Here are a family of shopping hostages. These electronically connected men sat patiently as the women in their family perused the mall. I watched them for a few minutes and noticed that they never spoke to each other, nor moved from this bench. They never took their eyes off their screens until the father heard a voice from within the store call his name. He looked up – perplexed and annoyed – then focused back on his screen, never missing a beat in whatever he was doing. The two boys never moved a muscle. I walked around the mall and on my way back to my car, they were still sitting here. It was almost as if they were frozen in time and the rest of the world ceased to exist. 

I wondered if they considered this ‘family time’? Did they enjoy the time they spent ‘together’? Were they even aware that they were together? I suspect they would have behaved this same way no matter where they were – home, the mall, visiting family. They looked so natural in these positions that my guess is they have done all this many times before. It might be their natural state. It may be their idea of building a relationship. 

So when did this become the way family spent time together? When is this how we survived time together around the holidays? Why do we do these things to ourselves and our children? If the husband and kids didn’t want to shop, then why go to the mall? Shop without them. Give us all a break. Don’t make us watch your shopping hostages try to survive their definition of torture. Let them go, let them roam free…or leave them at home. Let your family spend time together by doing things where they pay attention to each other, not an electronic screen. Everyone will be better off…so free the hostages!

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