Children need their parents to be Present. Whether they recognize it or not, children desire out Presence. As infants, they cry out to us when they are hungry or want to be held. When they are young, they seek our protection when they hear a bump in the night. Our children look to us for help and advice when facing issues and struggles in their lives.
Even as teenagers, when they are rebellious and seem distant, they still seek our Presence to help guide them. While they may not come to us directly, they observe how we behave and treat others, especially the ones we love.
Unfortunately, our children are in constant competition for our attention. This is especially true in this era of constant distraction.
This post will look at some of these distractions and how we, as parents, can be aware and take action to be there for our children.
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” -Dolly Parton
As adults, we have the responsibilities and demands of work. We work to provide for our families. We work to be a productive member of society. By working and earning an income, we are also contributing to the betterment of the common good, through taxes and charitable giving.
Work, in and of itself, is not a distraction. However, work does become a distraction when it interferes with our home life.
Technology, while beneficial and a necessary tool for us, has greatly contributed to our work becoming a distraction. Our jobs are no longer confined to our offices and workplaces. Through our smartphones and tablets, work can follow us home. These devices allow us to be in constant contact with our bosses, co-workers, and customers and clients. While this provides a great benefit to our professional life, it can come at a cost to our family life.
We need to be Aware of when work ends and home life begins. When we are home or on vacation, we should us this time to be Present with our families, not constantly responding to emails or worrying about our next meeting.
Our homes should be “work-fee zones,” or at a minimum, time should be set aside for uninterrupted family time. We need to remember that “work-life balance” is a real thing. It is healthy for us and the ones we love. The scales need to be (re)balanced. Our employers expect us to leave our personal lives at home and not in the workplace. Our families should expect the same at home.
Resentments and Worry
“If you don’t transform your suffering, you‘ll transmit it.” -Father Richard Rohr.
Our emotions can affect those around us. When we are thinking about past slights and bad experiences (even those that happened earlier in the day), we are dwelling in the past. When we are worried about deadlines, bills that are due (or overdue), and obligations to be met, our focus is on the future.
Past resentments and future worries take us out of the Present. While we may be physically with our children, we are not really There. Our children can pick-up on our moods and emotions. Resentments lead to anger. Worry leads to anxiety. These emotions transmit to our children.
As parents, we need to transform these emotions. The best way to do this is to live in the Present and appreciate the time we have with our children. They are only this age once.
Remember that the past has already happened. We cannot change the past, but we must not close the door on it. Instead of dwelling on past experiences, use them as tools to be a better person. Our past experiences are messages from our Higher Power. Improve on the good we have done. Use failures as lessons. Pass these lessons and experiences on to our children. See what our past failures and successes have become: Wisdom.
The future has yet to happen. This does not mean that we should not be concerned or plan accordingly, but we cannot live in a life of Fear because of what may or may not happen. Our children should enjoy their childhood without having our fears and anxieties transmitted to them.
Gratitude is another great tool to help transform our negative emotions. Being grateful for the present moment, especially the time with our children, will transform our resentments into Appreciation and our fear into Hope. Savor the Present, our children certainly do.
“The more social media we have, the more we think we’re connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other.” – JR
We are living during an extraordinary time – the Information Revolution. Knowledge is literally at our fingertips. If we have a question, we have the ability to find an answer in seconds.
As with any time of great transition, there are negative consequences. Look around when you are at a restaurant, event, or park and you will see over half of the people staring at their devices. We can also call this time the Era of Great Distraction.
While this age of technology can provide information that betters the common good, it can also provide a platform for negativity. We can become sucked into our devices, getting into Twitter feuds, seeing how others portray themselves on social media, going down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos, or binge watching shows on Netflix. I have certainly been guilty of this.
Our devices have become one of the worst, if not the worst, Distraction. Our children should not have to compete with a digital device for our attention. Their childhood memories should not be of us staring into a screen.
We must be aware that there is a time and place for using this technology, even when we are with our children. We must use it responsibly and in ways that can enrich our lives. Sometimes, it is best to unplug from technology and connect with our children.
Alcohol, just like our devices, distracts us from being Present with our children and loved ones. To be upfront, after years of drinking, I made a decision to live a sober life. I saw how alcohol was interfering with my relationships and prevented me from experiencing life. However, I am not pushing a temperance agenda or a prohibition policy.
We must recognize that we live in a drinking culture. The alcohol industry spends billions every year advertising their products. Craft breweries are popping up on every corner. College life is all about binge drinking. Wine memes are shared on social media. Drinking and getting drunk has become normalized in our society.
At a certain point, drinking can become problematic, especially when it interferes with our interaction with our children. Do we really need to have multiple drinks when we are dining with our family? Is it necessary to drink and get intoxicated at a child’s birthday party?
When we drink, we are not Present. When we drink, we are not our true selves. When we drink, we become a different person. Children see this. They see our behavior when we drink excessively.
We must be aware that there is time and place for drinking. When we are with our children, we should be our best self. We should exemplify good behavior. We should be aware of how alcohol affects how we behave, what we say, and if we are Present when we drink.
Being There is important for our children and for us. We can learn so much from each other. Staying Present, having Gratitude, and being Aware of our emotions and behaviors allow us to Be There and experience life, unclouded by distraction, with our children.