Saturday, April 12, 2014

Take Your Privacy Back

I was just reading an article in the Huff Post (shocker, eh?), detailing that 70% of parents struggle with being unable to keep off their phones at dinner.
For everyone's sanity, we have to address this issue of being constantly in contact.  And it starts with me...and you.
Excluding emergencies, phones should be off at dinner time. Remember when we used to NOT answer the phone because it was "dinner?" Or, you'd tell your friends, "don't call during dinner!" It was accepted that you could not be reached at dinner time or other times.  These days, we're much too available. 

"I texted you three times and left a voicemail, WHERE were you?" 
"Um, in the bathroom." 
People are annoyed if they can't get you right away. We need to change that, but we can only change that as we each make changes. 
First of all, calmly and firmly tell people, "I was unavailable." No excuses.  You are simply not able to be reached, end of discussion. 
Next, when you are crying inside to check your messages, give yourself a time. I'll check messages in 40 minutes. Space out the times you check to pull yourself back from the immediate contact. Make social media and messaging something you do in chunks, not throughout the day.

Put your phone in your purse or pocket (esp. whilst driving!), and don't be online or messaging all the time.  Go outside and enjoy the fresh air.  Talk to a human being face to face.  Pick up a book (readers are okay).  Pray or meditate.  Take up a hobby (but don't constantly post your achievements or step by step  accomplishments).  Learn something new.  Help a friend.  Help a stranger.

There is much more to you and your life than a little screen in your hands.  Make some real memories now with people around you.     

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Children Are Not Blank Slates

Children are not blank slates.  God forms complete human beings.  They are who they are and our job as parents is to raise them in the confines of their personalities, temperaments, and abilities.

I learned this first hand when we homeschooled our brood.  For three years, I set out to restructure my wildlings into the stereotypical homeschooling drones I dreamed they would become.  I fantasized about the hours we'd lounge in the living room studying literature and philosophy in a classical classroom setting, creating intricate scientific experiments using common household chemicals, and, perhaps, building an air-breathing combustion engine in the garage.  All the while, they'd dive into learning with ravenous glee, demanding to know more about the solar system and Ancient Egypt.

Yeah.  I was on the fast track to Fantasyland.

My children are leaders, not ducklings.  They are warriors, not philosophers.  They are captains, not mates.  The ADD one still has ADD regardless of how many years we homeschooled.  The Dyslexic one surprised me with intelligence that masked the disorder so well we've only recently confirmed a diagnosis.  In short: they are who they are and no environment on the planet can change their inner being.

Nor (in retrospect) would I want such change.
Once, when we were on vacation in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, we stood atop a vista, gazing at misty blue mountains.  I glanced over to a family standing next to us, noticing the kids were calmly licking ice cream cones and blithely staring off into the distance.  I was suddenly aware my own progeny were not beside us enjoying the view, so I turned around.  Atop a table in a nearby picnic area my kids were kung fu fighting.

Some kids will want the given experience, and some kids will want to make their own.  Neither is correct, they are simply different.

Can we demand obedience, teach empathy, and guide our young away from the paths of destruction?  Of course!  We need to do that.  But, that's not what I'm talking about here.

A child is a human being; a child of God who was known to the Creator in the mother's womb, not a un-programmed computer awaiting code.  Unfortunately, we, as parents, don't get to decide what type of child we get.  Fortunately, we get to decide how we raise our child based on preconditioned settings, the ones God has bestowed.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. 
~Psalm 139:13-16