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


[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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How Do You Raise Relational Kids?


I connected with Arlene Pellicane shortly after I posted the Letter To My Boys about electronics usage.  It didn’t take long to realize we shared the same heart for our children. The same heart many of us share for our children.  A heart that desires to make the most of the moments, to live life intentionally, to invest wholeheartedly in their lives.

It’s interesting the same technology that can connect 2 strangers and begin a fast friendship can also be the tool that drives apart relationships, the ones that mean the most to us.

My review coming soon.  But for now, I have the honor of sharing an interview with Arlene Pellicane who co-authored with Gary Chapman (5 Love Languages) her newest release Growing Up Social – Raising Relational Kids in a Screen Driven World.

Q: What motivated you to write Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World? Why is a resource like this so crucial for today’s families?

A:Very quickly, technology has become center stage in many American homes. Kids are connecting with screens more than they are with family members. This is a huge concern – whether you’re looking at a family staring at smart phones and tablets while dining at a restaurant or you’re trying to interact with a child who won’t look up from a video game.

Childhood is when a boy or girl’s heart is like wet cement – kids are open to our teaching, love, and guidance. We don’t want to miss this important window because we are too busy with our technology, or because we are entertaining our children, not training them.

The family has become much more digitally dependent since 2007 when the iPhone was introduced. My son was born before the iPhone and I remember going to the grocery store with him as a toddler. We pointed at fruit, looked for the Cheerios box, and I had to teach him how to behave in public. Today toddlers are too busy on their tablets or their mom’s smart phone in the grocery store to look around. With technology becoming more and more integrated in daily life, now more than ever, we have to decide how (and how much) we’re going to use it.

Q: While you offer some suggestions for modifying our children’s behavior with respect to electronic devices, it seems clear in reading your book that the adults in families will also have to commit to some changes. Why is it important that parents buy into the limitation of screens in their own lives?

A:When you boil it down, kids are going to imitate what their parents do – not necessarily what they say. In one study at the University of Washington, babies at just 42 minutes were already imitating adults. When the adult stuck his tongue out, the baby did the same. Babies grow to become children who watch where a parent focuses attention. If a parent is constantly checking emails, responding to texts and tweets, and digitally accessible most hours of the day, a child will mirror that by constantly using screens as well. As adults, we have to become comfortable with calls going to voicemail and texts not being answered at the speed of light. Most of the time, it’s wiser to play a board game with our kids then to get caught up with social media.

Q: You spend time in the book underscoring the importance of raising “relational” kids — could you please say a few words on what this means and why it is so critical in today’s world?

A:We present five A+ skills that a healthy child will possess: appreciation, affection, anger management, apology and attention. For example, if a child can appreciate what he or she has, that gratitude will take them far in life. Grateful people are less depressed, complain of fewer physical ailments, and do better in school. What kind of spouse, parent, employee or employer is your child becoming? Will he or she have the emotional skills to deal with both failure and success? Having real-life relational skills is more useful and important than having the high score on a game or the most friends on Facebook.

Q: Is there hope out there for the parent who feels that his or her family is already too far gone into the mess of electronic media?

A:Yes, there is always hope as long as your children live under your roof. Of course, it is easier to make adjustments when your children are younger. Instead of coming down hard on your child because she’s watching too much TV, you can actually begin with an apology. Talk to your child and say something like, “I owe you an apology. I’ve allowed you to do watch unlimited TV and that hasn’t been healthy for you. I’m sorry about that. I have been lazy about enforcing the rules or even communicating the rules clearly. We’re going to gradually make some changes so that you will become a healthier adult.” Those changes may include a decrease in screen time, an outside play time, a short walk around the block each night to talk, or family reading or game night.

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Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (co-authored with Gary Chapman) and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. Arlene has been featured on the Today Show, Family Life Today, and The 700 Club.

She earned her BA from Biola University and her Masters in Journalism from Regent University. She lives in San Diego with her husband James and three children. Visit Arlene at for free family resources including a monthly Happy Home podcast.

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