Push of a Button: Parenting in a Society of Instant Gratification

Saturday morning cartoons were an exciting part of my week as a kid. The Care Bears were my jam, so my parents woke me up in time to watch. This is pretty much where their responsibility ended. It was up to me to get my tail out of the bed, get a bowl of Crispy Critters and get in front of the television in time to see the Care Bear countdown. There was no push of a button to rewind.

If I didn’t get up when they woke me, spilled cereal or didn’t find the channel quick enough…spoiler alert: I missed it! Yep, I missed the countdown, Tenderheart and the Care Bear stare. That’s it. I had to wait an entire week to see it again. How could I be expected to wait an inexcusable amount of time to watch this show again? A different episode would be on next week, so I may never, ever see the one I missed.

That’s deep y’all.

Hello 2018! There is an app for everything. Am I right? Just a button click away. Kid slept in and missed the newest Paw Patrol or Elena? No worries! It’s available almost immediately on Apple TV. When my daughter gets chatty during the bedtime routine and I miss the live episode of This is Us (insert cringe here), I can easily catch it the next day when it’s convenient for me to watch on Hulu. Being an accountant by day, extra hours often come with the gig. Grabbing groceries at the Walmart pick-up saves time and allows me to still appear presentable for dinner.

Full disclosure: I use the Starbucks app daily.

Around our house, these conveniences are a staple, but could it harm our kids when real life hits if they are stuck in this instant gratification mindset? Am I teaching them that no matter the circumstances, the things you want will be available to you with the push of a button? Our society tends to lean towards the “ask and you shall receive” outlook, rather than the “work hard to achieve your goals” mentality.

When we pull up to the store, they see groceries brought out. My kids know when they ask for any show, we can turn it on, regardless of day or time. How do we capitalize on these modern-day conveniences, but also teach them practicality? As adults, they won’t always get the job. There may be a time they don’t make the friend or win the award or become tournament champions. By providing exactly what they want, when they want it, without work or effort on their part, how will they react when these life events don’t go their way?

Real life doesn’t have an app!

If I am being honest, I take full advantage of these conveniences, probably too often. I have found though, that including the kids helps close the gap. If they see the people behind the nifty button they just pushed, the transaction becomes a bit clearer. Even though I use the app to order coffee, I take the kids inside to see the barista and say thank you. When we need quick groceries, the kids get out and help load the bags in the car. These interactions help their maturing minds understand that there was more to the transaction than the push of a button.

On school nights, they have homework or routines to complete. If everything is ready for the next day, they get to choose their exact episode of a show. Otherwise, they can still have screen time, but just “regular TV” rather than their exact choice. This sets up a level of responsibility for them to achieve, while still allowing us, as parents, to reward them with the convenience of what they wanted.

Every day moves a little faster and it seems the conveniences level up daily. We are a fast-moving family that loves everything there is to love about any amenity that saves us time. At the end of the day though, I love strolling through the grocery store letting the kids pick out dinner. I cherish when we order treats on the app and sit in front of the fire at Starbucks to enjoy it together. The conversations pour out of them during these moments.

While all of the apps and conveniences are a wonderful addition to the day in and day out, be sure to look for the slower moments. These memories won’t be forgotten.

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