“Family” dinner revisited


A family of five at a nice restaurant:  2 kids on Nintendo DS, 1 kid on an iPhone, mommy posting on Facebook how “fab the apps” are at this restaurant, “cant wait to see how the tuna is” and daddy on his phone giving a final order to his secretary (therefore cancelling her weekend plans)…

WHAT?! How did we get here?   This is NOT what our parents envisioned.  This is NOT quality time. 

But, but, you said “prevention…”

I have made several comments about how important “prevention” and planning is to maintaining appropriate behavior and making it more likely to occur, especially in tougher environments like restaurants, malls and stores.  THIS IS NOT WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT.  There is a difference between “prevention” and complete avoidance of interaction.  I’m not a doomsday, “what is this world coming to” kind of person, but what does this teach our kids? 

A father’s lesson (my father)

It reminds me of something my father told me years and years ago when I asked him why he is the only person in the world that does not have call waiting:

“If I put you on hold to click over to the other line, I am essentially telling you that someone on the other line, even though I have no clue who it is, is automatically more important than you.”

WOW.  Have you thought of that?  Are you automatically telling your kids that your Facebook is more important than an interaction with them about their new girlfriend or their baseball game?  That their DS is more important than a decent “how was your day” conversation with you?  That a “talking cat” or “angry bird” is more interesting than anything you might have to say?  That your secretary’s filing system errors cant wait until after the bill comes?

“Social density”

Take advantage of what I call social “density,” which is a way I measure the amount of people for a particular area of social “space.”  In this case, there are 5 people in the small area of a dinner table.  High social density ratio.  Take advantage of the opportunity.  Interact with your kids.  Get one of the many “dinner time games” marketed out there (thanks to “friends” of the BehaviorBandAid.com Facebook page).  Leave the phone in the car.  It will make a difference and the effect on behavior at the dinner table and at home will be noticeable.  “Like” your kids in the old fashioned way. 

…the phone rings, daddy gets up… “this is important, I need to take this.”  Mommy gasps, orders another martini and posts “this tuna better be world class” on her “wall.”

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