Vacation Parenting – Part 1
I am feeling refreshed and happy after returning from my honeymoon to Hawaii.
We saw such amazing things, ate amazing food, and tried amazing activities (like biking 22.5 miles down a volcano!). Despite my every effort to relax, my therapist mind could not stop picking up on the goings on around me. In this post I would like to focus on parenting.
While on vacation, I got to observe parenting in some of the most stressful moments, like on an airplane. First, let me say that I believe every parent does their very best in situations. I do think that some parents may be misguided on how to best help their children.
I have some examples of parenting that needs to be adjusted and one example (next post) of some really great parenting.
Communication is Critical
One of my biggest fears as someone who is considering starting a family in the future is to raise children who cannot communicate.
I believe a HUGE part of why children struggle to learn how to communicate is because they are not expected to communicate. At the third restaurant we went to on our vacation, I became nauseous at the third table I observed with children on ipads and the parents drinking some wine.
My observations of those tables are that the children barely eat, the parents barely speak to each other, and please tell me, who got to enjoy this really special night out? I believe giving your child an ipad or a cell phone during a meal is stunting their emotional growth.
As an adult, I look forward to meals with my spouse because it is a time for us to talk about our daily experiences.
Mind you, not all adults are used to doing this, but I have come to find that my spouse now looks forward to it as well. When your child comes to you with a difficult math problem and they say,
“Mom/Dad, I can’t do this. It’s too hard and I don’t know how to do it”
what is your response?
“That’s okay honey, no one needs math?”
Or is your response;
“Let’s figure this out. Get your book and let’s work on this together.”
It is pretty obvious which is the best parenting choice.
As a parent, a guardian, or even simply an adult around a child, I feel it is our responsibility to challenge our children to become thinkers, explorers, imaginers, and problem solvers. Giving our children a cop out to conversation at dinner is not doing them any favors, in fact, it is hurting them.
In my years of working with and studying people, I have come to realize that most people “know” the right thing to do.
Why do parents give their children the ipad or cell phone? I believe a piece of it is that it is difficult being a parent and sometimes we want a break. I think that that thought is fair, but I challenge you to challenge yourself. You are molding a human.
You have the most important job on the earth
Would you want your brain surgeon taking 20 minutes to play candy crusher mid-surgery?
Take every opportunity you can to talk to your child. Ask them about their experiences. While it is tricky learning how to talk to a small human (trust me, I have clients age 2), it is not impossible.
They can communicate with you and honestly, what some of my younger clients have shared with me has turned out to be some of the most insightful comments I have ever had. And, kids are funny! I can’t tell you how often a child will completely turn my day around by a funny comment.
Every day we have the choice to wake up and decide to be the best person we can be. Be the best parent you can be and engage with your child instead of giving them something to distract your attention and theirs.
Your child’s mental and emotional health is at stake.