Spend more time with your child than your IPhone, Blackberry, Droid or Windows phone

13 May

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART:  Some folk view pets and children as accessories like Prada bags. James R. Hagerty writes in the Wall Street Journal article, This North Dakota Mom, 77, Reared 69 Kids: Mrs. Dumont Reared Kids Over Six Decades; ‘I’m Child No. 23’:

As a parent, Mrs. Dumont’s style is to demonstrate rather than shout. When she found one boy’s stash of marijuana, she flushed it down a toilet. Her tears could stop a sibling squabble. When a daughter sneaked out of middle school, Mrs. Dumont took her hand and silently led her back, then sat next to her all through typing class. It was so embarrassing that “I never skipped school again,” says that daughter, Marilyn Ruberry, now a bookkeeper in Raymond, Alberta.

Mrs. Dumont’s advice on parenting is simple: “All children want is something stable. They want to know that you love them. It doesn’t have to be love with big computers and fancy clothes and all of that. Just that you care.”

As for rules, “I’d insist that they have to do something with their lives—and actually they have.”

Their occupations today include teacher, nurse, welding-shop owner and plumber.

Her debut as a mom was inauspicious. When she graduated from high school, she recalled, “I was 18 years old, and I thought I was really smart, so I decided to marry this guy.” She and her late first husband had six children together and roamed the country from Illinois to California, but the marriage broke down.

While he was away for a few days, she says, she hired a moving crew to uproot the entire house and haul it to a plot in another part of Dunseith, a town of about 800 people.

When her husband returned, he found only the front steps where the family home had stood. Divorce ensued.

As a newly single mom in the late 1960s, she worked as a teacher’s aide by day and restaurant cook by night. “Sometimes, boy, it got really slim,” she said of the family budget. Her eldest son, Rocky Davis, helped care for his brothers and sisters. “We learned how to cook early,” said Mr. Davis, who remembers being “basically the dad of the house.”

Mrs. Dumont obtained a state grant to pay for nursing school. Around that time, she met Jim Fandrick, a divorced truck driver who was raising two children. At first she was reluctant to date him. He won her over by saying, “Let’s go to the movies with the kids.” They married in 1970 and were together till he died of cancer 32 years later.

In 2003, she married Mr. Dumont, who had three kids and was taking care of a grandchild.

Mrs. Dumont now has help running the household from Lucille Vivier, 50. “I’m child No. 23,” Ms. Vivier explained as she cleared plastic plates off the table. At age 14, Ms. Vivier took refuge at Mrs. Dumont’s house after she left a troubled home. Mrs. Dumont “saved my life, both physically and spiritually,” said Ms. Vivier, an English teacher and poet.

Two years ago, Mrs. Dumont retired from her career as a nurse. She and her husband receive Social Security payments, and the three recently adopted children qualify for Medicaid insurance. Some of her grown children drop off household supplies when they see she is running short. The Dumonts occasionally dole out $5 allowances to their latest adopted children—Shaniel, Hennessey, and Adam—who call that money their “unemployment.”

Mrs. Dumont drives a 1995 Buick. She doesn’t have a cellphone or use a computer. Her one-story beige house, on a hillside surrounded by oak and birch trees, has only three small bedrooms, but there are two beds in the living room and more in the basement to handle the occasional overflow.

In one corner of her living room, rainwater has punctured a ceiling panel. “My roof busted in,” Mrs. Dumont explained. “I had a pail there.”  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324744104578471503624865878.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsFifth

Now, contrast Mrs. Dumont with many self-absorbed twits who want to claim the title “parent.”

Here are two very disturbing articles about parents who have become so obsessed with technology that they forget that they have responsibilities for parenting their real, not virtual children. In the first story published by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Mark Tran reports about two parents who really and truly lost it. In Girl Starved to Death While Parents Raised Virtual Child in Online Game Tran reports:      

South Korean police have arrested a couple for starving their three-month-old daughter to death while they devoted hours to playing a computer game that involved raising a virtual character of a young girl.

The 41-year-old man and 25-year-old woman, who met through a chat website, reportedly left their infant unattended while they went to internet cafes. They only occasionally dropped by to feed her powdered milk.

“I am sorry for what I did and hope that my daughter does not suffer any more in heaven,” the husband is quoted as saying on the asiaone website.

According to the Yonhap news agency, South Korean police said the couple had become obsessed with raising a virtual girl called Anima in the popular role-playing game Prius Online. The game, similar to Second Life, allows players to create another existence for themselves in a virtual world, including getting a job, interacting with other users and earning an extra avatar to nurture once they reach a certain level.

The UK’s Telegraph reports these idiots were convicted in the article, ‘Internet Addict’ South Korean Couple Convicted of Abandoning Daughter for Virtual Child The fact these clowns got only two years and the woman’s sentence was suspended because she is pregnant is a real travesty.    

Sometimes the abandonment is not as physically graphic as in the Korean case. Emotional abandonment is just as harmful to the child as physically starving them. Julie Sceflo reports about a brain dead mom in the New York Times article, The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In 

WHILE waiting for an elevator at the Fair Oaks Mall near her home in Virginia recently, Janice Im, who works in early-childhood development, witnessed a troubling incident between a young boy and his mother.

The boy, who Ms. Im estimates was about 2 1/2 years old, made repeated attempts to talk to his mother, but she wouldn’t look up from her BlackBerry. “He’s like: ‘Mama? Mama? Mama?’ ” Ms. Im recalled. “And then he starts tapping her leg. And she goes: ‘Just wait a second. Just wait a second.’ ”

Finally, he was so frustrated, Ms. Im said, that “he goes, ‘Ahhh!’ and tries to bite her leg.”

Much of the concern about cellphones and instant messaging and Twitter has been focused on how children who incessantly use the technology are affected by it. But parents’ use of such technology — and its effect on their offspring — is now becoming an equal source of concern to some child-development researchers.

Sherry Turkle, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Initiative on Technology and Self, has been studying how parental use of technology affects children and young adults. After five years and 300 interviews, she has found that feelings of hurt, jealousy and competition are widespread. Her findings will be published in “Alone Together” early next year by Basic Books.

In her studies, Dr. Turkle said, “Over and over, kids raised the same three examples of feeling hurt and not wanting to show it when their mom or dad would be on their devices instead of paying attention to them: at meals, during pickup after either school or an extracurricular activity, and during sports events.”


Your Brain on Computers: Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price (June 7, 2010)

An Ugly Toll of Technology: Impatience and Forgetfulness (June 7, 2010)

Your Brain on Computers: More Americans Sense a Downside to an Always Plugged-In Existence (June 7, 2010)

Sceflo’s article cites Meaningful Experiences in the Every Day Life of Young American Children by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley.

Major Findings

Children from all three groups of families started to speak around the same time and developed good structure and use of language.

Children in professional families heard more words per hour, associated with larger cumulative vocabularies.

In professional families, children heard an average of 2,153 words per hour, while children in working class families heard an average of 1,251 words per hour and children in welfare families heard an average of 616 words per hour. Extrapolated out, this means that in a year children in professional families heard an average of 11 million words, while children in working class families heard an average of 6 million words and children in welfare families heard an average of 3 million words. By kindergarten, a child from a welfare family could have heard 32 million words fewer than a classmate from a professional family.

By age three, the observed cumulative vocabulary for children in the professional families was about 1,100 words. For children from working class families, the observed cumulative vocabulary was about 750 words and for children from welfare families it was just above 500 words.

Children in professional families heard a higher ratio of encouragements to discouragements than their working class and welfare counterparts.

Policy Implications

Based on their research, the authors reached the following key conclusions:

“The most important aspect of children’s language experience is its amount.”

“The most important aspect to evaluate in child care settings for very young children is the amount of talk actually going on, moment by moment, between children and their caregivers.” For more information: http://www.psych-ed.org/Topics/Hart_and_Risley.htm, http://www.pbrookes.com/media/pr/100802.htm

Affluent children had an advantage in language skills because of the time their parents spent reading, talking, and interacting with them. Sceflo discusses the implications of technology use by the more affluent and asks the question whether the advantage the children of affluent and educated parents is being eroded by an attention deficit caused by the parent’s obsession with technology?

Are you forcing your child to bite your leg to get your attention?

Where information leads to Hope. ©               Dr. Wilda.com

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