Wednesday, August 3, 2011

They Model What They See

A couple of weeks ago Granddad called me to say he was finally leaving the office, and since it had been a long, stressful day for him we decided to meet at a sandwich shop just a few miles from home.  It wasn’t very busy at that time of the evening, so we sat & just talked about our day for a while.  Neither of us really noticed the family that had sat down at the large table next to us.  Mom & her 2 children – the girl looked like she was around 11 or 12, and the boy looked like he was around 9 or 10.  We didn’t see any faces as their heads bent down looking at the table.  Not one sound came from that table until Dad came along juggling 4 drinks & their table number.  

Dad took extra care not to spill any of the liquids and was very delicate in passing them to the appropriate family member.  So, I took a quick moment to notice … daughter was heavily involved in her e-book & didn’t even look at Dad as he placed her drink directly in front of her, son was so wrapped up in his hand-held game that he almost knocked over his Sprite, and Mom seemed uptight as she glanced up from her iPad to see that her husband did not put lids on their drinks.  So, Dad made another grunting noise as he had just gotten out his smart-phone, but now he had to make his way back to the end of the aisle to get lids for the family drinks.

When the staff brought their food, one of the servers made a light-hearted remark about the electronics in front of each person.  By the looks on their faces none of the family members really appreciated the remark, but seemed rather put out that they now had to make room on the table for food plates.  Throughout their meal (or at least until we left), not a word spoken from that table.

After witnessing this scene, I’ve tried to take a long, hard and critical look at myself:  Is my family-time truly time with my family, or do I allow distractions to take my focus away from them?  Do I brush off these distractions & excuse them by saying that I’m “multi-tasking” instead of giving my full attention to those around me?  Am I a positive role model for future generations, or am I too involved in what interests me to even care how the younger generation sees me?  Who, or what, are my priorities? 

I admit that I can be guilty as charged by allowing distractions to invade my focused time with my family.  I’m not by any stretch of the imagination a perfect person.  But, I guess the old saying is correct … with age comes wisdom (or at least we pray for wisdom).  I’ve heard young children beg their parents “No! Please don’t text anymore!”  And I just want to go over to the parents and tell them that their young child needs their full attention – not the leftovers nor the multi-tasking.    

We have no idea the lasting affects that our world of technology will have on the rising generations.  I’m not talking about the world of information or even technological advancements.  I believe in advancing technology, improving our information sources and having knowledge just a few clicks away.  I admit I have not been drawn to e-books, gaming systems, or computers with screens so small that my eyes wouldn’t know how to adjust (glasses on or glasses off). But I can see how some people are drawn to the technological advancements.  And maybe one day I may give them a try.

However, what I am talking about is the institution of family.  We’ve heard the expressions “monkey see, monkey do” and another one “we model what we know”.  Well, what do our little ones see us doing?  How are we modeling to them what families are all about?  Do they have to compete with gadgets for our attention?  Again, I’m not knocking modern technology.  Because it still takes people to operate the technology.  We have a choice to what we give our attention.  And I believe there’s a time and place for everything. 

So, in a closing question … what legacy are we leaving behind for future generations?  We only have a short time with our children while they are children.  Technology will always advance and there will always be new gadgets … as our kids keep growing. 

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