Paying Attention

By John Ballinger

June 1, 2015

We were in Buehler’s the other day and were navigating an aisle to get what was on our list. Coming at us was one of those kid-friendly “carts” they have. You know the ones I am talking about—they look like little cars and take up almost as much room.

 

The concept is for the kid to have something to occupy them while the parent gets the shopping done. The idea has some validity: It helps the parent to get through the shopping by keeping the child entertained. To me, however, this idea has two real problems. The first is obvious for anyone who tries to maneuver past one of these oversized car-carts. They are wider and harder to steer, therefore needing more clearance. The second problem is the “wall” it builds between the parent and child. What made this particular situation even more disturbing was the mother was not paying attention to her child but instead yapping away on her phone. In fact, we saw her several times throughout the store and she was still talking away on her phone, completely ignoring the young child before her.

 

It happened a few days later. I was sitting at a stoplight and in the car beside me was a woman talking on her phone. In the backseat was a little boy just staring out the window. I don’t know who she was talking to or what the conversation was about—but what about the little guy in the backseat? He was completely distanced from the woman—and not just in feet.

 

The point is these women were missing out on time when they could have had some great interaction with the child. What a wonderful opportunity to strengthen their relationship! My guess is that both of these mothers will one day wonder why their teenage children won’t talk to them or would rather spend time talking to their friends on the phone.

 

If we want to have our kids later, we need to be with them now. Scripture is very clear about the role parents have in the upbringing of the next generation. In Deuteronomy 6, God talks about teaching the right way to live to our children.

 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength. These words that I am commanding you today must always be on your minds. Recite them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7, CEB)

 

A modern translation might read like this:

Love the Lord your God with everything you are. You must learn the words I am teaching you so that you can survive this world of sin and darkness. Teach your children the right way to live. Teach them about Me. Talk to them when you are shopping, when you are riding in the car, when you have those precious few minutes alone with them each day. Talk to them over breakfast, lunch, and dinner instead of cluttering up your time with social media and TV and other distractions.

 

Your family is a gift and a blessing. The world needs more good people to show it how to live and how to love God as He wants us to but it begins with us teaching our children to be the example. More than ever the next generation needs us to hear about God. It is your responsibility as a parent to make this happen. If you don’t, don’t complain when they want to shut you out because they are simply mimicking you when you shut them out earlier in their life. Put away all other distractions and focus on being there for your children; listen to how they see the world and lead them to the One they need to know to survive this sinful world.

Keywords: deuteronomy
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