After one of our speeches, a mom and a grandma came up together and asked us a simple but profound question:
“In this busy world, how do we remember to prioritize our family every day?”
It’s a great question, because we all want to put family first, and we all know we should, but we live in a world where everything else seems to be pulling our attention away. We are so busy with work, with church, with friends—and the distractions literally surround us and get delivered right into our brains by our gadgets. All these duties and connections and agendas and apps and social media are “squeaky wheels” and they tend to get the grease—often at the expense of the time and attention we know we should be giving to our children.
The simple truth is that we prioritize what we think most about, and, frankly, knowing what should be our first priority doesn’t compete very well with all the things that force their way into our consciousness.
Parenting is hard and demanding, and it doesn’t come after us—it just sits there and waits to see what we will do. There are so many things that are easier and more pleasant, and they are aggressively thrusting themselves in onto our awareness and into our brains.
We wanted an answer for that mom and grandma that was as simple and profound as the question they had asked, and so this is what we told them:
The only real way to prioritize family is to think about it more! Busy schedules, smartphones, and everyday demands take our minds off of our children and our marriages and our families. To keep our brains focused on our kids, we need some “attention help” in the form of family websites and apps or other reminders that come to to us every day.
We need to communicate with or be with other parents who stimulate us and have ideas and can understand and empathize with our concerns--and help us get better and do better with our kids.
Let us suggest four kinds of websites that can hold your interest and increase the amount of mental energy you devote to your children and your family: There are some family apps out there too, but we will save them for another column. Hit “comment” and send us any family apps you like and might want to share.
- Motivational websites for Moms. Our favorite is Power of Moms because it was developed by our daughter Saren who is now evolving it to Power Of Families.
- Academic sites that teach us about what is happening to families and how trends can affect our own family. Our favorite is the Institute of Family Studies, where you can sign up for email bulletins.
- Parent Blogs or “Mommy Blogs.” There are so many good ones, and they keep us tuned to our kids and give us exciting ideas. Some of our favorites: 71 Toes, Dripping with Passion, and Love Taza.
- Parenting programs and ideas websites. There are lots of good ones to be Googled. Our own is Values Parenting, which is specifically designed to keep pulling our thoughts back to what matters most and from experience we can make you this promise: Every time you visit ValuesParenting.com, your brain will refocus on family. And there are enough ideas, enough programs, and enough resources on that website to keep family life and parenting and marriage exciting and refreshed. There are hundreds of pages of content, but it is organized and set up in a way that you can navigate right to what you are concerned about. For example, in the “other programs” menu at the top, you will find a four-part course on “The Happy Family,” an insightful section on parenting adolescents, and an Empty Nest tutelage for older parents. In another more personal part of the menu, you will find Linda’s blog, our most recent radio shows and podcasts, and even this newspaper column. There are also clicks for free parenting books, for a Family value of the month, for a sample dialogue for talking to kids about sex, and even for a “secret code” for better family communication.
- Books. After all is said and done, books are still a key way for us to zoom in on the issues and subjects we care about. If you are reading books dealing with parenting and family, your mind will be on those subjects and you will be less influenced by distractions. By special arrangement with our publisher, we can now offer those of you on the Uplift Families website a special friends and family deal on our latest books. Just go to www.familius.com/eyre-special and use the access code UpliftFRIEND and it will get you inside the site where you will see a capsule description of our 7 newest books and give you the 50% discount with free shipping.
Let us end with a challenge: While you are on line each day (and most of us are on line every day) make at least one visit to a family or parenting website—and browse a bit. Just making that visit will pull your mind back to the priority of parenting. And have at least one parenting or family book on your nightstand by your bed!
All the best to you in your pursuit of life’s most important priority!
Richard and Linda Eyre
Linda and Richard Eyre, parents of nine children and authors of a dozen best selling family-centric books (one of which, Teaching Children Values, became the first parenting book in 50 years to reach #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list), speak and lecture throughout the world on subjects of parenting, family, and work/life balance. Through their books, their web sites, their frequent media appearances on media like Oprah, The Today Show andThe CBS Early Show and their frequent lecture tours, they continue to work at their mission statement :FORTIFY FAMILIES by Celebrating Commitment, Popularizing parenting,Validating values, and Bolstering balance."
The Eyres find it remarkable and gratifying that in every one of the 45 countries where they have presented, people have similar hopes, dreams and worries about their children and families regardless of economic, religious, geographic and cultural differences.
Their latest book is The Turning, Why the State of the Family Matters and What the World can do about it.Linda is a teacher and musician and founder of "Joy Schools" who was formerly named by the National Council of Women as one of America's 6 outstanding young women. Richard is a Harvard trained management consultant and a former candidate for Governor and director of the White House Conference on Parents and Children. The Eyresalso head a non-profit foundation that focuses on the needs of third world children.
Among their many Church callings is their Mission Presidency in the London South Mission.