Monday, December 5, 2016

In the pursuit of Happiness

A few days ago, I was having a little chat with my not-so-young 10 year old about what happiness is really about. He is at this age where he relates the source of happiness to everything materialistic and specifically gadgets. He is surrounded by kids here in the Middle East who have the latest gizmos and spend a lot of time gaming. Their conversations are seemingly centred on who played what, whose online score was higher and the latest updates ... so on and so forth.
 
When recently we were thinking of whether or not to get him his own laptop - I raised my hand in disagreement. Until he has a real need for his own laptop, I don't think it makes sense for us to give him his own. Seeing as there are a couple of laptops in the home already - I thought of it as a nice opportunity to teach him the importance of shared resources.
 
I don't know about other households, but I do tend to place a lot of value on family time and real human interaction. For instance, I expect my children to engage with each other in whichever way they find mutually fun (they are 6 years apart so maybe there's not many games that they can play together). Even if it's just kicking a ball around in the corridor or chasing each other around the house - it's something REAL and tangible and that's what makes it special. When I see them collapsed in fits of laughter, I know then that these rules are so worth it! :)
 
Even though we can afford those gizmos that he so craves - I have limited his gadget usage to TV and his Lenovo Tablet which is password protected - he doesn't know what the password is. I keep a track of how much screen time he is given. And somewhere along the line, I am teaching him to be conscious and aware - to not be simply drowning inside some virtual quicksand.
 
But first as adults, we need to ask ourselves - What do we base our happiness on? Is it external factors all the time, or intrinsic? Are we seeking validation all the time from our social circle or social media OR are we learning to be happy and content on our own? Our children are watching us all the time and imbibing subconsciously.

To summarize, I'd like to think we have to work in tandem. Parenting and teaching life lessons in this day and age is challenging no doubt. If we're not effective role models, we cannot expect our child to learn anything. If you take away all of your child's gadgets BUT you are always busy on your own phone/tablet, it does not make any sense. If you don't give them real alternatives to what else they can do with their time, then is it going to work? I don't think so.

In a couple of decades, my son will not remember his top gaming score but he will surely remember those fist fights with his brother and all those songs they like to sing loudly together.

Those are REAL memories :-) unbeatable, precious and priceless.