is that really important?
Ok dads, time to put away your cell phones. Our session has begun.
Considering this is my second bash of technology in as many nights, I want to lead off by saying that it’s nothing personal. I love my cell phone, love my laptop, love the internet, and love the way social media allows us to communicate and share. Without it, I’d have to mail you all letters, which would stink. Now, back to my rant.
I’d like you to play a visualization game with me. Please close your eyes before reading on. Just kidding. Think back to your childhood and try to visualize an important moment. Perhaps your first home run in little league, or your first dance recital, or even your First Communion or your Bat Mitzvah. Pick a special moment in your life. Visualize it being a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the leaves are dangling, you’re surrounded by loved ones, and not a cloud in the sky. The day is perfect. You are filled with anticipation as you prepare to reach new ground with your achievement. As the pinnacle approaches and you prepare to celebrate your accomplishment, you glance over at your parents. Your mom is smiling from ear to ear, gleaming with joy and about ready to burst out of her skin with pride. You can tell by looking at her that she is so happy for you. You can just feel her support. Your dad is a little less enthusiastic, in fact, he’s not even paying attention. He’s too busy figuring out the latest app on his cell phone to even notice that everyone around him is standing and cheering. Clearly, he’s oblivious to you, your accomplishment, and the moment.
Not a good feeling, is it?
All this to share a conversation I had recently with a dad who was in the therapy room to observe his child’s latest home VT assignments. I have met him before, and he truly is a nice man, and I don’t doubt for a moment that he completely loves his children. Like most of us guys though, he gets swept away by the latest gadget or gizmo on the market, and this day he could not take his eyes off his cell phone. After repeating my instructions of the same activity to him for the fourth time, and being met with a very apathetic “uh huh”, I politely asked his daughter to leave the room and shut the door. “Mr. XXX, I need to be honest with you, this is not working for me.” He looked confused. “You are wasting your time and frankly, you’re wasting my time too. I have 55 minutes to demonstrate and explain these activities and I cannot do my job well if I spend that time competing for your attention. We just spent 20 minutes reviewing an activity that should have taken less than 10 minutes, at the most. I need you to turn off your cell phone, or if what you’re doing is more important than today’s assignments, please go sit in the reception area and we can review these activities next time.”
He cracked a smile after about 10 seconds and apologized. His cell phone went in his pocket. I quickly explained to him that his performance in the VT Room is crucial to his daughter’s success. “She will take her ques from you”. If dad is engaged, then his daughter will be too. If he is apathetic, chances are his daughter will follow suit. This has to be a team effort for it to work. He agreed and we invited his daughter back in the room. Crisis averted.
During his next session, which was last Friday, he playfully gave me a verbal jab about leaving his cell phone in his car. He shook my hand and said he was “ready to listen”. Game on.