If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a parent. That means you have a young mind, or minds, watching you to learn how they are to act, behave, and function in our world. Everything you do is under a microscope and your actions will shape how your children behave as adults…even as parents. You…yes YOU are their example for EVERYTHING in their lives, which is why I want to share a quick story with you…my fellow parents.
A couple weeks ago Tara and I took our son Sam to the Brookfield Zoo. When we got to the zoo it was somewhat crowded. It was one of the nicest days of the year and we quickly realized we weren’t the only parents who thought it was a good idea to take their kids to the zoo on the beautiful Chicago day. After being cooped up most the winter it was really nice to see people out and about.
Anyways, we walked through the gates and the first animals we saw were the big cats, which Sam thought were awesome. Cougars, lions, tigers…all very beautiful and amazing animals.
On our next stop, we saw the sea lions and sea otters. Again, very amazing animals…but then we saw the dolphins!
The zoo has a dolphin show that happens twice a day. Fortunately, we had made it just in time to see the show. We purchased tickets, went into the arena and found some great seats right in the middle. We patiently sat in the stands waiting for the show to start, eating Cheez-Its and people watching.
Over the next 10 to 20 minutes the stands filled up with parents with their little ones, just like me, Tara, and Sam.
Soon enough the show started. They introduced all the dolphins who did their “signature” trick when their names were called. Some of the dolphins jumped out of the water, others waved, and one even played frisbee. Sam and the other little kids were all very amused.
The show went on and the dolphins did more and more amazing tricks. Flips, jumps, you name it. One dolphin even jumped almost 20 feet out of the water to touch a ball that was hanging from the ceiling. It was very entertaining.
As the show continued on I couldn’t help but notice a little girl and her dad sitting right in front of us. Every time a dolphin would do a trick she would look to her dad to see if he was watching.
She would tug on his arm and say, “Did you see that Daddy?”.
Her father would shake his head and say, “Yes sweetie” or even a simple, “Mmmhmm”.
Unfortunately, this little girl’s father wasn’t watching at all. He was slouched over, looking down, and not paying any attention to the dolphins…or his daughter.
Realizing her dad wasn’t paying attention to her or the dolphins, the little girl sat there with a sad look on her face and watched the dolphins by herself.
Me being curious, I looked over her father’s shoulder and realized what was going on…
He was on his cell phone.
First, he was checking his email, which I get. He might have had something important going on with work. Okay. But then he was on Facebook, then Instagram, then back on Facebook, then Amazon. The whole time his daughter is sitting by his side, tugging at his arm, begging for some attention, begging for some of his time, begging to bond with him in that moment.
As the dolphins continued to do their amazing tricks I looked around the arena and you know what I saw? Countless parents sitting next to their kids, all glued to their cell phones.
I shook my head in disappointment, but then I realized something…
I am guilty of doing the exact same thing.
Just because I was being present in this moment doesn’t mean I’m always giving my kids 100% of my time and attention. We all are guilty of this.
It’s easy when you are with your kids to check your email, text one of your friends, go on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram.
But my fellow parents…Please, PLEASE, stop doing this.
My fear is that we are raising a generation of children who realize they come second, third, fourth, or even fifth. Second to our emails, third to our text messages, fourth to our phone calls, and sadly, fifth to our social media accounts.
As parents, we can do better…we must do better.
We only have so much time with our little ones. And just like our time, these moments are limited.
If we don’t change this behavior our kids will look back on their childhoods and say, “Yes, you were with me, but you weren’t present…you were always on your phone”.
It saddens me to think our kids won’t feel like they are the most important thing in our lives. And if they are the most important things in our lives, we need to start acting like it.
Let’s turn off our phones and spend more time with our kids. Less emails, text messages, phone calls, and Facebook and more conversations, laughs, giggles, and dolphin shows.
Let’s stop putting our kids second, third, fourth, or fifth and put them where they are supposed to be…First.
Remember…Less phones and more dolphin shows.