Did you ever watch the show “Super Nanny?” When my children were small I remember my wife and I watching that show trying to soak in all of the tips on how NOT to raise a brat. We watched one episode where a 6-year old child is yelling at her dad to "Give me my toy back!" and the frustrated father yells back, "Give me my life back!" I remember laughing but I also remember feeling bad for each. (On a side note, I'm so glad all of my parenting moments have not been on camera.)
I tend to believe that the measurement of your parenting can only be made when your children are in their upper teens, early 20's. When I see this age group doing well, being respectful, well-mannered and reliable, I immediately think of what a great job the parent(s) did. This is the timeframe where it all comes to fruition, where all of the discipline they enforced and the love they shared becomes evident. This is where they can exhale (just a bit). *For the record, this is not always the case. Some great parents have had some really difficult kids. It's not the end all.
I talk to people all the time about parenting. No parent of the 1970's can teach all there is to know to the parents of the 20(teens). It's very different. Parents in the 70's were concerned with very different things than this generation of parenting is. Although when we hear of kids in the front seat, candy cigarettes, no sun screen, parts (see below), drinking from a hose and no seat belts, maybe we really shouldn't be listening to them anyway.
Today, for me as a parent, I'm most concerned with this media exposure. I'm sure most of you are as well. I feel as though we really will not know the damage all of these will create in our children until it's too late. I see kids all the time with free unlimited access to different media outlets (Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) They look up things on Google (sometimes not good things). Some of them see images we didn't see until we were in our 20's (or ever!). Each image is shaping them. Some are images that create a desire for more images, and so on and so on. I remember a while back when my daughter was into gymnastics. She was looking at videos on YouTube of some of these and I saw from over her shoulder on the right of the screen some "recommended videos". One was titled something along the lines of 'gymnastics gone wrong' where someone either breaks a leg or gets hurt in some capacity. Thankfully I was there and she didn't see an image that would've taken a while (maybe never) to erase from her brain.
EPHESIAN 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
I really don't know how I'm doing as a parent right now. I do see a lot of weaknesses but one of them is not the passivity of media use. We have strict rules at home in regards to this. It doesn't mean they haven't seen things they shouldn't have with other friends or in other atmospheres. We do our best but I can't be with them at school functions, sporting or recreational events, friend's houses for parties or on the bus. (This is where they have shared with me some of the stuff others are looking at) I can't control everything but I do know one way in which all of you as parents of younger kids can help: Set up some real strict guidelines on access to these media outlets! Try doing this, you will help my wife and I, along with many other parents! Instead of hearing how "my friend 'so and so' gets to bring her iPhone everywhere and has Snapchat and Instagram", I'd love to hear, "Yes, my friend doesn't have an iPhone either and is not allowed to have an account" It would be a lot easier for us to parent without the comparisons and the "it's not fair" conversations.
I know this is not easy. In fact, some of you will say it's 'too late in the game'. Your kids have an Instagram account that they will tell you they can't close because their friend (who they see every day) will wonder what they're up to. The friends are eagerly awaiting the next filtered selfie. They won't be able to talk to you until tomorrow!
I don't think it's too late. I think it's a great time to start. It comes with a conversation. A conversation clearly communicating that this decision is because you love them not because you love hearing, "I'm bored."
Any advice here? I would love to hear it. Comment below or email me Rich@fellowshipchurchct.com