Dangers of the “Don’t-Use” Parenting Strategy

“Don’t-use” parenting works well on two of the three concerns that all parents share. It keeps our kids from self-destructive behavior and offers us a measure of peace.

It goes something like this:

  1. Your brother got a BB gun when he was 14
  2. He proceded to shoot out every piece of glass in your barn
  3. You’re not getting one. End of discussion

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Ahhh, but this can be short-sighted. The third concern we share is the future, when our children become “adults” with full freedom and responsibility for their discernment….or lack thereof.

My dad – a normally long-sighted parent – walked into the family room one evening and apparently my middle brother (it’s always the middle kid right?) was watching something dad disagreed with. Dad calmly walked to the TV, picked it up and walked onto the back deck, yanking the cord out of the socket as he went. Four steps and he was to the back railing where he dumped it overboard, a crash landing on the yard below. It sat there all winter.

The three of us boys are now in our 50’s. But we’ll fully admit that the problem of discernment didn’t get fixed that day. Merely a delay. In fact, a delay on steroids.

There’s the problem. You don’t just add “Discernment 201” at the local university for $500 per credit hour. That window is shut and the opportunity to learn within the loving/firm tension of good parenting is gone. The clock is expired. Game over.

Parenting within tension creates 1) an opportunity to “use” and 2) an opportunity to “abuse.” But what we’re after is 3) “discernment” (the joining of knowledge and experience). And this of course brings us to our current technological challenge.

Oh…..for the days of black ‘n white TV and the short-sighted option of dropping it off the back deck. Speaking of TV’s, maybe it’s time to review iParent.TV and choose your next “discernment experiment.”



How to Create a Family Technology Plan, Part II

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” -Mark Twain


Guest blogger Kelli O’Dell joins us again today:

If We Can Do It, Anyone Can

Does drafting a family tech plan sound like fun to you? Me neither.

If you’re like me, you don’t even have a plan for tonight’s dinner, much less an all-encompassing family technology plan.

But I promised in an earlier post that I would do it. And provide “full-disclosure”. So I will; tactical steps first, colorful responses last…

Three Starter Steps

  1. Make an appointment. Ours: “Monday night at 7pm”.
  2. Pick a plan. We discovered blogger Ryan Smith at yourbestfamily.com and read his  “Tech Plan Starters”, a list of suggested items to include on our plan, together. For other plan options, check out this site.
  3. Make it specific to your family’s unique needs. We filled in the blanks on one of Smith’s free, downloadable and editable templates.

That’s right. Did it, done. With the planning part…

Simple. Not easy.


As we all know, having a plan is not the same as doing a plan.

It took us approximately 40 minutes to hammer out our plan. Two parents, two teenage boys and 6 devices between us later:

“Touchy subject. It’s like our devices are places we store our friendships, and it feels like you’re messing with my friendships, but this was good because I think we worked through wrong assumptions on both sides.” -son, age 14

“It was just super boring. And at an inconvenient time. I want to go play soccer and now we’re almost out of daylight. I don’t care if you have my pass code. I already deleted SnapChat and if you just  start following me on Instagram you’ll see everything.” -son, age 13

Progress Not Perfection

Well, we did it. Was it pretty or fun? No. And we expect a bumpy ride and a fall now and then, but at least we have a saddle on the horse. And if you aren’t a fan of metaphor, the horse is technology and the saddle is the family technology plan.

Does your family have a technology plan? What successes or challenges have you experienced?

How to Create a Family Technology Plan Part I

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


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.


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!