As I pulled into the parking lot for work yesterday morning, I was extremely disturbed by something I saw. The church where I am employed has a lovely pre-school, which attracts mostly what I would call the typical upper-middle class soccer mom type families...for lack of a better description. I love to see the adorable children arriving to school each morning, driven by Moms and Dads in their fancy SUVs and other luxury vehicles. The kids are freshly scrubbed and dressed in the latest designer kids fashions, "mini-me's" of their equally dressed designer moms.
So what could be so disturbing about that? Granted, the majority of these parents are extremely involved in the lives of their precious children, sometimes almost to a fault, if that is possible. But there is a disturbing trend that I have been noticing...not just at our pre-school, but in public in general, wherever parents and children are moving about.
Please don't call me a fuddy-duddy, or out of touch with the times, okay? Just hear me out. What got MY attention yesterday morning was so upsetting to me it was almost more than I could do to keep quiet and not go chasing after this parent and shouting in her face, "Mommy! Pay attention to your child!" What was this mother doing that was so distressing? No, she wasn't abusing her child physically, at least not obviously or on purpose. But what she WAS doing was totally ignoring her child...a precious, adorable little girl, not more than 3 or 4 years old, who was trying her best to keep up with her mommy as they crossed the street right in front of my car as I turned into the parking lot...the little girl looked at me with big wide eyes circled with bright pink eye glasses. She kept reaching up to her mommy and looking up at her and saying, "Mommy, mommy!" And what was "Mommy" doing? Yep, you guessed it...she had her face down, staring at the "smartphone" in her hand, obviously engrossed in reading and/or sending texts back and forth, and totally ignoring the pleas of her child. The child was still in the street, trying to catch up with mommy, and mommy just kept walking, not holding her young child's hand as they crossed the street...totally oblivious to the fact that there was even a vehicle in the street very near her lagging child. Fortunately I was paying attention and going slowly...but that is a through street, and oftentimes other vehicles are not as cautious as I was being.
As I pulled into my parking space I kept watching this pair walking up the sidewalk toward the classrooms, and that frustrated little girl kept trying to get her mother's attention, kept trying to reach up to hold her hand, kept saying, "Mommy, mommy!"....And never once did I see that mother stop what she was doing and look at her child. Never once did she reach down and take her hand and speak to her child. She continued to walk with her eyes riveted on her phone, totally ignoring the most important person right before her eyes.
I had to stop and say a prayer for that child and that mother right then and there. I prayed, first of all, that God would protect that sweet child and surround her with His angels at all times, because obviously her mother wasn't too concerned about the immediate welfare of her precious baby. I prayed secondly for that mother, that her eyes would be opened to see her beautiful child...and to cherish her the way I'm sure she intended to, but has gotten sidetracked along the way by the addiction to the gadgets of this world as well as the cares and concerns of whatever or whomever she was so obviously interested in that she would be so totally engrossed in her communication to totally forget her child was beside her.
That is what it is...an addiction to gadgetry. Not that cell phones/smartphones, laptops, IPODS, IPADS, or whatever you call them are evil things in themselves. No, they serve a great purpose, and when used appropriately are marvelous tools to connect us to the rest of the world. I wouldn't be communicating with you right now if it weren't for this magnificent technology. But I constantly have to remind myself that I have a family here in my living room, right behind me, who may be trying to get my attention...and I may be just as guilty of ignoring their pleas as I keep reading and writing instead of focusing my eyes on them.
As I was thinking about this topic, I "googled" a search for a "picture of a parent on a cell phone ignoring their child", and the following article from the Wall Street Journal popped up. I have attached the link here for your reading. It pretty well describes and sums up what I am trying to say...
Wall Street Journal article on "The Perils of Texting While Parenting"
I have challenged our young technologically inclined youth pastor to consider taking the youth group on a retreat away from technology for one weekend...no smartphones, computer games, TV, gadgets, etc., for one weekend. He said they would not be able to function. They could not survive such a weekend. I laughingly teased him saying that "he could not function" without the technology either...and he agreed. It is a part of their culture, their makeup, their generation. They have lived with this kind of interaction and communication for their whole lives, and they don't know how to get along without it.
I wonder what would happen if we had a total technological blackout? Would we be able to survive? I don't know if the younger generation could...but what about the rest of us? Have we come so far away from using our own resources, imaginations, and creativity that we cannot function without our "gadgets"? Do we even know how to communicate with each other FACE to FACE, EYEBALL to EYEBALL, without being distracted by ringtones and the constant draw of yes, I'll say it, facebook, youtube, tweets, texts, etc.?
|My new cabinet, purposely built to look "old"|
|wanna play a game with me?|
My woodworker son just recently built me a new cabinet for our home, with the intention of giving me some storage space for some things that have been kept in boxes in a storage room ever since we moved to this house. Some of those particular items are board games...and the idea is now that we have them more easily accessible, we will sit down as a family and PLAY those games. We will turn off the computers, cell phones, TV, and focus our attention on each other for an evening, or a weekend, and enjoy family time again.
Ok, I've said my piece. I've gotta go for now. My family is playing a game without me...granted, it is a "Wii" game on the TV, but they are together, and playing. They are asking for my attention.
Final Words: "Mommy, Daddy, Husband, Wife, Teenager, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILD, SPOUSE, PARENTS, FAMILY!!!" What could be more important than that?
1. When was the last time YOU put down your computer, laptop, smartphone, etc., and focused attention on your loved one, friend, child, spouse, person next to you on the plane?
2. Does your family set aside time for family interaction, game time, conversations, focused attention?
3. If it has been awhile, why not take a "retreat" away from your gadgets and spend a weekend together doing something totally non-technological? Take a hike, bike ride, play outdoor games, build something together, play Monopoly or Scrabble or cards.
4. We only have our loved ones, children, spouses, parents, friends for a little while on this earth. Why not purposely set aside some "quality and quantity" time to make some special memories while you have the opportunity. Don't text your time away thinking you've got plenty of time. You may live to regret that choice.