Working in a pediatric clinic, I see families of all backgrounds, ages, races and genders. What I’ve noticed more and more is the presence of cell phones. Some parents don’t acknowledge when I walk in because they are playing a game on their phone. Others don’t put their phone down throughout the visit but will answer questions when asked. Their children, if they are not distracted with their own phones and air pods, notice the actions of their parents…
Time to get personal. At home, my own children sometimes have to compete for my attention as well. Sometimes I may be using my cell phone for ordering groceries, chatting with extended family, or reading devotionals, but other times I am wasting precious time on social media or emails that could otherwise be spent with my (in every sense of the word) blessings. Then it hit me. How many times have my kids seen me holding a cell phone vs holding/reading the Holy Bible – not a Bible app, but an actual paper-bound version of God’s Word? Honestly, my youngest – never. My oldest – only a handful of times. And if I do take the time to read my Bible, it is usually in my bedroom, privately.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
Sponges. My babies’ minds are soaking up everything I say or
demonstrate at this stage of life. NOTHING goes unnoticed in my household and
my 3 year old calls us out on Everything.
Those same 2 eyes and 2 ears that correct us when we talk with our mouths full are absorbing how vital a little lifeless device is. I am crying at the thought that my children might also think that I prioritize it over them, considering how much attention I give to it.
That ends now. Today I bought my phone a house. I went shopping at Walmart and literally purchased a wooden box with a latch that fits 2 cell phones in it (example with the same dimensions can be found below). If I am going to let it demand my attention like an unruly, disrespectful child, it is time for it to go to timeout. I am so incapable of fighting the temptation of seeing who just texted me, looking at the weather for tomorrow, and checking status updates that I have to put it in a box and get some “out of sight, out of mind” time. I have started using my box and it is like I have 50% more of my attention to give to my children who are hungry and thirsty for every second of my time. I understand that phones are necessary when playdates need to be planned, spouses need to be updated on meal times, or whatever life brings. There are exceptions to everything; but in the end, I think most of us can relate in some way to needing help with re-prioritizing. The pocket-sized idols need to be put in their place; and that place, for me, is in a box where it is no longer robbing me of any memories from my children who are growing up waaaaay too quickly.
My children also need to see that I love reading my Bible. They need to see that it sustains me, is full of wisdom, and that it is vital to how I live my life. I do not need to only read it in private but I need to read it in front of them and even out loud to them; and then that will lead to positive, constructive discussions. I’m thankful for God’s grace in opening my distracted eyes so that I don’t miss out on something so precious that I will never get back, and also for guiding me to better lead and equip my children for life. A cell phone is not going to be what picks them up when the world knocks the wind out of them; it is Christ and His Word that will be their only rescue and refuge.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children…
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:1, 8b-21
If you have 50 minutes, I strongly encourage you and your spouse to watch this video from our church that was recorded a few months ago. It gives some practical and very useful tips on how to handle technology with your children. Click here: Your Family & Technology.
Please Open Your Eyes to the World Around You – for the days are evil and we will never get a second chance to have these moments.
I wrote this 3 months ago and have been using my box a lot. It has helped so much! I am so much more “present”.. My marriage has also benefited from less phone time. We actually have a code word now if we are on our phone during “family time” and our kids are needing our attention. This is going to be an ongoing topic for future posts I feel… stay tuned.
Amazon is an affiliate. I don’t normally post products but this one has helped change our family, so I strongly believe in a 6 dollar investment.