It’s a feeling like no other when you look into the eyes of the dearest people who raised you while resisting the animal urge to rip out the keys from the keyboard and thrash the mouse across the room.
If you are older than 20 years old at the time of this post, you know what I’m talking about.
It happens when one or more of your parents–
- Accuses you of breaking the computer from playing too many computer games when the page isn’t loading.
- is actually startled by a Facebook friend request from a stranger.
- Forgets where the Start button on a PC is, again.
- Denies that you already taught them how to put a file in a folder.
- Clicks on a link 7 times in rapid succession, while wondering why the page is still not loading.
For you, this stuff is pretty much second nature, but your parents are completely oblivious to it. It’s so hard for you to process the gap that you think they are being purposely ignorant.
You are not alone in this, and it can be explained.
With the following bar chart, I’ll try to help you understand what you might be experiencing.
To start, you will find that it’s actually extremely complicated to find words for something that is very easy. This is completely irritating because, you know how simple it is, yet you struggle to explain what you know and why you know it. It’s like teaching a foreigner the grammar of your own language, you just know it by habit, but you don’t know the rules of why it’s said this way.
Also, in order for them to, say, create a new folder on the computer, they need to have some basic background knowledge (the use of a folder, right clicks, and renaming a folder), which you never knew you had to learn. And it can seem like such a chore to explain it all just so they can create a folder. It’s like you ask someone to turn the lights off, but that person doesn’t know what lights are. You then find that you have to explain it’s what makes the room bright and what a switch or electricity is and so on.
So after failing to orally explain to your mum how to send an image file in an email, the first bar of your frustration chart pops up like a sore pimple.
You immediately just want to do it yourself, even though you have a faint intuition that this isn’t going to sit so well with her. Against your better judgment, you take over and do it for her in less than 30 seconds. This, of course, elicits the first chilly response from your mother, and you suddenly remembered that you swore to never do this again.
‘Could you TELL me what to do, and NOT do it for me, please?’ usually spoken in a tone that’s as polite as it is condescending.
You come to the 3rd bar on your frustration chart.
You are now not only aggravated that your help is not appreciated but also numbed by the increasing tension in the room. And, you realize that you now need to sit and watch her do every mouse click, every scroll and every tap on the keyboard at one-third of your normal average speed.
Because you are on level 3 frustration, you also start behaving like a jerk.
It doesn’t help that you also feel very conflicted and confused about it. Aren’t you just trying to help someone out?
Also, that someone is your mother. So why are you acting like this?
Another bar gets added from this identity crisis.
With a serious dose of self-loathing, you start snapping at your mum and feeding your anger. Worked up in emotions, the irrational side of you comes forth with the thought that your mother is being painfully slow just to annoy you.
Detecting your sarcasm and general nastiness, your mum asks you to watch your attitude. But as you try, you quickly see that it only gets worse, inviting more rage from both sides.
It’s a downward spiral from here, and your frustration chart fills up very quickly.
Depending on the temper and maturity of both sides, this could evolve into a full-fledged war. By then it is not about the computer anymore, but rather how your mother has failed to raise you into a helpful and decent human being.
You may feel disappointed or even disgusted with yourself after these episodes.
But as you can see, there is actually quite a lot happening inside of you when you teach your parents how to use technology. Thoughts and emotions clutter up your mind very quickly like the icons on your parents desktop. And it is not always easy to find your way out.
On the one hand, you know you need to be patient because they didn’t grow up around these things, and you really owe it to your parents to help them. But on the other hand, you sincerely feel that they could just try a little harder because computers are made to be used without a manual.
It takes a truly mature person to be able to handle these situations with poise.
Here are some tips to help you manage yourself to avoid future nervous breakdowns:
- Eradicate untrue and negative beliefs like your parents are resistant to learn. You know this is a silly thought, they wouldn’t come to you for help if they didn’t want to learn.
- Provide continuous encouragement. Saying nice things will put you in a nicer mood, and anyone performs and learns better in a pleasant atmosphere.
- Perform slow and deliberate breathing exercises as you enter teaching mode. It will help you relax and slow down the speed at which your frustration bar levels up.
- Try not to think of them as your parents. Maybe you think they have always been the people you look to for answers growing up, but it creates a cognitive dissonance in you that they can be incompetent in some things. Also, you feel like you are close enough to them that you can take your anger out on them without losing them. Simply think of them as a cute old man or lady from a coffee shop. Draw out the charitable side of you, if being kind to strangers seems easier for you.
I hope these tips can help you become more helpful to your parents. After all, they are the people who brought you to this world and taught you so much. You really owe it to them and you can never really repay them.
Besides, what’s a bit more screentime for you anyway?
*Here are some helpful memes and videos for you to feel like you are not the only one.
Teaching Computers to Parents – Foil Arms and Hog
Inside Amy Schumer – Mom Computer Therapy
I wish you good luck!