Children learn by example. They watch our every move and listen to every word (especially when we think they aren’t!). So we, as parents, need to examine our own behavior and attitudes.
I saw last week on a news program that today’s teenagers are masters of multi-tasking. They engage in multiple text conversations and listen to music and play video games and work on homework. All at the same time! Many teens say they can’t even do homework without these other activities going on.
I’m shocked…and scared for our kids. As a young mother of five, I prided myself on being able to accomplish multiple tasks. Heck, I could make dinner while bouncing a baby in my backpack, quizzing one kid on multiplication facts, and participating in a spirited game of I Spy with the other three! Did I feel good about being with my kids and getting dinner on the table? You betcha! But did I do my best at any of those tasks mentioned? No way. And that made me feel a little frustrated at the end of the day.
Take that situation and multiply by 100 to get a glimpse of what our teens (and even younger kids) are experiencing. Imagine not ever really concentrating on the thing at hand. Always keeping ears perked for that magic little tone with a message that indicates something is going on somewhere else that’s probably better than what you’re doing. Never experiencing that feeling of putting all of one’s self into an effort, a project, a conversation or … a prayer.
I think I can rein myself in when it comes to preoccupation with gadgets, but I want my kids to understand this, too. So, I have made a decision. I will keep cell phones in a basket by the door when my kids come home for the evening. Sure, they can check once or twice to see if any emergency requires a response, but the rest can wait until the next day.
I’d like them to be present during our time together. How much more valued will our loved ones feel if we give them all of our attention when we’re with them? How much better will grades become when the work in front of a student is the main thing on his mind? And how much more interesting would conversations be if they consisted of more than abbreviated answers in the form of text messages?
None of this can happen with my kids unless I also embrace the motto: NO MORE MULTI-TASKING! I will turn off that cell phone and put down that i-pad when my family is around. I hope to set an example by being totally present in my interactions with loved ones, friends, neighbors, and most importantly, God…. Join me?