Of Gadgets and Guilt


This generation.

Our generation is probably the most unfortunate of all generations. I say this in the context of parenting. We have the wisdom inherited from our previous generations, a massive collection of parenting books and an enviable range of technology that advances every single second.

You may ask, “Aren’t these supposed to make us the most fortunate generation?”

I say, No. I refute this because along with these fortunes we also have issues like lack of time, lack of presence, deadlines even for dying in peace and an ever increasing guilt.

Our attention spans have reduced to such drastic levels that even though we wish to address certain parenting issues, and even though we already know the reasons behind those, and even though we know what areas to work upon, we are unable to do so. The reason being our short attention spans. We struggle to juggle between various facets of life. Unlike our previous generations that had dedicated time for every single task, ours is a generation that is drowning in the ocean of multitasking.

For example: at a given point in time, I am preparing dinner. I have also put the laundry in the washing machine because it is time for Delhi Jal Board water to come. I also have to check when water drips from the tap to switch on the electric motor pump. I also have to keep shuttling between the study-cum-living-cum-dining-cum-socializing room to attend to the girls and their studies. I also have phone calls from both set of parents to attend. My eyes have to keep a check on the wall clock to see if it is too late and the husband hasn’t reached yet. If it is late, I have to call and remind him that he has a family back home waiting for him. And in between all these, I also have my social life confined to the 5 inch screen of my ‘smartphone’ which is where I get my fifteen minutes of fame by posting a random picture or a random status. I have had days when my child has asked me a question while I am on phone and I have answered in affirmation whereas which is not what I was supposed to. I did it because I was answering my mother on the phone while listening to the child. Sigh!

The world is advancing exponentially and since we have to compete to remain relevant in the overall scheme of things, we have agreed to remove all foundations, break all rules and jump into the madness. We have deadlines to meet at work. We have commitments to keep. We have EMIs to pay. We have spouses to satisfy. We have parents to take care of. We have children to be responsible for. We also have gadgets to stay up to date.

What we lack is time. And thus we lack the ability to be present, the ability to be attentive, the ability to respond. We see. We listen. We understand. But our minds are so occupied with finished and unfinished tasks that we fail to address the moment that is here. We listen to our children but we don’t allow our brains to comprehend what they said. And that is the biggest mistake, the biggest sin that our generation is making.

We don’t need books, we don’t need parenting coaches, we don’t need simulative videos to teach us parenting. All we need is attentiveness. So put that phone, iPad or Laptop away when your child wants to speak with you. They hardly need a few minutes for your presence to be felt. If you’re in the midst of something, request for a few minutes that they will graciously allow. But keep everything away and be fully present and responsive in those moments with them. It is their right. The guilt will stay away along with the gadgets.

As addicted as I am to my smartphone, I have finally found a solution to my problem. I switch off Wi-Fi when I am with the girls or am doing some serious work. Everything else can wait, but not the children. They will grow up. They’ll spread their wings. And finally, they’ll fly off our nests. Let them fly off with some beautiful memories of the time spent together. Let them know that we care. Let them know that we are present.

A simple lesson learned the hard way.

Linking it to Blog-A-Rhythm’s Wordy Wednesday #2-Feb 2016 #PhrasePrompt

I have used the phrase ‘Fifteen minutes of fame’.