Word Made Face

Breaking News: the father’s role in a child’s life is crucial.

In Your Face

When I was made aware last year of a study that found the average American parent spends less than 3 minutes a day in non-directive communication (i.e. do this, don’t do this) with their child, I thought of the dangers of a culture that discourages real-time, in-the-flesh, time-extravagant communication within a family. Having ‘face time’ with the ones you love is an irreplaceable dimension of being human, of fostering communion — and it is an irreplaceable means for forming the mind and heart of your child.

Even the Hebrew God’s pedagogy followed this pattern, as the ‘virtual’ mode of time-wasting communicating with God through prayer found its completion in the Incarnation’s face-to-face, real-time encounter: Jesus spending three uninterrupted years face to face with his disciples.

Stealing Back Time

A family asceticism, or spiritual discipline, therefore, must include a regular, rhythmic setting-aside of technologies and activities that steal family face-time, as well as a firm and unyielding commitment to engaging in enriching exchanges of all sorts.

On the nights that I am able, when our children go to bed, I lie on the floor between their beds and talk about the day, soliciting and offering commentaries that hopefully help them think through life in the light of faith, good thinking and, well, humor. Even though these conversations often end with my falling asleep, or speaking some gibberish in the twilight of wake-sleep, I have found these are the most important (and special) moments in my/my wife’s work of forming their minds and hearts.

They are unique moments of grace that happen only when I disconnect and just, as my grandfather used to say, ‘waste time to talk about things that don’t really matter.’

One-on-One Dads

Check out this article…

Adolescent kids retreat to their rooms when you try to ask them how they are and hide out with their friends so often that they spend less and less time with family, right? Read more…

8 comments on “Word Made Face

  1. “Face Time” with my dad molded me –the good and the rough edges. The way he treated me was a reflection of the time, love and respect he had for my mom. Family time (now known as quality time) wasn’t a psychological cliché but a part of operating as a family. The main “technology” we had was a manual typewriter and a rotary dial phone.

    The story of Jesus is phenomenal thinking about the time spent walking (no cars) and the people coming to him to listen and/or be healed (no emailing). Technology has a place but nothing can match “wasting time” on each other or communicating with the One who was, is and is to come. My father is deceased and my favorite memories are the stories he told. Thank goodness for a technology preserving the stories in his voice/words. What technology? – Audio Cassettes!

  2. WhoopieCushion says:

    Thank you for sharing this hugely small grace

  3. Namanya Didas says:

    This a great article. I may call this sharing quality time with our children which will have a strong bearing on their outlook and values.

  4. Great article! I know time with my kids is a big deal for me as a father and that the attention I give them with “facetime” will pay big dividends in their lives.

  5. […] Word Made Face (getting good time in with your kids is a spiritual must) by Dr. Thomas J. Neal, Neal Obstat […]

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