I have always wanted to be a cool mom. I want my child to see me as a friend, one of the buddies, and for us to have a bond so unique that they feel protected by me but also excited. Raising teenagers in the 21st century is challenging as social media and technology raise the next generation as much as their parents. I often feel like a second parent to my son, pushed out by the strong forces of PlayStation, TikTok and YouTube. Technology is a fantastic, liberating tool, and he has access to so much useful information. However, I can’t help but feel like a third party when I don’t understand a recent meme or know how to play the latest game.
I can be an outsider in my own home when he just wants to run to the computer straight away after school. I want to give him his own choices and the space to explore his interests. Heck, I won’t be complaining if all this computer-loving means I become the mother of the next Bill Gates. But I’m sensitive. I’m nervous. I’m a mother.
I think I have caught the dreaded curse of “back in my day, things were better.” Yuck. Or maybe yum. This comes with a sweet sense of self-awareness that I had more opportunities for in-person social interaction, which suited my personality. My son enjoys environments where he can speak to multiple people and damage competing conversations. He is young and has many years to develop his confidence, and I must remember that he has grown up in difficult circumstances. I didn’t have other kids sending videos of people around the internet or the constant pressure to go viral and become a millionaire overnight. How privileged I am! In the grand scheme, I am glad that games are the issue with my teenage son.
The pandemic was unbelievably traumatic for us all, particularly teenagers. Strange schooling, distant friends, and missing out on crucial years of social interaction. My son was overjoyed: more time for the computer! I sound envious, like a third wheel that has had enough. I hear him laugh into the night with friends in the virtual world and wonder when he will have the same energy for family conversations at dinner time. Do I limit his time on the games? Do I remove the systems altogether? Who has all the answers? It sure ain’t me.
As an entrepreneur, I am always looking for new gaps in the market and ways to innovate. I applied this thinking to my household and yearned for a better relationship with my son. I made Sunday family game time. We dig out old-school games such as twister or chess and get as competitive as humanly possible. And it is great because it is human. We bond, build character and make memories. No phones, just family.
It has been a timely reminder that being a parent is being a friend. I love raising my boy, and I find joy in the hope that he loves being my son.