Is unplugging the key to better parenting?
So I’m sitting at our weekly story time at our library and I notice something. There are 8 parents here today. It’s a decent size group today! Especially for such a small room, but what I notice about 6 of these 8 parents, (myself unfortunately included) is that we were on our phones. We were texting, on Facebook, Pinterest, playing candy crush, surfing eBay etc. we were all buried in our screens rather than paying attention to the books being read to our children, much less our children themselves. We brought our children to story time at the library and let the story reader parent our children.
Are we trading precious time with our children for a screen? I don’t know about you, but in the days since I observed this in our library I’ve tried to be more conscious of being on my phone when I should be playing with my son. I noticed that as we were playing ninja turtles I was scrolling through Facebook. As we were coloring, I was also texting. As we were kicking the ball in our backyard, I was on the phone. I am heartbroken! My son deserves more than my “hang on, let me finish this text”.
It’s disgusting; it’s pure selfishness and addiction. We all know that feeling when we forget our phone at home for a day of work. We all have that panic and those thoughts of someone calling in an emergency, especially about our children. However, when we really think about it, what are we really panicking about? Truthfully it’s about what we are missing on Facebook and Pinterest and other social media sites. We’re panicking about being disconnected. We are panicking about being alone. We are panicking about missing something “important”. What are we going to read when we go to the bathroom?! We might have to think thoughts and form opinions all on our own. Oh, the horror!
What does the Bible Say?
You know that “still small voice” that the Bible talks about? That’s how we listen to the Lord’s voice; this and reading the Bible during our QUIET time. How are we supposed to listen to our Lord while we are scrolling through Facebook at the same time? How are we supposed to listen to the Lord when we can even dedicate 5 solid, uninterrupted minutes to Him? Are you wondering why God isn’t speaking to you? Are you wondering what you’re missing in that relationship? Maybe this is it! Maybe you can’t be quiet enough to hear the Lord talking to you!
We’ve all had those friends who interrupt us while we are talking. It’s annoying yes and eventually, you get to the point where you quit trying to talk and you quit even listening to what they’re saying after a while! While I know that the Lord listens when we come before Him with a pure, repentant heart part of me thinks He stops trying to talk after a while when our conversations are continuously interrupted by our phones, iPads, computers, people etc. I know you stop trying to make conversations with those friends who constantly interrupt or is texting during the conversation. Yet we all do it! Again, myself included! I pull out my phone when I’m talking to someone at Awana pick up and text someone back only to realize that 1. That text was not important. 2. I have no idea what the physical person was saying to me. 3. I’ve just been horribly rude. We have to remember that if people are texting us, there is a 99% it is NOT important. If it’s that important they will call us.
I’ve started screening my texts as of late. If it’s not my husband texting me, or whoever is watching my children, it can’t be that important to wait until a more appropriate moment.
So back to my main point; Parenting.
If you’re a normal parent you’ve picked up a few parenting books to help you become a better parent. Whether it be a better nurturer, being better at discipline, a better playmate, whatever. We’ve all read a few books to enlighten us on the ways of children. But maybe the key to all this parenting stuff is not what we pick up, maybe it’s what we put down. If we put down our phones, iPads, computers, remotes etc we will be able to focus 100% of our attention on our children. That’s all they’re really wanting anyway. When their sweet voices ask us “mommy will you play with me?” He isn’t asking to play with you between text messages. When he asks to cuddle with you and watch a movie he isn’t asking to sit next to you when you play on Facebook. He’s asking for you 100% attention to get on his level and connect with him and interact with him! You know as well as I do that children need love, care, consistency, and ATTENTION! They connect with their peers by playing. They want to connect to their parents on the only level they know how. Again, you guessed it, by playing and attention.
I don’t know about you, but I stink at this. I am attached to my phone in a way that I’m not comfortable really explaining. It goes everywhere with me. When I’m bored I’m on it constantly. This is atrocious. I find it difficult to sit and play without having it around. Honestly, I don’t play well with my son. I don’t make “boy noises” like my husband does and I don’t understand why this is “fun” most of the time, but I needed this kick in the pants that it’s not about what I want out of our play time. It’s what my son is getting out of our play time. He’s getting his mommy. That’s all he wants. His love language right now is still quality time. It’s hard to give quality when a screen stands between you and your little one.
I don’t often challenge my readers, but I challenge you to put the phone down. Not all day, but at least for a few hours so you can play and connect with your child(ren). I’m no scientist, but I bet that they will behave better, they will listen better, they will be kinder and you will be amazed at the change in the relationship that you have with them. After all, they won’t be crying out (verbally or not) for their parents to just pay attention to them.
For a candid view on being a “hands-free mama” check out this book by Rachel Macy Stafford.
One last question: is unplugging the key to better parenting? Is unplugging the key to a better relationship with your kids?