The Kid's Doctor: Are parents too connected?
Sunday, November 30, 2014

 

Turn off your phone off sometimes and let your spouse or sitter handle things for a while.

Photo by Fotolia

 By Sue Hubbard, M.D.

www.kidsdr.com
 
 Has your spouse, babysitter or other child care provider ever called you to come home "because the baby is crying"? 
 
  In pre-cell phone days, there really wasn't much a sitter could do when a child began wailing after his/her parents had left the house. Outside of calling the restaurant, store, movie theater or party venue directly, and asking someone to page a parent, muddling through was the only option. 
 
  Today, with a cell phone in every hand, it only takes one call to summon the parent of a distressed child. This creates a good news/bad news dilemma. The good news is, parents feel more comfortable leaving their child with a sitter knowing they can be reached in the event of an emergency. The bad news: If a baby or young child is only crying, is does this constitute an emergency? Depends on your definition. 
 
  The reason I bring this up is that young parents, especially mothers, often tell me that during the first several months of their infant's life, they can't leave the house for more than a few minutes without being called home ... because the baby is crying. Some of these mothers claim they're "stressed out and exhausted" and need a get-away to "re-boot." 
 
  All they want is an hour or two to themselves to shop, meet a friend for lunch, take a walk, or just sit alone in the park and read a book. Who doesn't need a bit of quiet after being home with a baby day in and day out for the first month of the child's life? If you've been there, you understand. 
 
  My husband would tell you that his best parenting started the first time I left him alone with our oldest son and actually went away for the weekend. (I believe the baby was 6- or 7-weeks-old, and off I went, breast pump in hand, to a reunion.) 
 
  There were no cell phones then, and guess what, he did a great job! After the first 24 hours, he figured out that he really didn't have to have the baby in the bathroom with him in order to take a shower. He admitted that during the first shower he took after I left, not only did he have our son in the room in his "bouncy" chair, but he also left the shower door open so the steam wouldn't obscure his view of the baby!
 
  Technology, as wonderful as it is, may also enable us to "cop out" when things get a bit difficult. That goes for parenting, as well. Turn off your phone off sometimes and let your spouse or sitter handle things for a while. Being disconnected is not always a bad thing! 
 

Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. "The Kid's Doctor" TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid's Doctor e-book, "Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today's Teen," is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.

This column was printed in the November 30, 2014 - December 13, 2014 edition.

 

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