Grace Michaelson

Smart Phones & Children

Feb
20

Lately my feed on Facebook has been bombarded by articles stating that children should not be allowed “Smart” phones.  While I agree that some of the concerns mentioned in these articles are possibly true, today I’m going to spell out why I allow my children to have Smart Phones.

I actually was probably the first parent in Middle School to start having my children carry Apple Smart Phones.  I am very comfortable with my decision and, in fact, will upgrade my children’s phones usually when I upgrade.  (i.e. They get my old phone.)

My biggest concern regarding the articles I’ve read about not allowing your child a smart phone is that they completely and utterly ignore parent involvement.  If my child had the same privilege on his or her phone, then, of course, it would be a very bad thing.  However, the fact that you might just possibly be a good parent makes it less dangerous.  Here is why:

  1.  My children do not have free access to their Smart Phones.  This is because, as their parents, I have chosen to say to them, “I pay for this, therefore you use it my way.”  Instead of banning kids completely from smart phones because you don’t actually want to parent them is ridiculous.
  2. At least on the Apple Phones, and I’m assuming the other phones have this, too, there are settings and safe checks to keep your child from getting his or herself into danger with their smart phone.  For instance, when my children want to download something to their phone, their phone automatically requests me to approve or deny their request.  Over the years, I will ease up on the control I have over their phones, because eventually I want them choosing these right choices themselves and not relying completely on me for their moral convictions.
  3. There’s this wonderful app on Apple Phones called “Find my iPhone.”  When activated, I am allowed to track my children’s movements when they are not with me.  I can also “ding” their phone if they are refusing to call me or pick up their phone when I need to get ahold of them.  Many, many times this has saved me from worrying about my children because I know 1.) They will always bring their phone with them in this day and age,  2.)because I act like a parent and require them to let me know where they are going, I know when they’re not where they are supposed to be when I track their phone, and 3.)I am not afraid of embarrassing my child in front of all their friends by dinging their phone (a very loud an obnoxious ding that the whole world can here) if they’re not responding.
  4. What about porn, and the like, you say?  Again, being the parent you’re supposed to be covers this option, as well.  Yes, the “easier” rode of parenting means I just forbid my child from anything that would be potentially dangerous to them.  However, if we do that, we might as well just place them in a box, hammer it shut, and don’t let them out until they turn 18.  What does that kind of protection do?  It causes the child not to learn from any mistakes they make while they are under your control and can train them in the way they should go.  Immature adults is what you get from it.  People who have no idea how to make responsible choices, have no idea how to combat the temptations of the “real world”, and lastly, children who will rush out and do everything you told them not to do because they have no moral compass of their own and no idea what is right and what is wrong.  Does this mean I give them access to porn, and evil that they can’t handle?  Of course not.  All smart phones have apps that allow you to block porn and evil.  However, the truth is, whether you give them a “smart” phone or a “dumb” phone, if your child wants to get a hold of these things, they will.  All “dumb” phones are equipped with internet access now.  There really is no such thing, as a “dumb” phone as we understand it.  So be a parent and teach your child what’s right and what’s wrong so that they will make choices that make you proud.
  5. I want to emphasize what my husband and I have done to safe guard our children from predators.  In a day and age where human trafficking is all over the news, it is hugely important that we keep our kids safe from these types of predators.  So, the rules of our house are simple:  1.) You don’t go anywhere you haven’t told us your going, 2.) You are home before city curfew for minors, 3.) Michael and I don’t go to sleep until all our children are home and safe, 4.) We have a secret password that we tell anyone we send to pick up our children.  Over and over again I remind my children not to go anywhere with a stranger unless they have my password.  5.)Finally, we’re not afraid to embarrass our children.  Again, we track their phone, if they’re not where they’re supposed to be their phone gets “beeped” until they respond.  No normal child will leave their house without their phone.  Once we had one of our children turn off the tracking feature.  He was grounded from all his activities for a very long time.  I sense a theme in this post, do you?  Be a parent.
  6. As far as social interference that a “Smart Phone” may bring:  My children have time limits on when they can and cannot use their phone.  Not at the dinner table.  Not during family time.  Not after bed time.  These are simple rules that teach your child that it’s more important to give their family and friends face time, rather than spend their whole lives in the virtual world.  Another thing: my children don’t get on Social Media without “friending” or “following” me so that I have access to their feed.  I also have wonderful people in my children’s lives who I know will “tell on” them if they block me from viewing something.  It does “take a village” to protect your child in social media.
  7. I’m not afraid to ask for my children’s phones and look through their texts if I feel they’re not being wise with who they text.  I don’t think this needs more explanation– except that this rule applies whether you give your child a “smart phone” or a “dumb phone”.
  8. Final thing:  Take the phone away if it becomes a problem.  We have no qualms from removing temptation from our children until they show they can be responsible.  The line goes like this:  “You can have a smart phone until I feel it’s unsafe or unwise for you to have one.”  If you’re the parent you should be, then your children will realize that you mean business.

As you can see, I do not believe it’s the “smart phone” industry that is dangerous.  The danger lies in permissive and unwise parents who are unwilling to put up protective boundaries for their children.  In every part of our parenting, whether it’s phones or computers, or just whether your child is going to wear designer clothes on your dime, it’s your responsibility to keep your child safe.  Sure, the easy way is to ban them from everything that may hurt them, but that doesn’t teach anything.  It makes you a bad parent.

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6

Balance and the Baby’s Cry

Apr
13

Family comes first, right?  So when your baby wants in your bed at 2 am that’s where he should be!  Or if your baby won’t sleep through the night, you should be up every 3 hours rocking her to sleep, because, hubby has to be at work in the morning and you don’t, and it’s cruel to make baby cry herself to sleep.  At least that’s what your tired brain is reasoning, but is that really the truth?

How do we as “The Mom” balance everyday parenting and marriage with our own needs?  Most of us end up sacrificing ourselves so much that we completely lose our identity.  Does this look familiar?

A typical mom's promise to her child at 2 AM.

A typical mom’s promise to her child at 2 AM.

Yes, this is all too familiar too us Mom’s who have given up all that make us who we are for the sake of our families.  We laugh at the memes about living in our p.j.’s and being unshowered, yet does it really feel good to live our lives to that level of sacrifice?

I know that I am on the other side of babies and you’re probably saying to me, “Well, it’s easy for you to say, your baby is 14 years old and not kicking you in your bed at night anymore.”  Yes, but my baby is trying to push me to the limit every time she turns around and my 17 year old wants to take my car and doesn’t understand why I can’t cancel my appointment so that he and his girlfriend can go on a date with my car!  So, all mom’s, in all stages, are in the same boat.  We’re all asked by our families to make unnecessary sacrifices, and the question is, why do we allow that to happen? What can we do to regain our identities in the middle of the chaos of raising a family and blessing our husbands?

I’d like to give you a few clues that I have been given to help you realize a little sanity in the midst of raising your babies/teens/spoiling grandchildren.  What ever stage of parenting you’re at, you should never have to forsake your own sanity and identity for that of your families needs.  God never once says in His Word “Take up your cross  and lose yourself for your family.”  He says instead, “Take up your cross and follow ME”.  What Chrisitanity was revolutionary for in the age the early years of the church, was the fact that it taught that God loves everyone, men, women, & children.

We’re ALL important, slave or free, rich or poor, men or women, to God and He does not want ANYONE to be sacrificed and marginalized.  We are created to live a life following God’s Will.  God’s will doesn’t involve losing our identity.  It involves God creating a New Identity (Christ’s Identity) in us, and if we’re so busy with our family that we’re marginalized and forgotten and sacrificed, how can God do that work in us?

I know that that sounds hocus-pocus.  In practice, how does one actually keep from losing oneself?

A couple of ways:

1.  Keep to your own backyard.  Keep in mind the idea that we are all tending an emotional backyard.  Each of us has our own negative and positive emotions (flowers and weeds).  If someone comes up to you and throws a negative emotion at you, it’s not your job to weed their backyard.  Don’t take it upon yourself to own their negative emotion.  It’s not your weed.  Keep to your backyard.

2.  Children are resilient.  They don’t need to be in your bed.  They can cry themselves to sleep.  They can even be locked into their rooms if they have to be.  Don’t worry, a fire is not going to burn them alive while you train them to stay in their room.  That is just a “weed” keeping you from teaching your child responsibility for their weeds.  You do not want to be responsible for being that parent who sends your child to therapy as an adult because they don’t know how to take care of their own backyard.

3.  You are a beautiful person.  You deserve respect from your husband, your kids, from other people.  Own it.  Demand it.  Demand it of yourself.  Get out of the jammies.  Take a shower.  Brush your teeth.  Even if you have a bad night.  Do it.  Feel good about yourself.  If the teen is being giving you a “Teen ‘Tude” and not giving your respect  take the car keys or the phone.  Get their attention.  You deserve this you Beautiful Queen, you!  You are the Bride of Christ, after all.  Again, remember who’s backyard you want to play in and that you’re wanting to train your kids to stay in their own backyard, as well.  No crossing into your backyard.

4.  One last thing, and this is so important.  Make sure God wants you to do it.  You are put here on Earth not to be Soccer Mom, not to be the Ultimate Housewife, not to be the Supreme Working Mom.  You are put here on Earth to do God’s will and follow Him!  If God didn’t tell you to sign your kid up for soccer, then you better not be doing it, even if it is your kid’s dream to be an Olympian!  And if God told you to start writing a blog about Zebra’s in a Horse-filled world, then you better do that, even if it doesn’t make sense.  God’s will trumps family priorities.  It’s so easy to think you’re supposed to be doing something because you’re a mom.  If you’re walking with God daily, hourly, by the minute, He’s going to tell you what you’re really supposed to be doing.

Go and get your life back… The life God really has for you!