To begin, we begin at the end. The end being that place where we hope our children will ultimately end up as people. In circles beyond parenting, it is known as designing for the end state. My husband and I used to call it front-end loading. I know a woman who speaks of raising, not kids, but grown-ups. You get the idea.
Raising children in The Age of Technology has left many of us uncertain and scrambling to keep up. Neither of which is in the best interest of our children, and yet, here we are. For years now, nearly 19 to be exact, I have been pursuing a course of action regarding technology and its influence on my children with great dedication. Until recently I had no idea where it would end up. I only knew that I was compelled by instinct. And a deep, fierce and ferocious love.
Deep enough to get beneath the surface of what the culture told me my children needed to be safe, have friends and be prepared for the 21st century. Fierce enough to withstand judgment, ridicule, naysaying and suspicion. And ferocious enough to combat the demons in my own head telling me I didn’t know what I was doing and that maybe I was depriving my children and leaving them unprepared for the world they were born into.
Passing through all of this, I have something to report back. I know some things about what you can expect when you allow your children to grow up versus plugging them in. I know what you and they have to look forward to. Every last bit of effort that it takes to get you all there will exceed your every hope and expectation about what life with them and for them can be.
When you allow your children time for a childhood and an adolescence free of a lot of screen influence, you can look forward to children who know how to entertain themselves and have the ability to turn boredom into something creative. You can look forward to way less nagging and arguments over homework and chores because of their being lost in a virtual reality. This lack of friction will grow the deepening of your connection to them that only comes through time spent together as a family in a peaceful home. You can also look forward to kids who get the sleep they need, allowing them to be healthier, easier to get along with, and more successful at school. And instead of minting young consumers, driven to buy as a way to happiness, your children will learn that what matters most is nothing that money can buy.
And this is the short list. I encourage you, if you recognize the way the screens are interfering with your life and that of your family’s, be brave enough to act on what you see, knowing that the end is closer than you think.