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Are we giving our children the focus they need and deserve? Not only could you be lonely, but the Children and your partner are missing out on the importance of family time and developing their relationships with us. We are modelling terrible habits which will be hard to break as Children get older. We only have ourselves to blame.
With the advances of technology there is no escape and it’s all too easy to have a device literally living next to us every second of the day, only to switch it off at 11.00pm when we go to sleep and often it’s the first thing we look at in the morning (before our partner – you know it’s true!) We have a lot to thank modern technology for, but there are huge limitations, on our lives. As the technology gets better and smaller…let’s think about what’s important first!
Hands up who remembers sitting in front of the television without a screen in hand? It’s become so much a part of our being we have forgotten life before technology. It was bad enough when we just had computers and laptops but invariably we would put them away at the end of the day or leave them at work – now, we are permanently connected. It is hard to put our all into anything because of that darned phone pinging and buzzing at regular intervals and distracting concentration! I know I do it. Do you remember sitting through a TV programme all the way through or enjoy dinner at home (or in a restaurant) with the family without referring to your phone at some point. Hopefully this article will remind you to stop and take stock of what you’ve got right in front of you (and it’s not a screen displaying your emails or level 323 of Candy Crush!). Put your hands up, and wrap them around someone your love instead!
Parenthood and Happiness
Being attentive and engaging with your partner or playing lego, dolls, pretend games and ball with the Children can actually be quite a drag sometimes. Have you read the research that Parenthood doesn't necessarily bring happiness? It's not about that. Parenthood is a powerful source of meaning and purpose. According to Hugh McKay (2013), “...because it calls for a high degree of self-sacrifice, it is often associated with low levels of ‘happiness’ in the popular meaning of that term”. Contemporary research shows however what ancient wisdom tried, that we gain far more through expressing our fundamental humanity through giving and not taking and contributing to others. That’s certainly a great description of Parenthood if ever there was one!
So what do we do? Read on....
Discipline yourself – not just the kids!
It’s time to be disciplined. How many times have your child or children asked you a question not just once but 3 or 4 times and you haven’t answered because you’ve been trying to finish off an email or play Words With Friends because you feel the need to do it there and then? I know I have been guilty of saying “Hold on!” Or “Let me just finish this” or even…horror… “I’m busy!” I’ve then been filled with that awful guilt that ensues only to give the children “some” attention before the lousy phone pings at me again.
Imagine how that feels to a young child? Well, a child of any age – and even your partner? It is a form of rejection. Think what goes through your child’s mind.
“Mummy’s too busy.”
“Daddy is working.”
“Mummy can’t help.”
“Daddy’s work is more important than me.”
This lack of emotional attentiveness causes great danger of our children feeling neglected when they need us. Eventually they will stop asking us to help because they know what the answer is… Not to mention what we are doing to our necks, backs and mental state of mind!
No I’m not addicted!
Before you chastise yourself and with silent conviction promise to change your wicked ways, bear in mind that the thing between you switching off is that pesky neurotransmitter, dopamine!
Krista Peck in “The Role of Dopamine in Internet Craving.” says, “Have you ever noticed the rush you get from checking your email, googling a subject of interest, browsing your Twitter feed, receiving a text from your love interest, peeking at what your friends are up to on Facebook, or other similar internet-fuelled activities? Did you notice that the anticipation of receiving the information you had sought out was often more gratifying than receipt of the information itself.” A biologically-based need for seeking, drives these Internet activities that you come to crave. The culprit that propels your seeking behaviour is a simple organic chemical, or neurotransmitter, called dopamine.
David Rainoshek, in “Facebook is Altering Your Mind” says, “Surfing the interwebs too much can make you into a dopamine junkie. Hundreds or thousands of little dopamine hits an hour, with your mind wandering – hunting - all over cyberspace like a monkey desperate for more handouts of candy at an Indian Bazaar.” So how to retrain your brain? Literally rewire the neural pathways. We will delve further into the wonderful world of neuroplasticity in future blogs! In the meantime...
I totally understand we all need to work and sometimes things are urgent. We are trying to make a living. Overall, what’s more important than your family and your children? So, with the exception of the hours of 9 to 5pm or if you aren’t working, once you collect your Children, switch off your screens. At least for 2 or 3 hours, give your loved ones, your undivided attention. Your emails will wait, your opponent will wait for you to take your turn, the racing penguin won’t freeze - nothing is so urgent it has to be tended to that second (unless it’s life or death or bidding on a house, ok even maybe something cool on Ebay).
Here’s what you should be doing instead of checking your phone:
In fact, if you read Steve Henn’s When Parents Are The Ones Too Distracted By Devices , he refers to Catherine Steiner-Adair, Clinical Psychologist’s book “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family relationships in the Digital Age” where she interviewed 1,000 children aged 4 to 18 and found with alarming commonality these children felt upset, frustrated and angry that they could not get their parents’ attention due to their constant use of tablets and other technology. Think to yourself – would your child complain of this? The chances are they would.
There needs to be clear boundaries between work and play. You are the only person who can set these boundaries. It’s time to get back to basics and enjoy what matters most.
Here are some suggestions for you to try:
Here's Part One and Part Two of this current series featuring the most common obstacles in Relationship Therapy.
Joanne Wilson is a professional Counsellor and Psychotherapist with an interest in relationships and pre-marriage therapy. She has produced her own books, Pearls of Wisdom from the Thriving Thirties, The Relationship Rejuenator EBook and presented a series of relationship seminars on the Sunshine Coast.
For more information, contact Joanne Wilson on 0409 909 933 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilized. Approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy and Emotionally Focused Therapy may be incorporated.
Relationship Specialist for individuals and Couples online around the world and servicing areas for face to face sessions including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.
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