Husband & Wife Articles

They’re Watching You

We instant message our children by our actions

By Matt Warner

My son’s not even two years old. He doesn’t know the letter “i” yet, but he can handle an iPhone better than your average baby boomer. He can’t control the level of his voice, but he’s quite confident using the universal TV remote control. As impressive as this sounds, it’s given me great pause recently.

He may spend hours each week learning letters, numbers, animals and colors. But he spends hours each day watching his dad (and his mom) fluently handle mobile devices and the remote control as if they were breathing air or eating food. He’s no dummy. He’s watching and learning.

Matt Warner and his wife, Lauren, with their two young children.

That made me think about the amount of time we spend doing the various things that we do –and what that says about us. If an alien from another galaxy was spying on your home, what would he conclude about you? Would he conclude that God and prayer are central to your entire life? And that you take pride in a humble day’s work? Would he think the tiny humans attacking your legs as you come through the door are among your most precious gifts? And, by the way she is treated, would he assume that their mother is the queen of this galaxy?

Or, on the other hand, would he conclude that you worship a glowing rectangle that hangs on the wall? And that your life revolves around a magical device that buzzes and beeps every few minutes from your pocket?

Our children aren’t much different. They literally know only what we show them. Much more than what learning exercises we do with them or what schools we send them to, they learn from us by what we do and from the kind of people we are when we’re around them. How we spend our time is a great lesson to them. And it’s shaping them as much as it’s shaping us.

There’s no such thing as a solely private sin. All sin affects not only us, but others too. When I became a husband and then a father, this fact became much more profoundly real for me. My habit of fidgeting with my phone too much, watching too much TV or whatever other bad habit it may be, is not just hurting my soul. It’s also hurting my wife, my kids and our entire family.

Accepting that responsibility and then doing something about it is the essence of being a good father and a real man. This Lent is a perfect time to kick those bad habits – for good.

For me, it’s a preoccupation with my iPhone and an affinity for holding the remote control. For you, it may be something else: reading the newspaper, hitting golf balls, working too much, surfing the internet, playing video games or rebuilding the old hot rod in the garage. Whatever it is - as innocent or even good as it may be in itself - consider what the time you spend doing it says about you and your priorities. What is it teaching your children and your wife? How is it affecting your family? What better things could you do for them and yourself with some of that time?

This Lenten season is an opportune time to make some positive adjustments. And not for the sake of some hypothetical alien from a distant world, but for the people you love most in this one.

Matt Warner is a Catholic husband, father, tweeter, blogger and entrepreneur living in Texas. He is the founder of and his personal blog, Matt is also a featured blogger for the National Catholic Register at He has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M and an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship.