“Jaw With John” – The Meal Doesn’t Come With A Side of Mobile Phone

My husband and I are parents of seven adult children, ranging in age from 25 to 34. Recently two of our kids (and one spouse) came home for a visit and we noticed they were never far from their cellphones and even at the kitchen table were on their phones texting or checking their mail.

We consider these times together special and my husband, especially, noticed that they were less “present” when on their phones texting, etc.

This Christmas all kids and spouses are coming home for our reunion. Everyone comes home and these are special times, especially since we now have grandchildren.

The out-of-towners all stay with us.

Our question is about the cellphone use during our celebrations and meal times. When we are together at the Christmas dinner table we wish our kids would put the phones away, except for picture taking.

My husband wants to set some rules during these family gatherings.

I am hesitant to set the stage with rules that might make some of these adults crabby.

What do you think? — Babi

Dear Babi:

These are the times we live in unfortunately. Where someone cannot go 10 minutes without checking their phone (this is especially true in movie theatres, but that’s another ball of wax). I admit, I am guilty of this techno-sin when it comes to mealtime but I am vigilant in my mission to stop such activity completely. At dinner, and other meals at home, I make sure to put my phone far enough away from me like in another room or at the other end of the table so I can be present in the meal and the company I am in. If I am out to dinner with friends or family or on a date I keep my phone in my pocket and don’t bring it out until it’s appropriate.

Ideally you would have all of your guests leave their phones, tablets, gaming devices etc in another room at mealtime but that could mean someone could sneak away and check it. If you were to gather them all up and have them on a table nearby, face down, it would really test their resolve. They would hear the phones vibrating on the table but not know whose phone was buzzing. It’d be like a murder mystery that you don’t want to solve because it would disrupt the meal. I have been on dinners with friends (not a bunch of people mind you) where the first person to bring out their phone had to buy a round of drinks for everyone at the table. You could do something similar, except make the punishment cleaning up instead of buying drinks.

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