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Raising Kids in an On Demand World

Photograph by Twenty20

I recently read an article in which a mom said she allows her child to interrupt her "stupid adult conversations" (her words, not mine) because she felt bad making her kid wait. She wanted her child to know that whatever she wanted to say was valuable. I understand not wanting to brush off her kid, but is it so wrong to teach our children to wait for a few minutes while we wrap up a conversation? Do they really need my attention at that exact moment? Or can they respect my time? After all, I'm a person too.

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But our kids are so used to getting what they want on demand that we've even deemed interrupting an adult as acceptable behavior. And it doesn't just stop there.

I understand the ease of it all. But at the same time, I want my kids to know the world doesn't revolve around them.

We used to have a service that allowed us to pick the music we wanted to listen to in the car. It was fun at first but quickly turned into a nightmare. We tried to develop a system in which everyone in the car could take turns picking one song to listen to, but it's annoying having to stop after each song to search for the next one. We went back to the radio and said whatever is on is on. Deal with it. I can't drive and appease my children at the same time. It's just not safe. And what are they really learning anyway? That they can have whatever they want whenever they want it? I'm not sure that's the best message to be sending them.

I also used to fear running out of my kids' favorite snacks. The minute the last yogurt was consumed I was rushing off to the grocery store for a refill, even if it was inconvenient. But that's silly. Sure, maybe the yogurt was gone, but there were still grapes and crackers and other snacks available. Couldn't they just choose another snack? For some reason I felt the need to give into this "on demand" culture until I realized there were many perfectly good snacks going unopened. My kids can deal with not having yogurt for a couple days.

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There's definitely a balance when it comes to raising kids in this on demand world. I'm thankful for the convenience of iPads and Netflix. I'm happy to get my kids the kind of food they really want to eat. I understand the ease of it all. But at the same time, I want my kids to know the world doesn't revolve around them. They can't always get that toy at the exact moment they want it. They can't always have the exact snack they were hoping for. Sometimes life is disappointing. We need to be flexible and roll with it.

Life goes on and I want my kids to be ready to handle it.

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