Family Discoveries, Real Seeing

Careful Attention

careful attention

If you’re like me, getting distracted is easy. Okay, maybe you’ve learned to focus in your one-track-minded self, but a word of caution: constant distraction shouts, “I don’t have time for you.”

Our family is listening to a book on Audible (totally recommend listening to books, by the way), called “100 Cupboards” by N.D. Wilson. It is a great way to slow yourself down. I have found not only do I love the book, but I cannot really listen to it if I am doing other things at the same time.

One night at the dinner table, my family and I found ourselves discussing this surprisingly intriguing story.

All I said was, “I’d like to talk about 100 Cupboards!” My wife jumped in with some great questions. “Should Henry have scraped the plaster off his walls?”

What followed was a rapid-fire debate about this very question. The comments varied as much as their ages (14, 10, 8), but I actually had things to add. It drew me in.

I am not always engaged, so this was a very good thing. I am still learning how to be real and openly engage my quickly growing children. Since as a novice I haven’t had much practice, my flesh can back up and stall out.

I don’t want to look stupid in front of my kids.

I know I said I don’t have much practice, but I have had practice engaging my kids. The trouble seems to be more that I wasn’t fully engaged with the same things that they are engaged in. If I only pay careful attention to the things I want, I immediately separate myself. If I hadn’t been listening to this book with them, I would quickly feel inadequate, and fear saying something really dumb. All that seems to go away when I purpose to engage in what they are engaged in.

Because I attended to the book (really listened), I was able to be a part of the conversation. It was an amazing experience for me. Everyone was engaged – me, my wife, my three kids.

Paying attention is a learned skill. 

What are your kids engaged in? Are you willing to learn? I believe developing this skill involves imagination and genuine interest. It’s easier than expected. Be interested in what they are interested in and your message will be, “I love spending time with you.”

Swallow your pride. Allow them to teach you. Engage.