Parents: Use your phone as much as you fucking want

As much as it pains me to use the current hip vernacular, I'm going to: parent shaming.

At one point, I think the focus for parent shaming was screen time, as in how much time your child can spend staring at a screen of some kind. But there have been inconclusive scientific studies on that front, so it's not as sturdy as some other parent shaming options.

Diet? Sugar is the heroin of toddlers, after all.

Education? The best time to learn a second (or third!) language is at the age of two, you know.

Culture? Listening to an opera would be so much more stimulating than listening to the Cars soundtrack (again).

But, no, those options are somewhat narrowly targeted and, for many parents, easily avoidable. What, then? What is something that every parent does that can be ridiculed by those who wish to feel superior?

Cell phones.

Boom.

You use your cell phone when your child is with you? That is shocking -- shocking, I say! Your child is going to think you care more about your cell phone than you do about your own precious little angel!

It is impressive how many parents take to the internet to rail away against the evils of using your cell phone when your child is present, pretending as if they're doing it to somehow help other parents. I can't imagine a single parent reads these articles and suddenly changes their ways. No, they're written so the writer can feel superior.

I know full well how tempting it is to use a device as a baby sitter. I also know that there are other toys which can do roughly the same thing while allowing your child to control the creativity. That said, I don't begrudge anyone who's in a position where a device is their best option. I know too many single parents to think that a tablet can't be a life saver.

But let's get back to parents using cell phones.

I understand the basic concept behind the complaint, the idea that kids will think that they are less deserving of your attention because you are looking at your phone all the time. But consider that thought. Think about how much the average parent has to do with their child over the course of any given day. It would be physically impossible to spend more time on your device than interacting with your child. They are tiny tyrants who need you to survive. A cell phone isn't going to dress them or take them to school or get them to bed. A cell phone isn't going to comfort them when they get hurt or help them through some strong emotions. We have few moments that aren't controlled by these kids and very, very few of those moments can be solved by cell phones.

So if your kid is playing and you decide to check Facebook, where, exactly, is the harm? If your child needs you, you're there. But your child doesn't always need you and, honestly, it's probably good for them to realize that. "Hey, child of mine, you're doing fine on your own and I trust that you can scoop sand into a bucket without me watching you like a hawk, so you do your thing, I'll be right over here if you need me."

The crazy thing about it is that if there's another parent shaming method out there, it's the "helicopter parent" who is always hovering around their child, never letting the kid do things on their own.

So if it's bad for us to follow our kids around and obsessive over them and it's bad for us to do other things while we're with our kids, then what, exactly, are we supposed to do?

I am overly sensitive about my son knowing how much he means to me. I tell him constantly. It's a whole thing. So at some point early on in his life I decided that if I'm going to use my smart phone around him, I'm going to tell him why I'm doing it. I want him to understand why looking at this tiny screen would be something I would want to do while he's eating dinner or or watching cartoons.

So I say things like "let's see if mama has left work yet" or "let's see what the weather is going to be like" or "grandma sent me a message." I try to explain what social media is, but he does't seem to care. In fact, he doesn't really care about any of that, but I feel like telling him what I'm doing at least helps him realize that there's a purpose, that I'm not just looking at my phone for no reason.

I explained this to a therapist who works with children and she told me it was genius, so I'm running with it.

Here's the thing: being a parent is hard. I realize that's like complaining that your diamond shoes are too tight, but it is what it is. And sometimes you can only take so much Paw Patrol or so much doing funny voices before you need a break, and in today's day and age, a break is looking at your phone. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

So for those who are thinking about telling other parents they need to stop using their phones so much around their children: don't. Get off your high horse and just let a fellow parent be. We are all stumbling through this together and the last thing any of us needs is someone giving us shit for looking at Facebook while our kid is crashing cars into each other.

Go to town, parents. Use your phones as much as you want. I don't have the answers for that and I'm not stupid enough to think that I do.