Is your home safe?
Technology threw a wrench into parenting didn’t it? Just when society was figuring out how to raise their kids (tongue in cheek)….”Let’s throw unlimited access to anything you can or can’t imagine on any subject in existence to kid’s iPods and let them look at/ talk to whatever and whoever they want whenever they want to!”
Oh I can’t wait for this the counselling sessions with this generation in the next 20 years…..
“Why is my life so different from my video games???” Probably not far from the truth…
We hardly kept our marriages together so how on earth are they going to be prepared for long term commitment when they are starting with a crippling access to technology that can only eventually destroy any hope at creating realistic and loving (not lusting) relationships.
Porn is just one of those issues of course. There is also unfiltered, indecent exposure to conversations that should never happen and evil concepts and ideas that decent people of only a decade ago would soundly throw in the garbage.
I think that we think we have the “right” to a lot of things we aren’t mature enough for. I also think that the pride it takes to think that is passed on down to our kids, that and the fact that if WE have problems with technology we still think we’ll be able to deal with it alone where no one will find out about it. This is the first step to failure because addictions are addictions and simply require help from others to get out of… another topic for another day (maybe next week).
So how far would you go to make your house safe? For you first, your spouse…your kids? What lines would you cross to get there? How important are your kids to you… really?
“But so-and-so’s parents let them have wifi in their bedrooms! You’re so mean!”
Look, I don’t want to be my child’s buddy. I want to be their father. If they don’t consider me their friend now I should be ok with that, if I want their friendship later I should be content to be their father until they are responsible adults. How many children are in my peer group? I don’t hang out with ten year olds, so why should I want that sort of relationship with my kids? It’s kinda creepy when I see parents who desperately want to be accepted into their teenager’s peer group. You ain’t cool and neither am I so relax and try to do your job!
Our society leaves us unprepared for parenting because of this one issue. You can wrap it differently but it all boils down to this concept: “No one is allowed to judge me!”
Honestly it would make no sense in most cultures of the world but here it seems to be normal. No wonder the Millennial Generation is having such a hard time (I assume) integrating into real life…
In business I was ultimately responsible to judge things, to judge people. If my projects didn’t make money because we lost focus, had time drains, were inefficient, made too many costly errors, angered customers, kept lazy employees, etc etc etc… guess what? I’d get fired and have to find a new job! This is NORMAL. This is real life!
Not once did my dad ever call my employer up and ask for them to take it easy on me because I’d had a stressful week. No one I ever worked for cared if I “found myself” or my “purpose for living” in their employ. I was there for one reason: to be profitable for them.
“So are you saying that I’m actually allowed to judge the conduct of my kids?”
I know there will always be pushback from those who either had a bad experience growing up in abusive situations, or from people who don’t have children yet. You’re always an expert in theory, but nobody cares about theories in the real world, they care about results. I’m the guy who asks someone beating me with ideals if they’ve had any success yet? Most of them haven’t actually tried their theories but still don’t seem to mind telling me about them, which bores me beyond words. The road to success winds more than we’d like to admit and has the odd stop called failure and problem solving. By the time we have success we should be personally quite aware of our own shortcomings along the way. I don’t hear that in the voices of those who haven’t had the pleasure of adding pain to their knowledge, which is commonly known as wisdom if it results in success…
The home I grew up in was very healthy. In every way. That is successful parenting and I’m forever grateful for my mom and dad.
I dare not brag about my own home yet because I will have four teenage daughters at the same time in several years and all my theories about teenagers will go through the fire I’m sure, but Erin and I have had good success in the childhood stage so far. The comments that we receive from the people closest to us are that our children are some of the most stable, loving, energetic, healthy and well behaved kids around. We think so too! They are wonderful girls and each of them is a gift and very different from the others. We’ve had to learn how each of them thinks and feels, we’ve failed and gotten back on our feet to approach problems and issues differently, we’ve learned that how you raise a soft hearted child is not quite the same as how you raise a competitive little gal who doesn’t understand how/why anyone would be ok with losing a game, or anything for that matter. It’s been a journey and I’ll be blogging about teenage girls soon, if only for you to feel sorry for me.
Erin and I were both raised with high expectations and standards. We do not allow bad attitudes to fester in our home. We do not allow our girls to “run things” until they are capable and responsible. They do not get their allowance if their chores are not done to our satisfaction. If they want to throw a fit and make a bid for control I chuckle a little to myself and say “Sweetheart, you’re not the first strong willed child that I know who’s tried that one!”
I admire their cleverness and audacity at trying to get what they want sometimes, but Erin and I don’t give them our authority/responsibility and let them do whatever they want. We’re the parents and they are the children. Someday they will have their own kids and get to make the rules, but until then WE pay the bills.
I laugh at kids who scream “I hate you!” to their mom in the grocery store. My parents were the best parents in the world but they didn’t put up with ridiculous nonsense of any sort. They had self esteem and always imparted it to us, along with unconditional love, but if we wanted to eat and live indoors we were expected to pull our weight along with everyone else. If I felt that I had it rough by having to take the garbage out I was quite free to go live down the street with “fun parents” who let their kids get away with murder. I never went of course because I always knew that my parents loved me enough to stand up to me and tell me to quit behaving poorly. I never remember loving or respecting my dad more than when he had the guts to put a stop to my strong willed behaviour.
The truth is, I didn’t want a dad who I was stronger than. I wanted my parents to be stronger than I was. Luckily their skills at parenting and loving were amazing as well, but if they had no inner strength to back it up I wouldn’t have felt loved at all.
If you and I don’t want to lose our kids to addictions and other dangers of technology we are going to have to strip away the ignorance and lack of discipline in our own parenting. If I don’t even know what my kids have access to how on earth would I expect them to have healthy families in the future? I’m telling you it’s absolutely impossible! One day you and I are going to answer for how we raised our kids and that is not going to be a pleasant experience for any of us, but there is one concept that will help:
Time on the front end is exponentially less that time on the back end.
You WILL have stressful and messy conversations with your children sooner or later. You just get to choose when. Basically your kids will hate you sooner or later if you care enough to lay down the law, you just get to choose how much they hate you. Meaning, if you have the guts to figure out some of these issues when they’re young, the hate you might be exposed to when you change the rules of what they are and aren’t allowed to access on the internet might grow into a grudging respect. Then love. It’s hard to love someone you don’t respect, yet some of us haven’t made respect part of the deal with our kids. I respect my kids enough to let them make mistakes on their own, but also enough to call them on it and raise the bar.
There is a lot of talk about potential these days.
I can honestly say that I no longer care about potential. Here’s why: Very few people ever reach their potential. Very many people, especially of the younger generation seem to think that their potential should be recognized and applauded and afforded with a general lifestyle equivalent to someone who has actually had to do something, people who have been handed a bad situation and still managed to make something of themselves in spite of….
In spite of the opportunities the younger generations have been handed, very few of them are actually succeeding at life. They are not overly resilient, they don’t seem overly accomplished at solving problems, they tend to struggle with very basic skills that my generation was generally expected to have. These are not always the case but I think we are hesitant admit when there’s a problem, which means that the problems will never get fixed.
“How dare you judge me!”
The bible says that you know whether a tree is good or bad by its fruit. My fruit actually judges me. I think I probably get upset more when someone has the nerve to point that out. Now, many people love to point out and criticize what they perceive as bad fruit in other people, but in my home I was always asked such alarming questions as: “Show me?” Put up or shut up baby! If you can’t point to a back trail of success why would anyone listen to you? Do you just want to be considered an expert?
What I’m trying to do here is give you the courage to make rules for your kids that might save them. It will require discipline in your own personal life. It will probably mean some form of rejection for you while you figure it out through trial and error. You’d better be involved in good solid community! You’d better give personal access to mature friends who don’t always agree with your parenting techniques (especially the ones that aren’t actually working). But when push comes to shove YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE TO RAISE YOUR CHILDREN, so raise them then! Don’t let society raise them! Don’t let the internet raise them! Don’t let their peers raise them! You do it!
If you want access to the internet in our home you can take the laptop to one place in the house, the kitchen. It is public. You are not allowed to be online if you are the only one in the room. If you don’t like it, go live with “fun” parents.
You are not allowed wifi access on your devices.
You may have to wait until well into your teens to get a phone (with very limited access).
If you want updates or new games or music on your devices, write what you want on a piece of paper (anybody remember what that is?) and give it to us. We will join the wifi network until the changes are made then we will forget the password.
If you figure out the password we will change it and/or remove the device from you for awhile.
If you do what you aren’t allowed to do we will help you with that by removing privileges that rich people have (like owning technology that gets us into trouble).
When you prove you are responsible we will give you more responsibility and more privileges. When you break trust you will have to spend time to rebuild it like normal people do.
We will always love you no matter what you decide to do. We love you enough not to enable you to be selfish or fall into traps that your generation are caught in. We love you enough to help you reach your potential.
We will do our best to increase your capacity, which will set you apart in the years to come from those who expect everyone else to hand them success.
Life is what you make it. Nobody owes you a thing.
My dad said something to me when I was around twenty years old that I recall every time I have an awkward conversation or a difficult situation to deal with:
“Not everyone will like you so settle for respect. Never settle for anything less.”
He was right, as usual.