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Family Distractions

Family Distractions

These days there are so many distractions – social media, smartphones, tablet computers … iThis and iThat – that families are falling apart. Dads answering their mobile phone during dinner, kids texting, mothers internet shopping. How is a family meant to hang together these days? Well, there are some simple answers!

The ‘Good Old Days’

I remember with great delight the days that I used to come home from school as a kid.  I was allowed an hour, perhaps an hour and a half of watching the TV. It was a great big hulking black and white model that sat in the corner of the lounge room. I used to watch Gilligan’s Island and Mighty Mouse and later on, Batman.

Our time in front of the tube was strictly limited by our parents. They didn’t want us getting square eyes.  It was out to play with the other kids in the neighbourhood.  And then in to do our homework, help with setting the table, cooking the dinner and certainly helping with clearing up and washing the dishes. It was those times washing and drying the dishes that my sister Cori and I used to sing songs. 

When it came to being a family, it seemed that there were fewer distractions back then.  Oh sure, my parents worked hard and had busy lives. But there wasn’t an Internet, there weren’t dozens of Cable TV channels, we only had one TV not 3 or 4 as many homes do these days. There were just fewer distractions.

Distractions from what? Distractions I guess from being a family.  Things were never perfect … but there seemed to be more time to interact.  More time to do things…


Back to the Real World

In stark contrast, today’s entertainment options are prolific:

–        Cable TV
–        Internet – hours in front of that
–        Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, … et al
–        Mobile phones – SMS/Text/Unlimited talk plan to fry your brain
–        Movies – lots of them – on demand on the box
–        Cars – go anytime, anytime  – running the kids here and there

It’s a whole different world. Now I’m not suggesting we wind back the clock. We can never do that. I’m just making the point that we live in a different world.  A world where there are so many distractions.  So many seemingly very good things.  Entertaining things.  Razzmatazzy things.  Glitzy attractive things.

After a hard day at work or at school – we retreat into our virtual cocoons to be entertained.  Then there’s takeaway food.  There’s the microwave.  The dishwasher.  A lot of the menial things that people used to do together as a family – times to talk, laugh and share – they’re disappearing. 

We have more bedrooms, bigger houses, more living areas. The family is under such incredible pressure!! 

All these these distractions rob us of time!  Time to be a family.  Time to talk and listen.   

What’s God’s Take? 

God places a high premium on your family.  Of the 10 commandments, the first four are about God and us. But the very next one, the fifth one, is about family:

Honour your father and your mother so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Ex 20:12).

He has a lot to say about marriages too:

Wives be subject to your husbands…husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Eph 5).

God places a massive premium on families because they were His idea in the first place.  Adam, Eve … from there came the beautiful gift of oneness and intimacy.  And out of that beautiful, intimate embrace … came the gift of children. And there you have it.  There you have family.  God’s plan for those made in His image.

Perhaps right now you feel a bit ashamed, inadequate, when you think about what’s happening in your family.

Well – maybe that is God’s plan. But look at the mess my family’s in!

Well – you’re not the only one.  Adam and Eve had the same problem!  One son murdered the other. 

Dysfunctional families happened as a result of the fall.  Dysfunctional families happened when we turned our backs on God.  

And yes – we do have a whole bunch of distractions and distractions bring dysfunction. Distractions drive little wedges into the family.  The thin end of the wedge doesn’t seem so bad. But the deeper you drive these wedges, the more they tear our families apart.

Some Simple Solutions  

So … here are some things you can start doing right now to reverse the trend. I mean … today.  This very minute. 

It’s as simple as figuring out some clever, creative ways to spend time together, like …

–        talking in the car
–        turning the TV off over dinner (they’ll get over it!)
–        having a new rule – no mobile phones at the dinner table (WHAT?! Are you for real dad?)
–        starting an interesting conversation over food (it’ll start flowing in a week or two if you persist)
–        sharing something that happened in your day (kids find that fascinating)
–        asking your kids questions (specific ones that they have to answer)
–        planning some family things that involve the kids’ friends too, so that those other kids go “wow, that was cool” – something that’s fun, alternative.

There are just so many creative things we can do.  It’s called … “fun”, remember?  

Bake some biscuits with the kids on a wet, cold, rainy Sunday afternoon.  Involve them in cooking the soup – chopping and pealing the veggies (WHAT?! No takeaways today?). 

Just inject some old fashioned fun into the mix – they might complain to start with, but in years to come those are the times they’ll look back with “fond memories”! 

It’s about claiming back your time…


  1. Thanks Bernie for all you are doing to protect Gods precious,perfect plan for humanity…THE FAMILY … What ‘ I think’ has added up to a lot of words!!!
    When did we begin to believe the lie that giving a child all that they desire…will make them happy and us good parents??? I suppose it started in the Garden .. Thats what the Devil told Eve and she was enticed by the power and promise of having it all wasn’t she???
    I am a mother of three wonderful boys and I am in my late thirties. I care passionately about the way families are functioning { or disfunctioning ??} in the 21st century. I am not a sociologist but I see that in the 50s and 60s { the good old days} parents required a higher level of respect from their children didn’t they ? [I know there was disfunction there too and I love the new wave of children being able to share and be involved more in society]
    The free love era came in the late 60s and 1970s and since then parenting has looked a lot different especially with the rate of family breakdowns being so high… More evidence that God gives us rules and ways to live to protect us because He loves us… Thats how we as parents need to see it for our Kids, our rules and ways are blessings and protection they are not to kill joy or rob of fun!!!
    The truth is there has not been [and will not be] a generation of perfect parents… Thats why we need ONE PERFECT PARENT …and when we look to God we see that HE is what we need ! One thing that interests me is that the children of those decades [30s , 40s 50s etc…] seemed to have a better understanding of the fact that somebody has to be in charge and theres a reason that God gives the older person the ‘charge’ – they have lived longer and they are supposed to know more!

    My generation of parents have allowed the children of the house to dictate the tone…..The ”enabled generation” has good things about it but I am afraid they are not being taught how to respect, honour and serve.We need to teach this stuff and that has to be done at home because the schools are not going to do it.

    Too many of my friends who are parents are afraid to set boundaries with their children … the children are being misled and think that love is ”getting what you want”…the time it takes to truly love a child is being replaced by a new piece of technology or some other material thing. Also the pressure for both parents to be at work has made for tired, time poor parents… no wonder its easier to give them an X box!!! We are exhausted.
    I have been subject to the pressure and have tried to give our boys a balance… we have some technology in the home but it has limits and boundaries and is coupled with lots of outdoor activites and sport. Old fashioned Mum here still doesn’t like the complications it brings such as ratings on games to shoot or not to shoot? ”Oh but we can turn the blood off Mum, its okay”, The joys of parenting 2012…Who has time to work outside of the home and navigate all of this properly ???
    A spoilt generation leads to a spoilt generation and so on. A spoilt child grows into a spoilt adult which makes life difficult to navigate… then spoilt adults expect the world to give them what they want , they expect bosses, business partners, spouses… everyone and anyone to fulfill their desires,… this can hurt [both themselves and the people in their lives…] If they become parents and dont realize their problem and repent of their spoilt ways it can lead to the breakdown of families because spoilt equals selfish and selfish and Parent do not add up.

    If we dont make the decision to CARE someone else will teach our kids other things… other ways to do life and this is hard stuff to undo. Parental Love is caring enough to lovingly discipline our children { the screaming style of discipline that I have tried doesn’t work and makes everyone feel rotten} …Its much easier to ignore wrong behaviour than address it. Love is loving our kids enough to bother to stand firm when we hear the cries of … But Johnny’s Mum lets him watch it, play it, listen to it, drink it, eat it etc etc!!! Love is helping them learn that they are responsible for their ” stuff ” in life and we all have ” stuff ” , Love is hanging on to them during the storm… then bothering to talk it through with them in the aftermath to see what we think could be done differently. Love is helping them see that they are wonderful and that their choices can have great power and consequence…Man that sounds like a HUGE JOB….is this what I signed up for… I’m scaring myself, let alone any one reading this!!!

    I certainly am not doing all of this as easily as I type it ! A big factor that is missing from my kid’s generation is that the poor kids have not been taught how they can love in their family… Its our job to tell them to honour us and the Why, How and When that go with the famous fifth commandment. So many kids dont even know what the concept of Honour is let alone the promise that when they practice this honour thing,- their lives will go well.We are selling our kids short and ripping them off if we dont teach them their part..When I hear a spolit child whinge ”but whyyy?” they are looking for the answer ” Because I am the Mum/Dad that God gave to you and you need to honour me as you have been taught, we honour Mum and Dad because God told us to!” We can then teach them about obedience being related to love and being a natural extension of love….Isn’t it wonderful all the teaching opportunities God gives us?

    We need to give Parenting time and dedication,- this cannot be replaced by things.. no matter how new or cool, or how we wish it could! It is paramount that we parent as best we can while we can….
    Of course not all but a lot of my peers seem to think that their children will be hurt, disadvantaged or emotionally damaged if they are told NO or even if they are expected to help out around the house. This short time that we are given to raise them is so important … we are supposed to be preparing them to be able to live in their own family one day… it is a gift to your children to have them help around the house..not a punishment!!! Responsibility helps us grow up! Even if they feel hard done by … and let us know about it…. they dont know any better, they’re the KIDS we are the ADULTS. Expect nothing = get nothing.

    We have to be bold enough to have the attitude of ”even though I know you are not going to like it… I love you enough to bother to walk through the initial conflict with you to establish that this is going to be how our house hold is run because I know it is good for you…” dont we want what is good for our kids? We should want what is best for them … nothing thats ”The Best” is easy, actually Jesus teaches that the BEST is about Serving ….. Serving takes time , sacrifice, unselfishness, kindness, now who is this sounding like? Our Great God , Our Wonderful Jesus?? If we- as the adults- could realize that our lives are better lived making the effort to go the way less travelled then thats what our kids will see and live.
    A short time of discomfort… like turning off the TV to go and read and pray with your children is well worth a lifetime of benefit… Bothering to put the Bible on the table at a meal time and actually read some of it is blessing them in a way that does not compare to hurrying dinner so they can watch X factor!!!
    You are blessing not only your kids but your grandkids. and the generations to come….We as believers who have the truth, who know the way and walk in the light have to offer HOPE to our LOST WORLD…If we can’t do it then who can?

    I dont want to condemn any parents….I thankfully am not the judge and cringe to think about some of my parenting mistakes! However I live in a time of Grace and forgiveness and there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ… I can get up and try again as we all can when we muck up. Theres no mistake that is bigger than Jesus and what He has done for us.

    I want to encourage all Mums and Dads… BE THE PARENT…. its hard but dont be afraid… its okay to be unpopular for a bit…
    GO MUM and DAD…You were specifically chosen to be THE MUM AND DAD… Its not too hard, its not too big a job, its not too late to implement new things as Bernie suggests… Your family is well worth it…
    PS Teach your kids to be KIND.. our schools and society really need it…

  2. I try to avoid turning on the telly or radio in the mornings – especially before work. This is a time to collect thoughts, plan the day and be civil to family members. My kids are slowly growing out of Facebook, Twitter etc. thank goodness for that!

    I-diot distractions certainly stifle conversation but a few simple things seem to keep our family together:

    1. Do try to eat dinner as a family whenever possible
    2. Be democratic about what to watch or listen to
    3. Share the load – mum is not our slave!

    James Treacy

  3. Thanks Bernie, that was a great reminder!! God has been convicting me lately of time spent on distractions. They can easily take away from family time and also time that could be spent in prayer and the Word. ‘Killing time’ is a good analogy for such things, whereas ‘living’ time is a much better way to live and invest.

  4. Margaret, your story is so typical. We all go there. But listen to me – your husband has had a change of heart. When men do that, the thing that works most is when our wives encourage and appreciate the change. If you want the change to go on, he needs your positive and constant affirmation.

    What you have right now is a huuuuuge opportunity. But I suspect that the window of opportunity will only be open for so long.

    What you do now is critical. Seems to me that you have a choice. The two of you can get really creative about reinvigorating your relationship … or let it die.

    The former will take lots of talking, thinking, making mistakes and forgiving. It’ll be hard work but rewarding.

    The latter … That’s the easiest route. Sad but true.

    Only you can decide.


    • Thank you Berni. One thing I know is I am not a quitter and divorce is not an option for me. I would have walked away a long time ago if I didn’t believe my husband was worth staying for. I agree it will be hard work 🙂

      Thank you and God Bless.

      • Margaret, PRAY…Pray for yourself in your marriage but more importantly Pray for your Husband. Every chance you get.. Pray…There is no greater thing we can do than to pray for our husbands. Pray that God will show him how to be the man that he created him to be and the husband that God wants him to be…{ a good guide for me was The power of a praying wife by Stormie Omartian} Also SERVE…the answer to everything in life is to follow Jesus..our SERVANT King… to serve your husband is a privlege and an honour… to serve Him as we would serve Jesus.. if he was sitting in our living room is a challenge for all Godly wives [‘Real marriage’ by Mark and Grace Driscoll is a fantastic resource and one for your husband to look at is … ‘Date your wife’ by Justin Buzzard it is a real challenge, but it will change your relationship for the better}

    • Hi margret there is a great christian movie to save marriages its called fire proof you can buy it at any christian book shop’s or i hope this will help you and your husband may god bless you both.

    • thanks bernie it is so true the good old days were great but we can do something about it thank you god bless.

  5. Bernie I found it quite amazing to read your article this morning. My husband and I were talking similarly yesterday. We’ve been married 21 years and have a 5 year old little boy (we married very young). During most of our married life my husband has studied leaving me to read, watch telly or cook of an evening. I had to look after myself as I had no one to talk to most evenings. When our son was born I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home and be with him and have enjoyed the last 5 years with him. During the early evening though I was still on my own as my husband now had his own business and was working 6 days a week and was still studying of an evening. I recently looked over my life and realised that I have been very lonely many times. I finally told my husband last year that his study days were over and I thought life would change. However he still works 6 days a week and comes home and continues with book work. After a few years of not having enough time to read – which is something I really love to do – I started reading again and the funny thing is my husband now wants to spend time with me of a evening. He mentioned it to me last night how we hardly spend time together anymore. I mentioned it has been years since we spent time together and he is now interested in changing our life. This should make me happy, but unfortunately it doesn’t really. We tend to talk about work – or more he tends to talk about work and I’m not sure what to talk to him about…. maybe this is a topic you can talk about at a later date???

    My son though will have the same upbringing as I which is exactly what you mentioned above. He loves to garden and eat our fresh vegies and watch the ants and worms. He loves to climb trees with me hovering underneath praying he doesn’t fall and he loves to help me cook.

    I loved your article as I see it in other families. Also when you go out to lunch with friends and they answer phones or text!! Drives me nuts as I think “can’t you leave it for 1 hour”. We all managed quite fine quite a few years ago without half of this technology.

    • How true. We were so thankful that our children, born in India where we were, didn’t have all the extras! and we only came home when the oldest had to go to Grade 11. They went to a Christian school in India, and had a very good grounding in the Scriptures, and this has stood by them. Coming back to Australia was hard for them and us, but the best thing we could do to keep the family together, and we are so thankful that in spite of having to update on some things, we as a family have not been so immersed in them, and have a good family bond. We’d like to see more of them, but make the most of it when we do – three families are down south, and we are in Brisbane! Mavis

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