Every week, I take my boys to their after-school activities — swimming and karate. While I’m there enjoying my kids, I’ve noticed that a lot of parents are plugged into their mobile devices.
They’re not watching their kids — at all.
Instead, they’re checking e-mail, reading a book or using an app on their iPhone. Sure, from time to time I’ll use my iPhone for a minute during a lesson, but never for more than that.
What it comes down to is where each parent is choosing to be engaged.
Would it be easy to stay plugged in to my iPhone? Sure. I’ve already seen Max swim across the pool dozens, quite possibly hundreds, of times. And I’ve watched Joss do his karate moves so often that I have them memorized myself. But I’ve also checked my e-mail hundreds of times.
Here’s the thing: My e-mail will be there later.
But there are precious moments that will only happen this one time as my kids partake in their respective classes. I don’t always know when they’ll happen, but if I miss them they’re gone. Forever.
So my decision is simple. I’m there to watch my kids.
I work so much (2 jobs, 6 days a week right now), and these half-hour classes are a chance to see my boys growing, learning and having fun. And if I’m paying attention, I can give them honest feedback and encouragement when they’re done.
There’s also another component tethered to this. When my kids look over at me, they see that I’m paying attention to what they’re doing, which makes them feel important (which they are). If they saw dad’s head buried in his iPhone, how would that make them feel? Insignificant and unimportant, that’s how. A definite contributor to poor self esteem and feelings of inadequacy.
It’s a great feeling to see my boys’ eyes light up when they see me watching them, really watching them, as I give them a big thumbs up.
Plugging in is tempting. These devices are addictive, they’re easy to get sucked into. And they can rob us of precious, one of a kind moments.
Just the other day, Max did two different types of backstrokes. Each time, I was awestruck as to how well he did them. My jaw literally dropped. I would have missed it if I were plugged in.
What it comes down to is this … Are you an involved dad or a chauffeur?
Being involved does not mean driving our kids to and from their after-school activities and being plugged in in-between. It means being present throughout. Which can sometimes be hard when we’re exhausted, and don’t have much time for ourselves.
Am I an iDad?
As much as I love my phone — nope. Although I’ll admit that I can sometimes become distracted, I remain firmly plugged into my kids lives.
And remember, you are not alone …