Dr. Silly ®

Question

Iím a separated mom with a disconnected 11 year old daughter ; all she wants to do is play computer games and text her friends. How can I get her to spend more time with me and do things together?

Answer

A. Welcome to the problem of the 21st Century: the alienation of the young from the old. This fracture has been planned for the last 40 years by business. Frankly, it is all about money, your money and your childís money. A ball park figure is about 500 million yearly- about 130 million from kids under 12 and the rest from the family. Not a bad swag! Certainly enough to sacrifice some families for.

B. Without discussing the history of your relationship- that is, if you have not been close, or if she is very loyal to her estranged dad, most parents have experienced the widening gap between their childhood experience and that of their children. This experiential gulf is made more extreme by the media Mongols who depend upon the youth audience. This chasm is deepened by the content of the media, the separation of family members due to individual media environments (average TV sets per house is about 3.5 and computers somewhat less, phones and car screens are off my charts). The next step I suppose is a planet for each one of us. In short, it is not your fault or herís that your daughter is another victim of the voracious media monster.

C. Ancient literature has described the natural rift between generations, but those dusty tablets could never have conceived an airplane with l58 screens! The rift between generations has not only increased from the natural, it has widened from the deliberate interference of commercial profiteers. Parents must now deal with opposition from both these sources.

D. Separation and divorce structurally leaves one parent holding the short end of the stick. You want to fill the relational fissure with your daughterís company, a natural desire from a loving parent. Think about yourself and your needs as well as herís. The more you can get along with your life, the better. Satisfying yourself will create less pressure on your daughter to be your comfort and entertainment.

SUGGESTIONS:

1. Have an informal talk and set up some social rules for the house, guidelines for phone, computer and text usage. You are not room mates living independent lives. Make these rules simple and short term, not a forever thing. She can not isolate herself or live only on her terms: she is eleven!

2. Share her computer play and let her be your guide to some of the interesting and fun games on the computer. Play with your childís heart; in the games, you are equals. Try to laugh a lot. However, be sure to monitor her access to the Internet and be sure that she is safe when online.

3. Get to know her interests and aspirations, the world is different for an 11 year old in 2009 than 30 + years ago. Try to schedule trips and activities that incorporate her interests, such as dance classes, music classes and other social activities.

4. Balance any media use with simple hanging out and eating- avoid the fattening snacks and make an entertainment from cooking for yourselves. If you have not been playmates before, then take such play-sharing a step at time. Why rush? You have all your live together.

5. Schedule special events as an anticipated treat: metro visits, travel ní shop, Vacations, camping, movies. Hanging out with your mom is new for her because is now a young woman and not exactly a kid. Keep in mind the my observation of how the media promotes a premature maturity. If you can, support her childhood for as long as you can.

6. Create as many photographic and souvenir items as you can, they are proof your shared play and also portable reminders of your mutual affection..