Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good For Kids

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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.

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Are We Being Judgmental? – 50 Shades of Grey

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When I posted What The Bible Says About 50 Shades of Grey, I was stunned that it went viral. Before writing that post, I literally sobbed to my husband because I knew so many of my christian sisters were being blinded by the enemy.

A nerve struck deep with many people. I wrote that post for my christian sisters. I specifically wrote that post to address the Biblical position of this book/movie in the life of a christian. And honestly, I barely scratched the surface. The post was short and to the point, but it resonated with many of you, who quickly spread it.

As our culture moves away from God, we are losing our senses. We are losing our ability to think for ourselves. We are becoming tolerant and believing the lies that we aren’t open-minded or that we are judgmental if we disagree with what we see in culture.

Over the next couple of days, I want to address some of the most common questions or comments I received. Today, we are exploring the question of “Aren’t we being judgmental?”

2 Timothy 4:2-5 (NLT)

2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says this “4:1-5 People will turn away from the truth, they will grow weary of the plain gospel of Christ, they will be greedy of fables, and take pleasure in them. People do so when they will not endure that preaching which is searching, plain, and to the purpose. Those who love souls must be ever watchful, must venture and bear all the painful effects of their faithfulness, and take all opportunities of making known the pure gospel.”

I love souls and can’t sit silent on this issue. Not to mention I am raising boys, who I pray will respect and honor women.

My post was not a judgement. The intent was an encouragement to the ones who have not read or seen it, an encouragement to stand strong for truth and oppose peer pressure, and to correct/rebuke thoughts and positions on the subject in the life of the christian.

Friends, we have the Word of God, the living Word, to guide, teach, and correct us. We have been granted access to the power of God in our lives. And we have been given permission to ask for wisdom. When we aren’t seeking wisdom, we are susceptible to believing the lies around us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New Living Translation

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

 

We can’t stop going to God’s Word to test everything. That is where we find truth. We don’t believe it because a blogger said it. We don’t believe it because the media said it. We must test everything against scripture, especially when it is something as culturally shifting as erotica/porn becoming the new standard for book clubs and movie nights.

To navigate our culture we need wisdom, not worldly wisdom, but wisdom that only comes from God.

Proverbs 2:6 NIV

For the Lord gives wisdom. From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

James 1:5 NLT

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Here’s what happens when we lack wisdom:

Proverbs 9:13-18 13

The woman named Folly is brash. She is ignorant and doesn’t know it. She sits in her doorway on the heights overlooking the city. She calls out to men going by who are minding their own business. “Come in with me,” she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says,  “Stolen water is refreshing; food eaten in secret tastes the best!” But little do they know that the dead are there. Her guests are in the depths of the grave.

Quest Study Bible notes 9:17 “The intrigue and danger of being found out can add to sexual temptation. Doing something considered out of bounds offers a thrill or heightened sense of excitement. The euphoria, however, is short-lived and soon gives way to shame, self-loathing and regret.”

Friends, we aren’t being judgmental. When we see something that is sin in the life of our sister or brother in Christ, and we expose the sin, it’s not judgement. It’s love. It’s loving them enough to take on abuse and ridicule for the sake of their souls.

We aren’t judging the person, we are judging the action and loving the person.

Stay tuned this week when we discuss “Does God really care what we read and watch?” and “What’s the link to sex trafficking.”

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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

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

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[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

 

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Exploring Limiting Electronics With Kids

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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)

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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.

 

 

 

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

I originally posted this letter to my boys in January 2014. Within the first 7 days, this post was viewed 70,000 times. I received comments and emails that left me in tears. So many of us share these feelings and this letter gave voice to what you held in your heart. I am reposting today because as we head into summer, it’s easy to slip into patterns of excessive screen time. I want to remind us that our time is short with our children. Let’s make memories. Let’s claim this time. Original post and comments can be found here.

Important note before you read – If you plan to skim this, please don’t bother to read it. You will miss the point completely. I do not fear technology. My children have access to devices and technology. I’m not setting them up for failure in society. They know how to use computers, phones, and video games. We give limits and train them to exhibit self-control. I welcome all comments, but if you plan to comment in a negative or nasty way, it will be discarded. Thank you and blessings!

Boys back

Listen to the audio version of this post by clicking here.

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

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