One of my favorite quotes from this past LDS General Conference came from Elder Bradley D Foster, in the Sunday afternoon session. (Read the whole talk here it is short, but powerful, well worth your time if you missed it.)
"A distraction doesn’t have to be evil to be effective."
We are inundated with distractions. Many of these distractions are inherently evil, but many are not. Many can be educational, fun, interesting etc. I was reminded of another talk I heard recently given by our Stake President (leader over about 10 different wards or congregations). He told a story related to him by his son. This son teaches children 9-10 years old in Sunday School.
During a lesson on the Garden of Eden, he asked his class "Who bit the apple in the garden of eden." The answer he received was "Cinderella." This was greeted with a chuckle by the congregations. He gave a half-smile to acknowledge the reaction. Then his expression became grave. It was clear this wasn't meant to be a joke. He addressed his concerns that we as a people are allowing too many distractions into our lives. We may be missing the opportunities to teach and train our children, because our lives are too full.
Time for the Right Things
Disney princesses in themselves are not evil. There are plenty of educational programs and movies for children to watch on TV (I know my kids used to watch them). The question becomes, with all of these things a part of our daily lives do we find the time to teach and train?
One of the elderly women in my church made a comment to me several years ago that has stuck. She mentioned that maybe one of the reasons we are counseled as mothers to garden, sew, prepare meals etc, is to keep us at home. If we really do all these things, who has time for all the superfluous offerings of the world?
Perhaps this struck such a chord with me, because it is so true. Between bathing, teaching, preparing meals, feeding, cleaning, I really have no time left to wander around at the mall or worry about what the celebrities are doing. I barely have time to take a deep breath. The crazy thing is, I never seen to realize it until the very end of the day.
I believe eliminating TV and movies was a huge step for our family in the right direction (we never did video games). And I was one of those mom's with very strict limits on time, content, and occasion. Now my children sing and recite poems on the 2 hour trip up to grandma's. Our 10 hour road trip was the same. It never even crossed their minds to ask for movies (that was certainly not the case in the weaning period though!). We use our computer for the occasional foray onto PBS kids, or to watch a video of a favorite disney song. Technologically illiterate or naive are not my objectives.
Opportunities for Personal Growth
Our family, and myself especially have lots of room for improvement. I especially feel it after this week of spring break. I think the girls must have played barbies for at least 3 hours a day. I missed the schedule, and sensed they did too. Boredom turned to antsy which morphed into disagreeable. One of my New Years Resolutions was to be more involved in my children's play. I still feel this is an area I need to work on. Many times I just "check out" when they rush to their room to play blocks and dolls. This is precious time I could be a part of their make believe. I certainly do not want to infringe on their independent play, but I think there could be 20 minutes of my time well spent playing in their make believe.
As my children grow I think minimizing distractions will be far more challenging. There are so many sports, arts, activities, friends just "stuff" to become involved in. It will be a test as parents to set appropriate limits to allow sufficient time in our home for nurturing, teaching and training our children. I better start preparing myself now!