Free Ice Cream . . .

Free Ice Cream

by Jim Stovall


Digital devices make great slaves but poor masters.  I have a friend named Arthur Greeno who owns several Chick-fil-A locations in my hometown.  Recently, Arthur was telling me about apromotion they are running that provides free ice cream for any family dining in the restaurant who will all put away their digital devices throughout the meal.  My first thought was this is a catchy and appealing promotion, but then the hidden and looming danger in our overall society began to dawn on me.


It is sad and disappointing that we have devolved to a point where families have to be bribed with ice cream to sit and talk at the dinner table.  While I applaud Arthur and Chick-fil-A for this initiative, it speaks ill of us all that such a promotion is even relevant. 


This year, my wife Crystal and I will be celebrating our 35th anniversary.  We remain happily married and best friends in great part due to consistent communication.  We both have busy lives and heavy, independent travel schedules but spend time each day just catching up and staying current on one another’s activities, goals, and passions.


I’m a very early riser and get up each day at 4:00 a.m. to begin my reading, study, and planning for the day.  Crystal, who is not naturally a morning person, has made the ongoing commitment to get up at 6:00 a.m. so we can spend an hour together by the fire or out in the garden, depending on the season, to simply talk.  Sometimes we discuss our schedules or plans for the day while other times we discuss current events and issues in the news.  The things we focus on are the things in our lives that are going to improve. 


Recently, I heard a staggering statistic that in the average American home the television is on over seven hours each day, but the average parent spends less than an hour a week in focused, uninterrupted conversation with their children.  Whether it’s friends, colleagues, or your spouse, all significant relationships begin with conversation, and it is that ongoing interaction and dialogue that will maintain those relationships. 


I am very grateful that as I approach my 58th birthday, both of my parents are still productive and active for people in their mid-80s.  Several years ago, it dawned on me that although my parents live approximately three miles from my home, I hadn’t seen them in several months.  We talked regularly on the phone, but that seemed to be a poor substitute for family interaction, so we started our Friday night family dinner tradition.  Every Friday night, travel schedules permitting, my mom and dad come to our house for dinner.  It has become one of my favorite times of the week, and though we often enjoy dessert, I’m pleased to report we don’t have to bribe anyone with ice cream to put away our digital devices and focus on family. 


As you go through your day today, control your technology and don’t let it control you.


Today’s the day!


Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK74145-9082; by email; on Twitter at; or on Facebook