Tuesday I posted a conversation between a mother and a daughter who were having lunch together. The mother expected that her daughter would abide by their mutual vow to leave their cell phones in the car so they could fully enjoy one another's company.
The mother left her cell phone in the car. Her daughter did not.
The mother had her expectation of uninterrupted time with her daughter shattered, flooding her with a ton of emotions - from rejection, to disappointment, to hurt, to searching for what to blame, to feeling insecure, to anger because her daughter did not keep her promise.
The daughter felt misunderstood, complained that her mom lives in the "dark ages" and "totally over-reacted."
Your responses to this post moved me, concerned me, and inspired me. It is with permission I print portions from conversations and e-mails:
- "Robin, look around you. Little kids watch videos from a high tech piece of equipment that parents intentionally buy with their car. How can children learn to have a conversation when they're taught to disengage from those around them at such an early age? I think parents have to stop introducing technology at such a young age and start talking with their children. Driving with your kids is when they love to talk. How will children ever learn to talk with another if their parents turn on a video the second they get in the car? How can kids learn the wonder of a conversation is parents aren't there to listen or talk with them? By the way, next time you go to a restaurant look at how many kids are watching movies on phones!"
- "Texting is a part of life. My daughter got asked to her prom via a text. The same guy told her he'd forgotten he'd already asked someone else a week later and said she'd need to find another date. Her heart was broken. My heart was broken. If I fight texting my daughter won't talk with me. I'm not perfect either. When she's on her phone, I get on my phone, too. It feels lonely when I'm sitting there not doing anything. It has become such a habit. She even sleeps with her phone so she doesn't miss out on anything. Kids text one another in the middle of the night. It's a part of life."
- "My five-year old nephew has a cell phone. He's learning how to spell by texting his dad at work. He plays his own videos when he can't sleep so he doesn't have to wake his parents. The other night he was staying at our house and before I went to bed around midnight I checked in on him. This is when I found him watching a movie. He said he'd had a bad dream, that he did not want to bother me. I haven't stopped crying. A five-year old watching a video because he didn't want to bother me? Isn't this some sort of emotional neglect giving a five-year old a phone?"
- "This summer my family and I went on a driving trip. We left our cell phones at home. It was the most wonderful seven days. (We kept one in the glove compartment in case of an emergency.) When we got home we got rid of our phones with the bells and whistles. Now we use them only in case of an emergency. We talk more. We understand one another more. We're really there for one another. What a huge difference."
- "I really feel for the mother in your post. I go through this all the time with my kids. Friday night is Shabbat, a time of thanks and reflection. One day a week we turn off our phones for twenty-four hours. We put them in a basket and store them in the closet. We also turn off our computers. This restores me. I can't tell you how I look forward to Fridays. Maybe you could suggest to those reading Project Thanx to take one twenty-four hour period once-a-week and have the family put their phones away, turn off their computers, and be together. The family can vote on the day so everyone has a voice."
A main purpose of Project Thanx is to find ways we can keep the personal touch alive, offer our appreciation to one another, and discover ways we can brighten our own corners of the world. Staying present, listening to one another (which means not answering phone calls even if we say, "Sorry, just let me see who this is"), hearing what is being said, remembering what is being said, is at the core of an intimate relationship.
I realize Project Thanx is not for everyone. I realized this before the blog began. This blog is for people who wish to take an action, who have the courage to leave phones in their cars, turn off technology in their homes, and connect with one another. Project Thanx is not about finding fault with others. It's about understanding what's going on and then choosing what we want to do. So... what do we want to do today?