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.’
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…