In our world that we live in today, and people’s infatuation with social media, television shows, and entertainment or technology in general, it seems that we are quickly losing sight in the true meaning of quality time. When I was a kid, we always had dinner together as a family. If we ate “on time” then we would watch Wheel of Fortune together as a family. It wasn’t like we were sitting there silent together, as we each took turns guessing puzzles and laughing with one another while breaking bread. Of course this was in a time before cell phones, but I wasn’t allowed to keep my pager at the table or check to see if I got a buzz. And we didn’t even answer the phone if it rang, because we were spending genuine time together and the rest of the world could wait until we were through.
Now, I don’t know about you, but not a lot of people that I know don’t practice this anymore. They are glued to the television or their cell phones or tablets, lost in a TV series or checking status updates and feeds. Being together in the same room at the same time does not truly signify quality time. It’s what you do when you are together that speaks volumes. The rest of the world can wait, because as a family, you need and each deserve to give one another your undivided attention.
When we are spending time with our family, it’s important for everyone in the family to practice this. For us adults, we are super guilty of checking our work emails when we are supposed to be with the family. I’ve been guilty of this, I must admit. As has my husband on multiple occasions during family time. For those of us that take our careers seriously it’s difficult to detach sometimes when we are away. As a person who works from home, I find this even more difficult for me to practice. Sometimes, leaving the phone on the charger, or the laptop tucked away when it’s movie time is another big step that shows leading by example.
So many times when I go out to eat with my family, I see far too many children glued to a tablet while the family is eating. The electronic babysitter is a crutch that has to be stopped. Kids know how to behave at a restaurant as long as they are taught and expected to practice good behavior. Relying on an electronic device to “watch” your children so they behave while you are eating together isn’t the correct approach for many reasons. For one, it’s horrible for their tiny eyes to be staring so close to a digital screen. Then there’s the fact that they are drowning out from being with their family while their eyes are locked to whatever movie or game that is captivating their attention. Have your time together as a family should be authentic, with everyone participating as a whole.
Our children grow like weeds right before our very eyes, and it’s crucial for them (as well as ourselves) that the memories we build together are ones that we are proud of. Because if you think about it, children grow into adults and often practice things they know with their own children one day. When I eat with my family we don’t answer the phones, the kids don’t have electronic devices in front of them, and 99% of the time the television isn’t even on. Being together needs to be about being together, and I want my kids to know how important this is to me, so I lead by example to show them how much I care. Hopefully one day they will follow my lead and do the same when they become mothers/fathers, just like their mother and father did.
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