Friday, June 26, 2009

Fatherhood Fridays: Form of a Techno Whiz, Shape of a Geeky Dad

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a Fatherhood Friday post. This is one I’ve been considering for some while. Though I doubt it will break any new ground, I expect there are tens of blogs out there, covering the topic; today I want to write about bringing up kids in such a technological world.

I’m kind of a technical person. I’m a computer programmer. That means I have pasty white skin and can set the clock on your microwave without using the manual. If you are still unfortunate enough to have a VCR I can set that clock too. And your digital watch. My powers are extreme.

This year I’m turning 40 and I’ve been involved with computers, in some form or other, since I was a teenager. I’m comfy with the geek-toys.

However when I was a young kid, none of these techno gadgets existed at all. Atari didn’t really take off until I was a teenager. The explosion of gadgetry was only gathering it’s pieces together, mixing and bubbling, before the Computerized Big Bang of the 80’s and 90’s.

And so as a Dad I have no frame of reference by which to raise kids around the onslaught of products there are today. I have no instinctive feel of how to balance “what is too much game time” .. or .. “how come my kid is only interested in computers”.

I suppose each generation has a thing like this with which to deal. Back, back, way on back, it was probably comic books. In the 50’s it was rock music. Prior to that, cave-kids were probably checking out dad’s porn carvings he kept under the bed/slab of granite. Cause it kind of went from the cave people straight to the 50’s from what I understand.


I have this knee-jerk reaction in which I want my kid (Thing One) to go outside and play, run, jump off of things, stay out in the woods all day – the stuff I did when I was a kid. You know?

But then I realize that back in the 70’s, dudes and dudettes, that’s pretty much all there was to do. Either you stayed inside with the adults, watching TV with grandma and grandpa in my case .. or .. you went outside and made some kind of world for yourself.

Through the ingenuity of a child’s imagination is their world made. It will be that world they will remember when they are older, and they will long for those simpler times, when they write down their thoughts for others to read. So poetic right?

So now look at today.

Today we live in a world where sure, getting out and exercising is still great. I expect it always will be. However, there is a HUGE amount of things to do indoors .. heck even the Wii Fit let’s you exercise as a video game in front of the TV .. and it is with things like this that I find it hard to say “go outside and play” … sometimes.

Back in the 70’s you had Hot Wheels, Monopoly, Aggravation, and ultimately Star Wars action figures. There were also the The Micronauts but I think I'm of the last remaining humans left who remembers those. But that’s about as fancy as it got. Today you have all those same board games but now they are called “classic” games and you can play them on your cell phone. And you can be a Jedi on your computer and cut down Storm Troopers all day long – all the stuff you imagined as a child is darn near possible to see, at some point, somewhere today.

It’s quite a switch.

And so I have become my grandfather in some regards. I pull out the phrase of “back when I was a kid we didn’t have …”.

Oh yeah I do that big time. Which is odd since my career thrives on technology. And that only adds to the feeling of I’m just not sure how to balance it all out at times. It feels like a double-standard.

In closing ... all kids are different I know. A very smart friend of mine recently said, maybe it doesn't have to be either/or. Too true. So I guess a guy just has to listen to his gut, and his kid, build on the relationship, and stay active in it. Be willing to make small corrections along the way, in a loving and gentle manner.

I suppose that’s about all a person can do. But darn it – it’s no fair that we all lived through the techno-boom but somehow missed having the example of how to raise kids in it.

Thus ends my ramblings for the night. Now I’ll grab my remote, switch back on the big screen TV while I browse the innerwebz on my laptop – yep life sure is different nowadays.


Shaddy said...

I can well imagine your concerns. When I raised my son, things were still quite similar to when I grew up. He had a few video games but spent the majority of his time outside, playing ball, etc.

I think you've got a good handle on what you can and can't do to direct your children in the way they should go. Unfortunately, all the blueprints are outdated before they're even printed in this day and age.

The fact that you care about your children and want to do the right thing is evident in your words. With that ammunition in your arsenal, I don't think you have to worry too much about your parenting.

Have a blast this weekend!

Jennifer said...

well, I have to say i agree. I have considered breaking off from society and removing the tv from our usual routine. I know GASP!!! If I ever manage it, the kids will secede to your house.

Rob said...

Jenn - see I have to admit I've considered doing the same thing with the TV. Part of that is also financial too I have to fess up as well.

Why can't we just turn off the TVs and hang out at each other house anyway right?

I make a mean burger and we can all do crafts - then again, in that situation, the children may put us in the closet and turn all the techno stuff back on :P

Rob said...

Thanks for the comment Shaddy - tis good to have input on this. I appreciate it!