Yes I play C.O.D (Call of Duty) with my son. Yes, I shoot hoops with him when I’m tired and want to go to bed, and yes I will run with him at 5:30 in the morning and walk in pain for days afterward. Why? Because he asked me to.
These days, those opportunities are few and far between, but when they do arise I jump at the chance to be a part of his world. Plugging in can mean so many things – especially in this issue – but no matter what we are talking about, the bottom line is that our kids really need constant communication and connection with us, even when their words or actions might say otherwise. I think that, too often, we parents get so caught up in all the “to-do’s” and rules, that we forget to simply play with our kids – kids of all ages. Yes, even those teenagers. Though there are many downsides to technology, it also provides us with some unexpected opportunities to connect with our children. Video games, facebook and cell phones allow us parents an easy “in” to connect with them. We just need to take advantage of them. The times we played, laughed or cried create lasting impressions in our lives. We remember the times we stepped out of our comfort zones, laughed ‘til we cried, or just cried like it would never end. It was those emotion-filled moments that connected us with our best friend or spouse. Do we experience those times with our own kids? Aren’t those shared moments the ties that bind us? Do we ever truly show our vulnerable side, or our “kid” side to them? Do we share our mistakes and shortcomings with them? Why not? I believe communication is one of the essential components we must have with our children today. After talking with many teens, I believe that the generation gap that exists between parents and kids today is largely due to the unrealistic persona we parents try to portray: that we are perfect, that we have never made a mistake, or that we got it all figured out. As parents, we should be strong enough to admit to our kids that yes, we have made mistakes –that no one is perfect, that we don’t always have all the answers. By sharing our own mistakes with our children, we provide them with valuable, teachable moments. If we can do that, I believe we are one step closer to bridging the gap. On many occasions and during presentations, I have often said that as parents, it is our job to be their parent, not their friend. But maybe we actually should try to be both, with boundaries.