Is Parental Involvement for Your Child a Good Idea?
These days, we hear much talk about the guilt some parents feel for taking “leave” from their children for what seems like weeks at a time. And there is no denying that leaving a child or child with someone else is not the same as leaving home. The parent isn’t responsible for the child’s emotional well-being and the child isn’t safe and secure.
But we’re in the age of overparenting, and you don’t really leave home if you haven’t completely imprinted your child on the outside world. Are we living up to the meaning of our childhood stories of dropping the kid off at daycare or letting them walk on their own to a park without any adult checking in with them? Is there a need to retain permanent contact by posting, texting, or contacting them before and after the day of their scheduled visitation? Or just one day a week as a precaution? Is the child indeed safe and secure?
Since my kids didn’t live with me for long, I really wasn’t “babysitting” them. However, I did support the process, and I tried to discuss my involvement in their day with them during their visits, and tell them the options that would help them gain the most independence.
But some of them are still feeling pressure to be on an “always connected” person, or to expect constant visits from their parent. This kind of push is reflected by constant reports that child websites are being “hacked” to receive requests from parents wanting to find their kids. And when parents aren’t picking up the phone, asking for approval for pictures on Facebook, a growing number of children are encountering safety concerns.
A recent study by the Aspen Institute and YouGov revealed that 45% of parents believe it’s important to have rules and expectations for interactions between kids and parents online. But despite this, kids and parents are left confused when it comes to sharing personal information with each other. Forty percent of kids polled said they wouldn’t discuss with their parents about things they wish they didn’t post online, and the same number of parents said they wouldn’t go asking for permission.
The study indicates that we as parents don’t need more rules to help us in this regard. Research shows that children are more interested in ethics, our beliefs, and values than in how others view them or the information we post. And our core values are the main factors why kids trust us.
Can we overcome our individual parenting approaches and try to work as a family when it comes to digital interaction?
“Our children’s connection to us will come more through the things we do together than through the ‘stuff’ we say,” says Dean Brad Hawkins, a Stanford psychology professor and author of “The Perplexing of Parenting.” It’s about “connecting based on the value and quality of the connections we have to each other.” And looking at this differently from the dual concept of limit setting and permission demands may help, too.