“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
The responsible way in which we choose to handle modern media will set the tone for our children’s online behavior. Young children mimic what they see, and habits are hard to break as they grow older. By holding ourselves to the standards that we expect of our children, especially within earshot, we are already removing some of the dangers they are exposed to daily.
94% of parents pay attention to the content of the games their children play.
75% place limits on video game playing
71% place time limits on internet usage
68% place limits on television viewing
61% place time limits on movie watching
The Pew Research Center studies agreed, giving parents credit for checking the websites their teens visited 61% of the time, and checking social media profiles 60% of the time (Time reported some great screen-time tools and guidelines here).
I have a child who hears everything I say no matter how many floors of the house and blaring TV’s or devices separate us. She pops up into conversations at random and repeats things I thought were out of her earshot. I really wish I could screen her questions before she asks them, and cringe in fear of what she might say whenever her little hand pops straight up into the air to ask a question. She holds me accountable! Whatever I say is coming back at me, full speed …in front of everyone …at the most awkward time possible. There are no breaks in parenting! No breaks.
The digital age has it’s challenges for parents and kids alike. The questions are endless, the monitoring never-ending, and the app requests are constant. One generation is growing up immersed in information and accessibility like never before. The older generations attempting to parent their children through all of this haven’t lived through it from the ground up like they have. It’s challenging to stand in credibility when we’re learning so much on the fly, ourselves.
In some ways, the generational gaps are very similar to those we experienced with our parents. But in many ways, the world seems to be a brand new ball game. A scary one. Terrifying, even. It’s not in our heads. We’re not being paranoid. It’s not a product of watching too much of the news. The world is catapulting towards it’s inevitable end at a very fast rate. We live in the end times, the time between Jesus going to heaven to be with the Father, and the time He will return again to set ALL OF IT straight. Until then, here we are. More broken than ever. More catastrophe than ever. More hurt, pain, suffering, and tragedy than ever. And since we’re more connected and technologically advanced than ever, we know more than ever about ALL OF IT.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” Romans 3:19 NIV
Every mouth silenced. The VOICE paraphrase says, “muzzle every mouth, to silence idle talk, and to bring the whole world under the standard of God’s justice.”
Holding ourselves accountable to God’s truth sends a powerful message to our children. Our actions make a bigger impact than what comes out of our mouths. Openly sharing our faith with our children makes a difference, but allowing them to watch us live it puts it in bold italics. Children want to be accepted for who they are, right now. They need to be loved for who they are, while they grow. In the midst of awkward transitions happening to the backdrop of an ever-changing world, our children need love to live.
We need Love to live. All of us.
There are things we are not going to be able to explain to ourselves, or to our children. There are simply no answers for all of the horrific things that happen in this world. No ability to understand them even if God gave them to us. How do we throw our trust in God, regardless? Everything we need to know can be unlocked by opening up the Bible and praying for understanding. Seeking God, and holding onto His promise that we will find Him.
Christianity is not a mythical faith that requires us to throw all of our gumption into the unknown. Jesus Christ can be proven. If you are searching for answers, keep searching, keep asking, and you will find them. God is not hiding. In fact, He wants to be found. For ourselves, as parents, that’s an important fact to embrace. Our kids are watching us. They are watching to see how are faith holds us together. How we make sense out of the things that don’t seem to make sense.
Our lives speak for themselves.
In this world, we are promised to have trouble. We are told, as Christians, it will be even harder. Why would anyone sign up for that? For the promise of eternity with Christ in heaven. Fact finding firms the foundation of our faith, but walking with Christ brings us to our knees. The personal, daily care our Heavenly Father leads us with. Going before us, behind us, and remaining with us. Despite the world, despite ourselves, we see life through a different filter than those who choose to walk without Him. A filter of grace, hope, peace, and love …that surpasses all understanding.
We cannot authentically love the people in our lives well unless we are putting Love first in our lives. It effects everything. Our kids notice, our friends see, our family knows. Strength comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. The world is a mess, yep. It’s going to keep getting messier, yep. But hope is still hope. Love is still Love. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father who sees all and knows all. In ways we only get glimpses of, all of mess will be cleaned up, in due time. In His perfect time. In the meantime, we learn on the fly. We grow with our kids. We embrace every good thing and trust that God is somehow making good out of all the bad.
When the world butts up against us, all abrasive and entitled, we can choose to forgive forward, love despite, and compassionately extend kindness. Our kids are watching. They are listening. They hear everything. Who are we echoing?