Kids and Technology (Finding the Balance)

Kids and Technology

Can I play Minecraft on the ipad?

Lydia wants to know if she can do Starfall on your computer?
Can we play Wii for 15 min.?
Can I text Anna back because she asked a question?
After dinner can we watch a show tonight?
David asked if I can follow him on Instagram?

My nightmare.
Well, one of them anyway.

There are times when I’d love to just get rid of it all.
There’s a reason I returned the iphone my husband bought me a couple of years ago.
I have a definite love-hate-relationship with technology and all things screen-ish.
And yes, I get the irony of sharing this in a post as I type away staring at a screen.
My tendency would be to bury my head in the sand and just wish it’d all go away.

But—there has to be a balance—right?
And that’s part of our job—
To help our children find the balance and to help them learn how to keep it,
To help them learn to use technology and all things media for the glory of God.

First We Must Look at Avoiding the Dangers and Negative Impacts of Technology:

1) Overuse:
There’s a definite tendency for overuse. And that’s a real possibility for all of us. Screen attachment can become a borderline addiction (or real for some) and we must set limits when it comes to using technology and screen time.  The balance will be different for every family and should be age appropriate.

Exceptions are made as needed, but in general, as a family, we have some guidelines that have eliminated the need for constant decision making about usage.  When it comes to television, we watch a weekly show together on Thursday nights and then after evening chores are complete, our crew is allowed to watch something for half an hour while we are waiting for dad to get home (for us that is 6 to 6:30). Unless it’s a special occasion– online games or Wii games are reserved for the weekends and this has eliminated the requests for permission that were driving me bonkers.  For now, we also have decided that devices will not travel with the kids to most social functions (church, Bible study, friends’ houses etc.).

I’m not at all suggesting this is what every family should do, but the point is to have an actual usage plan.

2) Safety:
Dangers lurk on every corner when it comes to technology and this is an important discussion to have with our children.  As parents we need to explain why it’s important to never share personal information or open emails/photos from strangers and why downloads need to have approval.

There is wisdom in keeping computers and devices centrally located and for putting safeguards in place to protect our children.  Pornography is just one unintentional click away.  We must make safety a priority.
This recent article has excellent suggestions specific to creating a porn-free family plan.

In our home, our kids’ profiles must be kept private and they are not allowed to accept friend requests from people they don’t know.  And until they are a bit older and wiser, we’ve asked them not to search and click on unknown sites without our permission.  A central family docking station, ensures that all devices are accounted for.  Open communication is huge when it comes to safety…our children need to feel comfortable coming to us if something negative happens online whether intentional or unintentional.

3) Costly Words:
Words have the ability to cause great damage and it’s so easy to quickly make a comment online without realizing the hurtful impact.  It is important to explain that a text, email, comment, or post is often irretrievable and that “when there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).  As a family, studying James is a great place to start when discussing how death and life are in the power of the tongue.

4) Missed Opportunities:
The choice to engage in screen time is also a choice to not do something else. Technology often replaces good conversation and face to face relationship building. It can isolate family members from one another and it can lead to a loss of other interests.  When we start noticing that our children are choosing screen time regularly over other activities, that’s usually when we implement a technology Sabbath.

5) Lack of Courtesy:
It’s also important to stress courtesy when it comes to all things screen.  And sometimes it’s as simple as the basics– when you are in the company of someone else, it’s unkind to be glued to your phone.  If there’s any opportunity for conversation, it’s rude to not make eye contact and engage.  These are words we must preach to ourselves as well.

docking station

Then We Must Encourage the Positive Aspects of Technology:

1) Building relationships and friendships:
Technology creates a wonderful opportunity for building connections and encouraging others.  If we can help our children view it in this light, technology can be a blessing in their lives and in the lives of others.  We want to help them consider:  Who can I encourage with my comments?  What friendships can I strengthen by online connections?  What family members or friends can I reach out to?

2) Developing Skills/Creativity:
Creativity is limitless when it comes to technology and it’s important to encourage our children to develop skills in this area.  Many excellent typing, programming, and coding programs are available.  Our boys enjoy stop motion and creating videos.  All of our children enjoy photography.  These are skills and interests that God can use in their lives and we want to encourage their curiosity and delight in these areas.

3) Sharing the Gospel:
Technology offers incredible opportunities for sharing about Jesus’ rescue mission to save us, bring us forgivingness and how He made a way for us to live in deep, real relationship with God.  We want our children to approach technology with a heart to “(make) the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16).

4) Keeping us in the tension:
It might be easier to just do away with it all, but instead we have to listen for God’s whisper that we may be out-of-balance or over-balanced or missing– Balance.

It might be simpler if God just gave us Commandment #11– Do not use Facebook.
But instead, He gives us a relationship where we must come to Him regularly, willing to lay it all, all the techno-everything-options, at His disposalTechnology and all things “screen” create this opportunity for our children as well.

I am sure there are many other positives and negatives that I haven’t considered…
And I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions below in the comments.

For now though, I’ll just admit that I did eventually get a smartphone.
Smile.
And truthfully, I use it, enjoy it, and find it very helpful.
But it’s a constant battle to keep the balance.

And it’s in that place of tension that I want our children to stay…
Where they are constantly asking–

How can I use this _________ (insert your device of choice) to bring glory to God?

Our God is a God who redeems.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” ~Psalm 24:1

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

When Silence is Not Golden

Silence

I remember the first time I heard Mary’s story.
I had a knot in my stomach and angry, hot tears streamed down my face.
I couldn’t believe that someone could hurt a child like that.
And that others knew but did nothing to protect her.

I’d rather not talk about it–
sexual abuse.

I’d rather not know that according to CDC statistics:
–Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report experiencing rape.
–A 2011 survey of high school students found that 11.8% of girls and 4.5% of boys reported being sexual abused.

Or that according to the National Center for Victims of Crimes:
–1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
–Children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Sexual abuse is not something I have experienced first hand, but statistically many of you reading this have.
Many.
And many of you who have shared your story (or not) have been met with silence.
And silence has a way of speaking volumes.

As a former English teacher, I love words.
Words create and convey and communicate meaning beyond their literality.

For instance, when someone asks me where “Lydia’s real mom lives?”
The question has adoption-parent-child-relationship-implications, that communicate much more than just a simple question of location.
I am her real mom.

An empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache.
A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to thaw the marriage battle. Or not.

Word choice is important. But so are pauses. So is silence.

Because silence is not always golden.

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would’ve lived in the land of silence.” ~Psalm 94:17

And so we tell our children, over and over…
If you hear someone being hurtful to someone else, it is your responsibility to stick up for the wounded, to encourage, to come along side–

Because silence has the power to unintentionally condone cruelty.

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know…” ~William Wilberforce

I just recently finished reading Mary Demuth’s new book, Not Marked.
I read it because I care about Mary, because I want to understand as best I can how to support the friends I have who were sexually abused, and also because I want to prevent our children from experiencing that same kind of pain.

As a mama, I so appreciated Mary’s wisdom about ways to protect our children from sexual abuse because as she states, “every crime needs these two elements.  A perpetrator has to want to abuse, and there needs to be a victim in proximity” (Not Marked  pg. 223).

She goes on to share several suggestions that may help parents protect their children, “while still letting them be children” (pg. 226).

#1) Know Your Child–

“The best defense in protecting your kids is knowing them well.  Know their nuances; become a student of their behavior…If your child has a sudden shift in behavior, take it seriously” (pgs. 226-227).
Mary goes on to list many common symptoms of sexual abuse that a parent should take note of.

#2) Be Vigilant But Not Immobilized–

“Be cautious about adults seeking alone time with your child.  Watch your children and who they hang out with…Remember that abusers seldom look like criminals…(but) don’t become so immobilized that you never let your kids be kids.  You don’t want to raise fear-based kids (pgs. 227-228).

#3) Teach Your Kids About Sex–

” …you’ll need to talk about sex with your kids at an early age– in an age appropriate manner…The more comfortable you are talking about it, the more comfortable your kids will be in bringing you any concerns” (pgs. 228-229).

#4) Entrust Your Kids To Jesus–

“Although I have warned (my kids) about stranger danger and how to flee, and we’ve talked about inappropriate touch, I have also learned to entrust my kids to Jesus…We can lean toward controlling our kids, micromanaging their worlds.  While we should protect our kids, we’re also role models, demonstrating a life lived in adventure, not fear” (pgs. 229-230).

#5) Our Greatest Gift–

“The greatest gift we can give our kids is our relationship with Jesus, modeling to them what we do when we’re injured or hurt.  Our own willingness to run to Him with our pain will show our kids how to work through their own difficulties as they grow up.  Contagious family life is not about appearing perfect,…It’s about a bunch of messy people living together, broken, but running to Jesus to find help” (pg. 231).

As we read these words and consider this heartache…

Some of us are processing as parents wanting to protect children.
Or friends wanting to come alongside those we care about.
Or spouses who daily watch a loved one struggle through the aftermath of sexual abuse.
But many reading right now, have experienced these wounds personally.

If you are reading this today, a victim of sexual abuse, my heart breaks over your pain and heartache.
I am so sorry.

I’d like to share with you Mary’s Prayer for a Sexual Abuse Victim.
And if we can pray for you today, we’d like to do that.

We’d also like to share 3 copies of Not Marked with our readers.
We are praying this book can be a source of encouragement and hope.
In it, Mary doesn’t gloss over the pain and struggle, she doesn’t minimize the heartache, but she offers real suggestions (not platitudes) for healing and progress and she proclaims the freedom of living– not marked, but with true hope.

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~Eph. 2:10 NLT

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

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The Best Things About Bringing up Daughters

The Very Best Thing About Bringing Up Daughters

The call for help came in the middle of the day.

This dear, young mom was clearly in a tough circumstance and needed some help. A small break at the very least. I recognized the desperate tone and told her I’d be over as soon as I could.

But what about all her children? Her four young ones, plus a little baby? Who could stay with them on such short notice while she and I went out to talk it through?

I approached one of our daughters and briefly explained the situation.  She caught on right away and began filling her backpack with fun toys, a princess crown, and party whistles. In a few short minutes she was packed and ready to go.

The children shyly gathered around her when we first arrived, having never been left with a stranger before. They began sharing their names and ages. Then their favorite colors and favorite foods. Then they began pointing over to the park . . . .

My friend and I quietly slipped out and enjoyed a lovely, long afternoon over a cup of tea. Tearful and healing. Returned smiling and hopeful.

It was nearly dark by the time we got back. We found my daughter playing a board game with her children while the baby slept sweetly in her arms.

I had one of those moments. You know, the kind. When you wonder how that could have happened. Wasn’t it just yesterday that this young woman before you was sleeping sweetly in your very own arms?

Some of the Very Best Things About Bringing Up Daughters

Extend your ministry. Together the two (or more) of you can do so much more than you could on your own. Our girls have helped with making meals, childcare, virtual assistance, event-planning, and so much more. It’s like a mini-women’s ministry coming right from your very own home.

Keep you young. Let’s face it, I’d probably be old and frumpy if it wasn’t for them. They keep me updated on what’s happening in the modern world. They keep me from embarrassing myself too badly with behind-the-times technology, clothing, and expressions. And they make me laugh!

Offer wonderful insights. Their fresh eyes and tender hearts often see things that we might have otherwise missed. I increasingly appreciate their sensitive insight and new perspective when faced with a problem or challenging situation.

Become a huge help. Our daughters can even downright spoil us. I’m blessed to have girls who prepare many of the meals each week. One daughter is my tech-assistant and another edits my writing. We all work on the laundry.  Basically, I’d be lost without them. :)

Grow into good friends. This, of course, is the very best part. Who do I go to when I have exciting news? My girls. If I’m sad or upset? My girls. If I’m looking for fun or someone to talk to? My girls.  A daughter can become one of your closest friends.

A mother’s relationship with her daughter is not always easy – I can readily attest to that. Not always simple or straightforward. But it’s a relationship well worth cultivating and cherishing.

Enjoy her, mama. The joys far outweigh the tears. Raising these girls is a beautiful gift from God.

*What are some of your favorite things about your daughter(s)? Challenges you’re facing, or questions? 

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

Join her for this NEW series: Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids

Learning To Let Go (A Letter From Mother To Daughter)

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Learning to let go.

Something that we hear often and practice regularly when trying to live a life bent to Jesus. But it’s hard. Not just sometimes, but all the time. And of all the times I have learned to let go and all the times I will in the future, it’s in the present day that my momma heart is being broken in two.

Why? Because right now I am learning to let go of some difficult things our oldest child, my beautiful Hannah, has been experiencing in life. Those hard life lessons that happen to those (like Hannah) who are a breath of fresh air in this fallen world.

I am sharing a candid letter I wrote to my baby girl just last week with all of you. Friends, I pray that this letter will encourage someone who is going through this exact thing, right now. While it is so hard to see our babies hurting, we have to learn to let go.

Dear Hannah,

Words cannot properly express the love I felt for you the moment I realized your life was forming in my womb. I will never forget the time we spent together as God was molding your life right inside of mine. I will never forget the moment that I realized how His love was being multiplied in the physical presence of your tiny growing body – a creation of love between Father and child – husband and wife – mother and daughter. It was during this time of extreme joy and life creating inside of me that God gently reminded me that you were His, and I needed to learn to let go.

But how? How could I begin to let go of something that I loved so very much? Something that I couldn’t even see yet? How could I let go of the one thing that symbolized the ultimate union of God and man, husband and wife? How?

I’ll never forget when God gave me this scripture as I was praying to Him through my tears, trying desperately to understand what exactly He was asking me to do:

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37 KJV)

It was in these words that I meditated on day and night He told me just what letting go really is. Letting go is trusting that God will always love you more than I do. Letting go is allowing Him to teach me how to parent you as unto Him. Letting go is trusting that in His sovereign creation of you that He ultimately knows what you need and how to provide it for you. Letting go is realizing that I didn’t know how to give nor receive love until He loved me first. Letting go is allowing God to be first in my life so that His love may flow through me – not only to you – but to everyone He desires to put in my path. Letting go is the ultimate obedience I can display in a life bent towards Him, recognizing Him as the Supreme authority in my life, showing you who He is, ultimately leading you to Him.

And while these words are easy to write, they are not as easy to do. I try my best to live a life bent to Christ, but I fail. But in His goodness and mercy, He forgives me. Not because I am good, but because He is good, and because I let go. I let it all go to follow Him. This, my dear Hannah is what it’s all about. No matter how much it hurts my momma heart as He is asking me to release you with even more depth into His trusting hand – I have learned to let go. That which I let go, my faithful Father will sustain in His mighty hand, giving me a peace that cannot be earned nor purchased. But only the simple (but oh so hard) act of letting go can produce this peace I have in my heart as I watch you grow and blossom into the beautiful light that you are.

And while you’ve been deeply hurt by the lies of the enemy and cut by those who are unaware of your Father’s truth, I am learning to let go. I let go of the anger and judgement and ugly words that try to fill my heart and mind. I let go of the lie that no one loves you as much as I do – because there is One who loves you even more. I will always be your advocate, my dear Hannah, but more importantly I will do my very best each day to let you go and release you into His hand that ultimately leads to His plan for your life. Because I love you. I love you so much that I am willing to give you to Him, over and over again. Let Him be your comfort during these hard times. Yes, I am here for you and will hold you and pray for you and love you. But the very best thing I can do for you? Is let go.

Loving you through His sustaining grace,
Your Very Grateful  Mom

I am praying for you right now, dear momma, the one who has a heavy heart as she learns in every season of life to let go. I know that it isn’t easy, and I want you to know that I care about you and am praying for you. My heart is aligned with yours and we’re in this together. Let’s continue to give it all to Jesus, the center of our hope and anchor of our salvation!

Carlie @ Learning to Speak Life™

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