I know, I know, you are thinking, here he goes, off on a crazy MARK tangent!! Bear with me now as it will all make sense in a moment.
A few facts: Did you know the average person touches their phone 2617 times per day?!?! Can you get your minds around that? That means if you are usually awake for 16 hours a day, you touch that smartphone, 163.5 times every single hour OR 2.7 times per minute!!! Imagine if we were that engaged with our kids? Or if I was affectionate with them even half that amount each day?
Men, seriously now, have you ever stopped to realize that parenting while distracted simply won’t work? Ever??
We are only beginning to understand the powerful, negative impact that this ubiquitous, tech device is having on our lives, our relationships, our emotions, on our habits, and the temptations that are overwhelming men and women because of it.
I know of couples who primarily communicate by texting each other, even while there are at home. The average person spends almost 5 hours a day on their smartphone, between notifications, texts, social media, scanning the web, etc, etc. Been to an airport recently? Just look up from your own phone and see all the people walking, standing, sitting, staring obsessively at that thing in their hands!! Then look back down at your own phone as you walk to your gate, and you realize YOU ARE ONE OF THEM! We have entered Zombie-land!! We are checked out and plugged in. Our kids are growing up around us and we are too distracted or preoccupied, or constantly interrupted to notice, or to even begin to be effectively engaged in fathering them.
Dad’s, please know, I am not trying to hurt feelings here. I grasp that many of you out there need this device to do your jobs!! But know this, we do not need this device to be a great father. In fact, this device and all of its allurements, distractions, and interruptions will destroy your ability and effectiveness to be a good, loving, attentive, emotionally and relationally engaged father in your children’s lives. On top of that, it is a horrible example to your own children. They are very smart and soon they begin to realize dad’s phone is more important to him than me!
Men, our kids need us to be present emotionally, mentally, spiritually and relationally present in their lives. In order to do that we need to re-examine our life and our relationship to this weapon of mass distraction.
Studies have shown us beyond a doubt that just having the phone in our pocket, or sitting by us at the dinner table, greatly distracts the mind and takes our attention away from the person you are sitting with. I know deep in your heart that each of you men wants to be good, godly fathers. You each greatly love and care for your children. Time is flying by for each of us. You want to make sure you are there, present, and engaged relationally, emotionally and spiritually in their world. You want to be alert to their needs, their fears, their questions, and to the signals you will pick up, or the things they tell you out of there little mouths. If you would just be there and aware to listen and actually hear and ascertain what is going on in there precious life.
Fathers, we do not get a do-over with our kids!! You get one chance to do this right, and before you know it, they will be 18!!
I would like to offer a few suggestions:
Helpful Tip 1
Be honest with yourself. Try to step back and honestly examine your habit and relationship with your smartphone.
Helpful Tip 2
Consider this: I have a friend who took his smartphone so he could use it just as a GPS and phone only. He is a software guy and he removed every other app or found ways to shut them down. This way the device meets the simplest of his needs, without him being a slave to the device. It was him using the device rather than the iPhone using him.
Helpful Tip 3
Consider getting a flip phone for yourself. This can help you in so many ways. First, it helps relieve the temptation to go to places on your smartphone you shouldn’t be going. It makes it much easier to avoid so many distractions as you know, O yeah, I only have a flip phone, and can’t do that other stuff.
Helpful Tip 4
Consider this, maybe you simply need to have the smartphone for work all day. Then try to get a landline through your internet at home. Turn off your smartphone when walking into your house from work and put it away.
Men, we must be willing to do whatever it takes to re-engage in our children’s lives. Their future and their eternal souls are on the line. Believe it or not your kids are way more important and meaningful than any smartphone could ever be.
I am sure to many of you I sound like a dinosaur. At 62, I still have no cell phone, or smartphone and somehow, I have found a way to actually function in the things that really matter in life. I know some think I am crazy. I have 11 grandkids and somehow, I can still be a grandpa without taking a picture, or video of them every 30 seconds!! That may not seem possible to you, but alas, I do my best.
Men, take back your life, take back that precious time with your kids, be all in, get engaged, be present, and you will begin to see more and more the great treasure and joy your children really are. What’s more, they will begin to see, experience and feel they really matter to you.
Because of Jesus.
Helping you become a strong disciple,