Re-living childhood

My second child and second daughter has a lot of the same personality traits as I do. She’s loud, she’s sensitive, she’s a born leader, she’s all or nothing, and she loves to laugh! I’m both excited and fearful for her. Because frequently when she tells me how she is having a relational problem, overwhelmed or fearful I can distinctly remember how it felt when I was a kid. Not only do I remember the feeling, I can usually associate it with a life experience that I have had.

Being around kids transports us back to our own childhood, good and bad. We want so badly to prevent the trials and heartaches. So we offer advice, we implement structure, and are swift with discipline; all with the hope that our kids will be stronger, wiser, and happier than we were growing up. But do we as parents cross the line from teaching to dictating?

With my daughter I know that with our personality we can come across as bossy. So I help to direct her natural leadership by encouraging certain phrases to use instead. But in that process I am certain that I have discouraged her and her personality. It was no longer about teaching her, but instead stifling her natural bend given at birth because I did not want her to experience the pain that I did. Though my intentions were noble, my implementation was flawed.

I’ve been challenged to reconsider the moments I deem as instructional. I instead now take a moment and determine if my intervention is even necessary. I realized that there are some battles and experiences she needs to have on her own. If after this thought process I determine this is a time when I can educate, I will intervene privately. Otherwise I will watch, listen, and be available if she wants to talk about it.

What are some areas that you find in your own kids that reflect an attribute that you share? How have you responded to them, have you been a teacher or dictator? What actions will you change to assist them instead of controlling them?

We as parents can relate, we just want them to NOT experience the pain we have. We want them to avoid the pitfalls and temptation. We want them to be scar free when they become an adult. But instead of focusing so much on trying to prevent, we should listen, have empathy for their concerns, and have courage to allow them to make their own choices!

Why I burn Justin Bieber shirts!

Alright so I didn’t actually burn them, but I wanted it to sound dramatic! I only just threw them away. Which is hard for my hoarding, “but you can give it to goodwill for someone else” side. So let me just start from the beginning and why Mr Bieber along with all other pop stars, will not be worn via t-shirts, book bags, folders, posters, etc. at my house!

We live on an amazing street of 14 kids of similar ages, 8 of them being girls aged 5-9 who all play together all the time! And although that is awesome in itself because my kids have friends literally next door, I love that us mamas’ have similar convictions and practices of raising kids! My friend Jacque got a bag of girl clothes from a friend of hers. She went through it and gave the remaining items to my two daughters. When I got home from work, my husband had gone through the bag and there was a pile of clothes on the island ready to go into the trash. I grabbed the clothes instinctively and asked what was wrong with them. On further inspection I realized every piece of clothing in that pile had the huge smiling face of Justin Bieber. Ugh Gross! I shoved them into the trash to die a slow death of poopy diaper inhalation and “under the bed, week old sippy cup” curdle milk poisoning. Not a good way to go I would think. I confirmed with Jacque the next day that she intentionally left the Bieber clothes because she didn’t want her kids to wear them either! I love this street of Moms!

So why am I so anti-Bieber? Well, I’m not, not really. He obviously has some struggles, but who am I to judge? What I, my neighbor Jacque, and many other parents have a problem with is letting kids, big and small, girls and boys, OBJECTIFY & IDOLIZE others! We are unintentionally telling our kids at a young age they should have crushes, they should obsess about celebrities, and dress and act like the people in entertainment.

This is not to say that I will be putting my kids into a bubble to protect them from the big bad world. No, instead I will limit their access to items I deem unhealthy for their age and development. I will however, let them watch, hear or participate in activities that I feel do not represent my ideas and morals, but are an awesome opportunity to teach them about where our family stands.

For example, a show that we watch as a family is “Good Luck Charlie.” My husband and I enjoy the humor, and my kids like the physical comedy and playful story-lines. The Good Luck Charlie family do not always represent the morals I desire in my family, but the storyline’s allow me  to have a discussion about how we choose to live, compared to other families. The topic of frequent conversations is dating and relationships.  I tell my kids it will feel like EVERYONE else has a boyfriend or girlfriend, but we believe that dating is for the purpose of finding a marriage partner, and unless you are ready to get married then dating isn’t something to dabble in!  And thus my problem with Justin Bieber shirts have come full circle!!! Kids today see other kids, teens and even adults pinning over celebrities and story book characters. We are teaching this younger generation to objectify, idolize and distort what a healthy relationship looks like.

I am not looking to get into an argument, spend the time it would take to pull up the peer-reviewed articles that confirm my beliefs, or pull out my Licensed Mental Health Counselor Card, (because I have it on a 11 x 14 frame, it’s impractical to carry around!). I am just discussing a point of contention I personally have with raising my kids in this world, and one that I would caution any parent to discover their own beliefs on!

Raising teens with a 'lifeproof' case

The day I got my first smart phone was like adding to my growing family! I had just gotten married and had my first baby. The smart phone came with a full book of instructions and I soaked it all up. It was glorious! Though I felt certain that my life was ready and capable to manage a smart phone, it became clear that my smart phone didn’t handle my life very well. In the last 7 years I have had to replace my “smart” devices on many occasions, because frankly LIFE HAPPENED! Here’s the run down of my previous devices and their demise.

>Giving my 1-year-old daughter a bath, I drop it in the bathtub. Rescue in time to still be able to use, but its a little slower than before.

>Taking my own bath, and while checking Facebook drop it in the bathtub. No survival this time.

>Outside making chalk drawings with my three kids under age of 5. My 1-year-old son puts my phone into my water-glass. I go to take a drink and wonder what is black in my cup?! Phone did not survive.

>Have a friend over with her kids for a play date. Hear her daughter in the garage banging something, my friend starts to go check to make sure she isn’t damaging anything. I say, “oh don’t worry, there is nothing in there that is of value!” Turns out the banging is my tablet with the screen destroyed. Tablet worked, but screen was hard to read. Husband and I tried to DIY the screen killed the Tablet

>Due with baby number 4 in a week, can’t find my phone. I figure I left it somewhere because the baby in gestation is eating my brain cells and I have been losing everything recently. I find the phone under the kitchen table with the screen smashed. Culprit is still unknown, (Cough…my 3 year old son…cough). Phone still works, but has now turned into an MP3 player for my oldest.

When our phone contract came up and we could upgrade I was all on board. My husband however, stated that he was extremely nervous to get me another phone remembering my track record. He and I made a deal, I could get another smart phone as long as I get an indestructible case! My first thought, “uh why did you not suggest that 2 devices ago?!” So I got my phone and I got my case!

This experience made me think life would be so much easier if we could strap on an indestructible case onto our lives. Even when there are storms, accidents, and water damage, all would be air tight safe in our box. But this is not reality! So we have a couple of choices, live in denial, avoid any choice outside of preset conditions, or prepare and have a plan!!

The great gift that age brings with it is experiential wisdom! We have lived it. Teens often feel that parents don’t get it. That we don’t know what it feels like to be in their shoes. How wrong they are! We know exactly the struggles of being in adolescence. Life does look different now, but the awkwardness, the distress, lack of identity and direction, WE HAVE BEEN THERE! However, what we as parents have in experience we lack in communication. We are so desperate to keep our kids from harm that we try to put them in an Indestructible Case.

Parents, lets stop responding when a crisis happens and instead lets be proactive and preparative! Here are some things that have the risk of damaging your teen and need a plan to avoid a crisis.

Dating: what are your rules about dating-age, allowed activities, group or single dates, do the parents spend time with the couple, etc.

Friendships: define healthy friendships, what to do when they are not healthy, what does communication look like (ie can’t just text), how to resolve conflict, how to make good friendships

Bullies: defining who and what is a bully, what to do when struggling with a bully, what if it is on-line

Sex: what is sex, (believe me when I say that your kids think they know a lot, but when they don’t consider oral sex “sex”, there needs to be some education!); what is too far, why is it important to wait,

Pornography: what is porn, does the stuff on tv count as inappropriate, what about emotional porn (desiring the character in a book or movie and turning it into a fantasy that manipulates your standards for partners in an unhealthy and unrealistic way)

Technology Use: Cell Phones, Video Games, Computer, Internet, tablets, etc. what is appropriate use, what rules should you have, how to keep them safe

Drugs and Alcohol Use: what is alcohol and what are drugs, how to say no, what it does to your brain and body, what is addiction

Identity: how to help them discover who they are, how to be ok with weaknesses, and how to strengthen the areas of giftings, what to do when they feel lost or hopeless, ways to encourage self when feeling down about self,

Faith: help them discover what they believe and why, how to make their faith their own, how to talk to unbelievers, who do they turn to for spiritual answers,

This list is not all-encompassing, instead it is a place to start. It’s easy to guess what could damage a smart phone or device, therefore purchasing a case to prevent it is common sense. You may not know the exact culture your teens are walking through that may cause harm, but you can remember the basic struggles you had as a teen. Use those experiences as wisdom to equip your teen to be smart, be healthy, and to value themselves! And if that fails then wrap them in bubble-wrap and lock them in their room until Jesus comes back! Parents, we can not stop all harm from happening. But we can help prepare and assist while walking through it.