About 15 minutes into a lunch business meeting I noticed her as she asked her teen age daughter if the seats were ok. I thought to myself that was nice that she asked her that. Then only a few moments later I could hear her deep in conversation and I thought that is great that they are engrossed in dialogue this middle aged mom and her daughter. As I glanced from my peripheral vision I saw it the cell phone almost glued to her ear and she was droning on and on. It was not the teen age daughter on the phone it was the mom. I tried to look away but they were seated so close it was difficult to not notice how the daughter was eating her lunch for all intents and purposes completely alone, as her mom talked incessantly on that cell phone. It was as though she was truly invisible. I watched as her posture changed and her mom made another call after another, after another. She was slumped in her chair with her head in her hands and her face buried in the palms of her hands and her mom never stopped talking, for 30 minutes until my meeting was over she continued to talk on that darn phone and ignore her daughter. It was quite obvious that this was not the first time she had talked through her time with her daughter.
As I walked away from the table and the relationship I just glimpsed a bit of, I pondered how they came to this point. How did the 5 other people on the other end of that line become that much more important than her own daughter? How did they get to that point where the daughter didn’t even try to say “Mom can you talk with me?” How did that mother not notice the misery in her daughter’s body language crying you are neglecting me and I am invisible? How did this happen right next to me at Panera?
Where does that process start? How do we ever get to that point where anyone else is more important than spending time with our children? How do I make sure my relationship with my children never looks like that? That mom is setting the example and speaking more loudly without words, than if she had yelled directly at her – you don’t matter as much as this call and that text and the next call. Yes, we are busy but are we too busy for our children? Yes, they understand if we are on the phone and if we have to take time for ourselves. But should they ever have to accept blatant disregard and disrespect?
Our children will become teens and one day adults and when they leave our homes there is nothing that says they have to come back. We are forming our relationship in the here and now through our actions, our examples, our words and our lack of words. I fear that one day soon that mom will find herself alone on that darn cell phone and her daughter will not accept her calls. Will your child or teen do the same? If you worry they might then honestly reflect upon your example, your actions and your relationship. It is never too late to change and let your child know how much you care for them. Had she noticed or even cared she could have ended the call and let that daughter know she cared. Don’t let your child sit before you begging silently for your love while you ignore them because you are just too busy.