“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”Louisa May Alcott, Little Women.
How do storms and sailing ships relate to tweens and technology?
There are a lot of storms that our girls will face–that we didn’t have to face growing up. Access to EVERYTHING, quicker communication, and the aspect of permanent placement of pictures and text.
My mom used to tell me, “Don’t write ANYTHING down you don’t want EVERYONE to see. It WILL be seen.” She was not talking about texts or posts because, well, there were no such things. She was referring to writing letters between friends. Remember those days? Those days are over. So we, as parents, must make ourselves aware of the storms that might arise, and help our daughters sail through them.
We do EVERYTHING on our phones. Talk, text, photos, you name it, and it’s great! But, let’s look at how we can go along side our little women, and encourage them through the possible storms.
I’m not going to re-write what’s already out there about internet safety, rules you should have in place, or products you can buy, but rather a look at what’s going on behind the scene. I believe the root of all decisions lies in the heart. What’s brewing in our hearts will come out in the decisions we make–including what we do on our devices.
#1 Practice What You Preach
If you don’t want your daughter glued to her phone, you can’t be glued to your phone either! Our kids model our behavior. Sometimes this gut check is not pleasant, but how much time are you on your device? What are you doing on it? They see you, and they will repeat what they see. Period.
#2 Address The Heart
Continually remind your daughter that she is a child of God. This is not just a conversation for Sunday morning car rides to and from church. This is an everyday awareness. She is loved, she is valued, and she is not of this world. She is to be different. She is not suppose to always fit in and that’s okay. The joy she gets from gaining her friends’ approval is quick lived and needs to be repeated. This is not where her joy should come from. Real joy comes from God. We cannot have joy apart from Christ, it doesn’t exist. It’s fake news.
#3 A Time To Be Silent
Make yourself available to listen. My girls rarely give me answers to the questions, “How was your day?”, “Anything going on?”, “How are you feeling?” I get blank stares and grunts. It’s usually when we are doing something together that they start talking. My girls help me cook, and though this can be messy, it is an open door for them to share their day. They start telling me about their lives–problems, school work, or what’s going on with friends. My job during this time is to LISTEN, not to lecture, judge, or try to fix their problems. I listen to what they are telling me, and then encourage them to figure out solutions. This is a time you can tell what your kids are struggling with. Help them to see past the moment and see the big picture. Don’t let phones and social media be the only outlet for your tweens. Designate TIME for YOU to be their outlet.
Don’t hate the technology, hate the distraction! Technology is great when used properly, but it is also a new vessel for an age old evil. Bring that evil to light with your girls. There is a lie going around–what is popular equals what is acceptable. It’s not. Call the lie what it is, a distraction from the Truth. Also, our kids are very tech savvy. Don’t be naive to think they can’t get around your monitoring efforts. Address the heart issue as a first defense!