Last week (see True North Part I) we began to explore the idea of creating an orientation that would help us navigate the demands of making choices around the technologies and our children. In our first conversation, we explored the absolute necessity of our presence. As the adults, we are faced with a serious and sacred charge; that of protecting and ushering our children through this world. Without the ability to be present in our own lives and in the lives of our children, we run the risk of allowing them to be exposed to what may not be in their best interest, simply because we were not “there.” This week, we look at how identifying and living our values serves as a companion to our practice of learning to be present.
Living our values is an ongoing, lifelong inquiry. To be part of that flow requires that we be present. Without our presence we cannot know whether or not we are actually living our values. There can be a world of distance between our stated values and our lived values; between wanting something and choosing something. Values do not live in a vacuum. They must be lived daily; in easy, uncertain and difficult times alike. They must come straight from our hearts and from the clearest places of our minds and right into the living of our lives. And when we find ourselves out of alignment, we must be willing to change course. Without this level of integrity, we will expend too much energy trying to address the daily technology challenges of “if”, “when”, “where” and “how much” for our kids. For too many of us, this is exactly why we say yes when we want to say no; it is just too much effort.
So, practically speaking, how would we begin? First and foremost: What are your family values? If you have not thought about this before, spend some time writing out what you believe is in the best interest of your children and what matters most to you about family life. When in doubt, give it the real life litmus test by asking yourself how and where you spend your time, money and energy. No matter what we might tell our children what our values are, our actions speak louder than our words. Our actions form the fabric of our family life and are what our children listen most closely to.
A wonderful exercise to align with a lifelong inquiry around your values is to develop a question that you can hold. Let your question serve as a way shower, a contemplation, something you can hold beyond right and wrong. Here are a couple of examples around technology and kids: “If I had all the courage, strength and support that I needed to live my family values around how my children use technology, I would or would not…” and “If I was not worried about fitting in or about dealing with an upset child, would I make different choice here around my child’s technology use?” Let this be an unfolding conversation you have with yourself. One that helps you to get clearer and clearer on what matters most to you.