How to Create a Family Technology Plan Part I

“Technology and parenting? I’ve got it all figured out!” —said no parent ever.

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Guest blogger Kelli O’Dell joins us again today: 

“74% of parents say they don’t have the time or energy to keep up with their children online.” —iparent.tv

No Judging Here

Judge not the parents of that statistic, for we are they. Or at least 74% of us are. But what about the 26% surveyed who presumably “keep up”? Are they parenting off-the-grid?  I.T. professionals? Whole-foods-enriched super-parents? Wait. What if they’re just normal people…with a plan?

“What’s Your Plan?”

My friend John asks that question when someone goes on too long about anything. And by “someone” I mean me and by “anything” I mean my problems. Money and kid woes, usually.

Tired of John’s question and my own complaining, I decide to go back to college.

At eight weeks long, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is my kind of college. Granted, The Dave can rile and polarize evangelicals almost worser than The Donald, but his “Baby Steps” plan is working for us. Emboldened by budget-keeping and real live cash-using, we wonder:

“Should we go whole-hog anti-American, and consider budgeting other areas of chronic over-extension…like our tech time? We decide yes. Best to swallow both late-bloomer pills in one dose while morale is high.

Gulp.

If We Can Do It, Anyone Can!

  • We will get the ball rolling by talking through some Tech Plan Starters
  • We will decide together how to fill in the blanks of this plan
  • We will come back and tell you how it’s going!

What’s helping your family use tech in a balanced way? Let’s share resources and ideas!

Walking Away: Hope for Parents of Faith-Rejecting Children

“Why do you want me to take this quiz? I’m not even a Christian.” (The quiz? “What Kind of Millennial Christian Are You?” The question: asked by my not-always-agnostic son.)

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Free-Spirited 

Our firstborn, a son. Free-spirited. For the most part, gloriously so. In the 21 years of being his parent, I’ve never once seen him self-conscious. Clothing is regarded a necessary evil, as are seat belts and shoelaces. No respecter of persons, he will just as eagerly shake your hand as President Obama’s; admirably guileless.

Imagine raising Jungle Book’s Mowgli and you’ve bulls-eyed the years of shock and awe parenting we’ve enjoyed.  Such adventures should have prepared us for his declaration—and growing conviction since—of agnosticism toward the end of his high school experience. Nope. More shock. No awe.

His doubts and discontent with our traditional values quickly catalyzed into a full-blown Rumspringa of a senior year; self-emancipated well ahead of his actual commencement, he was hardly home and when he was, things were tense.

Questions
We hadn’t prepared for this. Dating issues, poor grades, the cost of college tuition, porn and substance abuse, yes. “God is dead”? Not so much.

“How we do this? How do we beat the fear? Our worldview damns our unrepentant, seat belt-eschewing son to eternal hell. What kind of parent doesn’t feel the urgency with stakes that high?

Do we require him to go to church if he lives here? Charge him rent and ignore his Sunday habits like we would a tenant? Excommunicate him like John Piper did with his son? What about his brothers? How do we not neglect them in this crisis?

We wrestled these questions out in good community; where people talk like this. Painfully, but eventually, we moved to a place of grace; mostly toward ourselves: it wasn’t our fault.

Ex Nihilo

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These days, our son still lives at home, works hard at his job, and is saving for the security deposit on an apartment. He continues with the indiscriminate hand-shaking. The blunt-force honesty too. What’s new is the parental clarity, 100-proof and adversity-born. We’re back-to-basics:

  • FAITH: God still operates Ex Nihilo, creating everything He makes out of nothing. Our son’s salvation will be the same as ours; a seeking and saving of a sheep gone astray.
  • HOPE: We wait and pray. God’s mercies are new every morning.
  • LOVE: It never fails. We anchor our faith and hope on that. Our wild but not-yet-free son often hears this from me as he heads out the door: “I love you. Wear your seatbelt…and call on the name of the Lord if you’re in a jam; he’ll come running.”

What circumstantial or relational “nothingness” will you entrust to your Ex Nihilo God?

-KO

Ordinary Girls

The average girl faces a new enemy- a presence so hovering that it feels inescapable:

“If I live a modest and normal life, I’ll remain invisible, unnoticed and forever confined in the prison of ordinary.”

The solution- as offered by media heroines, peers and older examples- is to do whatever it takes to be both rescued and the rescuer. Enter the runaway fiction of our era: Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, 50 Shades of Grey. The following excerpt is from LifeSiteNews and is the best explanation to date as to the explosive bestsellers:

The characters of Bella [from Twilight] and Ana [50 Shades…] are both written as almost blank slates, onto which readers can project their own personalities. All we know about each girl is that she’s ordinary – like, so ordinary that if you looked up the word “ordinary” in the dictionary, you would find their pictures – only you wouldn’t; you’d find a little mirror reflecting your own face back at you, because that’s the entire point. You’re meant to insert yourself into the story, and suddenly it’s you, in all your banal lack of glory, who has proven irresistible to these powerful, godlike, beautiful, deeply damaged men, and only you can help them find their humanity again.

But the truth is, anyone who has ever felt unremarkable or invisible for any reason can put themselves in Ana’s shoes and understand her thrill at being chosen – her, of all people! – by a man with so much power he might as well be God. And anyone who has ever tried to love someone out of a dangerous lifestyle – be it addiction, violence, self-harm, risky sexual behaviors, or heck, vampirism (you never know) – can relate to Ana’s joy as her steadfast love transforms Christian from a damaged, petulant dictator into a loving husband. Ultimately, the secret to the success of Fifty Shades is that it puts the reader in the role of both the saved and the savior.

For the average girl, the disconnect happens at the level of identity where she so easily succumbs to the power of culture. 

Longing – a baby girl is born into a fallen world with two things in tension: 1) her God-instilled longing to be loved, cherished, noticed, nurturing and influential and 2) her commitment to achieve these things without Him.

Setup – Notice the influence of the Disney-Fairy-Tale genre, as it redirects her longings. She’s queued and ready for her prince to appear out of thin air.

Reality – In a culture where the sacred wonder of romance and intimacy have been taken hostage and put on pornographic steroids, the average girl becomes more invisible than ever. If she dresses herself with modesty, she moves ever in a more disparate direction.

Identity – This is the key battleground in her mind. The instant drop-down menu of sensual solutions threatens to overpower her subtle and gradual relationship building with Jesus.

The girl who develops her life and identity on the foundation of her relationship with Jesus- she will weather the storm of middle and late adolescence in a culture gone wild. The power is in her identity as I write about in iConnect: The Power of Identity in a Plugged-In World. But make no mistake, this is a slow-build, requiring deliberate parenting into the recesses of her mind. God’s truth and a daily reorientation become critical balancing acts in a digital-everywhere era that has become powerful enough to exert it’s own gravity.

Obscurity, invisibility, ordinary? Not if her imagination positions her in God’s story in multiplying complexity. Her identity becomes her power:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” – Proverbs 31:25