Divided Attentions

Posted on January 15, 2019 by

Father, Daughter, Beach, Family, Daddy
In not being present, in pretending I could hold at least two attentions concurrently, I betray eternity’s moment for the temporary release I feel I could have by taking a look at just a tiny machine at the end of my arm.
When it is an important e-mail I’ve been waiting for, or some kind of message by a friend, or an acquaintance, or even a prospect, I really do need to admit that there is always a buzz to receiving email.
I believe the earliest I can remember feeling excited about email was when I received a postcard or a letter or just a package in brown paper wrapped together with string through the email as a pre-schooler. (There’s something about a package wrapped in brown paper and string that takes me all the way back to the 70s.)
The problem is partly about accessibility, about us being too accessible, but it’s also partly about craving information.
The timing of this guide is poignant given that it’s Father’s Day in Australia. The Fathering Project have elevated the role of Dad significantly over the past few years. And it is normal for dads to expect to be celebrated with this one particular day of the year.
However, what if as fathers we took some time to reflect on the interruptions our devices create?
Let’s just be honest.
Could we be as daring to think about a structure of discipline that would restore our control over the machine rather than relinquish our control to it?
I have done like many individuals have over the last few years and deleted programs on my phone. But there continue to be the text messages and e-mails that I prefer to answer in a timely manner.
I have needed to be reminded occasionally to stop looking at my phone during family times, and I guess for me I have come to accept how fast I substitute my precious family time with superfluities. It is fortunate that my spouse can be direct with me. But it saddens me how many precious family moments I’ve missed with my children. I doubt whether they would have even noticed, since it is not that big a problem, but that’s just the problem; we continue to allow the technology to interfere with and at times ambush our lives. And some of the time it can be completely essential.
So here is a message to dads: Have you been able to be fully present with your kids for the precious moments you have them?
It seems that childhood never ends for parents, but like anyone with adult children would inform us, once that time has gone it is gone. I believe I still grieve my three adult daughters having grown up. I’m so glad they’re adults now, but as parents, if we are truthful, we miss them. Yet I’m so proud they have their own lives.
I think for me being a good dad is about refocusing daily and finding ways of simply being present.
Fatherhood is for now. We can’t afford not to make the most of each moment, but inevitably we will waste lots of them. Let us make the most of as many of those moments we might otherwise waste.

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