time to fostering ME relationships, to safeguard against the complete desolation and heartbreak that will inevitably hit once I am no longer the center of my children's lives.

Be well, TE.

Sorrow said...

I am just going to share my observations here , it seems that with my 2 kids, one is an extrovert, and loves to be with people and is very secure in who he is. His friends are very similar to him. They don't do the gizmo's and gadgets. They only talk on the phone to find out what time the game is,the party, what the assignment is. he only sits on the computer when he is grounded from the "outside world. The other child is is an introvert, and would prefer to only speak to people thru machines. I wonder if this has any bearing on anything...