Daycare’s ‘Get off your phone’ sign has right intentions, wrong delivery

A brief glimpse into a working mother’s life is just that: a brief glimpse.

Juliana Farris Mazurkewicz | Facebook

On first glance, the sign taped to the window at a daycare in Hockley, Texas seems like an admirably passionate plea for the sake of the children. The words, which urge parents to get off their phones while picking up their little ones, likely have most people nodding in agreement and wondering how parents could be so negligent of their child’s feelings. After all, who among us hasn’t sadly witnessed a mother or father totally fixated on the screen in their hand while their youngster vies hopelessly for their attention? It’s refreshing that this establishment cares enough about its kids to alert parents of their apparent self-absorbed ignorance, which is likely taking a toll on their child’s self-esteem.


Sign at a daycare in Hockley, Texas. Juliana Farris Mazurkewicz | Facebook

However, what appears to be self-absorbed ignorance may, in fact, be anything but. The daycare employees, who shockingly call the actions of these parents “appalling,” really have no way of knowing what task is currently being undertaken with the phone. Is a mother reading an urgent update about the state of health of her own parent? Is she trying to tell her husband, currently at the grocery store, which food items they’ve run out of at home? Maybe she’s texting another one of her children to say she’s terribly sorry but she’s running late in picking them up elsewhere.

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As working mom Ashley Austrew explained in a CafeMom piece, “The last thing I want to do is talk on the phone or read emails beyond working hours, but sometimes that’s what has to be done in order for me to pay the bills and keep a roof over my kids’ heads. That doesn’t mean my children are less important to me. It just means that rush hour isn’t the ideal time for me to stop and savor the moment.”

There’s an endless amount of possible reasons for parents to be on their phones. To assume that they are more interested in the alerts they receive from useless messages or apps than they are in their children is an unfound judgment. The fact is, the rapid passage of time coupled with life’s ceaseless demands prevents us from giving our little ones all the attention we’d like to.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we should never unplug completely for the sake of providing a child with our utmost attention. It just means that a brief glimpse into someone’s life is just that: a brief glimpse. It’s not a preview of the entirety of their relationship with their little one.

If the daycare felt compelled to raise awareness on behalf of its kids, a sign designating the center as a phone-free zone would likely have sufficed. There was no need to specify the behavior that employees found so inexcusable or indicate parents’ lack of concern for their children. In a field as complex as motherhood, compassion and empathy for both parent and child will always go further than accusations.


Elizabeth Pardi
Elizabeth Pardi
Elizabeth Pardi is a New York-born, Virginia-raised, Ohio-dwelling freelancer. She spends her days laughing, learning and running her way through life with her superstar spouse and their charmingly passionate one-year-old.

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