A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Putting Young Daughters on Hold

Raising Children With Your Smartphone, by Patt Morrison. (scpr.org)
I've been seeing more and more instances of girls eight years old and under being left to make up little imagination games and otherwise spend the empty time that results from their mothers engaging in lengthy cell phone calls in public places.

Mom is typically passing what she considers dead time. She may be sitting at a table in a diner waiting for the food to be delivered. Or her daughter is eighth in line in the pediatrician's waiting room. Or she's walking her daughter to school. Or she's wending her way through the aisles at the grocery store. Or, God forbid, she's driving. Whatever the situation, the child is left to her own devices.

The little girl, a blank look on her face, sits frozen or walks aimlessly alongside her mother. Momentarily inspired, her face is suddenly resolute. She raises her arms majestically, perhaps even whirls her upper body around, pretending she's a bird. Or she sings quietly as she tends to her doll. Pausing from her activity, she looks back over her shoulder to see her mom still talking on the phone, eyes fixed not on her little girl but up into the dead airspace where this conversation is taking place.  No longer a bird, the girl returns to her blank state to idle some more.

Well acquainted with these interminable episodes of exclusion, I suppose she is resigned to her fate. This separation, the loneliness, is not new to her. It amazes me that the girl doesn't act up; but she issues no objection, no protest, not even a sigh.

I searched Google Images for pictures of "mothers on cell phone." Virtually all the selections were of happy women and their happy young children, even happy babies, sharing what appeared to be wonderful cell phone moments. Truly 99% of the images with cell phones, women and children were of smiles and joy. Perhaps the mobile telephone industry has mesmerized society in some way? Maybe I chose the wrong search terms?

After all, how can a device that connects two people to a third person bring the original two people closer together? The "connection" is not between the mother and child but between the two persons on the cell phone.  And, need I say it, the daughter is the odd man out.

I'd like to tell these women that they should engage their daughters, not ignore them or take them for granted. Their young girls are a precious commodity, beautiful people who will grow up sooner than their mothers think. I guess they'll just have to talk to their daughters by cell phone. And begin to ignore the spouse.


  1. I agree with everything you've said, except I've seen just as many dads do this, and have seen just as many sons ignored as daughters.

  2. Over the past few months it's always been women that I've seen. I'll continue to watch for male culprits. Maybe it's a regional thing?