A couple of months ago, I was looking something up on my phone while my two-year old son Hayden was playing with some of his toys in the living room. He kept asking me to play with him. I told him I would when I was finished with what I was doing.
After a few minutes of this repeated exchange he climbed in my lap, grabbed my phone, and through it across the room and said. “No phone, Daddy. Play with me!”
I was a little frustrated by this (and worried that my phone was damaged). I quickly picked up my phone, made sure it was OK, and reluctantly put it away so we could play.
I didn’t think much more about this until a few weeks later when I was out grabbing lunch with a friend.
We hadn’t seen each other in a while so I was excited to meet and catch up. I quickly became disappointed with our time, however, because he spend most of it checking his phone. I felt hurt, neglected, and pretty unimportant to him.
Can you relate?
As I was driving home, I started to think about my son. I began to wonder if he felt the same way about me that day a few weeks earlier like I had about my friend at lunch. Climbing into my lap and throwing my phone across the room was his two-year old way of letting me know that he wanted to spend time with me, not me and my phone.
Lack of attention creates tension in our relationships.
With access to so much on our phones it’s harder than ever to pay attention. It’s easy to get lost online. Before we know it hours have gone by.
But the more attention we pay to the people in our life the more it minimizes the tension between us. When people can see and know that we’re dialed in to what they’re saying and feeling it not only helps us to connect with them but it paves the way for them to connect and want to pay attention to us.
I’m working on paying better attention to the people in my life. Slowing down, closing the laptop, and putting the phone away is still hard for me. In spite of this I’m finding the more I do it the easier it is to do, the better my relationships are becoming, and the happier I am.
Want to improve your relationships? Pay attention so you don’t create any tension.