I bet we all can agree: parenting is hard work. It's a huge responsibility. It's tiring, never-ending and sometimes unrewarding. Yet, as a therapist and mother, I've never met a parent who didn't want to be good at it.
Still, as I ride the bus, I notice how many parents are not talking to their kids, especially their little kids, the two-to-five year olds, kids old enough to talk. The parents I see are almost always staring at or talking on their cell phones.
Their children try valiantly to engage them in conversation. The kids look out the window or at their fellow passengers. They're curious, watchful and stimulated. They want to share their experiences, to connect, to feel attached. Yet, too often, these precious opportunities are lost.
Recently, on Muni I heard, "Mommy, look at that house out there." "Daddy, I'm thirsty." "Mommy, why is that person in a wheelchair?" Kids trying to talk things over with their parents. Yet, in each instance the parents were too absorbed in their phones to respond. Some even seemed annoyed.
The kids' reactions? Either they asked again and again, and were reprimanded, or they withdrew in silence, believing they'd done something wrong. Their little faces registered rejection, resignation, and they tugged at my heartstrings. They were just doing what comes naturally -- trying to share their experiences with a grownup.