Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Phones & the Nighttime Rule

We have a rule about phones at our house.  They are plugged into their chargers in Mom & Dad's bedroom at bedtime.  The kids will tell you they want their phone as their alarm clock, but they do sell those at Walmart for < $10.  They also may want to go to sleep to music, which also has other options but not their iTunes, so there are occasions for that and times when that privilege may work, but it still needs to be plugged in, in our room, so we give them 30 minutes of music on good days before they go to sleep.

It's not a popular rule, but I'm never been popular anyway.  Obviously.

Parenting is not for the weak.  Be strong, people!  Press on!

Here is a great read for parents about teaching the next generation…by someone much smarter than me, John Piper.


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Instagram

Instagram seems harmless enough.  It's like anything. You need to see who your kids are following occasionally.  You also want to check to see what your child is posting.  It's a great look into the heart of your child.  Are they posting provocative selfies to up their self-confidence, hoping for the "likes"?  Then maybe as parents it's time to up the compliments and encourage them and pray for them to find their confidence in God.  With each post, there's a heart of the matter.  Getting to the heart is the most important thing.  Prayer is the next step and is vital in all of parenting.

Instagram also has a direct message ability, like Facebook and twitter.  Direct messaging is like texting behind the scenes.  One friend found "mean girl" type messages about others between her daughter and another friend.   Another friend found pictures of homework (in direct messaging) a girl was sending to her son, so he could cheat off of her.

My goal is not to put parents into freak-out mode and go ballistic on their kids' technology.  My goal is simply to make parents aware.  It's become clear to me in conversations with friends that we must share with each other what we know, because our kids are much smarter than we are regarding technology.  They probably always will be, but it's our job as parents to protect them and keep them on the path that God has for them.  When they wander off the path, and they will, we can be aware of it if we know where to look.

Happy Independence Day, friends!  

Friday, July 03, 2015

How to Protect Your Kids from their Phones

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Romans 12:2

Parents, there is a pattern of this world your kids are holding up to their face daily and it’s time that you see this pattern too.  Your 5th grader is indeed smarter than you, but you can be smarter than his smartphone.  This is your mission if you choose to accept it.  All things are possible with God…and a little info from the Tech Savvy Mean Mom. 

1.  Facebook
Your kids are no longer here.  They may have a smiling profile pic from 2011, but that’s also the last time they were on because they don’t want to read the latest link from their grandpa’s political post.  If your kid is under age 13, let me start with you.  IF you begin your child’s Introduction to Social Media course off with…”Let’s lie about your age so you can have a facebook like your friends before you’re actually 13”…what does that say to them about the rest of the internet and life in general?  It tells them it’s ok to lie about your age.  Do you really want to start them out that way?  You also don’t have to follow everyone, even though you did accept their friend request.  If your “friend” is always negative, cusses, rants or “shares too much”, you have the option to unfollow.  Go to your settings and see the “newsfeed preferences” and you can unfollow as many people as you want.  You won’t hurt Uncle Carl’s feelings because he won’t know.  Just click on that little arrow next to his name in your newsfeed or go to his page and “unfollow”.  It’s that easy.

2.  Twitter
This is where you should be.  If you don’t have a twitter account, it’s time you start stalking your kids.  You can even get notifications every time they tweet.  Someday they may thank you when they’re hired because they said smart things in 140 characters, because that is exactly what companies are looking at after they look at your resume.  Regarding what they’re reading, take your kids phone unexpectedly one day and go through their twitter page.  Unfollow all people who are spewing profanity.  You don’t take your kids to an R-rated movie, so why are you letting them read R-rated Twitter?  It’s because you didn’t know.  I get it.  We have to clue in to what our kids are reading every day, which might mean you need to take it daily for a while.  It’s possible your precious one has another twitter handle you don’t know about so she can stalk the latest Vine hottie as “Fangirl18”.  (Vine will be a later topic, but trust me.  There’s an entire world of celebrities your kids know that you don’t.)  Take their phones.  You do pay for them, don’t you?

3.  Snapchat
Apparently this is the newest twitter/facebook app for kids.  Talk to your kids about who they're following here.  It used to be that pictures come through for a matter of seconds and then delete forever.  Well that's no bueno.  After talking with my kids though, they say that no one uses it that way.  They just write updates and take pictures and save them, because as they say, the snap chat app takes better pictures.  If you don't want to mess with this app at all, take it off.  If you pay for the phone, it's yours to delete apps.  
How do you do that?  You get a parental passcode for the app store.  You delete the apps that you don’t think they need.  You delete the apps that you don’t have time to supervise.  You delete anything that doesn’t seem right to you.  You are the parent.  Your mission is to protect and bless.  It’s a privilege to have a phone, not a right.  Don’t forget that.

4.  Texts
When your kids get to middle school and high school, it is much easier for them to be brave and bold through their phones than actually talking in person.  In fact, they may not actually know how to use the phone part of their phone to call and talk, except to receive calls from you.  Back when we were kids, we wrote notes and passed them in the hall.  Texting is the new note-passing.  If you don’t know your kids’ friends, it is time to get nosy!  They may even send selfies.  Well-developed girls may be so bold as to send selfies to your son with their boobies hanging out and what teenaged boy doesn’t want to see boobies?  This girl may need to be told that his parents look at his phone.  Parents can block pictures from coming to his phone through texts.  You may have to (gasp!) disable their camera!

5.  Vine/Youtube
If you see your kid with headphones in, face glued to the screen, it’s possible they’re watching an entire series of videos you’ve never seen.  Again, do you ask them what movie they’re seeing before they go?  Don’t you want to know what it’s rated?  There are no ratings on videos online.  Vine is a place where very short videos are seen, some as harmless as America’s Funniest Videos.  Others throw the f-bomb or teach crude things.  Do you have time as a parent to monitor each one?  No you don’t.  That’s why our kids no longer have these.  We don’t have time to supervise and we want to protect our kids.  Are we mean parents?  Yes we are.  And we’re okay with that. 

6.  Google/Safari
Curious kids easily find their way to porn through these sites/apps.  If you wouldn’t hand them a porn magazine, then don’t keep these apps on their phones.  You control the app store.  You either allow it or you control it.  X3Watch is a protected search engine app that gives you the parent control.  It sends weekly emails to tell you what, if anything, may be considered porn.  For instance, my son once shopped at a sporting goods place nicknamed after a man named Richard.  X3Watch sent me an email alerting me of this, which made me chuckle and then thankful.  Find the app and watch your kids.  It’s the only way to keep them safe, because no matter how perfect you think they are, they will look.  They’re curious.

This is only the beginning.  To be continued...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Family Update

First, some news about Grace.  After her colectomy in November, she has felt great with the exception of one peculiar day of great pain in March.  She still has the ostomy bag and has been getting tired of it and was looking forward to being reconnected (small intestine to rectum) which was scheduled the end of May.  Her GI specialist, Dr. Goyal, who we love and trust, suggested we wait, telling us of all the risks involved with the reconnection.  Since she's doing so well now, although it was still up to us, he thought it'd be best to continue on with the bag for a while.  He had no idea of how long she'll have it.  He just thinks it's keeping her well so why change that now with all that she's been through, and as severely as her Crohn's has been.  

Telling a teenager who is looking forward to getting into a bathing suit and looking like everyone else this summer that her parents have decided to wait for her to have this surgery was of course, disappointing.  (It's hard being parents, but I took her shopping for some summer clothes for a little retail therapy.  It helped a little.)  :)  Meanwhile, I had a friend suggest we apply for Make-A-Wish.  I had no idea kids like Grace would be considered!  She said it was for kids who have chronic diseases and all we have to do is refer her to find out.  We are still waiting for them to talk to Dr. Goyal and be approved, but wouldn't that be an amazing gift and perfect timing?!  I'll keep you posted.  

You can pray that God will bless this decision and keep her well for a while.  You can also pray that her spirits would be lifted and that she'd have a great summer!  God is teaching her many things.  This Saturday, in fact,  she was asked to say a few words at a pancake breakfast fundraiser for BowDazzling, an organization that Grace has volunteered for in the past and also been a recipient.  What an honor to be able to speak at the age of 14! (Hopefully, Dad will get a good video that we can share.)  We are so proud of her and thankful for all that God is doing in her life.  Thanks for being prayer warriors on her behalf and for loving our Grace and for walking with us on this journey.

I don't want to leave my other 2 great kids out, obviously.  Moriah has been dancing up a storm in competitions and will finish in June.  She's sailed through 1st grade and has lost several teeth, making money mostly for "Ever After High" dolls!  Luke is almost done with his junior year, working at McAlisters and has a new truck and a sweet girlfriend (2 months now!), Jordan.  He is busy, but blessed.  He's even teaching tonight's bible study at youth group.

I'm leaving tomorrow for New Orleans!  I've never been!  I get to go to a Pastor's Wives Retreat at the Southern Hotel in Covington, LA.  God has been teaching me lately about REST and this is just another way and one of my favorites, I think.  Thank you, God, for your peace that passes understanding and for ordaining for us and commanding us to REST.  It's such a good thing to rest.  I hope you make time to rest soon.