There is an all out war raging at our house over screen time, helping around the house and fairness.
Inspired by a friend, I decided to implement a new plan on how to regulate screen time (TV, computer & video games) and motivate my kids to contribute to the general well being of our household. The basic idea is that they can have as much screen time as they want, but they have to earn the points by doing household chores, reading or other beneficial activities.
My kids have decided this system is completely unfair.
Why? Because I had fallen into the parenting strategy called, “Getting Through The Day.”
I define the Getting Through The Day strategy like this: Doing whatever it takes to get through the day without a fight, even if it means sacrificing the long term good of my children.
This is my default mode when I am tired, busy and burned out as a parent. I simply run out of energy to engage in the battle of raising responsible human beings and I settle for happy kids, even if that means I have to do everything myself and end up even more tired, busy and burned out.
There are seasons where Getting Through The Day is a completely valid parenting technique. Those stressful times in life where temporary circumstances throw life into a blender and all you can do is swim to the top to avoid being sucked into the sharp blades at the bottom would be acceptable moments to employ this strategy. Moving, having a new baby, recovering from surgery, starting a new job and grieving the loss of a loved one have been blender seasons for me as a parent. My kids have learned a lot about being independent during those periods.
It’s when I realize that the blades are no longer whirring and some of the independence my kids are exerting have gone awry that I decide to fight a few battles for well-being of my beloved sons. In this case, the screen-time battle of 2011. I’ve stepped back and looked down the road a few years and decided that when I’ve launched my kids I want them to understand a few things. That life does not revolve around our entertainment. That work comes before play. That it’s important for us to work together for the well-being of our home. That spending time together interacting is way better than zoning out.
As Reggie Joiner says in Think Orange, “In my pursuit of what I thought would make my kids happy, I threatened what makes them come alive.”
So I’ve picked up the battle ax and started swinging. My kids are not happy. They have been shaken out of their video-game-induced coma. They are experiencing the pain of being alive. I know I’m not fighting perfectly, but I am depending on the grace of God to cover over my inadequacy.
What is it in your home? You may have already fought the screen time battle and won. Have you thought through some of the end-game results that you desire for your children? Is there anything worth the battle?