Digital Freedom {A Parent's Role}

What ruins a garden left alone?

Weeds

Yep.

They steal nutrients from other plants, creating relentless battle for survival. — And if the annoying little things aren’t pulled, a harvest eventually fails. Crazy huh, when you stop to think about it!

‘Weeds’ are a part of life, for every single one of us. Where do they take root in yours? How about your kids?

Technology is 21st Century’s “soil”. We hear about weed-like behavior online, and it’s growing.

In this year, we’re digital farmers. (Are you following me? 🙂 Take away the family cow and the tractor, you and I have land to tend. — Your kid’s life is a thriving pasture, and negative influences are weeds. ‘Farming’ is a daily thing, and requires more than surface care. Whether or not kids have a phone, digital opportunity is all around; this conversation is for all of us.

You are a ‘digital farmer’.

What kind of labor are you willing to put in here?

The simple fact is this. You know your kids best, their strengths and weaknesses. You are the best farmer for this. So pull the weeds. Do whatever it takes.

The idea that kids need less parenting with age, less time, — it’s not true! Your kids need more of you! They need your commitment. They need your concern. They need your intentional presence. They need B O U N D A R I E S ! — They just need especially gentle tone with delivery. (I’m learning this with crazy speed, bumps, and bruises. You’re so not alone!)

How can I offer independence, without loosing too much grip? What is overstep when it comes to privacy? I want to respect my teen, and I don’t want to push them away.

Amen to all of that. Here are some things to remember.

(I’ve gathered these tidbits over time, & hope they rest well with you too.)

  • Digital support is just one role of parenting, and digital freedom is just one part of teenage independence.Don’t let digital independence define your kid’s judgement of freedom. Do our kids realize how good they have it!? What is their world view? (That’s a whole other post 🙂

  • Screen presence does not define a person’s value.Every one of us is created with purpose. How is technology supporting this? Friends should not be limited to screen engagement, and social media is just one way to connect, etc. Put security in the right things.

  • The Internet is never private.Screenshots and social networking make everything permanent. Everything you say and do online can be saved and shared, forever. (For me, for you, for every single person.)

  • Use passwords to protect, not to liberate.Passwords aren’t for privacy between parent and child. Password privacy is ultimate freedom!When your kids have password control, they are free to explore wherever they please.(Temptation will arise, no matter how trusting your kids are!)

  • Teenagers want to be heard. Listen before you speak, and they will be quicker to hear you out. (Eek, so convicting for me. Slow down, and listen ~)

  • Set clear boundaries. Stick to them. And review them often. Kids like to know what’s expected of them.

  • L O V E  ~  T H E M  ~  F I E R C E L Y  (Spend time. Communicate. Accept. Support. Be available. Know them. Know their friends and their interests.)

  • Be thoughtful. “You are what you think.”

  • Build on the positive. Help your kids see that you are “for them” and not against them, especially when things don’t go their way. (Disappointments will come. Offer hope as a shield. What is their anchor when things go awry?)

  • Don’t battle for supremacy.So many times a battle for independence can blind our focus on what matters most. When we parent for their good, not our own, perspective is right. (Another note to self!)

  • Pull you own weeds too. Examples often speak louder than words.

What would you add to this? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share. Let this be a community of support.

Together we T H R I V E ~

Til next time!

~ Ayme

Imperfect, Intentional Parenting

It’s hard to talk about these things with other parents, face to face. I don’t know many people who get together and strategize internet safety. Its’s not an easy chat, don’t you agree? I haven’t found some kind of golden path to perfection. Our family is imperfect, but doing the best we can! We’re working toward relationship & connection. Who has a checklist for that? For those of you who share this vision, trying to work out details for a digital home, I hope you find comradery here!

I’m just going to say it, the Internet scares me sometimes, a lot. I started writing here because I believed awareness was something important, but didn’t understand how much until recent months. Lately, I’ve realized more about a dark reality that should never exist. And so often, I can’t even bring myself to share facts; they’re incomprehensible. Would it be better to simply not know? Should I just call it a wrap, toss in the towel, because victimization wrecks my emotions?

But ignorance only weakens us.

Modern kids, yours and mine, hold a new deck of cards. Their ability to outsmart older generations with tech-y skills has caught a lot of us off-guard. And in some ways, it’s caught them off-guard too. How many times could (or do) they end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, without knowing how? Truth is, most kids aren’t looking for trouble when they find it.

Digital freedom tests values with independence, and I’m not willing to send my tribe off with loose grip. Are you?

Do whatever it takes for clear vision, because what’s out there is fierce and fiery.

It’s hard to talk about all of this with other parents, face to face. I don’t know many people, if any, who get together and strategize internet safety. — not an easy chat, right? (We can’t bear the thought of ill intent.)

I haven’t found a path to perfection. My home isn’t a well-oiled machine. (I actually fear judgement that might come with writing here.) We are an imperfect family, doing the best we can, praying for guidance. We teach, lead, hope & pray for our kids, but can never force their choices. All of us are imperfect. But we can be intentional too.

As I write, you’ll notice caution about details of my kids’ journeys. Their experiences and mistakes are not mine to share…so if ever these posts cross the line, I would have to retreat. This isn’t just our family. It’s all-of-us! Internet safety relies on relationship, and that’s what this conversation is all about.

What you can expect here is a blend of life experience, personal reflection, and delicate accountability. If it’s your too vision, join along!

Together we Thrive!

~Ayme