Parenting + On the Cell = How Bad?
Filed under: Opinions
How often do you see moms talking on the phone while pushing a stroller? Everywhere?
"Is it bad?" asked a friend. "I mean, what if the baby's asleep?"
To find out, I called my Mommy Advisor Rosanne director of Calm and Sense Therapy, a counseling service, for her advice.
"Assuming you're being safe and the child is sleeping? Everyone has to do that once in a while ... " starts Tobey.
Well, okay but ... What about something else often witnessed at the playground: Pushing the child on a swing while chatting on the phone?
This was egging Tobey on a bit because I thought I knew exactly what she'd say. I was wrong ...
"Listen, I think it's terrible," Tobey says. "I mean, your child is swinging, they're having fun and saying 'higher Mommy, higher!' and you're on the phone? Why?"
"Swinging is one of those things that's a really pure pleasure for your child, it's an opportunity for you to enjoy their joy, and by talking on the phone, you're blowing it. Part of their enjoyment is knowing you're witnessing them having fun and having you be part of that moment."
So, is it "really bad"? Well, says Tobey, "it depends on your definition of a 10 on the 'bad' scale; this could be a danger issue but more likely, it's a quality of life and quality of relationship issue."
It's important to look at the whole picture, Tobey stresses. Point being: "Do you occasionally take a call and keep it brief so you can focus on your kids? Sure, every mother has to do that occasionally. But if a mother is always on the phone? That's a problem. The real question is: Does she weigh out how important a call is before taking it -- or does she accept every call?"
Accepting every call, Tobey says, is sending a strong message: "The message to the child is that they come last, after every phone call."
Bottom line? "They don't swing with you forever," says Tobey, "That time will be gone soon enough. Why not enjoy it while you can?"
Sabrina Weill is a former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine and the author of three books about teenagers.
Related: Kids Watching Grownup Cartoons - How Bad?
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.