Would you put all your valuables on a raft to transport across a rushing river?
Or would you prefer a larger, sturdier boat?
Consider: the valuables are your children’s frustrations, triumphs, and troubles—a treasure chest of identity and heart.
The raft is social media and texting peers (other kids) and strangers.
The roaring river is life: school, drama, family.
You are the slow, stately steamboat, a better alternative for transporting valuables over dangerous, unsteady waters.
Social media is not good enough for our kids
This is why social media and kids’ attachment to their smartphones often results in depression, anguish, and suicide. They’re putting their soul on a raft that can dump them out or sink unexpectedly.
People don’t see its precarious nature, only that it’s convenient.
You are safety and solidity, unconditional love. Teach them the habit of securing the treasure of self within them and with you.
Stop letting your kids use rafts for emotional safekeeping.
These rafts are not the sturdy, rubber, lifeboat type with life vests, flares, and survival snacks. They are the Huck Finn kind made out of branches and twine—temporary and best for smooth waters.
Connecting with our kids
They need you. And we need them, possibly more.
Despite teenage independence, they still need to know we care and are interested in them and their interests. We don’t have to like the same things, but connecting reminds them we love them.
Today I watched K-Pop videos with my teens. Ugh. Dancing young men who look like fashionable women from the 1980s (imagine a Nagel painting) confuses me. But, okay, that’s a thing the older teen likes. She explained why, we watched way too much K-Pop, I expressed my confusion and dislike, and then we were done. She shared, danced, and didn’t even mind that it wasn’t my thing.
Another time, I pulled my younger teen into my lap while she excitedly described a difficult maneuver on a stronger, bigger teammate. Imagine my loss were she to prefer texting someone else instead of talking to me.
If she poured her joy and pride into a text or social media, I wouldn’t get to connect with her about scoring a goal, encouraging little kids in her soccer clinic, or how much she likes the coach’s emphasis on life lessons over winning games. I would miss all of it. Texts and likes cannot compare to mom’s or dad’s hugs and “I’m proud of you!”
Don’t miss it.
“I’m gonna be like you, dad. You know I’m gonna be like you.”
In an interview with NPR, Dr. Jenny Radesky noted kids at a playground behaved badly to get their parents’ attention away from their phones. Parents’ phone addictions are causing their children unhappiness and frustration.
Kids won’t learn to interact with us if we distract them with devices, or if we fiddle with our phones instead of making eye contact and talking to them. When we shift our attention to the phone, kids receive the message that they are less important.
Be the steamboat
Parents offer children love that doesn’t dissolve when they lose, fail, or have a shitty year. Investing emotion in technology and fickle friends is gambling with currency you cannot afford to lose.
Kids become more resilient when they feel that their treasure of self is safe.
Lyric from “Cat’s in the Cradle” song by Harry Chapin