Last night I had a conversation with my two youngest children about moderation.
Will, my youngest, asked to stop at McDonald’s last night on our way home. Anytime he is hungry, he asks to go to McDonald’s. We had a quick conversation about how some things are fine occasionally, but they become unhealthy in regularity. I explained that I wanted him to be healthy and strong when he grows up, so that we can explore the world and have a lot of fun adventures. It must have worked at least temporarily, because he immediately asked if we could go home and have salad for dinner.
As often happens when I’m having a discussion about life with my children, I also needed to be reminded of the lesson I was trying to explain.
The topic of Moderation hit me really hard a few weeks ago when Samuel, my middle child, gave me a hug and said “Dad, thank you for not talking to me like an adult. They just stare at their phones and don’t pay attention while I’m talking, then say ‘Cool’ when I stop. You don’t do that.”
It wasn’t really a moment of self-pride, as if I’m somehow more devoted to my children than the average decent parent, it was more a disturbing thought about what we (adults/society) are communicating to each other and to younger generations.
The questions in my mind went like this:
- Am I communicating that my phone/tablet/computer/television is more valuable than the person with whom I’m spending time?
- What is the eventual resulting behavior from children who have grown up believing that they are an interruption to technology?
- What experiences did I have during childhood, before mobile technology, that I want my children to also experience in order to know how to deal with life in general?
- How do I ensure that my children never feel that the device in front of me holds any value whatsoever when compared with them?
We’re fortunate to live in an age where we have amazing sources of education, communication, and organization at our fingertips… or even just at the response to our voice command, but we need to remember they are merely tools. As I was attempting to explain to my two boys last night, a perfectly good thing can become a bad thing when we don’t moderate our use of it.
Too often we become subservient to our desires, rather than experiencing enjoyment. One philosophy which I try, but far too often fail, to exemplify describes godly moderation or Wisdom of Conduct in this way:
“Circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds.”
As long as we live, we will struggle with to whom and to what we give our attention. We should always remember that the “who” we give our attention to is much more valuable than any possible value we could ever ascribe to any “what.”