- Family and Parenting
A Human Canvas-"Raising Robots"
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.