Distracted Parenting

Katherine - posted on 03/02/2011 ( 41 moms have responded )

65,420

232

4956

cafemom

Are you with your kids right now? Then you're practicing some distracted parenting. Whether it's the computer, the iPhone, the TV, or any other tech gadget that we're addicted to, using while parenting has come under fire more than once. Most recently, by a dad who was admonished by his 4-year-old who was fully aware that she could get away with anything during one of his smartphone distractions. The author of the piece asks if these little "stepping outs" could add up to a big problem, not unlike when dad goes out for cigarettes and never comes back.

While my initial reaction to his story was a sinking feeling in my stomach, knowing my kids have had to ask for my attention more than once when I was deep into an article or IM session, upon reflection, I realized, "So what?"

As the author points out, parents found ways to shake themselves out of the grind of child-rearing long before the advent of blogs and text messages. Parents used to just tell kids to go outside and play. Today's helicopter variety, however, makes you feel bad for not staring into your child's eyes 24/7, whether encouraging a new skill or just to make them feel how much you love them.

But kids need space. Even my almost 2-year-old doesn't need me watching him like a hawk as he eats lunch. If I can check my email while he's chatting to himself about pasta, we're both pretty happy. Additionally, as comedian Louis C.K. once pointed out, being able to get some work in while your child is running happily on the playground may be the only reason the two of you can even be there right at that moment. I know my smartphone allowed me to spend more time with my newborn -- as I returned emails while he was nursing -- because I had to get back to work or lose my income.

I do advocate Internet-free Sundays, and unplugging when you're attending a child's recital or birthday party is crucial. But checking email, looking at headlines when your little one is absorbed in play, or just taking five minutes for yourself -- that's not going to hurt your kids. And it might just help your mood.

Do you practice distracted parenting?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Oh yes, my 2yo is on my lap and my 5yo is watching a movie. :|

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Shauna - posted on 03/04/2011

74

18

7

I don't believe that you should crowd your children and "helicoptor" around them. This has created entire generations of children who have no ability to entertain themselves and have trouble being independent (20-somethings living at home after college anyone?)

When I was a child, I would spend hours and hours with my siblings or friend in the neighborhood just playing and playing while my parents did whatever they did. I was lucky. They would often call on me whenever they wanted me to do chores or work around the house, so being able to play away from them was a mark of being able to have FUN, not slave away doing housework.

It bothers me when parents are all happy-dappy-Disnified zombies and act like they have nothing going left in their brains except for their parenting abilities.

We all need a break. We all need a chance to have our time with one another, and sometimes children need to learn to wait when we are busy (just like my daughter must wait for me to read her a story until after I do the dishes or finish using the bathroom). These are borders, important divisions between privacy and respect for others.

Obviously there is a line to be drawn when it comes to abuse or neglect, but it is a bit silly to be expected to drop everything at the drop of your child's request at any point.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/02/2011

18,920

9

3002

EEk! *blush* I am totally guilty of this right now. My almost 11 month old is following a thomas the train battery operated thing around the house right now so I can catch up on my gossip! Hell, I am a stay at home mome, to an 11 month old and an almost 5 year old (who is at school) but this unfortunately is my main communication to other adults. My husband works 1 1/2hours away from here (3 hour rountrip comute daily) and I recently moved to the area....I really haven't met anyone yet. Excuses excuses...but hell if I am gonna give up CoM!

Laurie - posted on 03/05/2011

1

42

0

We're all about multi tasking these days. aren't we? I think it's wrong when you actually 'act like' you're listening to them or watching them when your focus is really somewhere else, but if your child is playing, or having lunch, and your doing something else and yet still aware of what they're doing - nothing wrong with that -

Rachel - posted on 03/04/2011

1

13

0

If I didn't hide in one of my screens every once in a while then I wouldn't have much adult stimuli...

Cynthia - posted on 03/04/2011

1

1

0

This is so true! I see it everywhere. I really wish parents would have dinner with no phones at the table or whenever the family is together! It is a scary thing

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

41 Comments

View replies by

Krissy - posted on 03/08/2011

205

0

14

I'm on the flip side... I think giving a child your full attention all the time isn't healthy. Now that's age appropriately, of course.

Children are born and quickly develop first a concept of only self... that's the way it should be... but it shouldn't be that way permanently. They have to be taught that other people's wants/needs/etc matter too.

My kids aren't itty bitty, now, and I'm not talking about when they were... mine are 9,6, and 3. They aren't babies or toddlers anymore. They are big kids and preschoolers.

I don't have a problem letting them know I'm busy and doing other things. Do they come running if one of them gets hurt?? yes... cuz they know if it's important, I am there in a heartbeat... but I'm not going to put up with the constant, "Mooommy," whining just because you want my attention or are bored.

I believe kids that are raised that way, yes... they learn very quickly they are the light of their parents eyes, that they are precious and valuable... all things I want my kids to believe... but not to the extent that they think they are all that matters... because that's a dangerous way of thinking when they become teens.

Desiree - posted on 03/07/2011

910

17

12

Just spent the last hour posting on this site while dealing and listening to my daugther struggle through her Afrikaans home work. Needed you guys to distract me from strangling her for poor pronouncation.. Don't worry didn't hurt her but sure cringed..Homework done, now its bed time.

Rhdonda - posted on 03/07/2011

1

0

0

Well, I'm on the Laptop and my kids are playing on the ipad, which they completely know how to use at 2 and 3! But I agree, we never spent 24 hours a day with our mom, we played outside, with other kids, learned to entertain ourselves! Thank Goodness!! My mom needed her time too! Shed be crazy trying to entertain us all day and still do all the other tasks she needed to do to keep our family happy! I am a work-from home mom, and I can stop work for 5 minutes and sing a song along with them or they can sit beside me and color, or I can put work aside to engage them or spend time with them at any time as opposed to being gone over 8 hours a day. I'm grateful to be working from home!

I just may add this discussion to my blog. I'd love to blog with other moms, mine is www.triplethreatmom.com

Tara - posted on 03/07/2011

2,567

14

107

There is distracted parenting and there is time needed to accomplish things.
There are things I have to do on the computer each day, I must check in on my teens homeschooling endeavours through his VLC site, I check my email for information from my lawyer, as well I chat with my lawyer occasionally through gmail, there are times when I must either act like I am listening to them or say
"You have had a snack, we had our story/play time etc. but right now I am needed on the computer, I'm sure you can find something to do for the next 10 minutes." and if it's the baby and I can't schedule things for nap time, I will let him sit with me, but often my oldest daughter will take him and read him a story or play with him until I am done.
But this is not like coming on CoM and posting and checking stuff.
Right now, Riley is asleep and the girls are at their dad's and I should be painting a HUGE banner for my girls figure skating carnival tomorrow night, but hell I need some me time!!!

Katherine - posted on 03/07/2011

65,420

232

4956

I think we ALL need a few minutes to ourselves! If our kids are fine and playing or watching TV what's the big deal?

Desiree - posted on 03/07/2011

910

17

12

Please I don't mind distracted parenting as long as it doesn't put the child at risk. I do it all the time, when I am cooking, or cleaning or when I am desperate to just get some time out. There is nothing wrong with it and perfectly normal. How else do I get the homework done when supper has to be on the table?

Erin - posted on 03/05/2011

6,569

25

232

When my daughter was a baby, I only logged when my daughter was sleeping. Now that she's 2, I can easily fit in 20mins here and there throughout the day. Right now she is reading a book in the next room. It is early here, so when she comes asking for breakfast I will shut down and go deal with the morning chores.

[deleted account]

Gabby doesn't like to play with me a lot.We have our playtime routine, she usually calls it quits when she had enough. So i usually busy myself cleaning and studying, rarely do i use the computer while she is awake.

April - posted on 03/05/2011

3,420

16

263

Am I the only one that doesn't have an independent child? As I type on COM, he is currently sitting on my shoulders, sucking his thumb and holding my hair. He also refuses to play with his toys unless I play with him. It is rare for him to go off and play with a toy by himself. I don't get it. I think he needs a sibling??

Sal - posted on 03/04/2011

1,816

16

33

i'd rather think i'm a distracted COMer....or phone user or book reader, chef or wife, never parent though (yeah right!!)

Nikkole - posted on 03/04/2011

1,505

31

49

Im guilty also but i don't let my kids play together by thereselves too much because my daughter is only 8months and my son is 3 and for SOME reason he thinks he can ride her like a pony??? LOL but they do play very well together and alone my son has a very good imagination and loves to play with his power ranger action figures (he says they ARE NOT DOLLS lol) and my daughter has a little garden play house thing she loves to play in so when they are playing nicely then of course i take 10-20min to myself to check on my social life on COM or Facebook lol i don't get much adult interaction anymore! I think it is a good thing for kids to learn to entertain themselves just in case mommy and daddy are busy.

Nadia - posted on 03/04/2011

152

19

11

so i'm sooo guilty. but no one is a "perfect" parent... i stressed way to much about being the perfect mommy with my first and now, 5yrslater with my second, i don't beat myself up over the silly little things. (fyi my 6 monthold is playing happily next to me on the floor while i write this!)

Danielle - posted on 03/04/2011

142

24

2

Shoot, more often then not He's ignoring ME lol. Right now I'm waiting on the oven to heat up, Tripper's in his room, and I'm obviously posting on COM...when I went to check on him, he looked at me and went back to playing with his toys. If/when he wants something and I'm busy-and if your cleaning/cooking or ANYTHING then your busy-I will put it down and tend to/play with him. If he needs me at a bad time (transferring the hot pot to the sink to pour out liquids) then he gets my attention ASAP-but I ALWAYS put down the phone or stop typing. If for some reason I can't give him the attention immediatley while I'm on the comp (ex: taking a test (I'm a college student)) then his dad is here (I only do this kind of thing at night when his dad IS here). Also, I have 3 wks until our daughter arrives, so...

Danielle - posted on 03/04/2011

142

24

2

Shoot, more often then not He's ignoring ME lol. Right now I'm waiting on the oven to heat up, Tripper's in his room, and I'm obviously posting on COM...when I went to check on him, he looked at me and went back to playing with his toys. If/when he wants something and I'm busy-and if your cleaning/cooking or ANYTHING then your busy-I will put it down and tend to/play with him. If he needs me at a bad time (transferring the hot pot to the sink to pour out liquids) then he gets my attention ASAP-but I ALWAYS put down the phone or stop typing. If for some reason I can't give him the attention immediatley while I'm on the comp (ex: taking a test (I'm a college student)) then his dad is here (I only do this kind of thing at night when his dad IS here). Also, I have 3 wks until our daughter arrives, so...

Catlin - posted on 03/04/2011

3

35

0

Fully guilty--but as a single parent--my being on the computer was the only way my daughter learned that she can't have mom's attention all the time. I'm constantly "paying attention" to her, I know where she is and I know that what she has access to is safe. But she has her time and I have mine.

Amanda - posted on 03/04/2011

12

0

1

yesi do, My son is a very independant little boy and gets flustered if he's being fussed over, i don't think it's such a bad thing to use a computer or t.v, or whatever, i mean, as long as you're not completely ignoring your child in the process

Amanda - posted on 03/04/2011

12

0

1

yesi do, My son is a very independant little boy and gets flustered if he's being fussed over, i don't think it's such a bad thing to use a computer or t.v, or whatever, i mean, as long as you're not completely ignoring your child in the process

Cammille - posted on 03/04/2011

3

38

0

Guilty... FB and a nursing baby works well... But my 3 and 4 yr old take more advantage of me while I nurse then while I am on the computer....

[deleted account]

I'm sitting here reading on CoM and my son is sitting behind me playing with his Lincoln Logs. From the time he was able to crawl to where he wanted to be, he's always been VERY independent. As an only child who hasn't ever gone to daycare, he's had me at his disposal 24/7 since the day he was born (he's 3). If I'm on the computer and he needs me, I've taught him how to come to me and tell me what he needs. I ALWAYS drop whatever I'm doing (computer, cooking, dishes, laundry, etc) to attend to his needs and half of the time he's there helping me anyhow. Now, for some reason, when I'm on the phone? He turns into a little monster and nine out of ten of my conversations end up with me telling the other person that I have to call them back because he gets so loud and misbehaves so badly that I can't hear myself think, much less the person on the other end of the phone talk. That's a battle I'm struggling with but in the grand scheme of things, my son gets my full attention any time he wants or needs it and we spend tons of time together every day so I don't feel guilty one bit if I take little breaks throughout the day on the computer. A lot of the time he's here on my lap because he likes to watch when I play the few FB games I play. Zuma Blitz is his favorite. He likes to watch Mommy play the "silly frog game" lol

Tara - posted on 03/03/2011

2,567

14

107

Exactly Toni, and this idea that parents should be tuned in all the time to their child is ridiculous, kids need to have space, freedom to think for themselves, freedom to be independent. And if we hover over them and watch and direct everything they do, they will have a hard time learning how to do for themselves.
I play with my kids, I read to them, we sing songs and play music together, we do schoolwork together and alone, we cook together and alone.
If I spent every second of my day with my kids, doing stuff with them all the time, I would be armpit deep in laundry, dishes, unmarked schoolwork, behind on business paperwork, would never get my seeds planted on time for the spring plantings etc. etc.
I multi task a lot as a sahm to 5 kids, but I use that skill to slide in some "me" time too. And if my "me" time is coming on com for a few minutes in between doing other things, well that's my time.
:)Once summer is here, I'll be a ghost on DM, too much to do in the warm weather!

[deleted account]

I never go on the the computer when my son is awake, he is far to interested in pressing the buttons when the laptop is on (daddy does sometimes go on the laptop while the little one is awake). I find he still sleeps a lot so I get enough time on the computer when he is asleep at the moment, when he gets older who knows I may find myself on it while he plays.

I do read a book or a magazine when he is playing happily alone, anyone who says they give their child their 100% attention all day is lying, we divide our attention all the time, e.g. when we cook breakfast, lunch and dinner we divide our attention and when we put the laundry on we divide our attention etc.

Meghan - posted on 03/02/2011

3,169

33

202

Totally guilty. But I do find that right after daycare, my son wants his own time to himself. He is fine to play with toys (without having to share,) eat a snack (without having a piece taken,) and watch a show (that HE wants to watch.) But after about 45 mins he wants my full attention. I do most of my homework, computer usage and phone time between classes-while he is in daycare still and when he is home, I try to wait until after he is in bed, or when he is fully engaged in something. Tonite he actually told me to turn my phone off though. Made me feel like a really neglectful mom lol.

Stifler's - posted on 03/02/2011

15,141

154

597

Yeah I pretty much do. I agree with the blog do we need to watch the kids with our full attention ALL day? My parents told us to get outside and play and they weren't out there supervising the game of hide and seek or tea parties. Often when Logan is awake I am not paying 100% attention to him. I am not sitting at the computer going "go away Logan... look after your 13 month old self". I will get him breakfast and drink my coffee and eat my toast while reading CoM and watching him out the corner of my eye, I will get off when he is finished and starts to throw food out and we will unload the dishwasher, play with blocks for a bit and then I'll leave him to the blocks at my feet and call someone on the phone or whatever or go on the net. If he wants something or a cuddle or brings a book over I'll get off and get it/read it or if I smell a poo I will change it and just leave the computer on.

[deleted account]

I don't get on the computer unless I am doing something school related or setting up one of the kids with an online lesson. (not when my kids are awake or around)

I have nothing to hide but I do enjoy my time with my kids, and I have just WAY to much to do all day to be on here all the time. Have I done it? Yeah. I will admit I have on the rare occasion while on the phone with a friend doing the same thing. It never lasts to long though and we both have stuff to do so it is still extremely rare.

Lady Heather - posted on 03/02/2011

2,448

17

91

Yup, she's playing right now and I'm having tea. A couple of 10 minute tea breaks a day is not a big deal methinks. I'm sure that before technology like this parents did other things. Heck, imagine how much time once had to be spent just preparing food, cleaning up and washing clothes. Back in the day that would have been about all you had time for. I'm sure little ones were left to their own devices quite a bit. And if Mad Men is anything to go by, in the early 60s the mums just sat around smoking and drinking wine while the kids ran wild. rofl.

Tara - posted on 03/02/2011

2,567

14

107

guilty, but so is tending to the garden while my kid plays in his sandbox, or cleaning the oven while they do play doh. I am distracted by many things, but they also have my attention when they need it.
:)

Becky - posted on 03/02/2011

2,892

44

92

Guilty here too. My boys are currently playing together (with no crying for a change!) on the floor 4 feet away from me. I agree, you can't spend every minute of the day 100% focussed on them, you need your breaks. Not to mention, I'm probably more distracted when I'm trying to get supper on the table than I am while I'm on the internet. My kids are in the same room and I respond to them immediately if they need me, I chat with them, and I'll put the computer down and cuddle if one of them needs it. So distracted, yes, ignoring their needs, not at all!

Celeste - posted on 03/02/2011

3,050

30

870

Totally agree with Krista's post! That pretty much sums it up for me.

I will say that my husband IGNORES our kids. It drives me batty. He will be on the computer or his Iphone the time he gets home from work to the boys' bedtime, until WE go to bed. On the weekends, he's on it pretty much the entire time. THAT is too much (and I've talked to him about it til I've been blue in the face)

Jocelyn - posted on 03/02/2011

5,165

42

274

Yup, my 4 yr old and 16 month old are playing wii sports while I'm waiting for the the stove to heat up so I can make pancakes :P

Sharon - posted on 03/02/2011

11,585

12

1314

Hell yeah I'm guilty. Anyone who walks, talks and chews gum at the same time as they are a parent is guilty.

Its called BALANCE. I no longer take them to the bathroom when i take a crap either. Trust me, they know that when you're in the bathroom, they can get away with murder.

Bonnie - posted on 03/02/2011

4,813

22

257

I am guilty as well. I definitely don't ignore my children though. I hear them playing. If they want something and I am in the middle of something, they let me know. I never tell them they will have to wait until i'm done with catching up on COM or anything like that.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/02/2011

18,920

9

3002

But no, I do not ignore my children...at least I don't think I do.

Krista - posted on 03/02/2011

12,562

16

842

I agree with this. Kids need a balance between being able to play independently and having their parents' attention. If my son is contentedly playing with his toy train over by the couch, and I'm checking my emails or COM, then what's the harm? If he wants my attention, he's certainly not shy about asking for it, and I happily give it.

I think it goes too far if the child is begging for your attention and you're gazing at your iPhone and going, "Uh-huh. That's nice, honey. Why don't you go play?"

But otherwise, if your kid is playing happily by himself, then why not take a moment for yourself to reconnect with another side of your life?

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms