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For Your Marriage

Married for 20 years and the proud parents of five children, Soren and Ever are co-founders of Trinity House Community, a Catholic nonprofit with a mission to inspire families to make home a small taste of heaven for the renewal of faith and culture.

Initiative and Family Culture

These days, we all have one. The app with the big PAUSE button to shut off WiFi in our homes or on specific devices. And it’s such a temptation to hope that we’ve solved the problem of screens by just limiting their use.

Truth be told, while there are plenty of good resources on the question of media limits, for us, there’s one defining reality: we can focus all we want on limiting screen use, but until we take the initiative to create a vibrant family culture with robust real-world alternatives, our family will always slip back into passive consumption of screen culture.

We all know families who have that “special something” about them that cements their bonds in such a fun way. There’s the camping family, the farm family, the community service family, the sports family, the music family, the outdoorsy family… The list is endless. Many families are a combination of several of these types.

But today, there are also many families who aren’t creating any of these real-world cultures. For a host of reasons, they haven’t invested the time necessary to create an engaging and resilient culture for their family (and yes, that’s been us in many seasons!).

Why isn’t it enough to just turn off the screens? Haven’t kids always been left to their own devices to create an imaginary world of play? For starters, many kids today have lost a lot of their innate creativity due to having been hard-wired for consumer entertainment. They need guidance to develop real-world interests and hobbies.

But we also want more for our families than just individual hobbies and pursuits. We want to bond and enjoy the good life together because the deepest enjoyment of culture is in sharing it with those you love. By taking the initiative and creating a real-world family culture with its associated activities, we can focus both on developing individual gifts and enjoying family time.

Nature, music, cooking, books, pets, travel, sports, hobbies – as we bring them to life together, we get a front-row seat to watch our children’s unique gifts develop and flourish along with the interpersonal communion we share with them.

“What are the appropriate limits for media use in our home and what other types of culture should we put in its place?” If only answering that question was as effortless as our app, where we can simply hit “on” or “pause”! Instead, this is a complex and personal question that calls for a courageous and persevering response.

Thankfully, we as parents have what it takes to reduce and even defeat the multi-trillion-dollar “digital attention economy’s” influence in our homes. We have something that the tech industry’s best algorithms don’t: we reflect God’s personal love, attentiveness, and sacrifice to our kids. At the end of the day, don’t forget this: no gaming system, tablet, or smartphone will ever be able to give your kids what they most need and want.

But in order to effectively exercise our power to reflect God to our children, we need prayer to be in touch with him. Cognizant of what’s at stake—the potential of a screen to deliver valuable tools about our faith or academics, on the one hand, or on the other, unprecedented exposure to addictive distraction and life-altering evil—we would do well to spend a good long time on our knees, patiently waiting on the Lord’s guidance with important questions:

  • Where is our family at when it comes to creating a vibrant, faith-filled family culture versus passively consuming what comes in through our screens?
  • What might the Lord be calling us as parents to give up or limit?
  • Which friends or community might support us in our intention to go against the grain and create a vibrant family culture?

May he bless us with the strength to take initiative so that our family comes to reflect the image of God and our home a taste of heaven!