When I became a parent, I knew that the job is hard. I knew that sleepless nights and dirty diapers and tears would be involved. I knew that children are smaller people with the same size emotions, desires, ideas and even more energy. I got that. I’ve tested it and it’s all true.
One kid is a huge adjustment. Two kids is a test of endurance. Three kids is a daily lesson in just how flawed of a person you are and how much you need Jesus. I’m telling you, if one doesn’t think of it or test it, at least another will…sometimes all three on the same day. And three out-number the parents, so there’s no divide and conquer. It’s all zone defense, baby!
I’m also gonna go ahead and admit it that I thought I had this momming thing down. I’ve managed to grow two of the three into double digits and out of the elementary years. They are good kids, mostly respectful and mostly well-behaved. I can see a desire in both to serve God and to put their faith in action. It’s been a fairly uneventful ride.
But that’s changing. We’re heading into the years when their worlds are expanding…
We, as parents, aren’t their biggest (and loudest) influences. Home isn’t where they are spending the largest portion of their days. Our values aren’t the only values they’re being exposed to on a daily basis. The world is a big, big place and technology makes it so accessible. So, we’re talking a LOT. We’re establishing and re-establishing expectations as they grow up and move further from our arms. My daily, sometimes hourly, prayer is that God will help me really, truly entrust them to Him to guide and to remind them of who they are in Him.
That’s all I can do, or is it?
I’ve been reading a lot of posts and blogs about social media and our kids and how all of that does (or should) play into the faith and values we’re trying to instill in our kids. Let me tell you, I’ve been praying a whole lot more since reading these articles. So, I wanted to see for myself if articles like this one are being extreme with the whole “dangerous secret playground” stuff or if there’s something to it.
Guess what? There is.
I created a login on ask.fm today and I took a look around. First I checked for our kids – thankfully, I’m not finding them. Why? Well, for one, only our oldest is technically eligible for an account, legally, without lying about his age. And more importantly, because I found some of their friends are members. And I saw the mean, catty, nasty and sometimes vulgar stuff that is being said TO them. Seriously. These conversations are intended to be revealing (ask me anything stuff) and oftentimes, on behalf of the “asker”, anonymous. This is reason to pull the plug, friends. Accounts created in innocence, in fun, are being used to hurt feelings, bully and even threaten. I actually read comments about stealing boyfriends, wishing the girl would just kill herself and general hatefulness.
Am I a snooper? Nope. Snoopers are sneaky. My kids will know I’m watching. I’ll keep that account open and I’m making a promise that I’ll be checking. If anyone under 18 in our home decides ask.fm is the next adventure, that will be one short ride. Rude and cruel isn’t allowed in my home in person, so it sure won’t be invited in with devices Dad and I pay to provide.
It’s not about sheltering them.
It’s not about limiting their expression.
It’s my purpose as Mom to protect them while I can. Why on earth would I allow people to belittle and hurt my kids? We’ve all seen the news. We’ve heard the stories of kids commiting suicide because of the bullying. One day you have a perfectly “fine” kid and then next thing you know, you’re on the news sharing your story and urging parents to login and monitor not just their kids, but the kids who are supposedly their friends. Teen relationships can go sour, fast! Yesterday’s friend is today’s frenemy. I’m seeing it on the screen and it’s UGLY!
We’re not going to be the parents who were too afraid to argue the “why nots” with our kids. We’re fine with being uncool. We’d rather be super close and hang out with our kids, but we won’t sacrifice parenting for friendships with them. We’re going to put in the time and effort to explain and set guidelines and follow up. We’re going to keep reading the articles and listening to the advice of wiser parents who’ve walked this road.
It will likely involve pouting and frustration (from all of us). It will likley be a daily challenge to keep up on all of it while hugging and cooking and cleaning and working and living. But the road to righteousness is a narrow road. As a parent, my purpose is to walk that narrow road with our kids. I’m charged to spend every moment I can not only teaching them to walk and talk and do well in school and to be kind people, but to acknowledge Christ as their own Savior. We want them to know His Word and to have that Bible-believing foundation when they head out into the world as adults.
We don’t want just “good” kids. Because we whole-heartedly desire to raise kids who will love God, who will serve Him and who will listen to and follow His direction, His purpose for their lives. We have to decide to draw the lines and really share with them why the lines exist. We have to teach them to obey the boundaries set in place to protect them until they are mature enough to listen to God’s voice themselves. They’ll never be able to hear God’s voice if we don’t teach them to hear ours.