Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Distracted Parenting by Carol Ford
I was one of the last people to buy a smart phone and it immediately had a hold on me. The possibility of having internet on demand was a new and exciting experience.
The majority of adults, teens and children have a Smartphone in the palm of their hand wherever they go. It doesn’t appear to be only people under the age of thirty five—the age category is more diverse than that. They look at the screen while driving their cars, walking their dogs, eating in restaurants and throughout their homes. Surveys indicate that there is no more than five feet between an individual and their device. [i] Apparently much of what goes on a mobile phone is built to be addictive and one in eight of us will fall prey to its spell. [ii] Hmm, they, whoever they are, know what they are doing.
How would a Smartphone have affected my parenting if I had one in the 1980’s? Most of today’s parents, like me, enjoy texting or looking at their smartphones as often as possible. I see them with their heads bent over their screen while their children are playing in the park, when they are eating out or attending a child’s sporting event. Physically they are with their children, but mentally they seem distracted. They may even be viewing someone else’s child doing a cute stunt on You Tube. When this is happening, their own children tend to act out or misbehave to try and regain their parent’s attention, but then everything seems to deteriorate into an unpleasant scene.
I wanted to know how widespread the problem was and started researching the topic. It was a surprise to me that most articles I found dealt with parents trying to limit and control the amount of time their children spend on electronic devices. There was very little focus on controlling the parent’s excessive use of technology.
If our children have a problem, would it not follow that we are their examples? There are laws and fines for distracted driving, but what about distracted parenting—or grandparenting?
Jesus always made children a priority “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)
When I asked a mother of two about writing on this topic, she replied, “I’ve read articles on the topic that mostly make us feel like terrible people, but if you could find a way to equip us with tips or ideas on how to help break these bad habits when we are with our kids, and leave us encouraged, I think you’ll have written something really valuable.”
So with her and others in mind, I am listing a few practical ideas to help control smartphone usage (btw, I took some of these ideas for breaking a bad habit from the internet):
· Pray for guidance. “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)
· Recognize it as a problem and don’t deny or minimize the impact it may be having on your family. Talk to them about it.
· Notice the time of day, locations, or situations where you are most tempted to indulge in this activity. Set goals for when you can use the phone and make a commitment to turn it off at the same time each night.
· Analyze why being socially connected is so enjoyable. It may be a symptom of deeper needs, such as boredom or loneliness.
· Eliminate Apps, emails, and friends or groups who blog or post constantly.
· Plan family activities such as board games, biking, library visits or writing a play and create good family memories—no phones allowed during these times.
· Ask your children to help you be accountable—turn it into a fun reward for good behaviour.
Mobile technology offers us some benefits— safety, convenience, connection to old and new friends and colleagues, immediate information when we need it and much more. Giving up our phones isn’t an option, but setting boundaries can be. As a Christian this war can be won by “Put(ing) on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11 NLT)
The Serenity prayer seems like a good way to close, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
Carol Ford - Author in Christmas with Hot Apple Cider
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