I was in New York last week and met with two wonderful women, Carol Cain and Issa Mas, two like minded parenting bloggers. I was telling them a story about me and my son that illustrates a main concept in Chaos to Connection. The concept is the idea of a message in a bottle, what our children are trying to reveal through their behavior. After I left the meeting, I started thinking about the story and learned more than I expected.

The story has changed the way I’ve been with my kids since I’ve been home. We were at the pool on a recent Saturday for the kids swimming lessons. I was taking some calls and replying to e-mails on my iPhone. My wife was with our daughter. My son started trying to get my attention by talking to me, and then he’d stopped and go back and play with some other kids.

Finally, my son came back to me and took my iPhone and started playing with it. I said, “Son, please don’t play with my phone,” because he has a tendency to push the buttons that deletes things. He looked at me. And then his fingers started to speed up and touch more of the phone. As I reached out to grab the phone from him, he began to back up. I moved forward. He backed up some more, and I moved forward. He backed up some more and then finally, his hands in a frenzy and the iPhone going crazy, he turned and dashed away, and ran into a glass wall. He bounced off the wall, and in his surprise, he let go of the iPhone.

The iPhone started flying through the air, and I reached for it, catching it. I did not reach for my son. He fell down, and I could tell his feelings were hurt. Not his body. And I had the worst feeling, as a parent, when I realized that I reached for the phone before my own son.

After telling this story, I walked away with a greater appreciation of the awareness I need as a dad, to be aware of my children, even on a lazy Saturday morning during swimming lessons. I need to be better aware that my children are children, and they have many different ways, with their voice and behavior, to show that they crave my attention and my engagement.

In recent weeks, I have purposely put my iPhone away. I realized I needed a break to reestablish making my children a priority over the technology in my life.

Author's Bio: 

Michael's passion is helping young people, especially those who are labeled “at-risk,” their families, and their communities, nationally and internationally. This passion has lead him to co-create Chaos to Connection, to offer a groundbreaking parenting program to all families. Combining business and project management experience with clinical experience, Michael directs the transformation of therapeutic models and counselor's experience into powerful tools for families.

Michael has a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and over 20 years of experience working with youth and families in private practice, therapeutic groups, residential treatment, wilderness therapy, crisis debriefing, and family systems restoration. He co-created Chaos to Connection with Vive's Dave Herz to continue his work to restore families and communities. His work has taken him nationally to New York City’s Harlem and the Mississippi Delta, and internationally to Russia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Haiti, and China.

Michael lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with his wife and two children (who always have more to teach him about parenting) and in his free time enjoys playing with his family, biking, fly fishing, snowboarding, writing, and enjoying the bounty of Colorado’s natural wonders.