Disengaged Together | A Family Crisis

Have you heard about “lifeguard parenting”? It’s when parents rescue their kids in emergencies, but aim to support independence. They give freedom, but they stay close by and aware. Technology freedom and parenting meet here.

 

Screen time, tech, networking – whatever you call it – the digital world has captivated our attention and our lives. Is it ok? I mean, is it ok to use a screen for almost everything? Do we even have a choice? Time management is hard enough for myself, but as a parent — juggling it for my kids too, it’s a lot of work. This has been one of the greatest challenges for me and Dave. Setting boundaries and sticking to them wears us out. BUT it’s worth it! Every day, every exhausted evening, every prayer…it’s all worth it to us. Let me tell you why.

With just a few clicks, our family can totally disengage from one another, even while sharing the same room. Each of us finds a connection somewhere else. And without boundaries, these connections could easily dull our relationships. What are these new connections, and why are we all so mesmerized?

The digital path leads us places, takes us anywhere we want to go…literally. So we have to ask, “Do we know where our kids are? Do we know what they’re doing?”— even when we sit side by side.That is why we push forward. That’s why the issue of limitations matters to us and why we make an effort for technology boundaries in our home. We are just at the beginning of this process, learning by trial and error. But we believe it is incredibly worthwhile.

I ask myself, how can we monitor all of this…seriously, how? Can we just not have electronics around anymore? Could it really be so easy? I don’t think so. Technology is a growing part of our world and everything we do. It’s even a key component for public school instruction. So, it seems we should all agree on this. Our children need to know the circumference of digital freedoms, that good and ugly exists — before they’re independent users. We can’t defend the digital world as a simple realm anymore…It isn’t. — I’m not saying that kids need details. That could be disastrous. I’m saying, if we let our kids roam, they better have safety gear and survival skills for wherever they’re headed.

How can I talk to my kids without scaring them? I don’t want to say too much or too little. Where’s the line that defines ‘over-protective’ and ‘under-protective’? It seems so different for everyone. I need confidence and a positive approach, so I am ready to lead my kids toward good things. I want any fear that I have to sharpen me. I remind myself that boundaries are stepping stones, not walls. Enforcing rules and protecting our kids is not mean. I have to remember my heart for these little people and our purpose with boundaries. Freedom is meant to be good.

Have you heard about “lifeguard parenting?” (Who’s coming up with these terms anyway?) I like this new label. Different from a helicopter parent, the ‘lifeguard parent’ rescues their kids in emergencies, but supports their independence. They give freedom, but they stay close by, and they stay aware. As my kids get older, I want them to know – with certainty – that they are not alone…yet they are becoming strong and independent decision makers. As they reach out, I want to be tuned in enough to warn them when waters become dangerous and help them find safety. We have to pay attention with diligence. Would a lifeguard on duty look away from the station?

In each of our homes, whatever lifestyle we choose, let’s try the best we can to lead our children toward a strong foundation with technology. It will be worth it!