Changes in the way families communicate

I admit that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with technology and the changes it has brought about for our lives. I love connecting with old friends on Facebook. (Look how big their kids are getting!) I hate the jealousy that so easily flares in my sinful heart when I see someone’s fabulous tropical vacation pictures when we are buried under yet another brutal Midwest winter. (I wish I could go on vacation instead of being stuck here shoveling snow!) I love connecting with my kids instantly via texting and Facebook. I hate that texting and Facebook have replaced much of the face-to-face communication that our family used to share.

At the risk of putting myself out there, let me give you a personal example (with permission from my children). Here is a text exchange that I shared with my son, Micah, one day after school.

Micah: Do you know where Ethan is? I am waiting for him in the parking lot.

Me: No. Can’t you text him?

Micah: I don’t have his cell phone number.

Please keep in mind a few things about this exchange.

  1. My sons, Ethan and Micah, had been riding together to their high school each day for two years.
  2. They are brothers. They live in the same house.
  3. During this exchange, I am at work—miles away from their school.

So what did I have to do? I texted Ethan the following message: Micah is waiting for you in the parking lot. Can you two PLEASE exchange cell phone numbers?!?

As I look back at this interchange, I’m not sure whether to laugh or be a little bit horrified. A decade ago, Micah would have trudged back into school, found his brother, and expressed his impatience face to face. How technology has changed the way families communicate!

So how can families stay connected in this digital age? And how can we make time for the most important connection of all—our relationship with Christ? I won’t pretend that our family always gets this right, but here are a few things we strive for in our home.

  1.  Use technology to build each other up. A Christ-centered text can remind family members that they are close to your heart and on your mind. We’ve sent many an “I love you” and “I am praying for you” text. We’ve also texted Scripture passages in tough times and in times of thankfulness.
  2. Don’t use technology to tear each other down. We all need to be so careful what we put out there via social media. Once it is out there, it is out there. Remember, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21).
  3. Don’t let communication via technology take the place of personal, heartfelt communication. It is so important to share family meals as often as possible, minus the distraction of electronic devices. Sharing the day’s “highs and lows” at meals is a tradition we started when our boys were small. It provides a rich opportunity to pray about each family member’s triumphs and struggles. (But yes, as our boys became teens, we did have to make it clear that “having to share highs and lows” was not acceptable as a “low.”)

Our world is changing at lightning speed, and it can make our heads spin as we struggle to keep up. But we don’t need to. Ultimately, there is only one thing needful, as Jesus gently reminded Martha (Luke 10:42). I think I’ll text my kids that thought!