Most of us parents will say without hesitation that our children are our top priority. But we live in a world with so many distractions and so many things competing for our attention that it is hard to "practice what we preach" and to give our kids the time and the mental energy that our first priority deserves.
Parents have always been busy, but the current generation of parents is the first that has the huge added distraction of technology and social media thrown into the mix. We were reminded of this the other day as we observed a young mom with three little kids tugging at her and trying to get her attention as she thumbed things into her smartphone.
Sometimes the problem is that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" — in other words, Facebook friends, Instagram account, email, social commitments, church callings, shopping, entertainment, hobbies or jobs are so ever-present and so demanding and so hungry for all our attention that we don't have much attention left for the kids.
Children are demanding of course, and loud and needy, but they are still somewhat easier to ignore than the "adult demands" or the technology addictions that swirl around us. If we are not careful FOMO (fear of missing out) drives us to check our social media or our texts or our emails with more consistency than we check our children's needs.
And sometimes our most deliberate, strategic thinking is devoted to our careers or our church or political interests, or even to our posting or texting, while we just react to our kids.
First priorities deserve our best mental energy. We need to analyze our children's needs and have proactive goals and plans for what we want to give them, and this kind of thinking is getting harder and harder to do at the pace of our crazy, busy, distracted lives.
So the big question is this: How do we keep our minds and our attention a little more on our first priority?
Well, one way is to do what you are doing right now — reading an article that focuses on family and parenting. And, of course, there are also good family-focused podcasts, YouTube videos and Facebook and Instagram pages that can help pull your focus back to family and to your kids and not sucking your attention in other directions.
In other words, by being more selective in what you look at on your screens, you can turn your worst distraction into your ally and your support mechanism in staying tuned in and conscious of your kids. Instead of letting your devices pull you away from your family, use technology to make you more aware and up to speed on parenting, marriage and family.
We challenge you to program more family-centric and parenting-focused stuff into your smartphone. Instead of thinking of technology as a competitor for your time and priorities, use the technology to remind you of your real priorities and to give you stimulating ideas and tips about how to do better at them. Instead of letting screen time suck you away from your kids, find and use the kind of websites and social media that make you more conscious of family and better equipped to do a good job in your home.
Here are some of our specific sites and social media accounts that you can follow to get started in that direction, and once you begin, you will find other family-focused apps, websites and pages to add to your "favorites."
Podcast: Eyres on the Road (use any podcast app)
YouTube: Eyres on the Road
Facebook: Linda Richard Eyre
Twitter: Richard and Linda Eyre
LinkedIn: Linda and Richard Eyre
Website for additional information on each social media topic: valuesparenting.com/wpt/
Our children deserve our attention and our priority. Good luck in making technology a tool that helps and not a distraction that hurts.