The impact of a new approach

Gosh, 3 months since I last wrote a blog … that’s the sort of random service you can expect from this page! Anyway I hope everyone had a lovely summer. I read an article about blogs and it said you should have a title so here we are:

“MUM BANS 12 YEAR OLD FROM READING” (That’s a bit like the Sun would do it I guess). 

Or maybe I should go for more of a trashy mag style:

“Confession – I banned my son from reading perfectly normal books”

Or perhaps a more intriguing one ..

“Why reading books is detrimental to your relationships”

Anyway I probably should just get on with it and yes, I confess, I actually banned my son from reading for days at a time over the summer holidays. What? Have I lost the plot? And in total defiance of his English teacher’s request for him to read lots. Bonkers indeed. And yet it had a very beneficial impact on our family relationships. Let me explain. 

I am all about Relationships and there are soooooo many distractions that have a negative impact on our relationships, and that includes family relationships, not just partners. My lovely boy really enjoys reading and he really hates being bored and not having anything to do. As a consequence he tends to pick up his e-reader at any quiet moment when nothing much is going on. (Other gadgets generally being off the agenda due to his mother and her strong anti-tech views). We spent a lot of time camping or driving to camping this summer so there was often not that much going on. You may well be thinking that it’s great that George will just start reading but the negative impacts were:

* missing out on family chat, sorting out plans for the day, having fun and banter, general discussions about stuff on the radio or around us

* not playing with his sister or going off exploring together 

* being really quite grumpy & out of sync with the rest of us

* us being irritated that we had to keep repeating things that he hadn’t listened to, due to being buried in his book 

It felt like George was on holiday with us but not really involved or fully a part of it. And he’s not even a teenager yet. So I took the rather bold decision to take his e-reader away, with much grumbling as you can imagine. Coaching is all about trying something different and seeing what the results are so I thought I’d experiment. And the impact was huge and only positive.

With the e-reader gone, there were many occasions where George played with his sister instead. Whether it was rolling around in the tent after waking up, throwing cuddly toys around or going off on the rope swing – little Sis felt like she had a fun brother again. You rarely laugh out loud when reading alone (unless it’s a really funny book) but there was plenty of laughter and joy with the e-reader banned.

We felt more connected and happier and in tune as a family. We chatted more, we had banter, we teased, we argued, we worked stuff out. Husband and I could parent more effectively. And George was able to be a lot more present and in tune with us, the holiday and the surroundings. 

My favourite moment was one morning when we got out of the tent and we were sat by a river, having a cup of tea, looking out at woods the other side. Normally George would have been buried in a book, missing all the comings and goings of the busy squirrels, the birds, the trees etc. I asked him what he was thinking and the response was: ‘I was thinking how wonderful it looks’. I have very rarely heard George express himself like that. 

Another time, at dusk, the kids were excited when an owl flew low over their heads, and again George would have missed it if he’d been buried in a book. He also was notably happier when we were doing activities and just more ‘with us’. And yes even George admitted he was happier for me having banned him from reading. At certain times I let him have his e-reader back, eg for long car journeys, but there are a lot of benefits to just being, letting your mind wander and yes even being bored. That’s where ideas come from and the get up and go to do something or take action. 

In general, I feel the pressures on our relationships are bigger than ever with gadgets, streaming, movies, music, social media etc all fighting for our attention. And I see it often with the couples I coach and how they can easily become disconnected from one another. This isn’t meant as an anti-reading blog – reading is a wonderful activity but it’s all about balance. 

Sometimes you just have to take a stand and get back to basics – being present and being together. 

If you liked this please hit like or share incase it’s a message someone else needs to read today. Thanks all, Sue x