Family Time - Lose the phones!

Family Time - Lose the phones!

As a little girl I remember turning around in my mom's skirt when she was talking to a friend and wishing for it to end. I hated it when she didn’t pay attention to me. I also remember her talking to her friends in the school parking lot and getting so annoyed I’d honk the horn of the car which always resulted in trouble. Nevertheless, I did it. When my kids honked the horn the first time I thought oh no, I get it, I'm coming. But you see I'm guilty as well. And nowadays add the cell phones in. Yes, I'm guilty here too.

On many occasions when I suggest a plan for family downtime or time without cell phones and computers I hear, “It just doesn’t work that way anymore!” or “ You don’t understand!” Well, the thing is, I do.

You see I grew up with 10 siblings! That makes 11 kids, eleven different schedules. That is a lot to handle. One of us had debate, the other had orchestra, and we all had friends. I mentioned our mealtimes were important, but on top of those meals my parents also had a family evening once a week. On Sundays, we weren’t allowed to play with friends and on weeknights, no friends after dinner. It was a rule and even though I didn’t always like it we had family time.

Today the teens (and adults) are in constant communication with their friends via Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram and maybe even Twitter. Smaller children are confronted with watching their parents chat away on their phones only half listening or paying attention to them.

Kids need and want attention! Adults need and want attention too. Set aside a specific time to just enjoy your families company every week. Make it a priority. This is a phone free, computer free time for the family. It can be watching a movie together, playing monopoly or even Wii. It could also be reading a book aloud, taking a walk, a hike or a bike ride. Whatever your family enjoys doing is fine but put the distractions away and pay attention to each other.

A friend of mine told me her car was silent when she was driving the kids in a carpool to school. I asked her if the kids didn't like each other? Were they fighting and not talking? Oh yes, the kids were friends and talking with each other, only they did this via chat leaving the mom, the driver, out of the picture. This is one situation I wouldn't tolerate. Tell them to put their phones down and get to know those teens. Don't let them bring their cell phones to the table and don't have yours at the table either. Can you imagine your grandpa reading a book at the table during dinner or passing folded secret messages under the table? I dare say not! Times have changed, but not really.  The distractions are different, but we’ve always had distractions.

—Allison Ochs