Monthly Archives: October 2008

Caving on Cell Phones

Oh, the stupid things that my friends and I used to say before having kids. Things like . . .

“Even though you traveled more than 1,000 miles to come to my wedding, you must leave your baby with a sitter you’ve never met before.”

and . . .

“We’re going to go out every Saturday night just like we do now.”

You’d think we’d learn. But no, ridiculous statements keep flying out of our mouths prior to every age our children reach. We judge others before we ever walk in their shoes. Hence, my “better-than-though” belief of “can you believe they got their 10 year old a cell phone?”

Of course, as my daughter has now reached that age and will go off to middle school next year where my husband can no longer easily check on her (he teaches at her elementary school), I’m rapidly reconsidering the error of my ways.

And maybe I will have research on my side. A new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Networked Families, found “cell phones allow family members to stay more regularly in touch even when they are not physically together.”

The authors write: “Parents and spouses are using the internet and cell phones to create a ‘new connectedness’ that builds on remote connections and shared internet experiences.”

It’s definitely true for my mother and me. In the craziness of the day—getting kids to school, working all day, dinner, post dinner time with kids, exercise, etc.—getting in phone calls is difficult. But, with my cell phone I can easily talk to my mom while commuting to work. We definitely talk more frequently because of it.

Alas, maybe it’s not all good news for younger kids though. In reacting to the research, Amy Hatch posted the following over at the Celebrity Baby blog. “My kids aren’t old enough to have cell phones, but when they are, I don’t know how often I would check in. My folks didn’t keep tabs on me 24/7, and it fostered a sense of independence. The last thing I want to do is become a helicopter parent. I’m all for connectedness, but how much is too much?”

This is a good point. But I must admit that I’d take comfort in knowing that I could get in touch with my daughter if I needed to—it doesn’t mean that I have to.

Apparently a lot of people feel this way. In my search for more information, I found the work of James E. Katz. He’s a professor of communication at Rutgers’ School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, and he’s done a lot of research in this area. He notes:

Parents think they can reach kids any time they want, and thus are more indulgent of their children’s wanderings. Children exploit this longer leash, traveling farther afield and taking bigger risks. Not only are parents relinquishing direct supervision of their children, tech-savvy kids are finding all kinds of ways to use wireless technology as a kind of parent filter. The standard excuse of choice among the sneaking-home-after-midnight set, “My car ran out of gas,” is being replaced by, “My cell phone battery went dead.

Uh oh—back to square one! What do you make of all of this?


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Maybe they really do listen

If I were president . . . this was the prompt for my 5th grader’s morning writing assignment in school.

If I were president . . .

I would let kids after taking a test to prove they knew the candidates and what they stood for to be allowed to vote. I would do this because the president and the things he does affects our lives too.

I would also make the school lunch menus more healthy with things like salad options and meat that isn’t hamburger and hot dogs. I would do this because being healthy is very important.

I would do whatever I could to stop the multiple genocides in Africa. Haven’t they suffered enough? If it was happening here wouldn’t we want someone to help us? So why shouldn’t they? To help I would try convince China to stop helping Sudan.

If I were president I would make it my lifetime struggle to make the world a better place.

This brought tears to my eyes. Aside from the beauty of what she writes; She actually processes what I say.

This is a child who turns her nose up at all vegetables; begs for chips and hot dogs and candy; and fights every step of the way about eating healthy. Yet, she obviously hears my reasoning and thinks it valid.

I’ve taken her to several marches, including one in DC related to Darfur. I want her to learn that she needs to speak up when she sees something wrong. Perhaps these experiences have made an impact.

My anecdotal experiences seem to bear out in research. For example, one study says “adolescents who perceive that both parents would respond negatively and be upset by their smoking are less likely to smoke.” Another study says “Encouraging parents . . to discuss smoking-related issues with their children in a constructive and respectful manner is worth exploring as an intervention strategy to prevent young people taking up smoking.

And goodness know there have been tons of PSAs on the topic of talking to kids about a range of high-risk behaviors.

And there are some classics dealing with drug abuse.

So I will think of her writing the next time she rolls her eyes at me, stomps up the stairs, or gives me the “mom!” in that tone that all mothers of daughter have heard. Somewhere in there, she must actually be listening.

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Mommy . . . can I get in bed with you?

Mommy . . . can I get in bed with you? Can we cuddle?

I love and hate these words. My 6 year-old probably comes in a once or twice a week in the wee, wee hours of the morning, walking all the way around the bed to my side, tapping gently next to me and whispering this age-old question.

I love that he still wants to cuddle—and he is so snuggly. However, I also thought I left interrupted sleep with diapers, temper tantrums, and bottles–in the past! Obviously not. A few days ago over-tiredness finally won out. I told him he needed to try and go back to sleep first, but if he really needed a parent, to wake up dad.

Bad decision. He woke up dad, which woke me up anyway. (I’m a light sleeper.) The result: Mom still awake and now doesn’t even get the benefit of snuggles.

I know many will say he really needs to just stay in bed and work through it. But I also know snuggly time isn’t going to last that much longer with a 6 year old boy. So, we’re going back to the old way.

Kathleen Rundle posted an interesting blog on a related subject. She wrote:

They may not talk about it often but most American families actually have family beds to some degree. Some families do insist that children sleep in their own beds every night, no matter what. Most parents at least allow their children to join them when they have nightmares. Many allow them to whenever they like. Some parents even encourage their children to join them at night.

There’s also a lot of interesting research on snuggles. One recent study found that a mother’s cuddle is a natural painkiller for babies.

What do you do in your house?

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