are we jettisoning our children into solitary confinement?

house 1

During the recent state elections I confirmed that my students are an excellent barometer for what the community is thinking. I asked them what they thought of the State’s Premier, and the Opposition Leader. I did this knowing full well that they would be parroting what they heard adults saying. They all hated the Premier, and were more favourable on the Opposition Leader. Election Day, the Premier lost his seat in the state’s parliament, but his government appear to have lost the election, though it is hanging on a knife’s edge with vote counting still taking place.

This week, I asked them if they ate dinner with their family at the table each night, or did they all take a plate and sit in front of the television. I was not anticipating their answers.

The majority of the students said that they actually took their meal and returned to their rooms to continue doing whatever they had been doing, such as playing on their computers.

That struck me as incredibly sad. These children are away from their families all day, and yet they are not even coming together in a central place to be together.

When our children were at school, we always ate together at the table, and some of the conversations were memorable. Since they have flown the coup as adults, Mr FD and I have fallen into the habit of taking our plate and watching the evening news together, which we debate hotly. We are still communicating.

These children are functioning on a minimum of parental time, and that saddens me. No wonder we are having to teach this year’s, year seven and eight students to say please and thank you, for a start!

Another place we used to be with our children was driving to and from school. Now I see the students riding in their family cars with earphones firmly inserted in their ears. If we aren’t careful, they even hide them in their hair and use them in class!

Are parents too exhausted from modern life to go the traditional mile with their children? Why are we jettisoning our children into a solitary confinement? Where are parents finding the joy in their parenting?

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17 thoughts on “are we jettisoning our children into solitary confinement?

  1. Always sat at the table with my parents too, unless something unusual was going on. So many discussions there. My Dad also read o the whole family every night for probably at least a decade….a little odd but what memories we have!

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  2. Worse: at table with my son, conversationally asking about his day, sports, friends and receiving monosyllabic answers. Relative hostility from his dad’s family partly the cause, now he lives with a vacuous non-working airbrushed air-head. I thought I did my best! Sad.

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  3. Earlier this week I was chatting with a coworker, who let on that she was so tired when she got home from work, she would flop onto the sofa, turn on the TV, and ask her husband to bring her dinner there. I asked her if her children and husband joined her in the TV room for dinner, and she said, “Sometimes.” So it’s not just the children: the parents are just as guilty of not showing up at the dinner table.

    I can understand the fatigue one feels after work and school, but to not spend some time talking with each other and renewing the family bond seems profoundly sad.

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  4. Folk are missing so much. My kids ask for “table meals” because of the laughter. Jo excels with her wit and we all get a chance to speak.
    Kids also tend to rely too much on their friends via social media for interactions. Face to face human conversation can’t be replaced.

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  5. I’m shocked by what you tell me about children taking their meals back to their room. How did the culture within the family ever allow that to be entertained. My kids always ate with us, sometimes at the table, and sometimes round the telly, but we always sat in the same room. Without that, those precious years when bonds are formed are wasted. You know all that yourself, but I’m just joining you, at some length, in shaking my head

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    • I see a major disconnect between parents and children that makes me ponder the thought that is it merely our biological drive to reproduce for the sake of the species that keeps many people having children that they don’t really want to centre in their lives. Sadly, I think young parents have to realise that you “can’t have it all” because that means your child doesn’t “have it all” and you owe them that as their parents.

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  6. Stuff like this makes me feel really old. we sat at the table together every night (unless my dad was off with the military or we had some legitimate school or church activity) with the television set OFF. And we talked. I don’t really remember any deep and meaningful conversations going on, but that wasn’t the point. It was about being a family and not a random group of individuals who happened to inhabit the same dwelling.

    Even though it is now only my wife and I, we eat at the table together sans TV and we talk about mundane stuff that went on during the day.

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    • Old and sad. Something that costs nothing, and takes no effort, sitting together as a family, is now no longer seen as the gift it is. In a few years these parents will be wondering why their children have no time for them – too late, too late.

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  7. I agree! One of our Little People is a difficult eater at the moment. It sees however he is a lot HARDER to deal with when we allow ourselves to sit in front of the telly (i.e. be lazy) as opposed to at the table, where we interact, communicate, look each other in the eye, etc.
    I have fond memories of our evening dinners. And we were (are?) no strangers to debating hotly 😉

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  8. lately, i’ve noticed the increasing number of people walking through my office campus while staring at their phones and oblivious to the world around them. it takes ALL my will not to intentionally trip them…ALL of it!!

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  9. We see it all the time in our Grandchildren, and it just makes me sad. They have been placated with electronic’s from the day they were born, and they are as you say, turning out the very same way. Little zombies.

    Great post.

    DS

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  10. Ten years ago, when my then teenagers were busting a gut to leave the coop, I used the captivity of the moving car to impart the many pearls of wisdom that I could muster in the fifteen minute drive to school. Those pre and post school drives were valuable minutes of parental bombardment. They HAD to converse with me to get anywhere. Luckily we are all still talking to each other.

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