When I was raising kids, cell phones weren’t a common thing. Only a very few people had one (mostly business people who wanted a status symbol). They seemed pretentious and completely unnecessary at the time (Plus, they were the size of a brick!).
All that has changed, of course. Cell phones have transformed our lives in so many ways and motherhood in particular.
Moms have always needed the companionship and support of other mothers. My husband grew up in a small town and all the moms on his street gathered every morning for coffee. They spent an hour or so discussing family issues and general news before they went back to their homes to get on with their lives. I always thought it was such a great way for moms to begin their days.
While I was raising my littles, my best friend and I spoke on the phone almost every day. But, back then we were tethered to one spot by telephone cords. Still, those phone calls were lifelines for both of us.
Now, cell phones go with us everywhere. At the touch of a button we have access to the world and the world has access to us at the same time. And, that has its plusses and minuses.
Before cell phones, if you sent a child to school who complained of feeling a little poorly, we moms were afraid to leave our houses for fear the school would call us to say that our children were indeed sick. In fact, every time we moms took a little break for ourselves, we felt that fear. What if something happened to one of our kids and the school couldn’t find us?
In that way, cell phones have brought moms a lot of peace of mind. We can relax and enjoy ourselves, knowing that we are reachable almost anywhere we go.
But, the dark side of these miraculous mini-computers in our purses and pockets is the temptation to overuse them. I see moms all the time in stores gabbing nonstop on their phones while their kids whimper or stare blankly ahead in stony silence, ignored and seemingly invisible. It is heartbreaking to watch. And, we’ve probably all witnessed families in restaurants, each member on an electronic device instead of using the opportunity to talk to each other.
So, where do you draw the line?
My daughter makes it a habit to ignore her phone while she is with her kids. She doesn’t want them to get the idea that electronics are more important than they are. Likewise, she doesn’t allow her kids to play with her phone in restaurants, etc. Yes, it’s an easy way to keep kids quiet, but she wants to teach them to communicate with their elders and take in the world around them. This certainly creates more work for her as a mom but she feels it is totally worth it.
Other young moms I know not only use their own phones without misgivings, but they give their kids unlimited access to electronics as well. These moms seem to get a lot more done each day because their kids are being “babysat” by phones, games and the television. Only time will tell if their children will suffer for all the time they have spent in front of screens.
So, what are your rules for electronics (for your kids AND yourselves)? This is a strange new world we live in and the kids in our lives will be looking at us to make the guidelines and set (and keep) the boundaries. What will yours be?