Jodie Stevens and I have been talking about how important it is to encourage kids to think for themselves so that they can more quickly learn how to make good and safe choices on and off line. James 1:5 tells us that when we lack wisdom and seek it with a sincere heart God grants it liberally without finding fault. This applies to our children. And the most important thing we can do is get them thinking for themselves, rather than simply going along with “group think” in order to fit into the social network.
Eliminate confusion between trust and faith
Last week we talked about clarifying the difference between brave and risky, because sometimes we perceive bravery as willingness to do risky things which means that we ignore the inner voice, the divinity within. Today we are talking about discerning trust and faith. Many parents are concerned that by checking on their kids’ cyber communications it hurts the relationship; it is perceived as a violation of trust and respect. Naturally, parents want to believe that their children are trustworthy; and kids want to be trusted with autonomy. Unchecked, this leaves children vulnerable to circumstances that are not safe especially because the technology makes it easy to conceal risky relationships and activities that can lead to drug use and abusive relationships.
When parents accept that they have legitimate authority for providing protective cover for their children, which is not the same thing as controlling them, then it is possible to express your passion for the child’s God-given liberty to think for himself. And because we are not in control of our child, rather the child is in control and must learn how to use free will wisely, it is imperative that boundary setting and parental oversight is expressed as passion for individual liberty to choose to obey boundaries that keep us free to prosper; it is loving your child as God does. Our family safety motto is “inspect what you expect” – which is a simple way of acknowledging that when you have a vested interest and legitimate responsibility in an outcome, such as your child’s education and safety, then it is important to provide oversight and verify what you believe is happening. To “inspect what you expect” is a parity check against the unintended consequences of poor decisions resulting from a) lack of experience, b) incorrect thinking and c) the right circumstances.
Trust among people is always verifiable, while faith we reserve for God who requires no proof.
Clarify for your children the difference between trust and faith. When kids accuse parents of not trusting them, explain that trust among people is always verifiable, because humans are prone to mistakes and poor judgment. While faith is something we reserve for God because He requires no proof. Kids need to understand that when parents monitor their cyber communications and are engaged in establishing and enforcing boundaries for use of devices, it is love language. Thirty years of parenting, before and after the internet, has taught me that when you are fully committed to your child’s liberty, and that means putting your confidence in the Lord first and then your child’s capacity to think and make good well-informed decisions, there is a bonding in truth that is the authenticity cyber-powered kids crave in a world of fear and fakery.
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
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- 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.