Now that I have joined the parent community. I recently attended a meeting that addressed the impact technology is having on family dynamics and relationships. Craig Knippenberg talked about the positive and negative impacts he has seen as the byproduct of technology. I appreciated that he talked about the positives of technology and its ability to help families share moments while they are apart, the security it provides for families, and its ability to facilitate social interaction. He also talked about the negative effects of technology, how it can become an obsession, the increase of spontaneity (he said that for parents, spontaneity can be the enemy because it robs you of your ability to plan and fully discuss all the options with your children), and the dependency it creates between children and parents. He made the comment that as parents, “we need to give them roots and wings.” Craig suggested using the phrase, “I think you can figure it out”, after receiving a call from your children for help that offers you the chance to provide them with a decision -making experience. Craig also mentioned the lack of truly connecting with each other and the loss of reflection and “down time” for all of us. This made me think of camp. Camp offers down time to be present with your mentors and your peers and it offers the opportunity to find a solution without picking up the phone.
Two of the best concepts I gained from his presentation were comments about connecting with children. He quoted Jimmy Carter who said, “The two most important loves in your life should be God and the person sitting in front of you.” Regardless of your religious beliefs, I think we could all improve in paying attention to those in front of us. Especially when we have the opportunity to connect with children, we should do what we can to give them our full attention.
His second concept was “fly fishing for feelings.” I loved the visual and the idea that we are not bait fishing for conversations but rather fly fishing for conversation. I have to be honest, I am not a fly fisherman, but I did see the movie “A River Runs Through It” and have spent a frustrating day on the shores of a river in Alaska with dozens of other fisherman during a salmon run. Fly fishing takes patience and the ability to lead, and to focus, all while enjoying the process. As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” If we look at having a conversation with our children as “fly fishing for feelings”, we may be more successful at connecting with them. We must realize that we may not get the answer we want on the first cast.
Cast #1 – How was your day?
Response – “Fine.”
Cast #2 – What was the best part of the day?
Response – “I don’t know.”
Cast #3 – What would you do over again if you could?
Response – “Stay in bed longer.”
Cast #4 – What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
Response – “Being done with my history test.”
You may start thinking “Hey, the answers are getting longer.” Keep casting.
Cast #5 – What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned in history right now?
Response-“Did you know that movies didn’t have sound until 1927?” Or “Did you know that the very first American in space only was in orbit 15 minutes?”
Cast #6 – Wow, I didn’t know that. What was the first talking movie? Or, who was the first astronaut?
And you’re off and running.
I just received a wonderful book called “Get to Know your Kid” by Shana Connell Noyes. The book is full of questions to help parents connect with their children. Some of the questions are:
What do you like most about yourself?
What do you like best about our family?
What was the best day of your life? Describe it.
Would you say your life is better than most people’s lives or not as good? Why?
So next time you pick up your children and they want to sit in the back and text their friends, start “fly-fishing for feelings.” Keep casting questions until you get a nibble, and then lead them in. Remember, sometimes it takes some effort and some line to catch a fish to be proud of.
Here’s to the journey of parenting!