Quiz: Are you a Robotic Parent?
1. For you, a "driving range" is defined as:
(1) green grass, blue skies, and your yellow golf balls
(2) the miles between hockey rinks (soccer fields, etc.) your child plays on during traveling team games
2. How well does your child know spiderman (barbie, etc.)?
(1) pretty well, by reading or watching a dvd they were in
(2) very well, as spiderman (barbie, etc.) has come to see him personally, at his birthday party
3. You artfully arrange a double sleepover (away) for your two kids on a Saturday night so you can:
(1) seduce your husband
(2) finish up studying how to help your kids with their homework
4. After a game of tennis with your daughter, you:
(1) give her a bottle of water, to rehydrate
(2) give her your remote control, thank her, and leave the room
5. You are cleaning the dinner dishes yourself because:
(1) your kids are in full body casts from a freak accident and can't help
(2) your kids are busy texting their friends
Scoring: If you scored 5 points, you are still a human person. If you scored 7-9, you are in the danger zone. If you scored 9 or 10, you have crossed over and become a robotic parent. Time for the 10 steps...
Thursday, April 5, 2012
It was the monthly “Recognition Assembly” at school, where all students are celebrated. I watched Ms. McDermott instruct her fifth grade students to stand up to be recognized and honored for their accomplishments. “Randy, for handing in his homework on time,” Ms. McDermott began, announcing their accomplishments, “Jessica for sharing her ideas.” “Sara for completing her class work on time.” “Kevin for being respectful.”
As I sat there I wondered, where was, “Nick for talking clearly”? Where was, “Kristen for coming to school with shoes on ”? What was wrong with this picture? What next? Jason, for not killing anyone. Michelle, for being able to walk and talk at the same time. Samantha for breathing without prompts?…
We’re setting unrealistic, unfair expectations for our children, yet at the same time we’re giving awards to our children for just doing what they’re supposed to do.
Why are we setting the bar so low? What’s next? A parade for the student who says “Bless you” when someone sneezes? A plaque for the student who stays in school for the entire school day? Shouldn’t we be teaching our children that doing what is expected is the norm? The bare minimum? Great, yes, commendable yes, but not award status!
Shouldn’t we encourage our children to strive to be the best they can be, and not just meet our...social norms?
And why do our children have to be amazing? Outstanding. Perfect! Why can’t we value our kids just for just being themselves? For being good people. Why is this not enough?
How can I help my child develop a realistic sense of herself and a healthy sense of self-esteem?
Robotic Parenting Step #9: Tell your children they did not do a good job.
“I am so good at X Box tennis. I bet I can slaughter you.” David told his mom.
Lynn swallowed hard in order not to lose it. Lynn had, she joked, (but only with half seriousness), raised her kids to be playmates. She’d taught David how to play tennis when he was five. He’d played golf with her since he was three. Samantha, her nine-year-old, did yoga with her and both kids loved to go to the water park. Lynn considered playing together to be a great way to connect with her family. Throw in the fact that playing is exercise and everybody wins.
While she was no Serena Williams, X Box Connects was also no kind of tennis.
“Get off the couch and play me out on the court!” Lynn wanted to yell at David. However, instead, she strategically made a bet with him:
“O.k., I bet you can beat me at X Box tennis and I can beat you at real tennis.” she challenged.
“Hey, you know what’s really cool?” Lynn asked him then.
“You know that 3-D movie you saw that you loved?”
“Yeah! That was cool!” David replied.
“Playing actual tennis on the court, really seeing the ball and it’s round shape, and holding the racquet, that’s 3-D!”
“Really.” Lynn responded.
Had she just sold real-life to her son as the latest high-tech phenomenon?
With only slight surprise, she realized that yes, of course she had. Her son, as with every other child she knew, had become so ensconced within technology; had strayed so far from real, human games. She was afraid that he was losing touch with the real world. She was afraid of him losing interest in real sensations: The “ping” of the tennis ball as it bounced off your racquet, the “sssss” of the tennis ball can as you peeled off the top…..the cause and effect sounds that occur in real life; so much more resonant than the sound effects generated by virtual reality.
Step # 10: Get your kids back in the real world.
Take anything with the word “Wii” or “Xbox Connect” in it, cross out the words Wii or Xbox Connect, and go do the remaining words, in the flesh: Instead of playing Wii Tennis, go play tennis. Instead of doing Xbox connects golf, go play golf. Forgo Wii drawing to draw. Turn “Wii” back into “Wheee!” which will be the sound of you and your children enjoying real life again; Turn “Wii” into We, as in we are playing together, rather than against a computer-generated opponent.
Playing together, there is inherent interaction and socialization. Sure, you can play the Wii together, but that is more like parallel play, or the type of play that babies, who are not developed socially play. (Aren’t we are supposed to be socially developed by the time you we can hold a Wii controller?) Parallel playing involves babies playing at the same time, in the same space, but not really interacting with each other. Staring at the t.v. screen, manipulating figures on it does not truly allow you to interact with each other: to face each other across the net on the tennis court; to take water breaks in between games; to comment on the wind that is affecting your serve….and playing a non-real opponent on the screen by yourself does not even afford you the pseudo-socialization provided by parallel play.