Column: I feel ashamed of parents who look down on their phones. But what if we tried a more graceful approach?


I was driving around the neighborhood one morning when I noticed a woman walking up with a stroller with a little person inside.

She used her forearm to push the stroller, freeing her hands for texting on the phone she held in her hand. As we approached, another woman jogged past me, then past the woman, and then tossed out a comment.


I understand the impulse. It’s true. It feels like the phone has taken over our lives and turned us into sociopathic, mannerless zombies. They communicate via emojis and rely on the fleeting dopamine rush that comes from Instagram likes.

Phones are an easy target to attack and a habit you want to shame openly.

But here’s the problem.

That mother, assuming she was the child’s mother, could have been texting the pediatrician’s office about her child’s persistent ear infection.

She may have been texting the pharmacy to refill her child’s asthma medication.

She told her partner, “I took the baby for a walk! Good luck with your interview!”

She could have texted her boss, “I’m taking a personal day to spend with my daughter.”

She could have been checking her email for lab results.again number of people at the birthday party. Or his Google map of playground addresses.

She had been checking Facebook after reading books, singing songs, making snacks, changing diapers, and paying close attention to her child in shackles for the previous four hours straight. There is a possibility.

She could also have been the children’s stepmother, aunt, babysitter, or any of the other forms that love and care take.

The point is, I don’t know what led to that moment or where it was going.

When my daughter was 3 years old, she was playing at the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park when a dear friend called to tell her that her father had passed away. I cried with her on her phone while her daughter happily splashed her near her. Sure enough, a stranger yelled at me.

“Watch out for children!”

I wanted to say it out loud. Mind your heart! ’ But phones back then didn’t have a mute button, which would have been weird.

Besides, that’s not the real point. My friend could have called the night before to tell me who dropped out of “The Bachelor,” and it would have been fine to actually answer the call. and even after giving birth, I never stopped being a complete human being with friendships, hobbies, aspirations, guilt, deadlines, promises, and time demands. .

Phone calls are a way to catch parents who openly say more than one thing at once. parents and employees. parents and friends. parents and spouses. parent and daughter. parents and siblings. parent and mentor.

I don’t know when or why I was convinced that parents, especially mothers, deserved contempt for trying to juggle multiple roles at once. I don’t think decades of pop culture have helped. Besides, I think it’s easier to scold parents over the phone than to remake a society with little support. (Paid family leave, subsidized childcare, affordable pathways to higher education.)

But what if you chose a different approach?

In general, what if we assume we are doing the best for each other?

What if we admitted that parenting is hard, lonely, and exhausting? Is the time short, fleeting, overcrowded? Is the job demanding and constant? Does it mean that the parents received little guidance and certainly no grace?

What if we remember that our parents have old parents, sick siblings, divorced friends, and engaged co-workers? Small enough to cover all these bases, but too small to love, break, or heal?

Other times, the phone is the glue that holds all the pieces together.

It’s a lot.

I think most of us are doing our best. I think our children see it, know it, feel it. I think we all slip here and there. I hope our children can see it, know it, and feel it too.

And I like that the woman pushing the stroller thinks she’s had a perfectly nice day with her bundled little charge. And shortly after she texted her best friend, “OMG got yelled at to put my phone away,” her best friend responded with her laughing emoji. I really want it in the end.

Heidi Stevens is a columnist for the Tribune News can contact her heidikstevens@gmail.comfind her on Twitter @heidistevens13 or join her Heidi Stevens’ Balancing Act Facebook group.


What do you think?

Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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