The Authority In Me
The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture – A Parent’s Voice in the Cyber Wilderness – by Joanna Jullien
From the author: This book is about overcoming the challenges of parenting in a cyber-powered world. It is based upon my personal experience as a child, a college student, professional, wife and mother parenting into the age of the Internet. It incorporates the perspectives of other experts and parents and the voices of young people. It is a book that addresses the anxiety and hope for the possibilities of our time – to offer insight, inspiration and encouragement for parents in a culture that tells us we are not enough.
Based upon personal experience, research, and hundreds of conversations with parents, professionals and children, this book addresses how parents can better understand the world our children navigate as digital natives, and develop stronger, deeper more meaningful relationships that promote self-governance and the ability to discern truth from things that sound really good but are not true. Today, the Internet lowers all barriers and traditional boundaries, and parents are challenged to lead with genuine authority; the authority within each of us that inspired the founding of the republic of the United States.
Here is what others have to say about The Authority In Me.
“I love it! …It was as though I was having a conversation with a good, well informed friend. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, while appreciating the important message to parents to get involved. Their children’s lives may depend on it.” —Sheriff Edward Bonner, Placer County, California
“Our children only pass this way once. A parent is and always will be a child’s first teacher. This inspirational book reminds parents of their primary role and what happens when parents use their life’s gift to influence, guide and place reasonable controls on their offspring. It is a must read for all who want to take back their children.”
Dr. Susan G. Weinberger
Below is an excerpt from the book:
“Little progress can be made merely by attempting to repress what is evil; our great hope lies in developing what is good.” – Calvin Coolidge
I am a mom who became a journalist during the last leg of rearing my youngest son. For me this was a matter of life and death.
There are six and one half years between my sons. The oldest is 26 and the youngest turned 20 in December 2010. With the advent of the mobile phone and the Internet, I noticed a profound difference between their teenage years which I attribute to the network culture. It is a difference that can be summed up in two words: “digital native”.
Digital natives are “children of the Web”; they cannot imagine a world without the Internet.
In this environment, children at very early ages can be conditioned to believe that adults are essentially obsolete – they simply need to be tolerated or manipulated. We are perfunctory characters who pay the bills, chauffer from activity to event, staff classrooms and campus administrations, patrol the streets to enforce the law, and yet we are so amazingly irritating, ignorant and irrelevant.
I am American raised in the 1960s and 1970s – a product of a cultural revolution (women’s liberation, civil rights, and student riots) and a time of shedding traditional thought in the name of freedom. Biblical wisdom was for the most part tossed aside, denied, rejected.
Yes, Jullien is my maiden name.
The oldest of five children raised in the Catholic faith in Oakland, California, I graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Social Anthropology, married my high school sweet heart and we raised two sons in the Sacramento, California region. I had worked my way through school with part time employment at a local supermarket on College Avenue in Oakland. At Berkeley, under the direction of the late Alan Dundes, a dynamic, renowned folklorist who delivered interesting, compelling and sometimes controversial insights on many topics of modern culture including football, I completed an honors thesis on corporate culture (Supermarket Folklore). It was awarded the Kroeber Prize from the Department of Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley, and was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. To produce the manuscript, I drew upon a combination of personal experience as laborer in the supermarket, field research (interviews with fellow employees and employees at other stores in the area) and scholastic research.
Near the end of my time as a student at Berkeley, I left the supermarket to work as a teller for a large bank with a branch on campus. The Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) was introduced during my short tenure there before graduating. I remember being incensed that the management was giving tellers direction to send people outside to a computerized machine to do their banking; my gut was concerned for the lack of personal interaction. It was very disturbing to me the notion that a machine could replace a person. In one of the staff meetings when a regional manager was explaining all the ways tellers needed to redirect the customers to do their banking outside, and the incentives for tellers to keep them doing business with the machine, I remember speaking out.
“I am not confident that discouraging customers from having personal contact is the best way to strengthen the business relationship.”
This comment was deflected and the regional manager stressed emphatically we were to comply with the directive to send people outside to the machine. There would be no discussion. And ATMs of course eventually became a very acceptable way to do banking business.
Thirty years later, however, banking has come full circle and encourages customers to come inside the bank and have human contact. The ATM still offers amazing convenience, along with on-line banking, and plays a role in the efficient, convenient service of standard banking transactions but it could never replace the actual human connection. Banks are competing now on customer friendly service.
That experience many years ago as a bank teller feeling replaced by a machine on the campus branch helped inspire for me a sense of purpose to strengthen relationships and enhance the human experience in very technical or technology-driven environments.
Upon graduation from Berkeley, I began married and family life with a strong professional interest in understanding how technology could be leveraged to strengthen relationships. I sought to apply the field work and behavioral and system analysis capabilities I developed from research on corporate culture to help people use technology to work better together, achieve goals and solve problems. Accordingly, I assumed project-oriented roles that involved execution of capital and labor-intensive projects and operations, the development of systems and procedures to achieve performance objectives, and marketing through strategic relationships in manufacturing, information technology, and environmental management fields (energy management).
Working full time outside the home, my husband and I juggled shifts and duties to cover the action at the office, home, school and sports events.
And then six years ago, I found myself struggling with the question of how technology impacts the home.
In this boundary-less, anything goes, no limits, “it’s all about me” network culture I sensed the role of the parent being edged out, or pushed to the side. To me it felt like a digital chasm. In an instant, our children have access to knowledge, information and people in every nook and cranny around the globe. Some of the messages, beliefs and ideas are good, and much of the content is not in alignment with our values or rooted in truth.
Digital natives believe that all they need to know can be gleaned by “Googling” the topic or question of the day.
In the summer of 2004, when my youngest entered 8th grade, I decided to quit working outside the home because I sensed a disconnect between children (peer groups) and adults, and parent communities were increasingly less engaged with our children’s cyber-powered lives.
The old marketing adage, “perception is reality” has never been more true for parenting.
So I created a quarterly publication to inform and inspire parents called Banana Moments: Family Business Quarterly (http://www.bananamoments.com). This publication examines youth culture, popular culture and cyber trends and with insights and lessons learned from various professionals in law enforcement, education, health care and service industries, parents and children. Banana Moments is designed to help parents with thought leadership as executives of their homes who must contend with many of the same issues corporate CEOs had to with the advent of the Internet.
In addition to presenting “banana moments” fieldwork and research about how the network culture transforms family business, this book applies my perspectives and insights as an American mom whose journey into womanhood incorporated some scrapes including an attempted rape and the threat of a stalker; and who received the blessings of devoted parents and siblings, a husband who is my soul mate and best friend for life, and two magnificent sons.
In the process of struggling to be a good wife, mother and professional manager in my career, I learned more about the power of God’s love in the past 25 years being a parent than I could learn in 25 lifetimes. Truthfully there were many times I did not feel qualified but managed to become a mother reformed.
And so on the cover of this book is a photo of the roses my son’s planted for me on Mother’s Day in 2009. They wanted to give me a better view because my office window looked out to the side of the house where the garbage cans and dog house are stored. These roses remind me that no matter how imperfect we are as parents, that no matter how many mistakes we make, no matter how far we stray, our children are resilient blessings; and it is by God’ grace that we all have the free will to choose to live our lives in truth, or surrender to the manipulations of our time.
So I write this book because it is how I choose to please God. Fifty years of family and career life have affirmed for me that the same faith of the founding fathers of the United States of America gives us the genuine authority to lead children to higher ground in an environment that is hostile to wisdom and will transform us into perfunctory “connections” posing as a relationship if we allow it.
Parents need to understand that our voice of wisdom cannot always be heard because the distracted lives we lead, constantly multi-tasking with steams of media channels 24 hours a day, seven days a week, can put our voices on mute. In the network culture there are no boundaries and our children, if they are not tethered to truth, are at risk of becoming extremely insecure, surrendering their personal security and authority to the lies and distractions of “friend communities”, popular culture, commercial interests and bad actors.
More importantly, this is an exciting time to be a parent. In response to this “digital chasm” we have the opportunity to connect with our children in authentic ways that strengthen the bond between parent and child making the home a sanctuary, and ultimately enable us to leverage the ‘Net’ for our own life’s purpose.
Thankfully, our children seek this authenticity from us.
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