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Dear Reader: Role Modeling Rules!

Publisher's Note for ParentMap's October 2019 Issue

Alayne Sulkin

Published on: September 26, 2019

role model mom graduating college with daughter watching

We don’t need a long list of experts lined up to tell us that the “significant shifts in screen media consumption over the last 10 years have negatively impacted our children.” I am resolutely allied with Emily Cherkin, author of Know the Real Dangers of Kids’ Screen Use. She believes that excessive screen time is public health issue No. 2, second only to the impacts of climate change. And like the leading health risks of yesteryear — not wearing seat belts, cigarette smoking — we don’t really need more research to conclusively determine that too much screen time results in a myriad of negative impacts on our health and well-being.

It’s a concerning moment in human history when a term, “continuous partial engagement,” has been coined to explain how we, as parents, often behave. This phrase refers to an all-too common state of being physically present with our family and friends but emotionally detached from them due to our parallel digital media use and consumption. Go to any playground and you’ll easily spot examples of continuous partial engagement, such as parents absent-mindedly pushing their child on a swing while absorbed in their smartphones.

We can’t afford to be emotionally disengaged and distracted from our kids — their childhood goes by way faster than we think! 

We can’t afford to be emotionally disengaged and distracted from our kids — their childhood goes by way faster than we think! When it comes to any bad habit our kids may be developing that we share, from foul language to rude behavior, parental role modeling rules. Our present parenting and committed demonstration of self-discipline with respect to our own use of digital media and devices is at the foundation for change.

Speaking of role modeling and change, this month’s It Starts With You(th) column invites parents and their kids to attend “We the Future,” a dynamic new exhibition at the Gates Foundation Discovery Center featuring the inspiring stories of 10 young leaders who are working to catalyze a new era of human and environmental rights through their respective social change movements.

We’ve all experienced an “amygdala hijack” at some point, with the emotional part of our brain overreacting to a stressor. Seven Parenting Tips for Managing Meltdowns in Easily Distressed Children emphasizes how essential it is for us, as parents, to develop the skills to calm ourselves in order to help our kids learn to calm themselves. Again, role modeling rules the day! So, turn that smartphone off, grab your little pumpkins and get out of the house together — Fall’s a Ball shares dozens of ways to be dazed by the maze (a corn maze, that is!) of fall harvest festivities, fun runs and Halloween happenings.

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