Take a drive through the D.C. Metropolitan area any day of the week, and you will no doubt observe people doing all manner of activities while they drive. From the 20-somethings singing and dancing along with the radio to the mild-mannered, unruffled old men crawling along at 10 miles under the speed limit, you are sure to find some entertainment while you are suffering through D.C. traffic.
Some of the worst behavior to observe, however, is that of parents who are not paying attention, either to their kids or to the road. It is not uncommon to pass a minivan and look in to see a mom applying makeup or talking on her cell phone while she drives. The kids in the backseat may be tuned in to a movie or even hammering away on their own cell phones or iPads.
Distracted parenting does not just pose a danger on the road. It can also be a problem at home or even when parents are out with their children. At home, parents who spend too much time focused on their phones, computers, tablets, or television are likely to miss signs that their children need help. For small children, this may mean that they are able to get into things that are not safe. For older children, this may mean that they are having problems at school, misusing their phones or computers, or even becoming involved in dangerous online relationships. When out in public, a parent who is constantly on his phone is less likely to notice the weirdo who is paying way too much attention to his child.
In addition, parents can inadvertently cause psychological problems to develop in their children. When kids see that they never truly have their parents' undivided attention, it hurts them. They begin to feel that they are not smart enough, funny enough, or athletic enough to win their parents' approval. Some children act out when they feel this way in an attempt to get full attention, even if it is negative. Others withdraw into themselves and stop communicating with their parents.
Remember, even babies need your undivided attention. It is important to establish and maintain eye contact with your children regularly. Put down the cell phone at your child's soccer game so that when she asks you if you saw her goal, you can say that you did. When driving, turn off the radio, put down the phone, and talk to your child.