Monday, January 21, 2019
Family LifeParenting

Spending Time with Your Kids

I know I’m not the best parent. I make plenty of mistakes. I yell. I nag. I drive my kid nuts, but one thing I do *right* is spend time with my kid. One thing we’ve been trying to make Robert realize is how lucky he is to have a stable home with two parents that care about him. As an emo teenager, his life *sucks* and is *so rough*, so it can be hard to think past his own wants, needs, desires, let downs, and mishaps to realize plenty of kids have far less than he has. Many of them live in unstable homes or have parents who have no choice but to work to support them outside the home, by no fault of their own, causing them to spend less time with their kids.

It can be hard to handle work, school, kids, an active life. I get it, but one thing I find absolutely unforgivable is spending time with your kids – but doing something else while you do. Today, kids want to be on all their gadgets, all the time. They learn this because of us, their parents. Sure, I love my iPhone. It really helps me connect when I have an emergency issue and need help, or if I just need to talk to family or friends. I love my iPod Touch. The music makes long bus rides and car trips bearable. Still, there is a time and a place. When I’m out to specifically spend time with my son, it is not one of them.

I see parents texting, making phone calls, etc. while barely paying a lick of attention to their kids. Why spend time with them if you’re going to be spending time with your phone, too? I get phone calls happen. Texting happens. Sometimes you have to take a call or answer a text, about work or a family issue, but that doesn’t mean you have to live on your phone. When I take the kids to laser tag, I watch them play. When I take them to the arcade, I watch them play. When we go to the water park, I splash around with them. When we watch TV and/or a movie I sit there and watch it. I don’t pick up my damn phone and text everybody under the sun. I don’t borrow the iPad or laptop, so I can check my Facebook. I *actually* spend time with them. It’s a novel idea, but I see this all the time. Parents are so wrapped up in *their* lives, they forget about the fact that they need to be wrapped up in their child’s lives.

Now trust me, I’ve watched some pretty crappy shows in my day. I know all the songs from Barney, The Wonder Pets and Blues Clues. I’ve suffered through the annoying iCarly and have had the *tweeny-pop* sounds of the Disney Channel forever intwined in my head. I’ve heard it all from raising Robert, and even more whenever my nephew visits. I don’t really care for the shows, but I know they like them, so I am willing to like them, for them. I see how they react when I laugh with them at the parts they think are funny. They like we share that. They request we watch more of these shows together and they know I care enough about them to want to watch these shows, because I love them.

Being a parent does not have to be rocket science. Sometimes we all need to slow down and smell the roses. When we do, we need to do it with them…and set our phone to vibrate, so we can enjoy our time together, in peace. Facebook…Twitter…texting…it will all be there tomorrow, but will our kids? Maybe for a few more years, so celebrate your time together while you have them.

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1 Comment

  1. My personal experience has been that we as PWDs may value this more as well because we have so many scenarios where that kind of bonding time is taken away from us (health regimens, surgery, even NICU time which definitely stopped my mom from bonding with me I feel). I also am a good people-watcher, which may partly be a writer thing but I think it's a disability thing, too. I learned to get enjoyment out of watching other people do things and rooting for them. It wasn't like "OMG I'll never do this!" but for me personally with the coordination of a four-year-old in some ways, certain games are never going to be fun for me to play because they turn into what I call "bad OT." But they're still fun games. So I spent a lot of time with people I was comfortable with hanging out with playing games with them by watching what they'd do and rooting for their success. I think that actually makes me a good person to be around kids, although because of the lack of bond between myself and my mom or other immediate family members I'm not sure I could model good parenting across the board. This is something I actually think about a fair bit. I feel pretty unique for my ability to root for other people in a situation where I'm not doing much. I think it's a lost skill in a lot of ways.

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Dominick
Dominick is a director/filmmaker, activist, writer, advocate, FTM transman from the Midwest who lives in New York. Follow his film career and join his weekly Twitter chat on film and disability by following #FilmDis. He received his BFA in Film Production in 2014.