Chapter 8: Being A Good Example
Parenting and Digital Minimalism
This is chapter 8 of my upcoming book Low Tech Lifestyle. As a free subscriber, you get a free preview :). Premium subscribers get access to the whole book. If you haven’t subscribed, click the button below. Thanks for your support!
Luca: My Pup Companion
When I take my faithful furry friend, Luca, to the local doggy daycare, I gently remind him to "be a good example." My wife and I have invested countless hours in training our German Shorthaired Pointer, nurturing a sense of obedience and discipline within him. However, once he enters the playground and encounters new four-legged playmates, all that hard-earned progress seems to vanish. For the following hours, he indulges in sniffing, barking, and nudging with untamed enthusiasm, seemingly forgetting our expectations. Despite our inability to control his every action, we hope that he will demonstrate the lessons we've taught him to the best of his ability.
Similarly, as children, we are molded by the values instilled in us by our parents. They guide us to carry ourselves with dignity and grace, to personify the finest aspects of humanity in every situation. Nonetheless, once we step out from under their watchful eye, we must rely on our own judgment. At times, we excel in upholding their teachings, while at other moments, we stumble. Although I am not a parent myself, I have had the honor of conversing with digital minimalist parents who endeavor to lead by example. They offer invaluable insights and advice that can benefit us all. In the upcoming pages, I will delve into their stories, their challenges, and their victories, along with practical tips and quotes illustrating their journey. While all names from the parent stories have been altered to protect their privacy, their lessons hold universal significance. Let us all strive to be our best selves for the sake of those we cherish and the world we inhabit.
From Software to Satiety
Jason Crew, a software engineer from Colorado and father of four, found himself grappling with digital burnout in January 2021 after years of continuously working in front of screens. Although he used his phone to capture precious moments with his children, stay connected with family, and engage with social media, he couldn't shake the feeling that screens had become an outsized part of his parenting. "One of the biggest mistakes I made during the pandemic was buying an iPad," he admitted. "It became a crutch when I didn't feel like being present or when one of my younger ones became difficult to handle. I kept using the screen as a pacifier, rather than introducing proper ways to deal with boredom and their high energy levels."
Growing up, Jason had fond memories of playing catch with his dad, creating scrap albums, and watching photos develop in his father's darkroom studio. "It taught me patience, curiosity, and precision,” he recalled. "It helped me become very careful when writing code and trying to get it right the first time." Inspired by these cherished memories, Jason resolved to reintroduce more analog activities into his family's daily life. He purchased a film camera, set up a darkroom in their home, and acquired puzzles for his younger children. Over the next two years, Jason noticed a significant improvement in his connection with his children as they bonded over these analog pastimes. As his children prepared for high school, he felt ready to introduce appropriate levels of digital learning experiences. "I know that working in the tech industry has changed my life for the better and allowed me luxuries that my parents only dreamed of,” he said. "I can't say I don't want my kids to have the same lifestyle, but I do want them to realize that there are times for online work and offline activities. Maintaining a balance and having a ritual for shutting down is what I hope they gained from this time in my life."
Witnessing the positive impact of Jason's decision on his family has brought me a sense of reassurance. In an era where screens increasingly dominate children's lives, his commitment to reintroducing analog activities demonstrates that establishing meaningful connections with loved ones in a natural and engaging way is possible, even if it demands effort.
As lockdowns and remote work continue to challenge us, I can only imagine the immense pressure on parents caring for young children at home. In my own work with children and youth, their seemingly limitless energy can be exhausting. Parents who handle this daily without compensation, while also planning for their children's futures across multiple domains, certainly deserve our utmost respect and admiration. Looking back on my own childhood, I now appreciate why my parents encouraged me to play outside with friends and participate in physical activities like soccer. Not only did it provide a fun outlet for excess energy, but it also helped me be calmer and more relaxed when I returned home. Parenting is undeniably a challenging and demanding job, and I am grateful to see that Jason is setting a positive example for his children by prioritizing quality time and meaningful activities. Although he cannot control every aspect of his children's lives, he is doing his best to create a nurturing and supportive environment that will help them flourish.
Handling a small business with balance
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