My all time, favorite question.
Updated: Nov 24, 2019
‘Is this working for you?’ Is my all time favorite question.
I ask myself, and my family, and my friends, and the people I work with, this question ALL the time.
Usually, it’s because I can already predict that the answer will be ‘no’; and then some sort of meaningful shift or change can manifest.
It’s also so simple.
There are no narratives or values or constructs informing the answer. It’s a very immediate observation: is this working? (No it is not).
It’s not about whyyou did this in the first place, or whoyou’re trying to impress, or whatyou’re trying to achieve. It’s just an absolute yes or no question about something that’s taking place in the here-and-now.
I think a lot of what we’re doing right now, as a species, isn’t working.
From what I can see, most of my generation was fed (mind the pun) a very specific narrative around food. I suspect it’s because we were raised by a post-war generation (or generations) shattered and broken from survival. We were told to clear our plates, and eat the healhty food first, and that there are “starving children in Africa”. (Side bar: we LIVE in Africa, dad!).
And now we all suck at eating.
I really cannot say that I know a single person who sees food purely for what it is - a source of fuel. I don’t know a woman today who seems genuinely happy with her body. I wouldn’t even really know how to spot a healthy and functional food-body relationship.
Case-en-point: our parents’ education, of us, around food, didn’t work.
A few days ago someone posted a video to the WhatsApp group that I manage (A Mothers’ Nature Tribe) about screen-time.
I’ve written a lot of my thoughts on this topic and I think and speak about it a lot too. The video was a lecture by a man submitting that we live amongst a generation wholly addicted to smartphones. He kept talking about ‘the device’, and blaming it (and not the owner) for all sorts of ills.
Naturally, I have some thoughts...
1. Everyone in our current reality is addicted to a smart phone.This assumption is presupposed by the premise that a smart phone is immediately addictive - like heroin for example. If one experiments with heroin, even once, they are almost 100% guaranteed to become physically addicted. But I know many, many people who have a very functional relationship with their phones. Myself included. I use it for very specific needs and it serves me well in these areas. I am able to function without it, and I don’t experience any physical symptoms of withdrawal when I abstain for an average of 26 hours, once a week on Shabbat. Also, wine. I do enjoy the regular glass of red wine. But I am not an alcoholic. Why can’t my
phone be the same?
2. The device, and not the user, is in control.I refuse to engage in this version of reality. I control the device, it does not control me.
3. Our children do not possess their own intuition, their own greatness.Last week I was quietly stalking my new hero, Leonard Carr. Midway through my digital archeological dig I found an article with some really nutritious suggestions for how to approach your children. One of them was to operate from a place of belief. I believe in you. I know you can do this. You will try and you will fail, but you will improve and eventually you will master this task. Without me. You can do this for yourself. I will be here to cheer you on but I will not ride the proverbial bike for you. You will become an independent and capable rider of bikes. I assume my children have their own greatness. Their own innate instincts and intuition about what is enough and what is and feels “good for me”. I can model healhty behaviors, yes; but ultimately my child’s construction of a healthy and independent self relies upon my ability, as the mother, to trust him as a complete and competent whole, separate to myself.
The point I’m trying to make here is that I DO see the majority of people (especially within the parent-child-phone dynamic) struggling in this relationship. It’s new and we don’t know how to manage it so we run with our fear. Oh, fear.
IF I don’t manage this my child will be:
and, The Like...
But I don’t think what we’re doing is working.
Now what about trust? Trusting that our child is able to say: this is enough for me, I’m done now. I’ve watched enough, I’ve played enough, I’ve HAD enough. The smart phone equivalent of an intuitively healhty and moderate eater.
I don’t purport to have all the answers, or any for that matter. But based on all the psychotically obsessed children I see fighting with their (resistant) parents for a phone to watch, I think it’s safe to assume what we’ve been trying to do, so far, isn’t working.
I suspect that the correct approach involves an element of modeling(which means cultivating that healthy relationship with the device - ourselves); and trust.
Leaning into the fear that our child won’t be OK and allowing them to figure it out for themselves anyway.
Actually, I’m not sure we have another choice.