Effective Parenting has finally entered and is now embracing the world of Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Effectivparent The popularity of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. has allowed us a very quick and efficient way to build our relational networks. We’ve gone from the slow tedious process of having to “physically” connect with people to a now instantaneous virtual hand shake. Information can be broadcasted globally and knowledge can be consumed immediately all within a click of a button. What hasn’t changed though is our required investment of “Time”. No matter how you link to others, you cannot have a good reciprocal relationship without the sacrifice of time. The ironic reality is social media tools end up demanding more of our time because we have the ability to connect any time…from anywhere…on any device.
Several months ago I looked over my computer screen to see my son plugged up to his ipod and had to wonder if I was prioritizing my most important relational network…my family. I don’t want to minimize the importance of building strong relationships outside of the family. The bible clearly states it’s wise to have strong advisers (Proverbs 15:22). My question was what was I prioritizing first? I determined I need to be more proactive in looking for those unplanned conversational opportunities that will further strengthen my relationship with our children.
One evening I was preparing to write, do some online networking, read, etc. My oldest daughter, Bayleigh, started discussing with me about her day at school. She told me how she felt concerned and somewhat confused on how a woman was incorrectly using scripture to witness to her. I chose to stop what I was doing and give my full attention to her. Two hours later we were still having a fun rich discussion. We talked about almighty God, studied scripture, and dialoged apologetics! We had a wonderful time together. Those unexpected few hours spent were more important to our relationship than me getting 50 new twitter followers. My external networking was only deferred to the next day where I resumed that activity during my lunch hour.
Let me challenge you to do an assessment this week to determine how much time you spend toward relationship building activities. Get a piece of paper and make three columns. One labeled “External”, second labeled “Family”, and the third labeled “Behavior”. For each day over the next 7 days make an entry of how much time you spent in each of the first two columns. In the third column denote your children’s behavior using a scale of 1-5. 1 defined as excellent and 5 defined as very disobedient. At the end of the week total up the time and average the behavioral score. This exercise will give you tremendous insight into where you focused your time. If you spent more time working your external relationships, see if the behavioral score increased too. Your children’s behaviors have a direct correlation to the first two columns. Decreased time spent with your children increases negative behaviors. Make necessary adjustments and record again the next week. Keep repeating this exercise each week until your time spent in the “Family” column becomes greater than the time spent in the “External” column. As this shift happens you should experience your relationship with your children growing deeper and also notice a decrease in their behavioral score.
Answer their call…talk to them.