Dear Kids – A Little Secret About What Electronics Is Stealing From You

electronicsstealing

Today’s post comes at the request of readers – for your kids, my kids, your grandkids. This is an open letter to kids of ages approximately 9-14 growing up in a digital age.

Dear Kids,

I have a little secret I want to share with you. Electronics are stealing something away from you, and you have no idea.

In this entire world, there is not a single person like you. Think on that. You are unique, you have something to offer this world, you have discoveries to make and ideas to form. Your life will tell a story one day. In fact, every day is like writing a page in the story book of your life. Have you ever thought of your life as a story?

You know what makes a story interesting? A collection of unique, different stories that when put together make a story you can’t put down. A boring story is one that tells the same story from page to page.

Think of your day today and all the little moments you experienced. That really funny joke that made you laugh until your sides hurt. Or that unexpected thing someone said that made you spit milk through your nose doubled over in a deep belly laugh. Then discovering that laughing is contagious when your friends start laughing with you. The moment your brother or sister said something that aggravated you and how in the span of 2 minutes you could go from angry to laughing. That embarrassing moment during recess that you wish you could erase but you know that one day it will tell a very funny story.

Your life is a collection of moments. Moments become memories. Memories are a gift and a treasure. 

You are a moment collector, memory creator, and a master storyteller.

Memories make us smile, cry, and laugh. Memories comfort us when we are sad and make us smile when we want to cry. Memories can teach us lessons, and they remind us that we are special, that we are loved, that we are known. Our memories tell a story unlike anyone else’s story. It’s yours and yours alone. How cool is that?

Now let me ask you a question to think about. When you think of memories, do visions of video games play in your head? When you think of moments that you want to remember forever, are you thinking back to when you defeated that last level?

You know what electronics, devices, screens, and video games are stealing from you? Time.

When electronic devices steal your time, they steal your moments that could’ve been. When it takes your moments, it takes your memories that never had a chance to form. When it takes your memories, it takes your story and makes it boring because it all looks the same.

If your story is one big video game, it will be a pretty boring story to tell one day. And you aren’t boring. You are unique and one-of-a-kind.

Kids, you were created by God- for a purpose. You were made for more than conquering boards and clashing clans. You were created for a unique purpose and no one can tell the story of your life like you can.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should NEVER be on a screen. That is silly given the world we live in. It doesn’t mean if you like video games, you will be boring. My boys love video games, and they are the most interesting kids I know, but I’m biased. So let’s explore this a little more because I’m not saying you should never be on a device.

What I want you to hear is that devices secretly control us, but they make us think we control them. And when they control us, they steal our time and make us miss out on making our story interesting.

It’s the reason you find yourself talking about it non-stop with your friends, or rushing through homework so you can go play a video game, or not really wanting to talk to your mom about your day because you have wars to fight in a make-believe world. We think we control electronics, but they can easily control us.

Life happens only once. Childhood is experienced only one time by each person. It’s not a video game where we get a ‘2nd life’ to play the board of childhood again.

Have you ever noticed that when you play a video game, 30 minutes actually feels like 5? That is how fast childhood goes as well. 18 years will feel like 5.

When your eyes are on a screen, you will never see what you are missing. You will never know what could’ve been if you had just looked up. And that is why I urgently want you to understand this.

You don’t know what you are missing because you are having so much fun playing on a device. You are entertained, so you don’t feel you are missing out on anything. You are having fun. But life is more than being entertained. Life is for living, creating, playing, and feeling. Nothing you experience on a screen can come close to what God has for you in the real life world He’s placed you in. Don’t accept 2nd, 3rd or last best for your life. Accept your best life now, which is the very place God has placed you.

The thing is…when you are a child, you can’t see this. It’s only when you look back that you can fully understand the treasure of childhood. Trust me, put down the devices and go be a kid. You will never regret putting down a device, but you could regret spending some of the best years of your life in make-believe worlds.

I have a few more things to share with you to encourage you to put the screen down and go enjoy this life. I will be writing you another letter or two on this subject looking at different perspectives. I hope you will keep reading.

In the meantime, I have a little challenge for you if you are up for it? Are you?

This week’s challenge is to make one small change in your electronic life. That will look different for everyone (remember we are each unique and have a different story, so yours will look different than your best friend’s). Maybe if you play your device everyday, you choose 3 days to play. Maybe if you always take it in the car, you start leaving it at home. Maybe if you always discuss it with your friend, you choose something different to talk about. Maybe if your parents let you play as long as you want, you set a timer for 30 minutes instead. There are many small changes you can make. Choose one for a week and write a list of how your moments looked different when you took your time back from the devices.

Love,

Renee

videogames

You may also enjoy:

A Letter To My Boys : The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics

How To Rob A Childhood And Miss The Sacred Of Parenting

Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good For Kids

Exploring Limiting Electronics With Kids

5 Benefits Of An Electronics Fast

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers  will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

 

How To Rob a Childhood And Miss The Sacred of Parenting

Andrewbraves

It’s been about 14 months since I wrote my boys a letter about why we limit electronics in our home. If you haven’t read it, please do so you can understand my heart before reading this post. At the time I wrote that letter because they felt different and continued asking why I wouldn’t allow them to carry a device with us everywhere we go. Much has changed in their hearts in 14 months. Much has changed in my heart. We all feel stronger in our resolve to limit the grip of electronics in our home.

I wrote that letter from my perspective, a mom not wanting to miss a moment of a fleeting childhood. A mom desiring to invest in the moments and watch real life bloom in their hearts and lives.

I received enormous amounts of mail from parents who felt just as I did but felt powerless to the electronics grip on their children. Parents who allowed their kids to play because they didn’t want their kids to feel different or alienated from their friends.

I have some new thoughts to share. My eyes have been opened to the threats this young generation is facing that we have been blinded to. I’m calling out to all parents who are with me in this season of life to rise up. To stand up and make a bold change. I’m asking you to take a stand that will save your child’s childhood from being robbed by a make-believe world. I’m asking you to protect the sacred moments of your parenting years. The window of time is barely a crack that we have them to influence and lavish with love.

My tone has changed in 14 months because God has awakened something in me. He has shown me where the enemy is blinding parents, allowing parents to justify their choices in allowing electronics to invade the home and family. “It’s all innocent fun.” “They need to fit in.” “I need a break.” I get it. I’m right here with you on every single point.

We were never called to fit in. We were never called to train our children to fall into peer pressure. We were never called to model to our children fitting in and finding acceptance in the eyes of others. We were never called to make choices for our children to make their paths easier in friendships and relationships. We were never called to set our children up for a life of addiction (this sounds dramatic, but I assure you video games are highly addictive and allowing addiction as a child only increases the likelihood of other addictions in their future as they will continue seeking the feel-good pleasure experiences).

Pregnant with my first child, I promised God I would raise him to love God more than anything else. That is the first and greatest command, after all. Baby arrives, baby grows, innocence fades, and that battle becomes real – tangibly real. My job as a mom is to battle hard for my children. I’m battling the dark forces of this world that my children are unable to see.

It’s a battle, my friends. A real-life battle. As our children sit hooked to their iPads battling in a make-believe world, there is a true battle occurring for their hearts, their minds, their souls, their very lives.

While our children live out their free moments in clash of clans, halo, or whatever new game comes along to clutch them in its grips, their childhood is being robbed. And they have no idea. They have no clue what they are missing out on. We know what they are missing. It’s our job to protect our children. Childhood is a gift to experience only once. Then the worries and stresses of life become real to them and childhood is gone.

Electronics are robbing our children of one of the sweetest gifts they will ever experience. The carefree, innocent life of a child.

Here’s what has changed in my boys in 14 months. They see mostly the tops of heads of children when we are out in public. We traveled by plane to Florida last week. We couldn’t spot one single child traveling device free. Entire families sat with heads buried. For the first time, they expressed sadness over what the kids were missing out on rather than what they were missing out on.

Traveling with devices is convenient. Devices don’t argue, they don’t ask for things, they don’t intrude on our time, they don’t demand anything, they entertain, they pass time. But what if God wants more? What if He wants us to teach our children patience and self-control, to become creative in boredom, not giving into our desires? Devices give our children what they want, when they want it. Devices entertain our kids so we don’t have to deal with the messy stuff. If they all play their iPads, I don’t have to deal with mediating arguments. I don’t have to answer questions. I can read my own book and enjoy some peace. My children appear well-behaved (until you take away the device). I look like a good parent who can take children in public, instead of the parent correcting sassy mouths and breaking up fights in public (which is quite normal). What if that isn’t what God wants for those moments in my parenting? What if He has precious gifts for me that don’t look so pretty, and I miss them because we are all living so darn distracted?

Here’s where we are right now. My boys don’t want to be “different”, but they don’t want to live with buried faces either. Would they have expressed this 14 months ago? No way! I had parents write me that I would breed resentment in my boys’ hearts. Prayer can change a heart and its hunger. I’m not worried about that. I serve a God who desires to have children who love Him wholeheartedly. And that is what I’m praying.

I had parents write me that I was setting my kids up to be outcasts. There’s a Bible full of outcasts that God used in amazing ways. We are ok with outcasts. It’s all in how you present things to your kids. I don’t come down as a dictator telling them I will not allow such in our home. I share my heart and passion with them. I share with them the why’s behind our concerns so they understand and as they grow hopefully they will be equipped to make wise decisions. We explain that this isn’t because we are mean and don’t want them to have fun, but that we love them so much and want them to experience the abundant life God has for them. If they are living through a screen, they will miss out on the moments God has for them.

Battles weren’t designed to be easy. I don’t expect that because I’m passionate about this topic, that God will smooth that path for me and give me children who desire no part of the video game world. I expect quite the opposite. I expect that God will allow me to walk a rough road so that He can refine me and show Himself awesome before my very eyes.

We are at a new crossroads. One where my boys find it difficult in their friendships now. They miss the days where they could have real conversations with their friends. They miss talking about sports and games and gross things and silly things. One of my boys said, “I just want to have real conversations again with my friends, but all they talk about is video games.” Childhood robbed by video games.

It looks innocent, it’s not innocent.

God placed talents, gifts, passions, and desires in each of us. When our children live in a make-believe world, and only live for the next moment they can play, they may never discover gifts hiding in their hearts.

We are currently on a fast from electronics, which is why all of our eyes are opened to the enormity of this issue. We planted a garden. I watch 2 of my boys spending time learning, growing, caring, tending these plants. I watch them amazed at the miraculous growth and watch them make connections about growing what we cultivate. I want to cultivate a love for life, experiences, and deep relationships.

One son picked up long lost hobbies of coin collecting and baseball card collections. I’ve watched another son become interested in reading and writing. I’ve watched one son spend more time reading his Bible. I’ve watched one son thinking more critically. These are gifts I am experiencing because their heads are up this month.

I’ve had gifts of extended, heart-pouring-out conversations with 2 of my sons. If they were engrossed in games, we would all miss out. We would all be robbed.

Electronics are robbing our children of their childhood and they are robbing us parents of experiencing their childhood as well. The enemy wants us to brush this off. The enemy wants you to read this and say, “She’s crazy and way too dramatic.” He’s good like that. He’s good at making big deals not such a big deal.

For some kids, video games don’t grip them. Some kids can easily handle playing and still relating in life, talking about normal topics, looking adults in the eyes, playing carefree. Other kids simply can’t.

God has given parents the gift of seeking wisdom from Him. If there is the slightest nudge in your heart to explore further, please seek God’s wisdom and guidance. Ask for His discernment in making changes that will save our children’s childhoods.

The most common response I receive is from parents who despise how their kids are sucked into games and want to get rid of it. I always ask this, “Then why don’t you?” It’s in us to want to please our children, we fear they will hate us if we take away their games. If it is affecting family life, relationships, work ethic, motivation, physical exercise, attitude, then let it go. We are still the parents. While they are under our roof, we have a job to do. That job doesn’t include making them like us or making them happy all the time. In fact, it might look the opposite for a time. But giving the issue over to God will change everything. God will change the angry heart. God will change the heart’s hunger. If we ask Him to.

I still have so much I want to share. But I have to ask my son’s permission first before I share it. But I will say this, God laid on my heart this morning to pray radical prays for the hearts of children in this generation to thirst and hunger not for video games, but for real-life, real childhood. Would you join me? If you feel frustrated by what you see in your own kids or the kids in your life, would you pray God remove their desires to live game to game and instead hunger for a life that offers more than they could ever imagine?

You may also enjoy this post: Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good For Kids

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $20 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good For Kids

IMG_4353

I will not bore you with statistics and facts about what electronics are doing to our children. I will tell you the effect I see on my own children, which is the very reason we periodically shut it all down.

Last year I wrote a letter to my boys about why we say no to electronics more than it seems other families might. This post has gone viral multiple times and continues to circulate at numbers that astound me. I realized many of us feel the same way.

As parents we are exploring a new world where constant connection is creating a disconnect for the relationships and the life we were created for.

My heart is grieved when I see preschoolers and young children gathered together with headphones on buried in devices. When I see the new norm for playdates has become video games. When I see kids riding in cars oblivious to the passing world because they are living in a make-believe world.

The time we have with our kids rushes by us. The time they have to experience life carefree digging in dirt and chasing their friends flies by. We are caught in an age where it’s easier to give a kid a device. As parents we weren’t called to take the easy road.

We are not an electronic-free family or house. We own all types of devices. However, we do place limits and boundaries, which I will share.

Here’s what happens to my boys when television, iPads, and gaming devices begin to become more important than they should.

1. They have no motivation to do anything.

2. They become lazy.

3. They become complainers when asked to serve the family.

4. They become ungrateful and actually foster a sense of entitlement.

5. They don’t want to exercise or do any physical activity.

6. They argue constantly.

7. They become impatient, snapping back with an impatient tone of voice and are quick to get angry.

They say it takes 30 days to create new habits. Our family just went through 30 days of clean eating, and I’m a believer in giving anything 30 days now. We’ve done electronic fasts in the past, and I always wonder why we don’t do them more often.

Sunday I realized numbers 1-7 above described my children. The effects of electronics had silently slithered in. And I promise that if we had not taken fasts in the past, I would have NEVER made the connection of the above mentioned issues to electronics.

Within HOURS my kids were different kids. The simple words, “Starting right now we are taking a 30 day fast from tv and electronics.” That alone seems to change everything. It is literally like they release the stress and burden of devices. Sounds crazy I know, and for the readers who will disagree, I can understand how crazy this sounds. I have no research to back this up. I have first-hand knowledge how this works on my 3 children, though. Every single time.

The very day we gave up all electronics, here’s what happened.

1. My 6-year-old went through the house, collected materials, and made his very own baseball from scratch. It took a long time, but he worked hard and completed a project.

2.  My boys stopped fighting. I didn’t hear another argument all day long.

3. They hung out with us all day. We played outside, we lounged on the screen porch, we took naps. It was lovely.

4.  My 9-year-old picked up a book and simply read without being told to read. (never would that happen if electronics was an option)

Now days into this fast, they do argue, but not as much. They simply go outside and play again. They don’t ask when they can watch a movie because the option was removed. So they get creative.

One of my sons in particular has become very creative in the last few days. The one who rarely uses creativity. One of my other sons has opened up in conversation to me revealing something he never wanted to share. Now I know how to pray. None of this would have happened if we were living distracted.

When electronics are gone, my children begin to think again. They begin to think about life and their role in it. Since our fast started on Sunday, we have had numerous conversations with our children that revealed to us inner struggles they were dealing with. Because their minds weren’t focused on their entertainment, they were thinking about life again and trying to make sense of changes they are facing.

Even in our family that has limits on electronics, our children can live in snippets of moments instead of truly experiencing life. They can begin to live from one game to the next. One experience to the next. And the thinking in between is on their conquering of new worlds and mastering new levels rather than exploring their own heart and connecting to the real-life world they live in.

The most common email I receive in regards to electronics limits is how we do it in our family. Today, I want to share what it looks like in our home.

Here’s our guidelines:

1. No devices in cars unless it is a long road trip. The car ride is when I’ve had some of the deepest conversations with my kids. It’s when my husband has had opportunities to have discussions on “the talk”. 2 of my 3 children accepted Christ while we were in the car out running errands! In our busy world, the car time is golden. As my boys are getting older, I have to capitalize on each moment I have with them.

2. No weekday electronics during the school year. It’s just too busy anyway. There isn’t time. If they are allowed electronics during the week, they rush through homework, they rush through family dinners, they rush through conversation because they have one thing on their mind. Their pleasure. They begin to give less of themselves to what matters because they want to pursue mastering a game instead. Life is no game.

3. No iPod touch, iPhone usage without permission. Our boys have iPod touches, but they are only used on long car rides for the most part. They are stripped of all access to the internet, which is the only reason we allow them to remain in their rooms. If internet access were granted, we would never allow them to keep their iPods in their rooms. The statistics are staggering on children exposed to pornography at young ages. Kids given internet devices and allowed to access them freely is dangerous territory. Evil finds our kids when our kids aren’t looking.

4. Time limits on games and tv watching. – They set an old fashioned kitchen timer and are allowed to play 30 minute sessions twice a day on the weekends. They have freedom to choose when and what and are given the responsibility to set the timer. The timer has been a key for us as my children were shocked to discover how fast 30 minutes goes by. Without a timer, they would play for hours. It’s hard to pull out of a game you are engrossed in. But setting time limits is practicing self-control. When they are older, they won’t have timers, but hopefully they will have practiced the art of leaving fun and realizing it was for their good.

5. Summer they are allowed one 30 minute session a day, but not before lunch. The days I’ve allowed them to start the day with tv or games, they tend to move like slugs and have no motivation. The days we work hard then play, they learn the value of work before play.

Another common email I receive is from parents frustrated about how addicted their kids are to their devices and desperate for help and solutions. When our kids are under our roofs, they are our responsibility. We have an obligation to society to raise kids who think beyond themselves and pursuing their pleasures. We have a responsibility to raise kids who value work, who think of others before themselves.

When my older boys were little, the electronics issue wasn’t an issue. We went to the store without needing to entertain our kids. We are raising a generation that believes they must be entertained, and they must always be happy, they must always get their way. When our kids act up, we silence them with a gaming device because it saves our sanity and embarrassment.

Parenting is not convenient. Parenting is downright embarrassing. Parenting is frustrating and full of hair pulling and tears hiding out in the bathroom. Parenting is the total giving of ourselves for the benefit of another.

Trust me, I struggle through this all the time. Just this week I went to the grocery store and had a 20 minute battle with my 6-year-old who refused to get out of the car. When he did, he refused to walk beside me and ran to aisles far away. I had to pull him from the store in a full on battle of the wills where we readjusted attitudes and hearts in the car. My grocery store trip left me spinning. I was sweating, exhausted, sad, and mad. A trip that should have taken 20 minutes took an hour. Had I put a phone in his hand, we would have zipped through the aisles and all would have been well.

Here’s what I would have missed.

1. Seeing my need for Jesus to help me parent.

2. Relying on God to grant me patience and literally crying to God in the car to help me parent a child well who struggles to obey the smallest instructions.

3. Teaching a child that life is more than his pleasure.

4. Explaining to a child why God desires obedience.

5. Disciplining a child (a child left undisciplined will be a child who struggles to feel loved)

6. Modeling to a child obedience, respect, discipline, and following it all with showers of love and grace.

It took time. Time I didn’t have. Time I didn’t want to give. It was awful and I didn’t see the beautiful in that moment that was pure embarrassment.

Parenting is a life of opportunity. The electronic grip on our kids steals our moments. It steals what is rightfully ours. Time is all we have, and it goes by much too fast. We will never have these years and opportunities again. Once they are gone, they are gone.

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $20 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

 

 

A Letter To My Boys – The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics

[box] While I’m taking a blogging break, I will be posting some of my favorite posts from 2014. Happy New Years![/box]

This is a repost of the most popular post of 2014. I posted in January and again in May.

Boys back
Dear Boys,

Do you remember the day we went to the drugstore and the lady said, “Wow, you are the first kids I’ve seen all day with nothing in your hands.” Remember how she marveled at how you didn’t need an electronic device to carry through the store? I know how her words made you feel. I know how it reminded you that you are different because your mom limits your electronic usage. I know it was yet another reminder.

The same reminder you receive when we are out to eat and you notice all the kids playing their phones and iPads instead of talking to their parents. I know it was a reminder of all the sporting events where you feel you are the only kids whose parents are making them cheer on their siblings rather than burying themselves in a phone. I know it was another reminder to you that you feel different in this electronic age we live in.

Well, boys, it’s not you. It’s me. Me being selfish maybe. You see I can’t bear to miss a moment with you. Let me explain.

I want to talk to you when we are out to eat. I want to listen to your questions. I want to have training opportunities. I want to allow space for conversation that can take us deeper. And if you are always distracted with electronics, well… I might miss those moments.
I could give you all the statistics about how damaging it is to your development, your attention span, your ability to learn. While all of those are valid reasons to keep electronics away, that is not my primary reason why I say no to you so much. It’s more than that. Much more. I need you to understand this.

When we are together, I want all of you. The fullness of you. I want to experience you. Truly experience you. And I can’t do that with you when there is an electronic device between us. You see it acts as a barrier. I want to see what brings life to those eyes. I want to watch the wonder and magic dance across your face as you discover the wonders of this world. I want to watch you as you figure things out. I want to watch you process life, develop your thoughts. I want to know you. I want to know your passions. I want to watch you as you discover your God-given talents and gifts. And when you hide behind a screen, I miss out on all of that. And my time with you….well it will be over in the blink of an eye.

I want to guide you into an understanding of life and who you are. Boys, kids today are starved for attention, true connection and relationship. I don’t want you to feel starved. That is why I say no. I know that feeding the desire to play in your device is like giving you candy. It satisfies for a moment but provides no long term nutrition. It does more harm than good.

I don’t want to look back when I’m out of the trenches of child training and regret a second I had with you. I don’t want to merely survive. I want to thrive in this life with you. We are in it together. We are a family.

Yes, when we are waiting at a doctor’s office for an hour, it would be easier to quiet you with my phone. But if I did that, I fear I would send you a message that says I’d rather hush you than hear those precious words falling from your lips.

I can’t bear the thought of allowing you to miss out on the wonders and mysteries of this world. When you are transfixed on a screen, the beauty of this world will be lost to you. In every moment beauty is waiting to be discovered. I don’t want you to miss it.

I want you to be comfortable with yourself. I want you not to feel a constant need to be entertained and distracted. If you stay behind a screen, you never have to experience just being you, alone with your thoughts. I want you to learn to think, to ponder life, to make discoveries, to create. You have been gifted by God in unique ways. I want those to bloom. They can’t bloom in the glow of a screen. They need life, real life, to bring them to light.

I want you to be confident in who you are. I want you to be able to look people in the eyes and speak life into them. If I allow you to live behind a screen, you get little practice relating eye to eye. To truly know someone you have to look into their eyes. It’s a window into their heart. You see what can’t be seen in cyberspace.

When I tell you no to devices, I’m giving you a gift. And I’m giving me a gift. It’s a gift of relationship. True human connection. It’s precious and a treasure. And you mean so much to me that I don’t want to miss a second of it.

I love how God created your mind. I love to hear the way you think and process life. I love to see what makes you laugh. I love to watch those eyes widen when a new discovery is made. And when your head is behind a screen, I miss all of that. And so do you.
In this life we have few cheerleaders. In this family we will cheer each other on. I know it is boring to sit at swim lessons and watch your brother learn to swim. I know it is boring to sit through a 2 hour baseball practice. And in all honesty, it would be easy for me to give you the iPad and keep you quiet and occupied. But we all lose out when we do that. You will miss out on watching your brother’s new accomplishments. You will deprive him of the joy of his moment to shine for you. You will miss out on what it means to encourage each other.

I want you to grow up knowing the world doesn’t revolve around you. (One day your wife will thank me) I want you to learn to give selflessly of yourself….to give away your time, your talents, your treasures. If I distract you with electronics when you should be cheering for your brother, well, I’m simply telling you that your happiness is more important than giving your time to someone other than yourself.

This world needs more selflessness. This world needs more connection. This world needs more love. We can’t learn these behind a screen.

I want to raise sons that know how to look deeply into the eyes of the ones they love. I want my future daughters in law to know what it’s like to have a husband that looks deeply into her eyes because he knows the value of human relationships and the treasure of love. And that is best communicated eye to eye.

I want to watch your face illuminated by the majesty of life – not the glow of a screen. I want all of you. Because I only have you for a short while. When you pack up and leave for college, I want to look back with no regrets over the time I spent with you. I want to look back and remember how your eyes sparkled when we talked. I want to look back and remember how I actually knew those little quirky details of your life because we had time enough to be bored together.

It’s ok to be bored. We can be bored together. And we can discover new things together.

I love you. I love you too much to quiet you with an iPhone or an iPad or a DS. And I can’t even apologize, because I’m really not sorry. I’m doing this so that I won’t be sorry one day.

With all my love,
Mom

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free ornament download to accompany Seeking Christmas-Finding The True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

A Letter To Me (and all moms)- What We Need To Remember Before We Open The Screen

acorns

[box] Today’s post is in response to the requests of many of you. The ones who wrote to me and said, “It’s not my kids who I need to limit their electronic usage, it’s myself.” Or those of you who wrote me and said, “I’m afraid I am the one who is missing out because I can’t put down my phone.” Or the ones who simply said, “Can you write something for us, parents?” The letter I wrote to my boys about why we limit their electronics is viewed at numbers that leave me speechless. Since June I continue to receive emails that leave me in tears. You have asked me to write to husbands, which I did, to ourselves, which I’m doing, and to wives, which I hope to do.

Here’s the thing, technology is wonderful when placed within proper boundaries. It doesn’t take long before it begins to creep out of its boundaries. It doesn’t mind breaking rules. It’s time we put technology back where it belongs. As a helper, not a master.[/box]

Dear Me,

Do you remember the way he handed you the little baby acorn attached to a bigger acorn? The way he said, “Mommy, look it’s a me and you one?” The softness of his still chubby fingers placed in yours. Remember the way you breathed in his freshly shampooed hair as you kissed his forehead with a thank you? Remember the way his eyes said more than his lips uttered?

It was a moment. One single moment in time, never to be another exactly like it. Yes, other moments will be, Lord willing, some may even resemble it. But that moment passed. Build a collection of those moments. Fill books and books with moments. Moments write the story of life. Real life.

Too much time on the screen and you will miss the acorn moments. You won’t realize you are missing them because you are still there. Physically there. If your head is down, he may decide not to offer you the acorn next time. Or he may not think it resembles the “me and you.” He needs your eyes to fully connect to you. He needs to talk to you while looking into your eyes. Hearts connect through the eyes not the screen.

He is good at knowing the difference in you being partly there or fully there. One day he won’t be there at all. And you will have all the time you want for the screen.

The screen doesn’t play fair. You see it won’t sass talk you. It won’t argue. It won’t spill milk. It won’t cry for no reason at all. It’s very predictable. Its mood stays the same from day to day. It doesn’t need anything from you. Instead it tells you to come to it and it will give you a break from the stress of life. It beckons you to escape.

I know the acorn moments don’t equal the tantrum moments, the moments of defiance and disobedience, the moments of accidents in pants when we are too old for accidents in pants. The moments of sibling fighting and hurtful words. Yes, I know the majority of your day isn’t filled with acorn moments.

You need the acorn moments. It’s the acorn moments that lend sweetness to balance the bitter and sour moments that will follow. You need as many acorn moments as you can bank.

Much of your day feels exhausting, stressful, chaotic, and busy. Yes, this is part of life too. It’s tempting to pick up that phone to get away from it all. It’s right at your fingertips. It promises to make you smile, to make you laugh, to make you smarter, to make you more interesting. It promises. But it lies.

Remember that a beautiful life isn’t filled with only beautiful moments. A deeply satisfying life isn’t one where everything is worthy of a post. A beautiful life isn’t what it looks like on the outside, it’s how you view it from the inside. The screen shades your view.

Some of the most meaningful moments are the ones that can’t be shared online. Life needs you fully engaged to handle each moment that comes your way.

Life is a collection of moments. Fleeting moments. Here today, gone in….a moment. They will not all look worthy of a Pinterest pin. They will not all win you mother of the year. But they all play a role in the story of your life. The screen will shield your view of the full story. It’s like starting and stopping a page turner when all you really want is a solid hour to sit and read 2 chapters. The screen makes you go through the story of your life reading only a few sentences at a time, setting it down, picking it up. At the end of the book, you won’t remember the intricacies of the plot, the parts of your favorite characters that sucked you into their lives. You will have snippets. Because that is how you went through life. One snippet at a time.

Don’t experience life in snippets. Experience life fully. Put down the phone. Walk away from the computer. Screens will snippet your moments.

What you need most is a life filled with soul-filling moments that carry you through the seasons of change and the seasons of struggle. 

The screen moments are like empty calories for your soul. You will be temporarily filled. It creates subtle cravings that bring you back for more. It promises to satisfy longer each time, and you will believe it. Especially on the days you are tired of hearing the name “mom” called ceaselessly. Or the days the whining and crying has short circuited your nerves and left you desperate for anything other than what you are experiencing in that moment. The moments of weakness are the times it will draw you in the most.

I know you are busy. I know you are exhausted. I know you crave intellectual stimulation and conversation. I know you want to feel connected to the world. Many days as a mom you are left bored, disconnected, and feeling unimportant. I know that when you catch up online, you feel smarter, you feel wiser, you shared a few laughs.

Remember a screen won’t hand you an acorn. A screen won’t place its hand in yours. A screen won’t make an impression on your heart that will remain for life. You will read this letter and likely forget it. You won’t forget the acorn moments.

Now, close this letter and go make your moments.

andrew acorn

 

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

Exploring Limiting Electronics With Kids

DSC_0893

The first time I “met” Sarah, was through the sweetest note slipped into my inbox about how my post A Letter To My Boys (the real reason I say no to electronics) impacted her.

It didn’t take long to know that we shared the same sentiments in our hearts, and a fast friendship formed.

Sarah and her husband recently launched a new website called Parents Who, which parents will find as a wonderful resource of practical and inspirational encouragement.

Join me over at Parents Who today where I share my thoughts a bit further on the electronics issue.

A Letter To Husbands From Your Wife (The Real Reason You Need To Put The Screen Down)

DSC_0732

Note: My post titled A Letter to My Boys (The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics) has been viewed over 1,000,000 times in a short period of time. I received an enormous amount of emails requesting I write a letter for husbands and wives. Today’s post is a letter to husbands. But husbands don’t worry because a letter to wives will be coming in the near future.

Husbands,

I’m writing you a letter today on behalf of your wife.  To share with you what is in her heart. I can write this because I understand.  And because she asked me to.  She knows what is in her heart, but she has a hard time putting it into words.  Part of her feels embarrassed for feeling this way.  Part of her feels alone in feeling this way.

Do you remember the first time you realized you loved your wife?  And the first time you realized she loved you?  Do you remember how you looked into her eyes and saw a tenderness, compassion, and understanding that words could never fully express?  You saw parts of her through her eyes that others were never allowed in that far to see.  And you chose to love her anyway.

You carry a great burden as a husband.  To love your wife in a way that comes 2nd only to her love from God.  Her ultimate source of unconditional love comes from Him.  But you are called to love her 2nd most.  She is desperate to feel your love, and many days she feels very unloved.  When a screen is in front of your face, she doesn’t feel your love.  Partly because she doesn’t see your eyes.

Love is expressed through the eyes.  Yes, there are many other ways to show and feel love. But the eyes are a connection to the heart.  When she has your eyes, she has your heart. She misses your eyes.  The blue glow of your screen pulls your eyes from her, and she can’t compete.  It’s an unfair competition.  I’ll tell you why.

We women are really hard on ourselves.  We compare ourselves in our own head to everything around us.  Now that your eyes are more on your device than on her, she is competing with something that will always win.  When the screen wins, your wife loses.  And I know you love her more than to watch her go down in defeat.  She is jealous for your attention.

She may not even realize she is jealous, but she is.  She knows she can never be what your screen is to you.  But she is so much more, and she wants you to remember that.  She wants you back to her.  Completely connected to her.  Your wife doesn’t want to share a connection with your screen.

The playing field has become unfair. She can’t compete for your attention against a screen. It will always be more interesting than her. It will often be more enlightening. It will offer you what you want to accept from it. It won’t nag you, it won’t complain about the day. If you don’t like what it shares with you, you can switch to another page. It doesn’t get too tired to entertain you. It entices you. It makes you laugh. It molds to your desires at the touch of a finger. It offers you instant satisfaction and gives you exactly what you ask for.

Beneath the surface it’s creating damage that won’t be seen initially. But it will eventually play out, even in subtle ways.

After a long day, I know it’s tempting to escape, and the screen offers a great escape. But your wife needs you. She needs you to escape to her, to her real life and your real world. Many days her world feels very insignificant compared to yours (I know you don’t feel this way), but she has battled today and needs someone who can look into her eyes and give her the comfort her heart needs.

When the world hasn’t loved her well, she needs you to love her well.

When she knows you love her, she can respond better to you. When she knows you love her, she desires to love you back. When she knows you love her, the enemy has less room to maneuver in your lives.

It’s more than your eyes the screen is stealing from your wife, it’s a soul connection that is really at stake here.  It’s stealing your time, your attention, and your affection.

You want to know why the eyes are so important?  Because for women we need face to face time to feel truly connected.  To simply be in the same room with her while you are looking at a screen isn’t the same as when she is face to face with you.  She can look in your eyes and see that you understand her and she can give that back to you.  She feels she is losing that with you.  Something else has stolen her FaceTime.  There is a winner and a loser.  The one who gets the FaceTime wins.  I know you want your wife to live victoriously.  If the screen consistently gets your eyes and your face to face interaction, your wife loses.  You love her too much for that.

You have an enormous amount of pressure on you.  Work never stops.  We live in a constantly connected world that tells you you must respond to everything immediately.  It’s a lie.  Life is more important that anything on that screen.  When you are with her, she wants you to be fully present.

Screens drop seeds into both of you that grow a weed called selfish. It tempts you to veg out and feed your desire for “me time”. And it grows inside her demanding she get more of you than she is getting. It makes you both feel selfish. She doesn’t want to be selfish. It causes both of you to want to feed your own desires.

She doesn’t want to nag you about how much time you spend scrolling through Twitter feeds or watching show after show when the kids are in bed.  And she doesn’t want to remain silent and let bitterness grow in the the silent dark of her heart either.  She is sorry for both.

You are both in tough spots.  But you have a choice.  So let’s get to the root of it.

She loves you. She desperately needs your love.  Your eyes are powerful in showing her love. Your time and attention, face to face, she needs to keep her going and fuel her for the journey ahead.

To be fully connected to each other, you can’t be fully connected to a screen. To be fully connected to each other, you can’t be half connected to a phone and half connected to each other in conversation. When you are together, make a choice to fully connect and fully disconnect. Your love is worth more value than anything on a screen.