I see the looks from people in their cars judging me when my kids and I drive by in our minivan. The TV in the back is on and my kids are immersed in their kid-friendly tablets. One has the Kindle for kids and the other, who is older, uses my husband’s older version iPad. They have headphones on that are synced with the TV. So I get it. From the outside, it looks like I’m a terrible parent that is stuffing screens in front of my children to keep them quiet in the car. And in a way that’s true, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
What you don’t see is that I am homeschooling my kids and when it looks like they are rotting their brains with screens in the car they are actually learning. As I’m driving them to activities, clubs, sports, and playdates they are on their tablets reading and working on lessons. The TV is on, but it’s streaming a lesson from Khan Academy on great composers so they are listening to music while they are doing homework. So while the outside world is judging me for giving my kids screen time they are totally immersed in learning, not in poor quality entertainment.
And why wouldn’t I give them lessons to do while they are in the car? Some days with traffic it can take me two hours to get the older one to her soccer lesson. That’s two full hours of captive learning since they have to be in the car anyway. And that means that later on, they can spend two hours outside playing with their friends instead of sitting in front of the screen at home because they already have their lessons done. If we’re going to be trapped in traffic I’d rather have them engaged and busy doing work in the car where they can’t really do much of anything else anyway. That’s just smart organization and making the most of our time. And it teaches them to make the most of their time and use the time to their advantage.
So spare me and other parents the judgmental looks at stop signs and stoplights when you look over and see our kids with their heads over screens and earphones on. You don’t know what they are looking at or what they are working on. There is way too much judgment in parenting circles these days and not enough willingness to explore other ways to do things. Parenting isn’t something that functions according to one set of rules. All of us have to find ways to do what is best for our children and what fits into our lifestyles. And if you are willing to talk to parents that do things differently from you then you might even pick up some ideas and tips to find new ways to do things yourself that will make your job as a parent easier.
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