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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do Online Parents Ignore Their Chilldren?

I was sitting next to a mom in a waiting room recently, watching her ignore her 2-year-old child. 

Like me, she was waiting for her older children to finish up their lessons.  Like me, she had brought her Ipad.  And like me, she probably hates to waste time sitting around and doing “nothing.” 

The two-year-old asked her for some water.  She replied (without looking up), “Wait until after the lessons.”  Her daughter continued to ask, and the mother continued to ignore, fixated on the screen in front of her.

Next, the daughter asked to go to the bathroom.  After rolling her eyes and huffing and puffing, the mother finally put down her Ipad and escorted her daughter to the bathroom.

She was back in two minutes.  Online again.

When her older son (who looked about 5 years old) was finished with his lesson, the mother barely looked up.  He started to help himself to a tray of donuts on the table next to us, when she snapped.

“Don’t touch those.  Sometimes, I can’t believe you!  I’m tired of you not listening!”

She announced they were leaving, dragging him out by the hood of his coat.  The 2-year-old followed behind.

I started to feel badly for these children.  I even started to judge their mother.  Some parents are so obsessed with themselves.  How can a mother ignore her own children and act like they are a complete bother?

Then I looked down at my Ipad. 

How many times have I said to my kids, “Not, now, wait until I finish this email?” Or how many times have I nodded my head and pretended to listen when my eyes (and my attention) are focused on a screen in front of me?

Yesterday, I read a thoughtful post from Michelle DeRusha who is giving up multi-tasking for Lent!  No, I’m no ready to go there yet.  But it did make me wonder.

Does anyone really get my undivided attention these days?


JeffHolton said...

Have you read some of the stuff that's been coming out recently about how counterproductive multitasking turns out to be?

I'm not sure what to make of it yet, but it's pretty brutal.

Wendy Paine Miller said...


The other day my mom asked me if I was emptying the dishwasher again while on the phone with her.

~ Wendy

Bonnie R. Paulson said...

Oh man. that's me. I just told my kids to hush so I read your post. I read your post and was like, uh, crap.

Thanks for the reminder! But yes I do multi-task because I have far too many expectations on my shoulders and not enough time to meet them all.

Have a great day!

Esther said...

Great post, Susan! I am too often guilty of this!
Sometimes its not so much the multi-tasking that gets me in trouble. It's the priorities of the multitude of tasks I'm working on. When I'm like the mom in your post, the priority is whatever's on my ipad, the kids are the "other" tasks. That situation would have been more palatable if the kids were the priority and the ipad was the "filler".

Heidiopia said...

Such a great question, Susan... I've been convicted this week. I am pretty plugged in all the time, but I really feel the need to unplug some and tune in more to my teenagers. It's going to be a challenge as I have alot of irons in the fire, but it's vital, I feel. And they deserve 100% of me.

Graceful said...

Thanks for the mention, lovely lady! And yes, one of the reasons I've given up multitasking is because I so often am completely tuned out to my kids when I am on the computer. Noah has actually complained, more than once, "Why are you ALWAYS on the computer?!" Talk about guilt!

Plus, all this multitasking is making me feel squeezed and frenetic all the time. I just can't rest -- I'm agitated and distracted.

So we'll see how it goes. So far (2 days), it's tough. I nearly had to shackle my hands to the steering wheel today so I wouldn't pick up my cell and make a call. And you should have seen me staring at 4 walls yesterday while I ate lunch (on the up side, it made for a quick lunch!).

Unpolished Parenting said...

I try not to be on the my lap top or play on my phone when my daughter is around, because I know I can't properly give her attention if I do. My husband feels a little differently and is constantly on his iphone and is easily irritated when she won't listen. It's very aggraviting to watch. I'm not trying to point the finger, but my rule is if the kid(s) are around I shouldn't be distracted with my *fun* stuff - reading blogs/emails/twitter/facebook. It can wait. But then again, I have the "luxury" of being on a computer the majority of my day during the week...

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Does anyone get my undivided attention these days? Well, my husband does. But only because we've worked hard specifically at that in the past year. It was hard for both of us -- we hit the floor running everyday. But we're both much happier and closer.

Unfortunately, I find other times to multitask, though. You've made me think, friend!

Susan DiMickele said...

Ah, thanks for your honesty. We are all busted!

But don't you think God is the ultimate multi-tasker? (I know, it's not a fair comparison.)