Isolation. When I was a kid my dad was really good at isolating himself. He’d hide behind the comfort of his television set. All thirteen channels. I remember it like yesterday. He sat in a lazy boy recliner, cigarette in mouth, and beer can in hand. It was an evening ritual for dad to come home and just sit. Silence. No conversations. Just the sounds of the television. He would occasionally engage us either through yelling or saying something obnoxious. It was rare though.
I have to give him some credit, we did have the occasional family trips to the beach even an occasional trip to a Dodger game. Although he never attended, dad even saw to it that we got into a church. As we got older though the trips disappeared and his ability to tune us out and hide became a nightly occurrence. Sometimes I wonder, “what if dad had the Internet and cable television with the ability to record and buy anything end everything he wanted to watch?”
I don’t even want to think about it.
From thirteen channels to a million and thirteen channels and the ability to record, rewind, and download to a smart phone or gaming device, as parents, our ability to become even more isolated and checked out from our roles and responsibilities with our kids is a reality that needs to be confronted. We’re now so connected especially with the Internet and all it has to offer, we forget that it’s important to sometimes unplug and refocus our energies somewhere else or on someone else, say like our kids?
In my desire to at least think I’m cool and hip with all of my gadgets that can talk and practically scratch my back, we who raise kids have fallen short in equipping our kids, especially those of us who have been blessed with the responsibility of raising boys, in learning how to unplug, look up, and engage with the world.
Joe Lemire of Sports Illustrated writes, “No wonder a few Indians coaches have jokingly dubbed this the “head-down generation” — more than once Cleveland manager Manny Acta has used that nickname in his tweets — in reference to the constant phone-check that is so prevalent today.”
I’m learning that I need to take some ownership as a parent when it comes to hiding behind my phone or computer, with my head down. I’m doing the same thing my dad did in some ways minus the alcoholism. As a parent of boys I need to help equip my sons to learn how to look up and engage with the world. I need to help them learn how to manage their time and when someone looks at them or is trying to engage them in some type of meaningful conversation, I want my boys to show the world that the people they encounter and meet do matter. I want my boys to let the world know that the relationships they have and will have are God given and are valuable.
It means helping my sons discern when its time to step away from the computer or television and that it’s okay to physically turn their phones off for the night. I especially need to help them, before the Lord calls them off into the world, be able to engage with those God places in their lives, especially on that day the Lord opens their eyes to the woman of their dreams.
The clip below was indeed a wake up call and along the way I know God has sent some subtle messages via our kids that we don’t have to be like our parents when it comes to raising healthy guys. What I get from this guy is that we need to help our kids relearn the importance of being present and showing up, with heads up and eyes wide open to the possibilities that the Lord has placed before them when it comes to human interaction. It’s never too late to raise healthy guys friends. We just need to make the choice to get off our lazy butts as parents and model for our boys what it means to be in relationship with one another and what it means to be able to look one another in the eye and say to our friends, family, and to the world that, “you matter.”
The question now is, given the kinds of social interactions we now have in the world of social media, what role does the church have when it comes to raising healthy kids, especially guys?