Guest: Mark- Sober Parent, Smart Phone


Twitter has become my new drug of choice.

Sorry coffee, the tweets pour in before you percolate.
My wife has noticed a change in me since I got on twitter six weeks ago.

Here’s our conversation in the car the other day:

At a stop light I thumb “notifications” on my black rectangular wonder box.

“What kind of world is this?” My wife asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You can’t sit at a stop light and just be still. You don’t have to check that thing. Nothing has changed.”

Silence. How often am I silent instead of saying “you’re right?”

“Our kids are screwed,” she continues.

“Not if we raise them right.”

“They sit in the back seat and see you check your phone at a stop light? What do you expect them to do?”

My son is three and uses a pine cone as a cell phone, but she has a point.

The hardest part of parenting is modeling the behavior I want to see in my children. And I don’t mean eating broccoli for dinner. I mean demonstrating patience instead of anger, choosing to read instead of watch TV, or refraining from cursing—lifestyle choices.

“So what to do we do?” I ask her.

“We pick up the kids from daycare at 5:30 and they are in bed by 8:00. That’s two and a half hours. Two and a half measly hours that we should not be on our phones. Period.”

We agreed three days ago to place our phones in the kitchen in a designated place for those two and a half hours.
Here is a brief review of those three days and what I’ve learned from them.

*Day 1

Kids playing in the other room. Wife is making dinner. I reach past her for my phone.

“What are you doing?”

“I thought of a text I need to send.”

“What about our deal?”

“Our deal was to leave the phone here, I’m not picking it up!”

Lesson 1: when collaborating with an addict to ‘give up’ an addiction, make the language clear, final, and without any wiggle-room.

*Day 2

We are eating dinner with the kids. A muffled buzzing in the kitchen alerts us somewhere, someone is reaching out to one of us.

We stare at each other between our infant’s gooooos and a toddler request for more milk.

“I’ll get it for you bud.” I jump to the rescue and dart into the kitchen.

“You’re pathetic,” my wife’s response.

Lesson 2: turn your phone off; don’t just switch it to vibrate.

*Day 3

Today was much smoother. Until I came downstairs to fetch my son some water as I put him to bed.

“Be right up bud!”

A quick check won’t hurt.

Lesson 3: when you admit you broke a pact, do it while guest blogging so the likelihood of your wife reading it is not very high.

The phone-hide practice has it’s advantages. My nine month old daughter was able to push a cart, walking (with assistance) for the first time. I was fully present to experience every second of it.

Mark Goodson has been sober since 2007 and has found writing to be a key to his recovery.
He is a teacher and a sober daddy to two children.
Mark Goodson Twitter: 

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