Monday, May 12, 2014

From Hot Spot to Holy Spot

I think one of the most challenging things that parents these days have to deal with that parents in previous generations did not is how to set boundaries in, and navigate through, the world of tech. In general, we are used to having screens near or in front of us more than ever before, phones have almost become an extension of our bodies, and things as basic as how to talk to someone face to face are things parents now need to teach their kids.

There's no doubt that the challenges in this realm increase as our kids get older. I know that my friends and peers with teenagers have to deal with stuff that I don't have to deal with yet as a parent of young kids. But at the same time, I think it's never too early for us to know where we stand on this stuff ourselves. After all, our kids need us to set boundaries and model the behavior we want to see. They take their cues from us.

That's where the following blog post comes in. It's written by a father of four who has figured out that when we're willing to unplug, some quality connections can be made.

From Hot Spot to Holy Spot by Brian Norsman

It was the first day of Kindergarten. We left home in a frenzy for the 20 minute car ride to school. The stars aligned as we managed to bathe, dress, and then brush the teeth of our tired 5 year old, George. I buckled him into his car seat, and we sped off.  Within moments he asked me a tough theological question, "Dad, can you turn on your iPhone's hotspot so I can play Ice Age online on your iPad?" Number one, how does a 5 year old know what an internet hotspot is? Number two, why has technology so complicated our human communication?

So, I told George, "No...not until we get to the stoplight. No technology. Just you and me. A new rule... the two of us WILL talk to each other." To which he responded, "Daaaaaad!" Adolescence can't be starting already I thought to myself.

I realized that if I didn't develop a ritual then, I'd miss out on very holy time, in the altar of the car, every day. No distractions, no technology, no talk radio, no ear phones--nothing but the two of us, talking, and singing, and laughing and having fun.

So, for the past 3 weeks, for 10 technology-free minutes, from the driveway to the stoplight, we have an understanding as father and son. During that time, holy time happens; talking happens. We share highs and lows of the previous day. We talk about school. We've sung VBS songs, hymns, and rock-n-roll songs together at the top of our lungs. We talk about Bible stories and family memories.

And, sometimes we even spend the entire 20 minute ride just talking. When he arrives at school, our kindergartener unbuckles his seat belt, pulls his forehead forward, and I bless him with the sign of the cross. "Jesus loves you, George. Have a great day." And, with tears in my eyes I watch my little boy walk away.

I pray that from that car seat until the time he takes over the driver seat, there will always be an expectation. No "hotspot" but a "holy spot," where burning bushes (Exodus 3:5) take place in the domains of an ordinary car ride.

Take some time to remove your sandals as a parent on your next car ride. When you do, you'll find out Who is really in the driver's seat each day.

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