A recent news item that gained national attention caught my eye. It told of a second-grade boy who was tasked with responding to the following: “Tell me about an invention that you don’t like. Why?” Now, I’m not sure what kinds of answers this teacher typically received. Perhaps little boys don’t like vacuum cleaners or lawn mowers or shots from the doctor or even guns or bombs. But the little boy in question provided what I believe to be a wake-up call for parents:
“I don’t like the phone because my parents are on the phone every day.” He went on to observe that “a phone is sometimes a really bad habit” and that he “hates” his mom’s phone. I think we need to listen to this little guy.
My kids are grown, and now I’m enjoying my three grandchildren. Whenever I am around my grandchildren, they command my attention. And when my kids were small, we didn’t have smartphones. But I have certainly noticed what I think concerns our second-grade social commentator. Everywhere I go, I see children competing for the attention of their parents who are focused intently on their portable devices. Whether they are playing, performing, or simply talking, kids seem to be increasingly ignored by parents otherwise occupied.
Dads, let’s think about this for a moment. I don’t know a dad anywhere who believes his phone (email, social media, whatever) is more important than his kids. But when we ignore our little ones while we focus on our screens, what are we communicating to them? When they see more interest devoted to talking or texting with someone far away while they have to wait to be heard while standing in front of us, what are we telling them?
I’m not trying to come down on anyone. It’s easy to get distracted–especially with all the alerts our phones give us with the purpose of convincing us what is most urgent. Nor am I suggesting you get rid of your smartphones. What I would like to do is give you some suggestions to help let our kids know that they matter more than our phones.
Author: Mike Miller. Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Jacksonville, TX.
Talk about slapping me up side the head! I really needed to read that. I have a 1 yr old and he already is copying dad. I want him to know I’m there for him no mater what.
How do you get your boss to agree to this kind of behavior, since many are at work because of economic conditions of the World/USA?
My bosses (I answer to two different chains of command…fun) are well aware that my family is most important. I tell my subordinates that their family should be most important. If a real emergency happens we’ll all know and respond. Small crises will be handled by someone. It doesn’t have to be you. Or me. It could be the 4th person on the call list. Otherwise, family is the most important thing. If the boss doesn’t get that, or doesn’t care, find a new boss. I’m serious, and I understand the severity of that statement.
I agree with these words of wisdom. Look we all know that we are spending too much time on our smart phones (self included). I am so glad I only had a flip phone that made calls when my children were growing up around me. Work and farm chores took enough time away from them.
Thanks Mike, that is a great reminder. It never ceases to amaze me how often it is, when we are out to eat, we will see an entire family all looking at their own phones, through an entire meal, and saying almost nothing to one another.
This is very true. I have been working on doing this very thing. It’s not easy. I have set my mind to do the “no phone” thing and have used the “let’s google it” excuse to pick it back up. Thank you for the challenge and the reminder. My kids are older too, and now any time i get with them is precious, I need to treat as such.
As a corporate trainer, I teach, “Nothing is more important than the person in front of you right now.” That goes for supervisors who are trying to be better leaders and it goes for people who are trying to be better parents. As soon as you pull out that phone during a conversation you are telling the other person, “this is more important than you.” And that message is loud and clear – even though not one word has been said.
There isn’t enough room here to entertain all my thoughts on electronic mobile devices. Just wanted to add support to this message.