Parents, how much stuff do your kids have? I bet a lot. We live in a culture that desires to have more. We crave things. We desire things. We feel that we are entitled to things. How many times have you been to a grocery store and heard a screaming child yell out, “I neeeeeeed it!” or something along those lines. Now, I say all this to set up our point of technology. As children get older, especially in the teenage years, they are going to want things that you have. iPod, tv shows, game systems, cell phone, computer, etc. And with each of these things comes challenges of their own that some parents might not even think about. Do you monitor the music that your kids listen to? Do you know what they are watching on their televisions at all hours of the day? I’m not going to spend much time talking about television and music, but I will say to parents, know what your kids are listening to and watching. Many times what kids watch and listen to has a direct correlation to how they feel, how they act and how they talk. I don’t think that is anything new.
Does your kid have a cell phone? I talked to a mom about a year ago that had just gotten her daughter her first cell phone. She was excited for her daughter. I asked her a simple question, “does the phone have a camera on it?” She looked at me oddly, said yes, and then I went on to explain sexting to her. And she did what every parent does when confronted with a reality about their child saying, “my child knows better.” It almost seems like not a week goes by without hearing another story on the news about a teenager that sent pictures of themselves to a boyfriend/girlfriend, and they got spread all around the school. Parents, DON’T, I repeat, DON’T give your child a phone with a camera. You are just opening up doors of possibilities to them by doing so. It is naive to think that your child is perfect, and will never do anything like that. You may have an incredibly well behaved child, who will never, ever think of that possibility, but by giving the option to them, the opportunity is always available.
Parents, do you know what your children do on the computer when you aren’t around? In case you haven’t heard, there is A LOT of garbage on the internet. Aside from pornography, there are plenty of crude and inappropriate things all over the internet. Two suggestions to help get rid of any opportunity for your child to participate in the trash on the internet: 1. Put the family computer in a public space in the house. Don’t put it in their bedroom, or basement, or side room that no one has been into for 5 years. Public area. 2. Put a website filter/blocker on the computer. Control what you family can and cannot look at.
Parents, I challenge you to take control of your homes. I don’t mean that as a finger pointing, or judgmental statement. I mean that as a concerned youth worker. You are the parents. When your child gets upset with you for not allowing them to do something, TOUGH. You are the parent. We need to move out of a culture of demanding adolescents and cowering parents that give in to everything. My prayer is that Ephesians 6 becomes the model for your home.