Over the past ten years of fieldwork, research and personal experience governing the cyber-powered home, there can be no doubt for me that internet connectivity does intensify the role of emotion in daily life. There is just more hype; there is more excitement and anxiety in response to the influence of devices, apps and social networks. Also, the science of addiction affirms that outside stimulation from things like drugs, sex, gambling and internet can alter the brain by activating the brain’s dopamine reward system (neurotransmitters that make us feel good) which in some cases can cause an individual to become dependent upon the external stimulation to feel okay. Addiction experts will tell you that people do not become addicted to the drug or the vice (gambling/porn); rather they have a pathological relationship with intoxication which can only be corrected by the individual suffering from addiction. Hence exposure to so much cyber stimulation is a very real experience of modern life – making it more challenging to maintain a state of peace in our own inner worlds.
On top of that, regulating summer emotions intensified by cyber connectivity can be a terrific challenge. We all know that summer can offer fun experiences and it can also be a season of stressful experiences with extreme high and low emotions in response to change of routine, boredom, summer friendship dynamics and conflicts, anticipation and disappointment of vacation plans, body image issues with summer clad fashions and bathing suits, financial stress to pay for summer childcare and other activities, etc., and so it is no surprise that the greatest time of risk for kids to start using drugs and alcohol in response to intense emotion happens in June and July.
See related: How to help your child avoid internet addiction
Learn more about talking with your kids about the drug culture at The Coalition For Placer Youth
Governing the role of emotion during the summer: Make home a peaceful place to land
First, parents must check your own state of heart and mind. Summertime is a great opportunity to feature your role as the teacher of living life well. Parents cannot give what they do not have. And what the children need most to respond to summertime stress is a heart at peace. As a child’s first teacher, a parent’s heart is comprised of three elements in the realm of heart and mind:
- Ethos – your trustworthiness (safe, not trying to control and manipulate others)
- Pathos – your compassion for your child’s liberty (love signal or Aa)
- Logos – your message (content – wisdom of boundary-setting for the heart and mind to serve as an internal compass)
In this regard, I view parenting as a divine appointment with certain (limited) authority, which is the same mustard seed of faith that made a free society possible: Aa. This means that we have certain authority to govern the home to provide instruction on how to use free will wisely and to provide protective cover from undue influences of the world. Always though, we must honor free will of the individual as God does. So we can think of parents as household executives and children as emerging executives. And we are all learning executives with power (free will) over our own hearts and minds.
(A) God’s authority + (a) man’s authority = Aa
“Aa” liberates us and our children from the undue influences of the cyber and physical realms
IMPORTANT: When we are in alignment with God’s will (Aa), it is possible govern the home with discipline that may be perceived by children as empowerment. This is the genuine authority that is God’s love expressed as boundary-setting (house rules) that also become points of conversation about what is happening in your child’s life, and then it is possible to impart wisdom.
For more about creating house rules that encourage children to be self-governing go to: Cyber Citizenship for Parents
Then, create a family summer plan that features purpose.
The first empowerment experience for your child happens when he chooses to obey. It is possible to teach your child about the obedience that brings liberty to steer their own ship in life.
- Prepare a list of household jobs and assign point values and have your children select the jobs they want to do that add up to a certain amount of points. This is training for them to run their own household someday. Put the kids in charge. This is an act of empowerment by encouraging them to choose to obey the house rules – that everybody pitches in to help make the home a safe and good place to be.
- Get them busy thinking about their own passions and interests. Check out: What Color is Your Parachute and get your child thinking about their interests, passions and skills. The assumption here is that everybody wants to be valued and make a contribution to society. Your child is no different and the sooner you get your kid thinking about their own mission and purpose in life, the better. Start with Appendix A: Finding your mission in life. It is a beautiful essay on God-centered leadership that comes from within, not from the world. Too often we are taking our cues from the world which is increasingly difficult to overcome the cyber-powered communications and when our children are navigating social media to find and express their identity. This book is about pursuing a life mission that will help our children formulate a career plan designed uniquely for them – it is the greatest form of self actualization. And with all the upheaval and uncertainty about the job market and the dynamics of the global economy, this type of thought leadership is liberating. Being purpose-driven helps us rise above the fray; we can learn how to do this better with our children.
- Establish house rules for cyber safety that encourages your child to be self-governing about the use of technology and talk with you about the things they are experiencing in their world on and off line – so you can impart your wisdom. To learn more about establishing cyber rites of passage and governing the home with a heart a peace to to: A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.
- Cyber safety for kids and families on TheFish103.9FM (videos)
- Follow Joanna @CyberParenting
- Like Banana Moments
- Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner
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- Email: Jullien@surewest.net
Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show