Is your son or daughter a bully or being bullied?
Were you bullied as a kid, or were you a bully?
I know that these are not the only two options, but it seems like the case.
A better question to ask of ourselves is whether our son or daughter is a leader or a follower.
A follow-up question is, if they are a leader, where are they leading others — toward good or evil?
If they are a follower, are they discerning as to who they follow and what they will do? No one wants to see their child bullied and most of us hope that our child will not resort to bullying, which is an indicator of weakness and immaturity. Instead, we want to teach them to be discerning in who they follow and in how they lead others.
We should attempt to inspire our children to be defenders of the weak and voiceless, so that they will stand up for what is right, speak out against evil, and be change agents for good. Based on how our children manage social media, smartphones, and entertainment, we have a clue as to how they will handle this responsibility.
A key role we play as parents is in how we treat other people in our lives.
How do you respond when a coach doesn’t treat your child the way you think they should?
Do you become belligerent and aggressive?
Do you speak critically of other children, adults, or teachers in your child’s life, which they pick up on and then mimic your disrespectful tone and stance?
Could they pick up on your prejudice toward minorities and act on that?
Parents need to engage with their children on these topics before they become an issue. It may seem like you do not need to have this conversation, but many parents are shocked to find that the behavior of their children away from home or online is quite different from what they portray to their parents.
Do not let yourself believe that your son or daughter would never bully someone else and so never speak to them about it.
Don’t assume that your child isn’t being bullied because they don’t tell you. Be the initiator of micro-conversationsthat take place day after day, week after week, so that your beliefs have weight with them and they know they can trust you.
Today, most of us use social media in some way. Many people, though, do NOT use this tool appropriately. It is a venue for posting lies, comparing experiences, and feeling jealousy and hatred toward themselves and others.
Social media etiquette and ethics must be taught prior to our children having access.There should be micro-conversationsabout what one ought to post, and what is questionable. They need to be taught to distinguish between what is true and what might be a lie. They need to know that it can be misused, abused, and part of illegal activity.
Many teenagers and parents do not realize that naked pictures of yourself when you are under the age of eighteen is child pornography. Period!
Both the sender and the recipient may be liable for having these pictures on their device. It is critical that our children know this beforehand so that they do not have to deal with the consequences after the fact.
It is imperative that you impress upon your children in your day-to-day conversations that anything posted online or sent via email or text, is public and can come back to haunt them in the future.
The truth of the matter is that too many kids have killed themselves over what others have posted about them in a public forum or sent to them privately via social media. Social media has become another venue that a bully uses to harass your child. Teach them while they are young to think about the persona they are portraying online in ALL they do.
Teach them to be alert for others that are being bullied and to be the young man or woman that stands up for those being harmed. Teach them to use social media as a convenient tool to communicate and to connect with friends.
It can even serve as an extension of a face to face community where friends can share funny things. Keep it light. Help them learn to be careful about what they share — both in personal matters and about hot topics. A lot of false information is available online, and if they are going to be part of that world, they need to be wise to its ways.
Most adults and increasing numbers of teens and children have smartphones. I wonder if parents realize the power of the device they are entrusting to their kids.The computer behind the smartphone is more powerful than ALL the computers used in 1969 to get us to the moon. Isn’t that mind boggling?
So, what are we entrusting them with besides a $500–$1000 device? We are giving our children access to everything — to the world.
I call them “porn portals.”
On a smartphone, you can open Safari, click on Google, type in “porn” or “boobs” or “sex,” click again, and you will find text-based results. At the top of the screen are two additional choices that, if chosen, will alter your child’s life forever. The choices: “images” and “videos.”
Do you truly realize the implications of what our children are carrying in their pockets?
I will be the first to say that this is NOT about keeping them from everything — and I say this as a homeschool dad! This is ALL about teaching them, training them, and permitting them to steward some choices for themselves. The earlier they are taught to do this, the greater the chance they will have a strong ETHOS as they enter adulthood.
I have seen too many families that shelter their children and are then surprised when their child is getting around filters, seeking out videos and images they shouldn’t see, and deliberately disobeying family rules. Many have not been allowed to steward small things and now that they are older and MUST be prepared to steward greater things, they are ill-prepared. The key to preparing them rests again with hundreds of micro-conversationsover the course of time.
Smartphones are not bad — they allow us to track our kids and keep in touch with them throughout the day. They allow our kids to stay connected with friends and call us if they are in need or danger. They can give a child a sense of security. They are great for taking pictures and sharing memories with friends. They are not evil — they are a tool. Alcohol is not evil either, but if they are not stewarded well, both smartphones and alcohol are dangerous.
Who is talking to your kids about smartphones the most — you, or their friends and advertisers? Let it be you!
T.V. And Movies
Stewardshipis also critical when it comes to T.V. and movies because of the overwhelming choices that kids have access to. A lack of access leads many kids to seek out media elsewhere in ways that are more harmful. As you can tell, parents have a difficult task of maintaining the tension between free rein and lockdown. To do so, you must set a good example.
First, are you managing this for yourself in a way that you can confidently say, “Watch me?”
Secondly, what sort of micro-conversationsare you having about what they have already viewed?
I took my kids to see a movie recently that had a few scenes that were subtly sexual. I talked separately with each of my kids about those scenes. I was surprised by what they noticed.
My twelve-year-old son noticed the sexual and was uncomfortable.
My ten-year-old son just laughed and focused on the guy that was hit in the crotch — he is such a goofball!
My eight-year-old daughter thought the girl’s dress was beautiful.
What did your kids think about that scene in the latest movie or TV show you watched as a family?
I don’t know, I wasn’t there. They were thinking something though! Ask them. Let them tell you. Create a safe space to have those micro-conversations. Use specific scenes to highlight conversations about how someone was treated, about modesty, strength, power, friendship, and sacrifice. Use scenes to create dialogues about who they hope to be when they grow up, or what they would do if they were in that situation.
The more intentional you are about having these micro-conversationsas you are viewing various shows / movies, the more your child’s ETHOS will be crafted intentionally to look like yours. Be assertive. Be ahead of the game. Start when they are young. Any cartoon or commercial can be used as a teaching moment and an opportunity for another micro-conversation.
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