In this ever-increasing digital age, some of us are guilty of having closer relationships with our devices rather than those we love most. A quick check of what’s new on Instagram or your latest WhatsApp thread, can result in many minutes – even hours – absorbed in meaningless online browsing.
With so much happening in the digital world, are you really present; listening and contemplating the thoughts and feelings of those around you?
Sherry Turkle is a professor, author and consultant, dedicated to researching the psychology of people’s relationships with technology. In her TED talk, Connected, but alone? she notes how technology is shaping modern relationships and how people want to be together, but also elsewhere. She comments that people text and email during meetings, presentations, while shopping and at funerals; parents text and email during breakfast and dinner while their children complain about not having their parents’ attention. As children model themselves on their parents’ behaviours, they too are turning to their devices, not only for entertainment, but also for company.
If this is how we are treating our children, how are we going to provide them with the confidence, love and support they need to grow up as well adjusted young adults?
Are you listening? Here we offer four ways to really get to know your son.
1. Make time to talk
It’s important that you have time to speak with your son every day. Talk with him about school, life, friends, astronauts, the latest and greatest remote-control car or an upcoming holiday. It doesn’t matter what you are talking about, as long as you are truly in the moment. Make sure he knows you are interested in the conversation and that you enjoy talking to him, and listening to what he has to say. Avoid checking your phone or having the television on. Model conversational behaviour and you will inadvertently be teaching him how to have a ‘good’ conversation.
2. Learn how to listen and be present
Listening is a skill, something we need to practise and maintain. It involves focusing on the speaker, absorbing what they have to say, avoiding the urge to interrupt, and when the time is right, responding. Take time to remind yourself how to listen and share this knowledge with your son. Model good listening behaviour and remind your son of the importance of being a good listener. Having this important skill can make or break relationships.
3. Create sacred spaces at home
If you are guilty of checking your phone mid-conversation, quickly scanning through your Instagram feed during dinner or replying to texts while playing with your son, it might be time to create a sacred tech-free space. This may be the dinner table, family room, bedrooms or backyard. Make the rule and stick to it, not only for your son, but for the adults in the household too. Show your son that you do not need your devices with you at all times. By creating a sacred space, you will remind yourself and your family that real conversation and interaction is the key to great relationships. You will also be creating more time to really get to know your son.
4. Develop a more self-aware relationship with your devices
Simply reading this blog may have reminded you of the importance of putting down your phone. Relationships are built and maintained with true conversation. If you want to get to know someone, you need to interact and connect with them, not text them. Develop a more self-aware relationship with your devices and make more time to connect with your family, friends and colleagues face to face.
At Trinity Grammar School our mission is to provide a thoroughly Christian education for boys, imparting knowledge and understanding of the world we live in, and recognising the importance of spiritual qualities in every sphere of learning. We actively encourage our students to grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man, in order that they may become responsible, contributing members of society.
We understand the importance of strong relationships and will support your son as he practises and progresses his communication skills.
Trinity's Life Skills Programme is part of a whole School approach to health and wellbeing. In conjunction with the development of ethical, moral and religious values, its goal is to enhance boys’ capacity to be emotionally resilient and socially competent. For information about our programme for Year 10 students, download our Year 10 Life Skills Programme guide.