Presents vs. Presence

When I was a little girl, each Christmas we received one new family game, encouraging us to play something together.  That’s a present that leads to presence.

Presence wins over presents very often.    How many of you that have a child in kindergarten or first grade came to the Christmas program yesterday?  Was it necessary?  Could you have simply told your child that you would have someone tape them singing and would watch it later at home?  Kids love to have someone come watch them…..What a joy to see their beaming faces in person and knowing that they are watching for you to watch?

Watching that program in person was a real treat.  (And I’ve seen lots of Christmas programs!)  I was present to see a couple little ones up front put their whole hearts into the songs.  I was present when “Mary” got up the courage to go back on stage after she had stage fright.  I was present to experience the utter delight of children and parents alike as the students held their elbows to the side for what seemed an eternity before they skyrocketed upward as they sang, “We………………………..WISH you a Merry Christmas!”  You wouldn’t have wanted to miss that program.  Yet, so often there are obstacles to genuine presence with those we love.

070Recently I was talking with a parent who said, “I’m quitting Facebook, I don’t use it much but every time I do, I feel like a rotten spouse and parent.  People only post their “A game” items.  Those don’t happen every hour or even every day.  We see their “A game” and feel like, ‘Aw, gee, I never make those cute little treats for my kids…..etc, etc’“  She said the technology was not helping her in the long run so she was finding ways to step back.  She is working on presence to those closest to her.

I’d like to follow-up with last week’s note and give a few more compelling reasons for stepping back from technology with young children.  Last week we noted the correlation between technology use and a decreased ability to self-regulate and an increase in tantrums and impulsivity.  Further reasons:

2) Delayed physical development likely caused by decreased movement which enhances attention and learning ability.

3) Sleep deprivation fostered by 75% of kids having technology available to them in their rooms.

4) Mental illness, specifically depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, ADD, and a host of others, associated with technology use.    Adolescents are experiencing a similar experience to the mom I spoke to in paragraph 3.  In summary they are led to think, “Look at all the fun things every other kid gets to do and here I sit at home……”  Little do they know what a blessing home is for them.  Kids need to learn to handle boredom.  Figuring out how to stimulate our minds or finding some activity which I enjoy, constitute essential parts of maturation.

I had better stop there as one can only handle so much of the quagmire.

Jesus stepped into our quagmire to pull us out of it.  He also sends grace to help us figure out how to make our way out.  May this Advent bring you the openness of heart to accept these gifts from our loving Father, for which He sent His Son to earth.

Thank you, children for bringing to life the joy of Christmas.  We could see joy and heartfelt love so clearly on your faces!

May His decision to be present among us enable us to be more present to each other in His name.

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