A Tablet for my Toddler: A Story About Caving In

I swore I would never be that parent. I’d see kids at the restaurant with their tablets set up while their parents sipped margaritas. I’d hear that the number one essential of road trips is their kids’ tablets and headphones. I would judge, and I said the one thing a parent should never say: “I will never let my kids have that.”

Our story begins with naivety 

I was raised mostly by my grandmother. The combination of having someone two generations older raising me as well as growing up without Apple anything until high school (college for me personally) had set certain expectations. 

My original thoughts:

“Parents should just be able to entertain their kids.”

“If a kid misbehaves, there is clearly a discipline problem.”

“Tablets are just an excuse not to engage with your kids.”

All I can say now as I read those now is, “Well, that is cute.”

Experience is our best teacher

I have learned the power that nature has in combination with nurture with our kids. Even the most disciplined kids will have their moments of emotion take over. It’s part of being human. 

Our most recent struggle has been with our three-year-old. “Threenager” is a coined term for a reason. She is a very intelligent, and very emotional child, and boy. Does she know exactly what she wants… when…and how. 

Bedtime was a disaster. No matter how early we began the routine, how much gentle parenting or consequences….my husband and I would return her to her bed at least 20 times a night. This is not an exaggeration. 

Finally one night I caved. I grabbed her tablet, which we usually only use for travel, snuggled in bed with her, and popped on Peppa Pig. My toddler who would cry and scream for an hour was suddenly peaceful and asleep within 10 minutes.

It was a battle I was willing to lose. A white flag I waved proudly. If I as an adult like to unwind and calm myself with an episode or two, perhaps I should allow my child the same privilege from time to time. 

Some battles are temporary

Is this a long-term solution? 100% not. However, in this season with a 3-year-old, 1-year-old, baby number 3 on the way, a full-time job, a husband with a new job, and the countless responsibilities that come with each of those–I’m willing to let some things slide, for now. 

My wise counselor told me in our latest session that not everything can be a top priority. Choose 1-2. As I reflected on it, my husband and I agreed on what takes the top spot in where we put our time, energy, and effort. 

#1: Respect. 

We respect the Lord (faith is a top priority in our family). We respect each other. If you speak unkindly to me, there will be an apology. If I speak unkindly to you, there will be an apology. And of course, respect yourself. 

The tablet might be a bandaid-type of solution, but it’s a bandaid that allows me to prioritize love and respect with my kids. 

Lesson learned: never say never in the land of parenting.

Jessica Hauerwas
Jessica is a nonprofit leader who loves bopping around Lafayette for the best burgers or bands in town. She is the Executive Director of Downtown Lafayette Unlimited where she runs the day-to-day nonprofit. She and her husband Chris have three littles at home (Jane, Clark, and Louise) where there is lots of giggling and always a cup of coffee brewing. Jessica is passionate about community-building and empowering working mothers. Jessica also volunteers for various organizations, is a member of the Lafayette Re-Entry Coalition, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette, and a survivor of being a mother of three under 4.

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