Quality time . . . or is it?
I want you to pretend that you’re 4 years old and excited because you’re going with Mom to your favorite playground! The one with the awesome slide and the perfect swings! YAAAYY!
Getting out of the car, you see Mom with cell phone in hand (normal). You squeal, “Hurry, Mom! Let’s go!” You run to the first set of swings and jump on with the intention to get as high as possible — really fast.
“Push me, Mom! I want to go high!”
She pushes with one hand while also focusing on texting with the other.
“Mom, push me more!”
She looks up from her device, smiles, nods and gives your rear end a push to help you go higher.
Now you are flying up to the clouds. You explode with, “Mom, look at me!” as you reach the top of the swings’ sweeping arc.
As you look down, you see her frantically tapping her thumb on her device while at the same time holding up 1 finger, like she’s saying, “just-a-minute.”
She finally looks up to see you, and snaps a picture to remember the moment. (guilt?)
You LOVE the playground! Now you jump off and go over to the large slide. You look to see if Mom is watching you, only to see her talking to someone on the other end of her phone, while you climb the ladder — really high up! (Mom, I’m way up here!)
She’s deep in conversation. Then she looks up at you, and you sail down the slide, wishing she’d slide down with you . . .make a “train”.
“Mom! Look at ME!”
She’s doing something with her phone again. After awhile, she makes eye contact with you and hollers, “Hi, Sweetie!” and watches you for a few seconds and takes another picture before looking back at her phone.
. . . . as that 4 year old, what are you feeling right now? What decisions are you making about your value in the family, in the world?
What are YOU modeling?
Our kids learn SO MUCH about relationships and human interaction by watching us.
If what they see is their parent fully absorbed with their device(s) — most of the time — what are they learning?
Don’t need to say more. You get it.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore my phone. If my kids were little now, I’d have to be very deliberate in my choices . . . of when to use my phone, and when to be fully present for my kids..
I encourage you to really think this through.
Make it be OK to “silence” your phone at predetermined times — or when your son wants 5 minutes.
If your kids are older and have their own phones, discuss this in your regular family meetings and choose times when ALL phones will be off. Possibly dinner time? Possibly when you’re sharing a family activity?
If you have a teen whose phone is attached to her like another appendage, then find a good time and tell her how you feel. Use “I statements”. Ask for what you want. Ask her how she feels.
Gotta love our devices.
And we’ve gotta nurture our relationships, too, right?
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