Twelve Ways to Connect with Family this Christmas
By Pam Pacelli Cooper
President, Verissima Productions
A few weeks ago, I read a compelling article in The New York Times by Tony Schwartz Titled, “Addiction to Distraction,” it pulled me up short about my own constant presence on the Internet. The last few words of the article were incredibly jarring:
I was sitting in a restaurant with my family when a man in his early 40s came in and sat down with his daughter, perhaps 4 or 5 years old and adorable. Almost immediately, the man turned his attention to his phone. Meanwhile, his daughter was a whirlwind of energy and restlessness, standing up on her seat, walking around the table, waving and making faces to get her father’s attention. Except for brief moments, she didn’t succeed and after a while, she glumly gave up. The silence felt deafening.
When I read this I was reminded of the famous “Still Face” experiment in the world of developmental psychology. In this experiment, a mother is asked to play with her baby in a fully engaged way. Then she is asked to turn away from the baby and when she faces the baby again, to exhibit a “still face” or stone face. All babies follow the same pattern when presented with this face: at first they coo and gurgle and try to “love up” their mothers; then they get angry and protest, crying and yelling and waving their arms; then they turn away and give up (the “glum” little girl in the article). If you want to see what it looks like, click here to see a video of the experiment. Once you see it you’ll always remember.
And then I wondered, how many “still faces” we are showing to our children, our loved ones, our friends and our families when we are constantly looking at our phones or computers? I thought about how the holidays provide a special opportunity to take a break from this pattern. Here are 12 suggestions for a holiday of connecting. They cost little or nothing, but their value can be enormous. As always, I’d love to hear your suggestions for more ways to “disconnect” in the name of person-to-person connection this season in the comments.