It’s been 12 months since my eldest got his first phone. And over this past year one of the clear benefits has been I am now more connected with him than ever before.
We, and I include myself in this, can be wary, scared or anxious over our children’s use of phones and social media and general internet safety. That is all true and all valid. However it would be unfair to ignore potential advantages. And there’s some responsibility on us as parents to make the most use of this and keep connected with our children.
When I was a kid growing up my mum could say, “Have a good day at school. I love you” once and then they’ll see me at the end of the day. Now – if I want – I can also say to my son “Have a good day at school. I love you” and then I can text him later or send something amusing or interesting or something motivational that I’ve seen; all of which takes seconds. And it’s a very good way to not only keep that connection with your child, but to deepen it.
NOTE: Let’s broaden this further: grandparents and other relatives can be more connected too. The opportunity for grandparents to be part of their grandchildren’s lives, especially if they aren’t living nearby, is vast. We all have the chance of a positive, deeper connection.
I have three children. If you also have more than one child, it can be challenging to get their single attention or have that time with them separate from their siblings. By texting him or sharing something or send him a thought, I’m able to have that private moment. We can still share our day, still communicate but it’s in this walled off space away from all the noise of homework, his siblings or other distractions.
Now, often I may not get a reply or that I’ll get more than a single word or letter response or reaction, but that’s ok. I’m not doing it necessarily to get lots of engagement back from him. I’m using it to connect with him and share with him and reaffirm that I’m thinking of him and appreciating what he’s doing.
It seems such a shame not to make the most of our phones and our communication to do exactly that: to affirm our connection with our children. I’ve mentioned before about telling your kids that you love them and squeezing them a little bit harder, making them feel your love that bit more. By connecting with them, by sending them a funny comment or just a heart or a hug by phone or by text is another form of doing just that. I believe it’s a fantastic way to have more meaningful relationships with our children. One that they’ll remember and will cherish too, even if they don’t always show it.
So I leave you with this: make the use of your phone when you can. You know you have your child’s attention because we know how much they use their phone or tablet. They may not always reply to you, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any value or it’s not felt by them. Though we are scared of technology at times, or fearful of the new apps and social media, we can, whilst mindful of that, see the phone as an opportunity for us to enrich our relationships with our children. 📲👍🏼
Ben Jackson coaches for personal development, leadership and transition for career parents. Juggling work, family and life in the Chilterns, he’s currently studying consecutively for a diploma in counselling and a diploma in teaching.