08/13/2015 04:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Plugging Into Your Kids Instead of Technology


This painting was done by Laurie Hollman

The home is the place for the heart and connecting to our loved ones but technology seems to be getting in the way.

We've all seen it or done it. Sitting in the car with your kids strapped securely in the back seat on the way to school, maybe watching a video, you're at a red light texting or talking on the phone while you're driving. You give a quick kiss good-bye and wish them a good day. You mean it and love them but admittedly are a bit distracted.

After school you're waving to your kids as they straddle in the door your attention only slightly diverted from the blog you're writing. The kids get something healthy to snack on that you've prepared, they converse among each other briefly, and get on their phones or check in on Facebook.

Finally at dinner, hopefully some homework has been done and you actually face each other at the dinner table, gobble down the carefully planned meal, and one after another says they have to run to finish a project or make a call. If you're lucky they put their dishes in the sink or even in the dishwasher and vanish. Poof! You finish cleaning up and check your voicemail.

Is this really happening on a daily basis? Doesn't it sound like 2015 has been depicted in 1999 before the millennium by some farsighted writer who exaggerated the impact of technology in the future?

Or, is it mostly true? Have the adults in the story lost a grip on their function as parents? Have the kids forgotten their parents sincerely want to know about their day?

Why is technology so seductive that parents and kids are more plugged into their equipment than they are to each other? Surely, I mean hopefully, this feels a bit surreal but there is a real question about whether parents and kids today engage with each other sufficiently to make sure to discuss what they're proud of, what they've discovered, what they are worried about, and how to work together to solve small and large problems in their lives.

Talk isn't cheap. It's essential for human relationships.Who's going to monitor this lack of interchange if it's not us as parents? Do we have to wait for our child to have an anxiety attack, skulk in with a bad report card, confess a teenage pregnancy, or finally realize we have a lonely kid holed up in their room before we remember it's our job to reach out to those kids. Those kids were the the babies we cradled and couldn't keep our eyes off of as they cooed then toddled and said their first words. Who are they now? Surely it hasn't come to a place where we're so detached that we lost pace with what's happening to them. If that hasn't happened yet, it could.

In this millennium where the newspapers are filled with horrific stories around the world and around our nation, I believe we need to pledge to ourselves that conversations with our kids are like oxygen and good nutrition.

Plugging into our kids is like turning on the lights to keep pace with what is on their minds. They need to know we care about their ideas, their opinions, their desires and imaginings as well as their every day goings-on that make them who they are.

Hillel said it a long time ago, "If not now, when?"

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. specializes in infant-parent, child, adolescent and adult psychotherapy. Her new book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior, will be released Oct. 13, 2015. Pre-orders can be made from Amazon at a discount. Follow Laurie on twitter @lauriehollmanph.