- We develop wisdom and courage together as a family
- We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
- We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play, and rest together.
- We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do.
- We aim for “no screens before double digits” at school and at home.
- We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
- Car time is conversation time.
- Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children’s devices.
- We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship.
- We show up in person for the big events of life. We learn how to be human by being fully present at our moments of greatest vulnerability. We hope to die in one another’s arms.
~ Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, pages 41-42
The most powerful choices we will make in our lives are not about specific decisions but about patterns of life: the nudges and disciplines that will shape all our other choices. This is especially true with technology. Technology comes with a powerful set of nudges- the default settings of our “easy-everywhere” culture. Because technology is devoted primarily to making our lives easier, it discourages us from disciplines, especially ones that involve disentangling ourselves from technology itself.
If we want a better life, for ourselves and for our families, we will have to choose it- and the best way to choose it is to nudge and discipline ourselves toward the kind of life we most deeply want.
~Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, page 37
Lest you think that Crouch is just crabby about technology:
Please understand: I’m not saying technology is bad. In fact, I would say it is very good… Technology is the latest, and in many ways most astonishingly good, example of the fruit our image bearing was meant to produce. But technology is only very good if it can help us become the persons we were meant to be. Pages 62-63
Crouch is balanced- technology is not an evil to be avoided but a tool to use for our most important tasks. This is the central challenge of the book:
For technology, with all its gifts, poses one of the greatest threats ever conceived by human society to the formation of wise, courageous persons that real family and real community are all about.
In 2009, N.T. Wright managed to write a book dedication that both challenges and invites further reading. It’s a peek into the quality of the book. You can get it on Kindle for $4.99
My wife deserves particular gratitude for her tenacious enthusiasm for my writing and her ready willingness to put up with the usual domestic consequences at a time when other unexpected pressures were crowding upon her. One cannot write about virtue without thinking about love, and I cannot think about love without thinking about her. I have dedicated two other books to her, each of which marked a serious turning point in my life and work. This one comes, as ever, with love and gratitude, but with both of those qualities formed, over further years, into a still deeper habit of the heart.
~N.T. Wright, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters
In a recent newsletter, Comment magazine senior editor Brian Dijkema shared the following rules of parenting, and I heartily approve:
- Always be reading.
- Let your children know that you will ignore them by ignoring them in favour of what you are reading. Why? See 1. For exceptions, see 3 below.
- Unless they want to read with you. Then always read with them. Why? See 1. But also, allows you to exhibit the infinite nature of love. Yes, you love reading. Yes you love your children. Don’t choose. Read to your children because you love them as persons, but also because you love books. (Infinite love of children) (infinite love of reading) = more love. Does this make any sense? See 4 below. Any special instructions? See 5 below.
- Maybe not, but who cares? I’m still reading.
- No need for instruction (with one caveat, see 6 below): children are by nature drawn to a reading adult like a moth to a flame. At some point they will lean against you to the degree that you will tip over. Embrace this.
- Read good books, and be absolutely ruthless in not reading bad books. Isn’t this elitist? See 7 below. Also: read with some modicum of expression, please. Does this mean you need to do voices? See 9 below.
- No. The world wants you to attend to slop. Find the pearls. How will you find them? See 8 below.
- Start with Glady Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart. She’ll train your eyes and ears. Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read-Aloud Family isn’t bad either.
- Of course, poppets! When else will you get to mimic a totally unreliable and catastrophic Toad without being taken in for questioning?
- Don’t let the age of your children force you to stop reading aloud. Apply rule 1 to rule 3.
- All of the above applies to you if you’re single or without kids. Find someone to read aloud to. They will love you for it. See rule 1.