How do You Connect with Your Children? – “Connection” Redefined

 

Social MediaPhoto by: Bloomberg

 

Some time around the beginning of the school year I heard a commercial on the radio for Verizon and it went something like this:

Sarah is a mom to two high school kids: Todd & Laura.  Sarah has gotten new cell phones for both her children.  The phones have email and Facebook, so mom feels more connected.”

Take a look at the last sentence: “the phones have email and Facebook, so mom feels more connected.”

So…if I understand correctly, we need email and Facebook these days to stay connected.  With our children.  (At least, according to Verizon.)

I admit: I love my phone, I love the concept of email and sometimes I spend a little too much time on Facebook.  (Although it is amazingly awesome that you can get in touch with friends [and their moms] dating back to the elementary school years!)  However, the insinuation that we need our social media to maintain a connection with our children goes too far for me.

I could go “out there” and find a whole lot of research that provides us with arguments praising social media and all that it adds to our lives.   I could just as easy find a whole lot of research opposing and pointing out flaws and dangers social media bring into our society.  The issue is not about the (dis)advantages of social media.  The problem is that (apparently) nowadays people believe that social media are the means to stay connected to our children.  I happen to be a mom who prefers personal connection with her children, rather than an electronic one.

So, without consulting the Merriam-Webster dictionary, let’s take a look at what exactly “Connection” is.  Does it involve a cell phone?  Email?  Twitter?  Facebook?  Etc.?

 

Image by: Life of a Maybe Borderline

 

I don’t think so.  In my mind it started with this:

 

Connecting

 

That, to me, is connection in its purest form.  A child wants to connect with his/her parents.  Physically.  Emotionally.  And for babies this connection is always established through touch (physical contact); being held, holding hands, hugs, kisses.  As they get older, the physical component of connection remains, however, other ways to emotionally connect are added to the mix.

It’s about reading together,

 

Father and child connecting

 

Snuggling together,

 

Connecting with children

 

and spending time together.  Personally.  Not via Facebook.

 

parents and child connecting

 

I certainly do not claim to be an expert on child psychology (or anyone’s psychology for that matter) but I do believe that our modern world has taken over our personal connection with people.  We email, text or “Facebook” (is that a verb already?) instead of call.  It baffles me that my husband and his business partner text back and forth to schedule a meeting.  “Why doesn’t he just pick up the phone and call you?” I ask.  My husband’s answer: “He finds texting more convenient.”  Huh?

With family living 9 time zones away, in Europe,  email and Facebook are practical.  But my children live in my house and even though they are only toddlers, I refuse for the social media to become the prominent tool to maintain a connection with my children once they are of the age that they are “in need” of their own Facebook account.

I believe in family dinners around the table, sharing our experiences of the day.  I believe in holding hands, spontaneous “I Love You’s”, tickle fights and tons of laughter right before bedtime.  I believe in froggies that escape my children’s tummies during dinner (and yes, they both say “Excuse me!”), and I believe in running through the puddles the first winter downpours bring us.

I will instill in them that a true connection is created and maintained by spending time together, doing arts & crafts,

 

Arts & Crafts and kids

 

by playing sports with family and friends

 

Family Soccer

 

and even by doing household chores, and making it fun, together.

 

Connecting while doing household chores

 

Now, spending time together will not foster any connection if you’re not completely present.  Children know when your mind is elsewhere, or if you feel you “should” be doing something else.  When you spend the time with your kids, make sure you are 100% there; not just physically, but also emotionally.  Don’t answer the phone and keep your laptops closed.  Even if it is for 10 minutes in that moment.  The caller or sender of that email, can wait for 10 minutes.  Nourish the connection in person, be present and enjoy.  No cell phone, email, or Facebook can ever come close to doing that.

 

Mother child holding handsPhoto by: Be a Voice

 

Until next time,

Savor food (together, around the dining room table), savor family and savor life.
- Marieke, aka HRH Mommy

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3 Responses to How do You Connect with Your Children? – “Connection” Redefined

  1. Pamela S says:

    I agree!!! Good communicating habits start now–or rather before birth if, like us, you were singing to the belly, reading books to the belly, just chatting away to the belly about life and love and shopping lists…

  2. This was great Marieke! I couldn’t agree more! And I do find myself at fault sometimes— texting when my son is talking to me. You are right— they know. And I know better. I think you just put me in check. And I do need that every once in a while.

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