One Saturday morning, as Nate and I were leaving his morning swim session, we landed in the crowded lobby. Nate stood close to me as we walked, through the influx of people. I usually try my best to leave by the time the 9am crowd arrives, as it can be a bit unbearable for us.
On this particular day, as Nate and I walked through the busy lobby, I noticed a mother walking toward us. Her eyes were not looking forward. Instead she was talking on her cellphone, as she simultaneously pushed one child in the stroller, while her other child walked aimlessly nearby.
I softly spoke to get her attention. “Excuse me.” The mother looked up, as she apologetically, told me that she was sorry. Then she told her little toddler to “pay attention.”
Inwardly, I laughed, as I said to myself, “Okay, whose supposed to be paying attention? You, The Mom, was on your phone.”
Another time I saw a mom engaged in her phone, was a few years ago, during parent-teacher conferences at school. I was sharing the report card of my 2nd grader with the parent. However, the mother seemed more interested in answering every beep that came through her phone. At one point she picked up the cellphone, to have a conversation. I looked in disbelief, wondering what was more important, her child’s report card, or her many text messages, or her conversation.
And lately, I have noticed more parents on their cellphones, while walking in stores with their children or eating in restaurants. There is no communication with the child, as the parent is in a deep conversation.
And I tell these stories, not to shame or judge those parents behavior. Not at all! In fact, these encounters have made me look at my own cellphone usage when I am with my son. I have questioned myself.
“Am I giving Nate attention?” “Am I preoccupied with my phone?” “Is this important?” “An emergency?” “Is this taking time away from Nate?”
I am guilty. There are times that I am engaged in my phone for long lengths of time, in the presence of my son. I am having a conversation, or laughing at text threads, responding to emails, checking my blog, or going through my social media accounts.
And I realize that my constant cellphone usage, must stop. When Nate and I are together, whether home, shopping, or at a restaurant, it is important that I give him my undivided attention. I need to be in that very moment, not engaged in my cellphone.
It is important that parents are, “present.” This means, not being consumed by our cellphones. When we are spending quality time with our children, we should not only be physically present, but we need to be mentally there, as well.
We must remember that, every moment with our children are opportunities where we can observe, correct, teach, and help them. And in the end, this will have an invaluable impact on their lives for the better.