First, some housekeeping: anyone looking for a BlogHer '12 roommate? (Yes! My husband got me a registration for my birthday back in December, and I hope I'll see many of you there!)
Now, for the real meat of today's post:
This morning I took I. and N. for a walk downtown to get a bagel for I.'s breakfast. It was an exciting trip not just because N. got to wave to the garbage men, or because I. got to wear his rain boots, but because the bagel store has TV.
Yes, it's true: we have no TV in my house. Not even one on which we watch videos. But before you pass judgment, know that we have a Netflix subscription that gets watched on a laptop (though we use it at a snail's pace), and that there are plenty of opportunities for my five year old to use the internet--supervised, of course.
Today, as my son was selecting and paying for his honey wheat bagel (because I think it's useful for him to make small transactions like this on his own, with me standing a few feet behind him), I found myself watching TV, too. Because up there on the flat screen I saw the video I'd seen a few days ago on YouTube, posted by a FB friend, of the father who'd shot his daughter's laptop (which he bought and just upgraded) in response to her FB post about her allegedly demanding parents. When I watched it the other day, I found myself angry, but not wanting to feed into the (social) media circus already surrounding this family and their choices about conflict resolution. My son caught it out of the corner of his eye, though, and wanted to know what it was all about.
I explained what had happened, and how her father had reacted, and then asked him what he thought. Was the girl right? Was the father right? We talked about what was missing in the exchange, what they didn't use: their words. Communication with each other, instead of through a third party: the faceless audience of the internet.
We worry about our children and cyber bullying. But what are kids learning from their parents about the proper use of media?
Over the years, the internet has made it easier for me to talk to people. The blogging community has been a source of encouragement, support, comfort. Sometimes I feel braver, say things I might not have said in person, even when I'm writing to people I know. But we can't use this media to shout at each other, or worse -- to shout past each other -- if we hope to teach our children love, respect, and tolerance.
I think that parents have the responsibility to build the foundation for communication early on; this doesn't just mean playing with your kid, but really talking with them, trusting them, treating them with respect, and entrusting them with real responsibilities, letting them know that they're an important part of a family partnership. Sometimes that means baking cookies with them, like I did with I. the other day. Sometimes it means asking them to take out the trash. Sometimes it means telling them a difficult truth. Sometimes it means letting them sit on your lap and saying nothing at all, and really listening when they have something to say. And then, I think, it's up to us to show them how the internet is just a tool to extend those same principles of communication.
Where does the internet fail you? What do you think are the limits of virtual communication? Have you seen the video, and what are your thoughts about parenting in the age of Facebook (Twitter, etc.)?
Healthy Trail Mix Cookies
2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
1/4 c. ground flaxseed
1/4 c. wheat germ
6 T. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c. white grape juice concentrate
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 c. dried apricots, chopped
1/3 c. cacao nibs (or nuts if you prefer)
Preheat oven to 325F. Line baking sheet with parchment.
In large bowl, combine oats, flour, flaxseed, wheat germ, and salt. Add the melted butter and mix well. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combined egg and grape juice concentrate. Pour over the oat mixture and stir well. Fold in fruit and cacao nibs.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.
Bake 13-15 minutes, until lightly browned but still soft in the center; do not overbake. Let stand on baking sheets a few minutes to firm up, then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
Store cookies at room temperature, tightly covered, for up to 5 days, or freeze for 1 month.