Aro Member Spotlight - How 17 Minutes Changed This Dad's Life

June 9, 2023
Joey Odom

With Father’s Day a little over a week away, I’ve been taking time to reflect on the stories we’ve heard and continue to hear about Aro’s impact on parent’s relationships with their kids. When Aro was just a fragile idea four years ago, my co-founder Heath Wilson and I would dream of the day that we would hear stories of family connection from people we had never met. Today, every time we hear a story it is literally a dream come true. One of my favorite dreams-come-true is from Sam in Chico, CA, an Aro member I first met not long ago.

A few months ago, Sam came downstairs to find his eight year old son, Julian, eating cereal before school. Instead of scrolling on his phone like usual, Sam put his phone in Aro, and he says their conversation over the following 17 minutes changed his life. Why? What could they have talked about in 17 minutes that would change his life? Well, they talked about sharks. And they talked about how things get invented. And they talked about school. That’s it. But Sam had a lightbulb moment of the compounding effects that 17 minutes per day could have on his and his son’s relationship.

My favorite part about this story is that Sam didn’t let it stop there. Every few weeks, he sends me little snippets of similar moments with Julian (8 years old) and his daughter, Adlelade, (7 years old) and challenges me to seek out the same. He calls them “Morning Chats.” Here are a few excerpts:

“Morning Chats with Julian”

This morning, we discussed our upcoming fishing trip, his favorite baseball team losing 5-4, and his new friend at school. How about you? How have you been connecting with your kids lately?

“Morning Chats with Adlelade”

Today, we leafed through her kids' baking book and made a plan to bake a dessert. Then we talked about her future plans to open a bakery and then did a “candy pop quiz” to see if she knew her stuff. You?

Just imagine what these moments feel like to Julian and Adlelade. They are the focus of Dad’s attention. He’s looking them in the eyes talking about what is important to them. Actually, these moments probably don’t feel that out of the ordinary at all. They probably feel normal and routine and safe and secure. It is normal for them to have all of Dad’s attention. That’s the kind of Dad I want to be. That’s the kind of security I want my kids to feel.

You may be asking, “Could Sam have put his phone down and had these “Morning Chats” before Aro?” Maybe, but for one reason or another, he found himself distracted by his phone. It took a system like Aro to help him develop a healthier relationship with his phone, and that system has transformed his relationship with his family.

I’m a bit of a crier, so hearing these stories and thinking about the reverberating effects of these moments bring me to tears, especially when I reflect back on dreaming of the day we would hear them. To all the Aro members out there, I want to hear about your version of "Morning Chats". We would love for you to continue to make our dreams come true and share these stories with us, big or small. And to anyone feeling the tension of your phone getting in the way of quality time with your family, I urge you to do everything you can to not scroll away those precious moments.

- Joey

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