If you grew up in the 80s, you probably remember watching movies like The Goonies, Stand by Me, and Adventures in Babysitting. Those kids embarked on crazy adventures, got into trouble, and learned valuable life lessons - with no parents to be found! It’s unlikely you stumbled across One-Eyed Willy, discovered a dead body or dangled from a skyscraper, but at some point you and your friends set out to conquer the neighborhood without checking in with your parents. It was already dark by the time my mom would cruise the neighborhood in her minivan to find me.
Now I’m a parent. It’s said to be one of the toughest, yet most rewarding jobs you can have. We’re all experts and novices, in-the-know and clueless. We deliver and receive advice, suggestions and judgment almost daily. Would I allow my kids to run free until dark without checking in? Who knows! My answer probably depends on who’s asking (and judging) me.
So what’s a parent to do?
Let’s put a label on it
It’s fair to say there’s been a significant shift in the way kids are being raised today, namely the adoption of a helicopter parenting style. I’ve seen helicopter parenting defined as anything from completing age-appropriate tasks for your kids (tying shoes, making lunches, doing homework) to fearfully hovering so they don’t get hurt or lost. At the other end is third child style or free-range parenting - more relaxed and less structured.
As if there weren’t already enough labels and reasons to criticize other parents.
So again, what’s a parent to do? Helicopter parents supposedly end up with a basement-dwelling 40-year-old. Free-range parents supposedly starve their kids of attention and guidance. Raising four kids myself, I have yet to figure out which approach is most effective. I usually feel like I’m winging it - rolling the dice and hoping for the best outcome.
You will experience close calls - regardless of your parenting style
This is what I do know: Regardless of your parenting style, you will experience “oh shit” moments. ER visits, calls to poison control, and becoming separated from your child in a crowded place are common realities for most parents. Even though it’s likely that your kid is just hiding from you in a clothing rack, the panic is real and unavoidable.
Parenting and lifestyle expert Jill Simonian told CBS in a recent interview that the U.S. Department of Justice estimated 1,000 children per day become separated from a parent or caregiver for at least an hour. An hour! I’m not naive enough to believe that this could never happen to me. Unless I keep my 4 curious kids leashed together, one is bound to run off again. Admittedly, it’s already happened.
I’m grateful each instance was totally benign, but no matter how prepared we are, an accident can happen at any moment. Parents are left to cope with the trauma of the event and the parent shaming to follow. No thank you on all counts. If something can help me avoid those frantic moments and misdirected judgement, sign me up!
Searching for parenting help from technology
Parents should support each other in every way possible. This is what inspired me to join former colleagues who were founding a new startup, Jio. The founder, John Renaldi, was motivated by his own experience and set out to solve a problem many parents have encountered: becoming separated from a child. Jio’s first product, Jiobit, is a wearable tracking monitor for kids that helps keep parents more connected to their child. His story and the product concept resonated with me. Joining the team meant I could focus on parenting issues and engage with parents during the hours that I’m unable to be with my kids. More on that in a later post.
For now here’s a sneak peak into what we’re building and why it’s cool. I’m proud and excited to finally share it with my mom friends and parent networks. Jiobit is nearly invisible and blends into everyday clothing. That’s awesome for many reasons, but most importantly, it won’t cause another morning battle with my kids. Yes, please! Does your child walk to school? Jiobit connects to a mobile app and uses self-learning pattern recognition to alert the parent if their child deviates from a normal routine. Is your kid a "bolter" at public places like theme parks or malls? There’s a follow-me mode which alerts both the parent and child if they become separated, a digital alternative to a physical leash. On top of all that, Jiobit will also stand the test of destructive kids. It’s durable, waterproof, and the battery lasts over a week with active use on one charge.
A wearable that actually solves a problem - for any parenting style
All parents want peace of mind knowing that your kids are happy, healthy, and safe, regardless of parenting style. So you’re a free-range parent? Great, give your kids some freedom to explore their independence without having to hold their hand every step of the way. You’re a helicopter parent? Also great, but now feel more relaxed knowing your kids are safe when you’re not with them. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and personally, I’ll take all the support I can get.
We’re gearing up to take pre-orders shortly. Make sure you’re subscribed to our email list and be one of the first to know when Jiobit is available.