Look around next time you go out to eat. What do you notice? There’s a TV on and almost everyone has a cell phone in their hands. Even the baby sitting at the table next to you has a tablet of some sort entertaining her. People are so connected to their devices that we’ve lost the art of connecting with people on a personal level.
My family is no different. This is a constant struggle for us. I find myself waiting to hear if any notifications go off. Study after study has shown this is a real issue for our generations.
It’s one thing to say that we want to set our children up for success. It’s a completely different thing to actually create a plan to accomplish that reality. I realize that everyone has a different idea of what success is. I think we all can agree that success doesn’t just happen. If it did, every February everyone would have the ideal body size and type, everyone’s bank accounts would be in great condition and you’d have that dream job. No one hopes to get through life having contributed very little or not leave a legacy.
We should recognize the responsibility and gift it is to raise our children. Out of every human being possible, God chose you to be the parents of your children. Don’t miss the gravity and importance of that statement. God chose you! Our greatest contribution in life might just be the children we raise.
The goal of raising our children so they are set up for success isn’t one that we should just glaze over either. A goal worth setting is one that we should be willing to give the attention and intentionality it deserves. Translation, there’s going to be work involved in this process. There are going to be habits formed and habits broken that are going to be uncomfortable, but we must keep the end goal in mind. Study after study points to eating a meal together around the dinner table is the number one factor in the success of any child.
Learn the art of disconnecting in order to truly connect.
This means no devices at the dinner table. The TV is off, no toys and no distractions. There’s nothing for individuals to hide behind in order to connect. In the Ulrich household, everyone (guests included) surrender their devices during this time. If a guest isn’t willing to surrender, it might result in a game of Cell Phone Roulette. What is Cell Phone Roulette you may ask?The person with the cell phone gives it to the person to their left and the person on their left opens their contact list and swipes up…. Stops on a random contact calls that contact. The person on the left then hands the phone back to the owner and has to have a phone conversation with that contact for a minimum of 60 seconds.
This reduces the distractions allowed during this time. We lie to ourselves over and over again thinking we can multitask, but in reality, we can’t. There is no such thing as multitasking. See Greg McKeown's book Essentialism.
Learn the art of connecting by rewinding together.
After we’ve disconnected from our devices and started to connect, there are some questions we should ask each other. We answer these three questions almost every night:
What made you glad today?
What made you sad today?
What made you mad today?
You can come up with your own questions to ask and answer. The main point is that we spend time rewinding our days. We don’t simply coast through the days and consume food, but we intentionally connect and engage each other. You’ll be shocked at how much your children want to know how you as their parent and what went on during your day. There’s no need to give them all the details. Simply answering those questions gives them a glimpse into adulting.
Learn the art of building each other up.
This is the most difficult one to learn and live out. It’s easy for me to correct and guide. It’s not natural to build and encourage others up. Our table is a safe place for our family. We intentionally work to make it that kind of place. There are several times that Heather looks at me and lovingly corrects me when I’m aggravating embittering our sons. There’s a fine line of overcorrecting. It’s easy to cross it too. Learn the art of encouraging each other.
I believe with everything in me that when we give our families the intention and attention they deserve, we’ll leave a lasting impact on the world. Our legacy will outlast most of our accomplishments, raises we receive at work or certificates that hang in our offices. Our greatest contribution in life might just be the children we raise.
WHy a blog?
RE.THINK Church values being a church that is casual. Casual Church goes far beyond the way we dress, it's more about we expect people to take this journey at their own pace. We are here to journey with everyone. So we've created a blog so people can check us out before they show up for a service.