Parenting in the Digital Age: Let Me See Your Face
August 13, 2014
(I’m over at Catholic Exchange today embarrassing myself while I talk about trying to parent from behind a screen. And, an important disclaimer; as I sit here typing this introduction, my two year old is making noises like a cat in heat while trying to get me to shut the laptop, so clearly this was written out of a deep place of conversion and personal piety.)
“Mommy, make a happy face at me.”
I look up from the glow of my laptop, irritated, hearing for perhaps the tenth time, that day, my three-year-old son’s persistent request.
“Mommy’s working, honey. Please go downstairs and play legos.”
Tantrum, flailing, stomping, sibling pinching ensue. Consequences are meted out. Justice is served. Repeat cycle.
It has, of course, occurred to me that I spend too much time engrossed in screens and interacting with virtual characters when the very real characters in front of me are melting into figurative puddles of spilled milk and clementine peelings. But come on, who can give their full attention for 9 + hours a day without any kind of break? I deserve a little down time. I’m just going to check in, I’ll be quick.
All of which is true, of course. Parenting in twenty-first century America can be ridiculously isolating – particularly the stay at home variety. And even the most extroverted parent on the block (which I emphatically am not) needs a little mid-day recharge in order to finish the solo shift strong and at a pleasant speaking volume.
But that isn’t what I’ve been doing behind my screen for minutes stretched embarrassingly into hours, hiding in plain sight in the glow of a laptop or a smartphone, accruing bits and pieces of stolen “me time” whilst the kids flail about at my feet, begging for attention…