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

Digital Summer for Families

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em

Know when to fold ‘em

Know when to walk away

And know when to run ~

Ah, Kenny Rogers…so wise 😉 Truth be told, ‘How to play the hand’is a question for all of us.

Parents/caretakers, you and I hold similar cards with “screen time, ” and we’re all-in. Digital life is definitely a part of summer fun, & something worth planning for. Are you ready!?

As kids grow more independent and capable, assertive in their own right, every season looks different from the previous, and this conversation does too. I’m learning my way through tween-&-teenage years right now, and digital independence is a hot topic in our home. Shared perspective isn’t very easy at this stage. (not that it ever really was…but sometimes I think we need an interpreter. Ha, just kidding {?} Anyone relate? 🙂

Screen bargaining makes for a stressful home, so we need clarity from the start. With that said, I’ve come up with a few ideas (sharing here for comradery). Thinking it through was my first step. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What works for you?

Create a plan.

It’s going to be worthwhile. In your home, what are everyone’s

thoughts about healthy boundaries with technology?

Communicate the plan and Commit.

Our kids and everyone who is going to be taking care of them should have clear expectations this summer. (Surprises aren’t fun when it comes to this.)

Support the plan.

What are the consequences if boundaries are crossed? Are you going to give more

time or freedom for chores or other things?

4 Steps to a Safe Digital Summer || F A M I L I E S

Digital Freedom | Apps | Downloads | Media

(Saying yes, no, and maybe so…)

  • What kinds of digital activity are you allowing for your kids? Why?

  • How do your kids ask for new apps or games? (Can they approve downloads themselves, or do you talk about it first?)

  • What filters/screen-monitoring do you have in place?

  • Do you have strong passwords for the internet, Youtube, and other social media? (Guys, this is a really big deal. There is a lot of support surrounding this need.)

  • How much time is given to gaming vs. productivity when they are on screens? (Technology can be advantageous in so many ways. That’s easy to forget when you’re young and free of commitments.)

  • What kinds of purposeful things can technology be used for this summer? (What are your kids interested in? What kind of apps do they want to download? Is there a real-life skill they could be building on here? Summer is a good time to get to know each other better and encourage individuality.)

Technology At Home

(ClearExpectations)

  • What kind of time restrictions do you have for screen use? Or –‘’What do you want them to be?” might be the better question. (I know it is for me.)

  • Can your kids earn more time, or less, based on attitude or helpfulness? (This sounds like some kind of Pinterest idea that I never got to when my kids were younger. The charts and stickers and all of that was intimidating to keep up with. Why does it have to be so elaborate? It doesn’t!)

  • How are expectations at home communicated? (Do or don’t do a chart. We’re all different. What works for you?)

  • Where do devices go when they aren’t in use? Do you have a charging station or something like that?

  • A written plan | “Technology Contract”  I’ve always thought the idea of a family contract for screens is a good idea. It’s never too late to start! Instead of being discouraged that we never did, our family’s going to begin this summer. There are a ton of ideas for how to do this. {I’ll be posting mine on the blog soon! – because that’s my accountability to get it done.} Do you have one for your family?

Technology Away From Home

(Trust, Limits, & Reason)

  • What kind of networking are your kids doing when they are with friends, a team, or other childcare?

  • Have you communicated internet safety enough with your kids? Do they know when something isn’t safe or appropriate? (With so many different family values and spectrum of choices, what kind of foundation do they stand on?

*Sleepovers are a big part of this. I’ve read plenty of articles, even one is enough, about first time & ongoing exposure to pornography, pedophilia, or bullying at sleepovers. When we send our kids off to stay with someone else, there needs to be peace of mind here! I felt really inspired after reading this post by Monica Swanson. I’m working on some ideas for our family in this area. Communication between parents is a super big must.

Technology Role Modeling

(Actions vs. Words)

It’s one thing to set limits for the kids, but how about us? Eek. I’m so convicted. Can I shut it all off in a moment’s notice? We’re telling our kids to get outside and curbing their screen habits, but what about ours? In a perfect world, I’d be self-controlled here. I’d set aside limited time each day for technology. I think we all would.

Our kids will be watching us this summer, taking cues about how we manage time. (It’s honestly one of the greatest challenges for me as a parent.) But that’s not a bad thing. It’s ok when our kids see us struggle here. Maybe it gives them a chance to support us too!

I know that having a plan for all of this is going to make summer a lot more fun, and that’s what it’s all about! Counting down the days now:)

As always, thank you for joining here!
Together we thrive~

Ayme

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