This is my confession: At times I have paid more attention to my smartphone than to my kids. Up to this point, my kids Asia and Rex have probably seen me more with my iPhone than without it. Now that I’ve realized this, it worries me. What message have I given them?
The other day I tell Asia, who’s eight, that I got a new phone. Then I ask her if she knows why I got a new phone. Her answer breaks my heart: “So you’ll pay attention to us.”
Uhhh. All along I didn’t think they noticed. All along I thought I was getting away with it. Checking email while they were swinging in the backyard. Reading my messages while they rode their bikes. Getting emails while we watched a movie. These were isolated incidents, separate stones, but when you put them together, they built a wall. A wall between my kids and me.
And for what? For spam emails, for quizzes posted on my Facebook page, for a newsletter? These two kids, my Asia and my Rex, are my treasures. They’re the ones I was chosen to parent, chosen to love, chosen to raise. They’re the ones who look to me as father, their only one. I’m the one who models their Heavenly Father, the one they look to when they wonder what God is like. And what am I doing most of the time? Checking email.
Giving my attention to something else, someone else. Truth is, the email is not aways going to be junky. Sometimes it’ll be important, an email from my family, or a friend, from work, or my agent. But the conclusion is still the same—and for what? For what am I giving the attention that my kids deserve? For what am I wasting these precious years when they’re still at home? For what am I sending this dreadful message that they’re not worth my attention?
Junk email or important email, it doesn’t matter. It’s all the same. My kids are more valuable, infinitely.
I want to get the time back. But I can’t. All I can do is protect the time going forward. And I will, no more walls.