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Hang up and talk to your kid

So I am at the new yogurt shop called Yo Top It in West Linn on an outing with one of my 12-year-old twins, Wesley. I try to take each of my kids out individually, and with back to school here, I wanted to have this time with my seventh grader to talk.  When we walk in to the yogurt shop, there are only two others in the shop- a mom and her preschooler. The mom is on her cell phone while her pre-school son is sitting there eating his yogurt.

The store manager explains that we can try out different flavors which we happily do. While testing raspberry and vanilla and strawberry and chocolate, Wesley and I talk about which flavors we like and don’t like and the toppings that would work with each. It’s fun to listen to my kids’ thoughts and ideas. . . all, the while, I keep noticing this mom and her preschooler in the shop – the mom continues talking on her cell phone while her kid is just sitting there eating his yogurt quietly.

And, I think to myself, what is going on here? Can’t this mom wait till later to speak on the phone? It made me feel sad for this kid. I thought, would a mom sit there talking to someone on her cell phone if she were with another mom friend, essentially ignoring the person she is with. I understand there are times when we have to make a quick call or text message while in a cafe with another person. But, to talk on the phone the entire time we are with another person is another story altogether.

Yes, kids need to learn how to use the off button when it comes to electronics, but I also say parents need to learn restraint as well. It’s about respect for others in the restaurant – and etiquette regarding how we show others (our kids)  they are valuable to us.

Another recent time, I was at McDonalds with my 7-year-old, and this man was in there with his (presumably) daughter, who looked like she was about 4-years-old. This dad sat there on his I-pod playing games while his daughter ate her food and looked around at other people. The dad glanced up from his game only when he told his daughter to eat all of her food, or when she got up on her knees, he told her to sit back down, then went right back to his game.

Again, I felt sad for this little girl, and once again pondered. As parents, are we so addicted to our electronic devices that we cannot turn them off while eating a meal, or having a snack, with our children?

I also see it when parents are driving in the car with their kids is in the back seat as well — parents in the front on their cell phones while kids are in the back. As parents, we are missing opportunities to speak with our kids during car trips and cafe outings about life and love and culture and God and ideas and dreams and thoughts.

I’ve written about kids learning where the off button is, and I also say adults need to learn to use the off button as well.

You’ve seen the bumper stickers: Hang up and Drive. I will add to that, Hang up and talk to your kid.

Interestingly, I just discovered a story on this issue in the New York Times- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/garden/10childtech.html

Posted in Children, Culture, Family Life, Kids, Life, Moms, Parenting.

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7 Responses

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  1. Kristen Leach says

    I have thought many times about what life would be like without so much technology. How our world would be different. What would change in our daily lives. If it would be a better way of life without than it is with it all.This blog was of great insight to me and my thoughts. It is such a discouragement to me that children now can only seem to entertain themselves by having their heads in a screen, playing with a virtual reality. I miss the days of imagination and playing cowboys and indians. What’s even more of a disappointment, are these parents, whose worlds revolve around their phones and computers instead of around their child. What could be more important at that time than the relationship you have with your son or daughter? They will not be around forever, so why not cherish and make the most of those moments? I know it means the world to me, when someone disregards a phone call or text message in order to completely focus on the time they have with me. I feel special, honored and important. How much more so would a child feel when their parent places all attention and conversation on their relationship only? Love comes in all sorts of facets and methods, but quality time is one of the many love languages known to and practiced by people today. Sometimes, loving your child means putting them above yourself and the desires or conversations you may want to have.

  2. Marina says

    Although I am neither a mother nor have children of my own, your thoughts really struck a chord within me. I remember as if it were yesterday sitting in Starbucks with my friend Katie, drinking our white mocha’s and talking about life. Every two minutes my cell phone would buzz and I would glance down–oh just for a second–to reply to a text message. As I looked up for the millionth time from my phone my gaze was met with the deeply wounded and hurt face of my dear friend. From that day on, we added a rule to our hang-out times: No cell phone use while we are together.

    Now, this might sound silly to some, but it got me thinking- When was the last time I was fully engaged in my daily conversations and interactions with the people I run into? I believe the distractions of this world (while they are meant to serve a good purpose) bind us from growing healthy, valuable, authentic relationships with the people closest to us.

    There is something about intentionality that I think we often miss when it comes to cultivating relationships. You mean I have to actually put in effort to make my relationship better? Or to make it work? Yes, if you value your co-worker/neighbor/spouse/friend/child you might have to intentionally turn off your distractions and actually talk to them.

    Thanks, Prof. Seigneur :)

  3. Faith Mutagubya says

    After reading this, i feel guilty that i have never thought about that ” ignoring another mother while on the phone”, i usually ignore the phone while i am with a friend but not with my own child? i think we are causing our kids to run away from reality, which will affect them in future– isolation will be the answer and that is not healthy.
    Thank you for opening our eyes.

  4. Lori says

    I was about to disagree with this but as I was writing my comment I changed my mind. I’m a solo mom who works full-time and there are times when I have to take work calls or spend time on the phone making appointments or plans of some sort. But I don’t think that is what you are referring to in this blog. And I realized,- now that my son is in grade 8 (yikes how did that happen?), that I wish I could go back and be “there”. Especially those times when I was smarter than YouTube. Or his friends. Or when I was on vacation and took the work calls. I justified those because it made me feel good that I was needed, my son needed to learn about work ethic, blah, blah, blah. And perhaps a portion of that is true. But if so then why do I still have those times in my memory bank and why do they make me sad? And the memories of when my dad did the same to us as children? So really – what have I taught him? That work or the person on the other phone is more important than he is? Not exactly the legacy I wanted to leave.

  5. maru says

    I think I’ve seen this woman too? I think she goes to my church too? :D
    I say, “Stop TWEETING and start TALKING… to your kids!” :)

    BTW, This new yogurt shop in our neighborhood is WAY over-prized, WAY over-crowded, WAY over-rated! Whatever happen to good ol’ Diary Queen??? :)

  6. KC Anderson says

    Cornelia:

    Great thoughts this week, you are so right about our complete addiction to cell phones.
    Some of the best conversations I every had with my kids was heading down the road to school, off to practce or just going for a ride to see what we could see. I remember the day Magic Johnson made his announcement about his coming down with aids, I extended our car ride so my two teenage boys at the time could talk to me about their feelings, fears and how they were feeling, now young men they still remind me of that conversation and how it mattered to them.

    Take Care,

    KCA

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