I took the kids out to breakfast one weekend while Paul was out of town for work and I had no desire to mess up my clean kitchen. The kids colored and we chatted while we waited for our food.
A father came in with his 2 kids, each was fully armed with an electronic. Both kids immediately whipped out their personal iPads. He pulled out his phone. All three were glued to their screens the whole time they waited for their food. Even when their food arrived, they ate while staring at their screens. Not a word was spoken. No eye contact was made.
Next to us, a middle-aged couple was doing the same thing. No conversation, no eye contact. They may as well have been dining alone. While we ate, we talked about school, friends, plans for the weekend. We told bad knock-knock jokes. My kids asked a million questions. I made up a million answers. They opened up and I listened.
I love my electronics as much as the next person. My kids love to play on the iPad or Wii. But, we do not allow electronics at ANY meal - at home or in public. We set firm limits about when and how much screen time is allowed. We are all so busy that sometimes meal time is the only time we have to connect.
At dinner, we learn what jobs Christian had at preschool. We hear about what Sara did in art class. We hear about Daddy's day at work. We talk about an upcoming family wedding. While Christian eats lunch during the week, I sit with him and read books to him. When Paul and I dine out, we will glance at our phones to see if the sitter has called. That is all.
I felt sorry for the father and his kids. Here was a perfect opportunity to talk and connect. Instead they all chose to connect with their technology instead. Ever since Sara was a newborn, we had lunch with my father weekly. She learned to sit through a meal before she learned to sit up or eat solid food. She threw food, ate food, colored or people-watched. It is sad when a family cannot turn off the screen time for face time. I had a rewarding and enjoyable breakfast WITH my kids. They ate food while sitting next to their family.
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