Kids Need Their Mom…to Put Down the Phone
I have a 15-year-old son who plays soccer. Several years ago, I realized that even though he runs onto the field focused on the game, warms up joking around with his buddies, and plays his little heart out like he doesn’t even know I’m there, that kid can tell you where I was sitting in the bleachers, who I was sitting beside, and especially if I was talking on my cell phone. Even texting. It’s amazing what they are taking in, even if you think they’re not looking.
And here is the saddest part. When my son sees me talking on the phone in the stands, it sends a message to him. I’m just here because I have to be. I’m not really interested in what’s going on out there. The person I’m talking to is more important than your silly game. Of course that message is completely wrong. It is not the reflection of my heart at all. But nevertheless, it’s the message my phone distraction sends to my kids. On the soccer field. In the car. In the kitchen.
Now that they are teenagers, not much has changed. They are fine if I take a call, but they’d much rather have my attention. They need me to react with happiness when I saw them, not shoosh them because something was more important. Truth is, when I have been on the phone as they jumped to the car, I have forfeited one of the best mom moments of the day.
Some of the phone boundaries I am trying to hold firm are:
- No phone calls or texting at meals. Not for me and not for anybody else.
- I don’t get on the phone before my kids leave for school.
- I try to wrap up my business day, emails, calls, and texts as I’m turning into the carpool lane for afternoon pickup. I may cut it close, but I try to say good-bye before I pull up.
- I make phone appointments during the day or after bedtime to talk to girlfriends for those fun, chatty, catchup calls.
I can’t go back and redo, but I certainly have tried to change. After we get home from school, my phone is turned to vibrate and left in my purse. Whatever it is, it can wait until tomorrow. My family and friends know to call the house if it’s urgent. Too many of us are controlled by the whim and wiz of technology. It’s a beautiful tool, but we can’t let it own us. Or divide us from our children. Or demand that we respond when better judgment says not now.
What if all the moms just put their phones down, especially during those critical times of the day, the beginning and the end? What if you were fully present for the hellos and good-byes? And what if your family decided no talking on the phone in the car or at meals? Our kids need us to put down the phone and ask them to do the same. Someone has to teach them priorities and manners, and I’m pretty sure those lessons begin with us.
The phone can wait. Your child, being heard by you, matters more.
Angela Thomas is a sought-after speaker, teacher, and bestselling author of Do You Think I’m Beautiful?, My Single Mom Life, Prayers for My Baby Boy, and Prayers for My Baby Girl. She inspires thousands at national conferences, workshops, and through video studies that she filmed and wrote including Brave: Honest Questions Women Ask.