Present parenting

In the vein of "being present" (read The week of hell to get up to speed). When I was in my early twenties I heard a line in a movie that stuck with me: "Parenting isn't hard, you've just gotta pitch up". Basically, just be there, just be present.

The other day, I saw two kids about 11 or 12 years old sitting alone on their iPads. Their parents were at the opposite end of the place I was at socialising... I use this as a launching pad for something we're all struggling with. We're blaming bad teachers, schooling and iPads for our children's lack of drive and concentration issues. And so many of our kids are being medication for something on the scale of ADHD. Or at the very least we're worried they have a problem.

But here's what I suggest... It's not the iPad, it's our lack of presence. Our desire to relax and let ourselves off the hook in our busy lives to just unwind. Unfortunately that ideal falls flat when you decide to become a parent. And you can't say becoming a parent was nothing you planned... trust me... it's very difficult to accidentally have a child!

I struggle with this everyday. The guilt of not being there enough and leaning on technology too much as a digital nanny or lying comatosed on my bed while my daughter climbs all over me looking for some attention.

It's impossible to be fully present 100% of the time, especially when we're working our asses off to pay for school, after-school activities and saving for university (if you're lucky enough to get that far). Because let's face it, the competition gets fiercer every year and we're under pressure more than ever to raise little savants.

Here's what I'm laying on the table: we're screwing up as parents because we feel so guilty that we don't measure up all the time. We feel so guilty that we'd rather just give up. The blogs, the videos, the self-help culture and these unrealistically perfect role models in the media. The only way we can make it is to break it down to what that movie told me when I was 22: "Just pitch up". Just be present. Don't beat yourself up that you're not doing enough playtime, or after hours leisure activities or whatever else makes your stomach churn when you see your child crying while you're trying to make dinner and tidy the house. Simply be present. Listen when you can, respond with understanding and engage with your child, whenever and wherever that may be.