Who all remembers the 'simpler time?' You know, the ones where there were no cell phones, no iPads, no big screen TV's. This was my childhood. We lived such a simple life! We had a quaint little three bedroom home on a corner lot. It was just enough room to have a horse lot with a small barn, a shed for feed/tack/etc. and we lived everyday outside...even on the cold days. Of course, being from Texas we didn't really have "cold" days. Ahhh...the simple days!
What really made me start thinking about this today was the fact that although I am forever grateful to work for women that are flexible and completely understand the importance of being involved with our children's activities, I found myself reminiscing back on my own childhood days as I sat and watched my daughter interact at pre-k today and all the gifts that flowed into the classroom from carnations to bears and balloons for these little 3 & 4 year old kiddos. I thought, "what are we teaching our children?" I mean, yes, I remember getting flowers and gifts from my parents throughout my childhood but were they really this extravagant? No! We got a small box of those coated mints that came in the pink boxes with writing on them in the shape of hearts...does anyone else remember those? And, we got valentine cards to hand out to our classmates but we didn't get necklaces, bears, mylar balloons, etc. And, yes, I was 'one of those parents' that had gifts delivered to her daughter today! My excuse is...."she is an only child and I can afford it so why not." Right? I mean isn't that what started all of this writing to begin with? I did not have a second thought when I picked up that phone and placed the order for delivery. But, deep down inside I just knew other parents were going to do the same thing and I was NOT going to let my baby girl be left out! And she wasn't!
During my reminiscing today I remembered my first "video game"...it was an Atari. Yep! Just dated myself... Oh, and I have a quick confession...couple of days ago, in one of my blogs I referenced myself as "approaching 44 years." Well, my sweet husband was reading it and said, "babe, I'm not trying to nick-pick your writing, but, you do know you're going to be 43 this year NOT 44, right?" Instantly, I just start laughing! Anyway, just wanted to clear that up.... Anywhoo.... does anyone else remember those...and oh when we got our used Nintendo - oh yea....we were BIG TIME! But, I really don't remember playing either of them much. I do remember all of the other fun stuff we got to do and how we had horses, and we had bikes, and we had musical instruments, and we certainly weren't deprived, but neither did we sit inside in front of the TV either.
I was curious so I looked up a few things. Statistics reports reveal that as of December 2015 the average age of a child that gets a smartphone is 11! Eleven!! If my memory was really great I probably couldn't really tell you what I was doing at age 11, but I do know it was not anything on a 'smart device.' I spent my afternoons and weekends with my Papa at the farm. He would make a special trip to town just to pick me up from school so I could go back and work with him on the farm. Those were the good days! Pulling sand burrs (those are horrible grass stickers) and calves and building fences, and maybe, just maybe, driving the tractor across the railroad tracks and through the fence....it was a mechanical issue! (laugh) Or with my Daddy riding horses, going to play-days, jumping on my trampoline, riding bikes or playing with my friends - outside! But seriously, age 11 and they're getting phones. Statistics also report that 77% of kids ages 12-17 have a smartphone and over 30% experience 'cyber-bullying; and 'sexting' before the age of 13! Seriously!! In my days, if you bullied someone it was because you didn't let them play with your group on the playground! And we wonder what's wrong with our culture and kids now days.
Truth is, I'm just as guilty too! My almost 4 year old daughter plays with my cell phone, iPad, tablet and she has her own V-Tech game tablet, so I'm not passing judgment on any other parent. Remember, this is 'a dose of truth serum' from my own parenting experiences, life lessons in general, and things I'm feeling guilty about! I decided that I was going to write the truth all year...going to share my own short-comings and daily issues in hopes that others will realize that regardless of what status you may carry in this world, house you live in, car you drive, we all have the same problem. What we do to fix them is instrumental in fixing the next generation. I'm not saying you shouldn't give your children smartphones & devices - clearly we live in a world that technology is dominant and that is just the way it is...and trust me, I know it's only going to get more and more 'techy' before it's all said and done. I guess I'm just struggling with that balance. I mean clearly I am using a laptop right now to write this blog and without technology you would not get to read it. I would have to sit down and actually write a letter to all of my family and friends and they would be the only ones that got the absolute pleasure of reading my wonderful blogs (that was written with complete sarcasm)! But how many people actually still open their Bible's? No, not the ones on your phones. I mean the actual book! I have two on my night stand, one in my car and another in my briefcase. But I usually use the Bible App on my iPhone or iPad. It's clearly just the world we live in. And, if I decided I was going to take a stand...you know, be one of those Mom's that was going to try and teach my child the simpler things of life - she would probably get ridiculed and bullied. It's like a double-edged-sword! You just almost can't win for losing....at least that's how I feel.
But, I want my daughter to enjoy life! I want her to not want for anything. I want her to experience life on the playground, on the back of a horse, hunting with Daddy, or just anything outdoors... then it hit me.. Ryan and I will get to determine how she is raised...and oh Lord, I pray we do it right! She may not want anything to do with the outdoors...maybe she'll take up crafting....nah! that's not in our blood....
My point is, I'm by far the furthest from a parenting expert, but I am a Mom that loves her daughter with all of her heart and it is my job to teach her, love her, and be here for her to celebrate the wins and coach her through the losses because life will most definitely bring all of those things... I would love to hear others opinions on how you're doing it... how do you balance work/life? How do you teach them and how much time do you allow them to be on the smart devices and for how long?
Here's what I'm committing to do as a parent this year...
1) Love my daughter unconditionally (hey, I just wrote a blog about setting ourselves up for failure, so I'm starting with something easy that I KNOW I can accomplish)! (Smile)
2) Read the Bible with her daily (yes, I do this, but not regularly so it's a real goal).
3) Take time to play with her everyday! And, not on any electronic device.
4) Change how I react to things in front of her... we don't realize how our own emotional outbursts impact our children until it's already done...and, once it's done you can't undo it!
5) Pray with her every night before we go to bed!
I'm only starting with 5! Why you ask? Well, for one, I just wrote on setting myself up for failure and I'm trying to take my own advice. I want to set small tangible goals (you know, the way I teach my employees to start out with measurable things so you can have a sense of accomplishments and then push yourself to be bigger and better than the day before type of goals!). Then I will re-evaluate them in 30 days and add to them or take away and modify. I think we have to give ourselves a break as parents, we're not perfect, some of us only have one child so this really is our 'first rodeo' and we need to know that it's okay to make mistakes - but it's how we handle them that sets us apart from the rest!
As I said before, if you take nothing else away from my blogs - I pray that you will never forget that you are "wonderfully and fearfully made" (Psalm 139:14). Never forget that you are the son or daughter of the almighty King of King and that you do not have to "BE" what the world expects you to be, but you do have to be what makes you happy! Do something kind today, be nice to others, and respect those you interact with. Strive to make a difference in others lives, but more importantly make a difference in your own life. Life is messy....thank God for Bounty paper towels, Grace & Mercy!
"Pretty words aren't always true....and true words aren't always pretty.""And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." *John 8:32)