While in Silicon Valley, I toured the Computer History Museum. If you or your child are fans of computers and technology, the Mountain View, California Museum is a must see. Even if you only have a remote interest in computers and technology, the Museum provides an invaluable lesson for all parents.
The More Things Change
Having only a slight interest in the history of computers, I bought a ticket and entered the Museum. I have to admit, I was blown away.
Like most people, I was aware that computers were involved in nearly every aspect of our daily life but I had no idea how long computers had existed. I was amazed to learn that what we think of as modern computing has existed for more than 2,000 years.
What was more fascinating was learning about the evolution of the computer. From its origin as a big clunky device called The Babbage Engine to the proliferation of the internet, it didn’t take long for a dinosaur like me to comprehend the evolution of computers. Originally engineered to be a stationary object capable of making one calculation at a time, modern computing has morphed into something totally different. Or has it?
The More They Are The Same
The French critic, journalist, and novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said “the more things change, the more they are the same”. Mr. Karr’s words illustrate precisely the goal and history of computing.
Notwithstanding all the evolutionary changes and advancements of computers, the purpose and principle of computing has remained the same. Computing and computers have always existed to solve problems so that we might advance the human condition.
Like the start of computing and the first computer, todays’ parents have the same objective as the original human. Our prime directives in the beginning, now and will always be: procreate, nurture, protect and train.
Feeding and nurturing a child no longer requires hunting and gathering, however parents now have to count calories, monitor nutrients and make sure children get adequate exercise. Protecting children is no longer associated with fighting wild animals, yet parents still have to protect children from the dangers of a modern society like sexual predators and online bullies. Educating children no longer requires teaching about how to make a fire or sharing the appropriate time to plant seeds but parents have the same responsibility to make sure our children’s education prepares them to survive and progress.
The More Things Change
For as complex a task raising a child is today, like computing, the basics of parenting remain the same. Unfortunately, parents (according to our children) are not as smart as computers. Nevertheless, the best parents possess a similarity to computers and technology – the ability to evolve.
In all things, today’s parents must be what they have always been – evolutionary creatures who are acutely aware of our children’s surroundings and zealous representatives of their best interests. Like evolving technology, we also must program ourselves so that in a moments notice we are capable of changing our parenting software and hardware.
1. Storage. Parents can never stand still. Parents must evolve like floppy disks to the cloud. We must consistently take mental notes about successful parenting practices. We must be eager to learn from others who are great parents – parents who are purposeful and intentional. We must stockpile as much information as we can about children and parenting so that we can continuously progress and improve as parents. We must make use of the abundance of information available to give our children the best possible opportunity to live a purposeful, fulfilled and worthwhile life.
2. Updates. Parents don’t only make mental notes and store all the new and relevant parenting information. Good parents, great parents take the best of what is known about parenting and then we apply it to our parent-child relationships. The implementation of new and improved parenting techniques occurs with the ease and efficiency of an operating system update. When a more efficient and effective parenting methodology is available, good parents, great parents make the adjustment immediately and seamlessly. Right before our children’ eyes Parent 2.0 (Leftover Parent) quickly becomes Parent 4.0 (Fresh Out of the Oven).
3. Hardware. Good parents, great parents don’t rest on our laurels or do things simply because they were done to us – we freely acquire the hardware that supports our software changes. When I was a baby, parents drove cars without baby car seats, painted the house with lead based paint and left electrical outlets unprotected. Thankfully the world and parents have evolved. Although there are fewer cases of infant deaths from car accidents, lead poisoning and electrocution, today’s parents must continue to incorporate new hardware (Smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, etc.) that will advance parenting and improve the life expectancy and societal contribution of children.
The decisions and actions parents take MUST always compute. If our children are going to be able to dream and do things far greater than we could ever imagine, we are going to have to evolve and adapt our prime parenting directives to meet the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing world. Parenting without evolution does not compute.
Previously Published on The RS Project