What Message Are You Sending To Your Kids?

My friend Elise was sitting with her 6 and 3 year old boys after dinner when her phone beeped. She picked up her phone, saw that a new work email had arrived, and read the message. It wasn’t urgent, or important, or interesting, but she felt compelled to take care of her co-worker’s request.

James, her youngest son asked, “Who’s that, momma?”  She didn’t answer, just kept typing away.

Then her older son, Ben, said to James, “Leave her alone, J. Mom has really important things to take care of, more important than us.”

Ben’s words struck Elise hard. She realized she was addicted to her devices. She was putting trivial work tasks ahead of her family. And they were starting to notice.

When a parent frequently interrupts family time to get on his or her mobile device, it sends a message to the kids that the person or email on the other end matters more than they do. With younger kids, it causes them to feel lonely, sad and neglected. With older kids, it makes those parents who try to control kids’ use of cell phones look like hypocrites.

Today, your ThinkGood Call-to-Action is to set aside certain hours every week as Unplugged Family Time.

It only needs to be an hour or two a day, it can be during meals or while in the car. But make it a point to ignore those beeps and be in the moment with your family. After you’ve done this a couple of times, come back here and tell us what difference you’ve seen in those family members who now have your attention.

(Photo by PatCastaldo on Flickr)


Let someone ahead of you in the checkout line

You know what its like to be in a checkout line with just a few items, and the people in front of you have overflowing cars. Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.  Next time you’re at the store and someone comes up behind you with only a couple things in a basket, let them go in front of you. It only slows you down by a minute, but saves that person ten minutes.


Offer up your parking spot at the mall

Remember how frustrated you were when you were looking for a parking spot?  Circling around, following people walking to the car, only to have them cross through to a different row?  Good, now that you’ve done your shopping, think of the next person. When you’re in the row your car is parked in, wave to a desperate driver searching for a parking spot to have them follow you. And jeepers, once you’re in your car, don’t spend 1o minutes fixing your hair before you back out!!


Help someone turn a selfie into a great group shot

You see people taking selfies everywhere. Some folks just love the angles and goofy smiles you can catch in a selfie, but when you see a group of 2 or 3 people doing a selfie (is it still called a selfie if there are three people in it?), they may really just want a nice shot.  And no one has long enough arms for that. Next time you see people struggling, offer to take the photo for them.