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On Embracing a Digital Life in Parenting

Back in November, I wrote a post called “15 Memories From Childhood Our Children Won’t Have.” I wrote about the disappearance of cursive, the reduction in classes like home economics, and the fact that technology has made those who choose to use it less dependent on skills like map-reading and checkbook balancing.

I still regularly get comments on that article from people who are outraged that I would include things like sewing, baking from scratch, or reading maps on a list of skills that today’s youth are unlikely to acquire.

While I’m sure there are people out there everyday navigating new places, street map in hand, baking cakes from basic ingredients, and making their own clothes (and for the record, I think that’s awesome), I am willing to bet that the number of people relying on their phone’s GPS to get around, picking up a box of cake mix to bake with from the grocery store, and replacing the skirt they bought last year with the small tear up the side instead of mending it, is growing. 

I fully support the commenters who have so ardently proclaimed their intent to ensure their child does not reach adulthood without becoming a stitch making, city navigating, amateur chef, but for me that time has passed.

I can’t sew, my cooking skills are highly dependent on a microwave, and I don’t leave the house without my iPhone. If I did no one would ever find me again. That’s how lost I would get. (By the way, have you stopped at a gas station lately to ask for directions? Even the gas station attendants whip out a smartphone and give it a google these days.)

I have embraced technology. I own my dependence upon it. I find it life-enriching. That being said, there are things I worry will be lost with my parents’ generation. Case in point, recently, Anders’ lovey suffered an injury to his ear and having zero ability with a needle and thread, I had to rush him to my mother for repair.

While I watched her work I thought back to my grandmother, sitting at her sewing machine when I was a child. She would sew my sister, my cousins and I matching outfits. We would go to a local shop and pick out a pattern and fabric. My grandma would take each of our measurements and a few weeks later we would all have handmade clothing sewn with love.

These are experiences Anders won’t have. Part of me mourns that, but there are so many that he will have that I didn’t: a library of books at the touch of a button, access to a world wide web with which to satiate his desire for knowledge on any subject, the ability to effortlessly connect with people from a variety of backgrounds. These things are at our fingertips. They are at his fingertips. It’s a world I can’t wait to introduce him to.

Embracing the basics of living, actively working with your children to ensure the continuity of these skills — it’s important. It’s something I want to put more effort into, but I also think we should not underestimate the value in and the perks that come with raising children in a digital age.

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