You may have seen the viral photo of a daycare sign scolding moms and dads to get off their phones and pay attention to their kids. Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not let these people phone-shame you.
The image was posted on Facebook on Friday by Juliana Farris Mazurkewicz, who took it as she arrived for pickup at her kids’ daycare outside Houston. She told Fox News she was fully onboard with the sentiment: I think [the message] definitely resonates with people. She’s correct it’s been shared widely and provoked a lot of discussion.
Many people agree with Mazurkewicz, but I took one look at it and wanted to rip the damn thing to shreds. It’s rude, for one thing yelling at someone with ALL CAPS and is no better than texting while you talk to someone. But it also presumes that you’re a bad parent if you’re not paying wrapt attention to your children 24 hours a day. You’re not.
Let me say, first off, that yes in theory it is rude to be on your phone when you’re interacting with people face-to-face. Children are people, certainly, and it’s great if you can give them attention when they want it. But the parents who pay to send their children to this daycare are people too, probably ones with jobs and the hectic schedule that comes along with trying to juggle work and family.
In an ideal world, we would all arrive at daycare to pick up our children with empty hands and an open heart. We would have a stimulating conversation with our kiddos about their days and then hop in our very clean car to drive home to our very clean house where no one would have an appalling meltdown before the perfect healthy dinner was served. Right.
But we live in the real world, don’t we? And parents, especially, have a million things to deal with each day. Do children deserve our undivided attention for big chunks of time? Yes, but so does our work and the other child whose picking up we’re texting to coordinate and our spouse who’s asking what he needs to buy at the store on the way home and on and on and on.
Many people have to leave the office before their work is truly done to fetch their kids.
Many people have to leave the office before their work is truly done to fetch their kids. That means they’re frantically trying to finish up the day’s business at the same time they fetch little Jack or Jill so that by the time they get home they can relax with them.
Are some irritating parents scrolling through Instagram living vicariously through other people who have less chaotic and exhausting lives when they should be asking their kids about their days? Probably. But no amount of condescending signs is going to change that.
So the next time you’re firing off an email to your boss while also trying to appreciate your toddler’s latest macaroni necklace efforts, please do not feel bad. We are all just doing our best to make it through the day, and I’m sure our kids can all name far more appalling crimes we’ve committed against them. Remember that time you made them put the iPad away. That was the worst.