01 January 2005

Single...With Children: Don't Get Your Wires Crossed!

Single With Children: Keep wired with your family

By Susie Parker
Publication Date: 03/24/04

Have you noticed lately how it seems as if everything can be found on the Internet?

You can pay your bills, shop for a new house, car or university and then go to a site where you can fill out an application to finance that new car, home or six years of college.

It wasn't so long ago that the first thing we did when we got home was check our answering machines to see if we missed important calls. At least when we replayed our messages, we were listening to live humans on the other end. Now it seems, as soon as we walk through the door, we each retire to our rooms to check our e-mail.

Even my 79-year-old father doesn't do anything in the morning until he's had his coffee and checked his e-mail.

I recently saw a commercial in which a mother prepares dinner and then sends the family an e-mail announcing the meal is ready. Her husband and children all jump up from their respective computers and run to the kitchen. I saw something of my own family in the ad.

Although the Internet's main claim is that it connects you to the world, in many cases it disconnects you from the people you need contact with the most. So many families spend half their time in front of the TV not talking to one another and the other half on the Internet, talking to the wrong people.

Unfortunately a new fact of this high-tech age is that more and more two-parent households become single-parent households after one spouse meets someone online. When talking to some of my single friends about their divorces, I'm shocked to find this scenario more and more common.

When it comes to children, we must be especially vigilant about the Web sites they visit and the people they talk to. We must make sure they connect enough with us and their real-life friends.

It causes me some anxiety to think that if my 17-year-old son has a problem, he might not come to me first. It's enough to make me want to throw the computers, TVs and phones out and get back to nature.

Of course, the Internet is not an entirely bad thing. My children certainly have a much easier time with their school reports than I did.

And without the Internet, my daughter would not have met the wonderful family she had the chance to be an au pair for in Ireland last summer.

As with anything in life, the Internet should be taken in moderation, for both ourselves and our children.

It's great to meet new people from all over the world, but don't forget the people who live in your house. They're just as interesting.

Readers can e-mail Susie Parker at susiewrites@gmail.com or write to her c/o Amarillo Globe-News, Features Dept., P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, TX 79166.

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