How do I regulate screen time with a high functioning autistic kid?
When your kids push you away and go silent, how do you reconnect?
Is there a way to receive your kids’ texts directly on your device?
These are just a few of the countless questions I just received from parents…and for three days I’ve been answering them in this blog. Each day I’m narrowing it down to the top 10.
Here are the final 10 answers to the last 10 questions…
QUESTIONS FROM TODAY’S PARENTS, PART II
1. What suggestions do you have about young people creating their online identity? For ex: professionals are told to have LinkedIn with followers because we have to network. As adults, we have a social media presence or we are considered odd. How do we guide them in understanding their online identity?
I think here’s a perfect opportunity to teach our kids truth and see how that truth seeps into the other areas of their lives like “online identity.” In other words, the more we teach our kids who they are “in Christ” (II Cor 5:17) and their mission of “we don’t preach ourselves, we preach Christ the Lord” (II Cor 4:5), the more they’ll know how to live this out in every area of their lives, including online.
For Further Reading: The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, Chapter 8: Take more “Selflessies”, Chapter 9: Like Me
2. How do you defend “right” to check text with the argument that you are invading their privacy?
I wrote about this very subject a few year’s back because it was a huge issue with my daughter, but as you’ll notice, I didn’t post any answers in that article, I just left it open for comments (quite a discussion in that comment section).
Bottom line: I think we need to consider THE SEGUE.
THE SEGUE is a principle I spend an entire chapter on in my book If I Had a Parenting Do Over, I discuss it in Lesson 5 of our free parenting curriculum of the same title, and it’s a principal that Andy Stanley shared that he uses with his kids. It’s the principle of starting strict and then lightening up as our kids grow toward adulthood. In fact, I even recommend letting your kids have NO RULES their senior year. So my 12-year-old is going to have to get used to me looking at her texts. But my 17-year-old won’t. Conversation is a must at both ages, but it’s silly to squeeze tight boundaries on a kid who is going to be leaving the house in five months. This is where our conversations with them have much more impact that rules.
For Further Reading: If I Had a Parenting Do Over, Chapter 5: The Segue
3. How do we handle disturbing behavior by our kid’s friends? Do we stay out of it? Or do we engage the school or parents?
My two cents is that you have plenty of conversations with your own kids about who they hang out with—even stepping in and saying, “Sorry, you’re not going to Jackson’s house,” if need be. Again, more boundaries when young…less when older. But I wouldn’t contact other parents unless their kids were hurting themselves or others. I would talk with the kid directly with humility and grace.
4. Do you have advice for a single mother with little resources and no father figure? I have two teenage boys who I feel like I can’t control.
My advice to you would be the same that I’ve been giving every parent—a balance of bonding and boundaries. But in addition, I would really seek out environments that provide good male role models—churches, youth groups, sports teams, schools with positive male teachers. Those male influences can have an amazing impact in their lives. Embrace that.
Sticky Faith did some amazing research on the power of mentors (I highlight some of that in this article about teens’ need for mentors), and they really emphasize the more mentors the better. In fact, they recommend five or more. So start thinking through what that might look like in your boy’s lives: mom, grandpa, coach, youth pastor, small group leader, best friend’s dad, etc. The old adage “It takes a village” is proving more true than ever before.
5. Is there any reason to keep some discussions with your kids about apps, social media failures, etc. private from your spouse?
Nope. Parents should be on the same page.