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A Human Canvas-"Raising Robots"

Updated on December 29, 2012

A Social Worker's Journal

Describe what being human means to you in 10 words or less. Here's my 10 word inventory: Human Being, soul, heart, mind, body, feelings, life, purpose, death.

Hard to do keeping it at 10 words or less? You bet. As human beings, we are so much more complex than that. But, in this article, it's all I ask in order for you to look deeply into yourself and see, really see, what humanity is all about by your own definition. Words in print-a mirror image of your thoughts to reflect upon.

So, now that you have your ten words, I'd like you to think for a moment about the last thing you read about or heard about on the news, where another "human being" played a role in either the delinquency or destruction of a child. Just last week, a 5-year old boy in upstate New York died at the hands of his mother's boyfriend who had gotten angry with the child and threw him against a wall. The child suffered a traumatic brain injury, and passed away as the result of the abuse. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, I'm sure it does. This type of human "cause and effect" is fast becoming a norm of bad relationship choices, and ever growing anger in misguided adults. How did it get this way? How has it gotten to the point where one person can become so apathetic? How does one become so disengaged and indifferent to the point of destroying another's life, and what's worse, not even realizing that they did, or making excuses for their actions?

In our present day and age of technology, video games, texting peers in the same space we physically share with them, on-line social networking, and all that goes with this hardware revolution, we are "Raising Robots" right before our very eyes. Are we becoming so desensitized as human beings, that it's easier for us to throw a DVD in at dinner time, while our children secretly lament over lost parental attention at their own personal cost?

My daughter is a professional server, and came home the other night, only to share a story that bothered her greatly. She works at a high end restaurant in a small city, and is used to parents plying their children with various items in hopes of entertaining them at the dinner table. We've all done that I'm sure, and at least more than once in our parental lifetime.

This time it was different. A family of about 20 members had arrived for a birthday celebration, and had been seated. Most of the family members were older, with maybe 2 or 3 teens in attendance. The youngest child seated was about 6 years old. Upon seating, this child was immediately given a DVD to view to apparently keep him busy and non-intrusive in the adult conversation that was to take place. My daughter noticed that the boy looked sad and left out. Well, he was. His parents ordered his meal, without asking him what he would like, and barely noticed him throughout dinner, only glancing to make sure he was still engaged in his movie viewing.

My daughter kept her eye on him and told me that her heart broke while she watched his little face. She had remembered how when she was a little girl, she was always the center of attention at all of our family meals, and even more so over the holidays with her grandparents.

She watched him while he looked around the table, as if wanting to talk to someone. His eyes scanning his family for a remote glance that may come his way, that he didn't want to miss. The teens were texting on their cell phones, and one also had ear buds in listening to music. While all of the "adults" were engaging themselves in lively conversation, all of the children were isolated in some sense. All of the children were there in body, but not in spirit. All of the children were technologically engaged, possibly with other human beings out of view, out of human reach, out of human touch. What they were touching were machines. Machines that could offer sensorial stimulation and mental occupation, but lacking in communication of the human kind. The kind that we all need to be able to "feel" our humanness. Isn't that what we want for our chldren too? To be healthy and happy? To feel loved, wanted, needed?

All children, all people, have to have these basic needs met in order to become the adults we need them to be. We all need to be valued, and to feel valued, so that we can value. Machines can't do this for us.

Machines help our quality of life in many ways, but can never be a human substitute. So, for those of you who already do this, I salute you! For those who know that they need to give more of themselves to their children, it's never too late. Put the remote down, put the computer, and all the other technological trinkets away, at least for a little while. Grab a good book, your child, and get busy cuddling. Get back to raising children, not robots! Their...our... future depends on it.


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    • Kim Grbac Diaz profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Diaz 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Hi Jillian...I hope this finds you healthy and thriving! You have such great energy, my dear. You are right on with that phrase...failure to thrive. It's the missing piece in many lives today. Marriages, friendships, family relationships...emotions are becoming stagnant, and lifeless. I see it in the children that come into care, and their parents when I oversee supervised visitation. Some of these young parents are so self absorbed that they don't notice the plea for affection from their babies. I left the education field, for now, to do what I do...if I can help in any capacity I have to...thank you for your words of support, it's what pushes me forward...much health and happiness for you! :)

      Hi Curiad: thanks for your comment and support of Jillian's statement...we all need to recognize what is happening, and I couldn't agree more that God and morality are missing as well...We need to get God back if we're going to fix anything!

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 

      5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Jillian, that is awesome. "Failure to thrive." This is exactly what culture does, what civilizations do. They fail to thrive through the use of ever increasing knowledge. The problem is, that knowledge seems to replace God and Morality,. To replace common sense.

    • Jillian Barclay profile image

      Jillian Barclay 

      5 years ago from California, USA

      Dear Kim,

      I missed this one and apologize. First, I wish you a Happy New Year, and may this year bring you joy and peace. I think you know that my best friend is a psychiatric social worker with the VA. She lives her work and I take joy in the small number of cases where she feels that she has made some small breakthrough with her clients. It is such a special field that you and she have chosen and the frustrations are so many. I don't know how either of you summon up the emotional strength necessary to face your daily challenges.

      This article demonstrates clearly how thoughtless people can be, maybe even when they do not intend to be so. Children should be the center of our attention because they are the center of our future. How can they even be expected to learn to socialize effectively if at the dinner table they are treated as an inconvenience?

      I see this everyday--even my own grandchildren have the hand-held video games, etc. and they are meant to be the babysitter. When they are at my house, we talk...we play...yes! I will curl up on the recliner and watch the Disney channel with my granddaughter (God! That channel drives me nuts, but we watch it together), because I want her feedback. My grandson, who is 4, loves his video games, as well, but when he is here we play trains and planes and cars, even though grandma gets stuck on the floor and needs help getting up. Then we sit and talk for hours.

      I feel for that little boy your daughter encountered and just wait for the day when his parents are shocked that he doesn't want to talk to them or even be around them.

      I know that failure to thrive is a condition that is most often confined to infants deprived of human interaction and affection. This article makes me wonder if failure to thrive should now be expanded to include older children?

    • Kim Grbac Diaz profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Diaz 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Dear BraveWarrior:

      Firstly, I have to say that I love that you have Cherokee heritage in your bloodline. What an honor! I have always admired and respected Native American wisdom and beliefs. Having worked in therapeutic foster care for 11 years, I was lucky enough to meet and sit with tribal leaders to discuss how things are done on the reservations, when it comes to children who needed family support. As expected, it was shared that other tribal families stepped up and helped raise the child(ren) if there weren't other extended members who could take on the role.

      I was very interested in tribes "taking care of their own", rather than having the "state" step in to take over. Of course, there are always problems with every scenario, but I believe that when people take care of their own, the results are better. In any case, thank you for your additional thoughts and comment. Perhaps if we say it loud enough, in different formats...someone, will hear us? HAPPY NEW YEAR, AND MANY BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOURS IN 2013!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      This is so true! Parents today shove their kids in front of electronics to act as baby sitters, as if the parents can't be bothered with interaction. And that's exactly how the childred of today perceive these actions. Yes, they want to boast to their friends of their high end toys, but what they really want - and need - is interaction with their families. They need to feel as if they are viable members of the family unit with something to contribute.

      And we wonder why today's kids are committing unspeakable acts? Hello! Can't you hear them calling? "Hey, you won't pay attention to me at home, but I'll bet you'll pay attention now!", as they are being hauled off to adult prisons for committing adult crimes!

      Great hub. My heart bleeds for that little boy at the restaurant.

    • Kim Grbac Diaz profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Diaz 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Hi Mark...thanks for your support, beliefs and motivating comment. We certainly have our work cut out for ourselves as a society...and miles to go before we sleep.

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 

      5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      This is very well written and the message is so true. I see this "Electronic Parenting" every day and it makes me want to cry. Just thinking about the life messages these young people are getting and the implications for the future are sad.


    • rcrumple profile image


      5 years ago from Kentucky

      Let's see, if a product of what you to describe was asked as you first request, the answers might be: texting, video games, dvd's, i-phones, music streaming, neglect, intimidation, greed, violence, and unimportant. (Sorry, some required more than one word.) When I was growing up, "spoiling" a child meant giving them too much attention and not making them mind. In fact, "a spoiled brat" was one that didn't have the understanding of the proper upbringing, practiced manners, or could be rude and inconsiderate of others. The meaning of "spoiled" changed over the years to giving the child everything they wanted, in the material world. In both cases, it actually reflected parents who didn't do their job properly. Now, spoiled is no longer looked at as a means of describing children, as it is too harsh for their gentle minds. As we tended to make things more "gentle" for the youth, we also lessened the reflection towards the parents, until now, ignoring a child and failing to teach them the basics is an acceptable form of raising children. Love, discipline, attention, direction ... none of those are as generic as society pretends them to be. Perhaps, people need to look in mirrors more often. Great hub!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bravo! Excellent points! As a former teacher, I applaud the work that you do, and your insights should be read by every parent in this country...start cuddling! Love it!

    • Kim Grbac Diaz profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Diaz 

      6 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Thanks for your feedback. I hope I can help people to realize what we are facing now, and creating for our future. It will be what we make it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You are so spot on about how bad relationships with adults can harm children in so many ways. These adults "must" exercise self control! Children often should be the center of attention because they are your gifts to treasure so pay attention to them. Yes machines are very helpful but we shouldn"t treat our children as such for machines don't have feelings and if we continue this way neither will our children. Great reading!!!!!!

    • Kim Grbac Diaz profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Diaz 

      6 years ago from Upstate, New York

      "H-S"...what really worries me is their future relationships. Careers? Marriages? Parents, themselves? Will they become who they need to be if they continue being shut out of feeling? I tend to worry about children a lot more than the average person, I was not only a Program Mgr in therapeutic foster care, but also a teacher and principal. I want children to get what they need...writing to others helps me with that...thanks for your eyes and ears...

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Very insightful Hub, Kim. It alarms me very much how isolated many of our children have become. They seem to be more interested in video games, social media, and texting. Where did all the face to face contact go? I believe this begins with parenting and your example in this Hub highlights this. Adults want to keep their children occupied and they then become isolated. It is a growing sad state of affairs.


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