Capture the Memory or Live the Moment

Family of four playing a game
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Shepherding hearts. Sculpting souls. Coaching for life. All of these tasks can be included in defining the joy and sacred sacrifice of mothering.

One young mother with whom I was counseling each week already understood this high calling. But she reached for tissues as she explained, "I feel I'm not a good enough mother. I'm not fully present, and I spend too much time on digital technology. It's having a negative effect on me and my family."

The damage showed up in her personal discontent and the envy she felt while reading Facebook posts. Mommy blogs offered unlimited ways to entertain her kids, and Pinterest boards showcased perfect meals — this mom felt overwhelmed.

So we discussed a digital wellness plan that included the following:

Be grateful

Don't fall for all those upbeat posts — we all know there's more to the story behind cleaned-up profile pictures and vacation photo collections. Gratitude and contentment can help to keep you from feeling unloved or unworthy.

Set boundaries

Digital technology is quick and easy, providing helpful information and fodder for creativity. It's easy to fill your day with busyness, and before you know it, time flies by and all you have is information overload. So be intentional to focus on your real-life priorities and set digital boundaries. Better yet, set a timer, and when it goes off, log off.

Engage in real life

Young mothers used to talk to family and friends in person, but now they mostly go on Facebook to connect or use their phones to communicate by text. Yet face-to-face conversations build true intimacy, not just a surface connection. So meet your friend at the park and reconnect as your kids enjoy the sunshine. Don't let your virtual life rob you of these fleeting years with your children. Read stories to them, bake cookies with them or play Go Fish. And rather than posting pictures online, just capture the experience for yourself.

Dr. Catherine Hart Weber serves as a therapist, speaker and the author of Flourish: Fully alive and growing.


Questionnaire:

 Mothering in this digital age definitely has its benefits — but the drawbacks cannot be overlooked. Consider your personal posting habits and your time-management skills as you evaluate the pros and cons of the current online hooks for moms. Ask yourself these honest questions:

  • How much time am I spending online each day? How much is too much?
  • Have I established personal boundaries for digital engagement that set a good example for my children?
  • Do my online interactions impede my ability to meet my family's needs?
  • Am I posting photos that honestly reflect my life, or do I polish them to make my family look more peaceful and perfect than we are?
  • Am I over-sharing about my children — will they feel exploited when they're old enough to read my Facebook posts? (Would I have wanted my parents to share about me in the same way when I was a kid?) How might my posts hurt them in their interactions with their friends? What issues will they have to resolve when they grow up and read my blog?
  • Am I respecting my husband by the comments I make and the "friends" I pursue online?
  • What does my digital footprint look like? How can strangers use what I have put in the public domain? How could the full documentation of my life hurt me? Who wouldn't I want to read what I've posted?
  • How am I reflecting the love of Christ to a lost world through my online posts? How do I do this in real-life relationships? What should the balance be?
  • How much time am I spending in the great outdoors or engaged in family activities? How does this time compare to what I spend online? Can these activities simply be enjoyed, or do I feel driven to share them through my online profiles?

Portions of this article appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2013 by Dr. Catherine Hart Weber. Used by permission.

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