Tag Archives: parenting

Living a Constructive Life in a Destructive World.

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Living a Constructive Life in a Destructive World.

A little over a week ago, my husband suggested we take away ALL screens – iPad, phones, computer, tv’s- from our kids. At first I wondered if he was attempting to punish ME {haha} But, I jumped on board and the kids have been screen free for NINE days. (Let me start by saying we have always encouraged their creative side and prior to the screen fast limited screen time BUT it was still too much for them) Our original goal was seven days but I had to keep going because the benefits and LIFE I was seeing happen before my eyes was mind-blowing. Not rocket science at all but just a “screen free world”, something we could ALL use more of.

 

I believe moderation is key and will be the ultimate goal but in a technology driven world we have forgotten to stop, look and LIVE. In this blog, I’m going to share some of the changes I saw in our hearts, in our minds and in our home.

 

First off, It’s not fair for me to start with the changes I noticed in my children when part of the REAL issue was ME! It’s a heart and mind issue. Mindsets have developed over the years to be “what’s in it for me” instead of “what’s in it for YOU” or “how can I serve you”. This is because our very society has gotten far away from God and Biblical standards. As a result we see many young families struggling to float and constantly sinking. We see more behavioral issues. We see children with knowledge of things in life that they have no business knowing. We see more sleep disturbances. We see a decrease in compassion. We see a decrease in “a servant’s heart”. We see a decrease in social interaction outside of the virtual world. We see a decrease in church attendance because “iPad church” has become acceptable. Am I saying God hates technology or that the Bible forbids it? No. But it has become a real distraction and a real pacifier.

 

Technology has enabled parents to have more “free time” than ever before! I have tears in my eyes as I even type this out because I too can say I have been guilty to handoff an iPad or phone to have “just one more moment of me time”…to have “just 5 more minutes in the shower”…to have “just 30 minutes of peace and quiet in the kitchen as I prepare dinner”, “just 20 minutes so I can fold and put away the laundry” or how about (because my intentions are to be real and transparent) – to have “just 30-45 more minutes on my OWN screen”  It’s a TRAP that keeps the clock ticking – minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, year after year and it MUST stop – for my household. I often realize I don’t have any fruit to be shown from the “just one more’s….” I end up feeling guilty. I end up feeling defeated. I end up feeling frustrated. These are NOT fruits of the Spirit.

 

Secondly, Technology has enabled our children to be monitored by a device that can be destructive versus a reality that is constructive. We have allowed a mindless device to become the wheels that churn our children’s thoughts. We have allowed the voice of the unknown to become their “reality”. We have allowed parental freedom to reign over parental control. Of course all YouTube Kids videos are age appropriate – right? Wrong! The day that I began to trust the voice deep inside of me versus the reviews of the world I quickly realized that many of these “harmless toy reviews” are shifting our children’s thinking on bigger topics. Things such a homosexuality, things such a violence, things such as sex, things such as religion. Many “children’s sites” have become the platform for “all” the voices to be heard. I know the ONE voice they should hear and the ONE who never fails us and the ONE in whom they can trust, so why am I ok with the world pushing off their agendas on my innocent children?

 

Thirdly, I’ve noticed that the HOME LIFE in families has become increasingly dysfunctional. Kid’s not sleeping well, kid’s not eating well, kid’s not listening, kid’s having behavioral issues, kid’s lacking in compassion, kid’s lacking in social skills, kid’s lacking in awareness. Is this all technology’s fault? No – but with no boundaries come many consequences. It’s basically an endless cycle. Your kid is acting out due to the very thing you are “pacifying” them with. Our children actually THRIVE off of boundaries. God has given us as His children boundaries and we thrive and flourish within them but take us out of the “fence” and we go crazy. I say “crazy” because I have actually seen my husband pull in from work and want to run out the door because my own kids have been just that for a day – crazy. We’ve all had those days right? And it’s because I gave them a “field” too large to roam in. One that their mind’s are not able to handle. One that stimulates them more than they can process. One that causes them to “shut down” once the device is taken away.

 

Since we have been on this screen fast my children are THINKING more clearly. They do not seem pre-occupied but they are alert, refreshed and engaging with reality more.They are being creative – painting, drawing, coloring, creating something out of nothing. I’ve found tents and hideouts being built-in corners of the rooms and I have found my son reading without me instructing him to do so. I have been “ok” with them getting bored because they are learning to “pacify” themselves with creative outlets versus staring at a screen and getting lost.

 

I have gotten full nights of sleep because my KIDS ARE SLEEPING ALL NIGHT. My husband was shocked the other night because my son climbed up onto his top bunk and said “Shhh I’m trying to go to bed” because his little brain was literally ready for rest – he had put in a FULL day of playing, learning, contributing and engaging in reality. He did not spend an hour or two on mindless idleness that leads to frequent wake up calls at night etc because I am CONVINCED that too much technology interrupts the sleep cycle. Before this “technology fast” my six-year-old son was waking up at least two times per night EVERY NIGHT – for unknown reasons. It’s like his mind was playing “catch up” from the information overload.

 

Thankfully my children don’t lack in the socialization department. They are quiet outspoken and don’t meet strangers BUT since the technology fast they have become INTENTIONAL with conversations. Meaningful conversation and asking more in-depth questions about what we are studying or just deeper questions about life in general. At times, these questions can be challenging (and annoying) if honest for parents and I think society has allowed us to clam up and just hand a device when our children become “too vocal” but LET THEM BE HEARD. If they don’t feel like you are listening now with the small things, how can we expect them to come to us later when it’s the BIG things. In the past, I have been guilty of giving my phone to my child in the buggy so they are “seen not heard” Once again, a pacifier to make my life easier. A way for me to escape mom duties for just a few more minutes. They aren’t fully grown adults and they are going to say funny things or even super embarrassing things at times but let them be teachable moments instead of silencing them with a screen.

 

During this fast, I reflected on my very own childhood. I grew up in a home FULL of intentional conversation, a LOT of outdoor playtime, plenty of crafts, chores and cooking with mom in the kitchen. My parents were ok with me being bored and would encourage me to fix that problem…on my own. What has happened from then to now? What has changed? Why do we as parents find it acceptable to create a “numb” environment for our children. Why are behavioral issues on the rise? Why is childhood anxiety/depression on a high? Why do we see parents staying up LATE “waiting” for their children to fall asleep?

 

After thinking about these things, I once again, feel it is because society has totally become *focused on self* instead of focused on others. In order for our children to thrive and develop they need REAL LIFE encounters and interactions. They need discipline and boundaries. They need to be free to express emotions and yes even have the occasional meltdown run it’s  course without silencing them with a device. I’ve found that when my kids have too much energy stored up (due it idleness) it reflects in poor behavior. Think about adults who deal with “cabin fever” during winter – just needing to get OUT. Same principle for littles – Let them run a few laps outside around the house and I bet it will quickly be resolved. Teach them life skills by allowing them in the kitchen. Have them complete chores. Of course it will be a little messy but it’s hard to learn a skill without practicing – and practice is messy! Baseball players head to the field with white pants and come home with brown and green stains all over them. Parenting is full of messy moments and it is OK.

 

Earlier, I mentioned moderation was our ultimate goal. Is technology bad? NO. We love it in our home but learned that it needed to be scaled back…a lot! For myself, my husband and my children. Technology offers many benefits and is what we will be using it for from here on out. Educational apps that correlate with our homeschool lessons, tv shows that my children can learn from but enjoy, a way for my husband and I to stay connected to beautiful friends and family all over, a way to share our faith with others but ALL within moderation. Like thirty minutes a day for the kids. I cannot expect something from my children that I myself cannot demonstrate. OUCH. That thought hit me hard. That’s when I realized it was more than a technology issue…it’s a heart issue. I can’t expect gentleness, patience, kindness, obedience ______ etc unless I too display it. It’s very hypocritical and something that “our millennial generation” doesn’t do well with but yet …. here we are.

 

In conclusion, I’m SO thankful that we went through this journey and I encourage each and every parent to do so. Maybe technology doesn’t “seem” to be the root issue in your home. I too at one point didn’t believe gluten, dairy and grains were a root issue with my health but once I totally removed them I quickly began to see a difference. I too believe you will see a difference with doing a “technology fast” with your children and then reintroducing it with new boundaries. **Warning **You will be tired sweet mama and daddy. You will answer MANY, MANY questions. You will play more with your children 🙂 and experience more JOY and LAUGHTER in your home. You will get full nights of rest or at least better rest time. You will notice behavior changes – good and bad. Anytime we detox something from our minds, bodies or spirits there is a “withdrawal” stage but it too shall pass. God has chosen YOU to be your child’s parent and He is calling us to a deeper level of commitment and relationship with them.

 

Father,

Thank You for allowing us to go through this eye-opening journey. Thank You for awakening me as a parent to see my own selfishness in this process. Thank You Father for helping me see through a new lens (Your lens) and not simply a smart phone camera. Keep me from falling into the selfish trap that the world has set up in every room. Help me be ok with the “messy moments” and help me to be focused on their development versus my freedom. Help me to put ON the mind of Christ and help me to be intentional in raising my children…YOUR children. Give me the strength to overcome the temptation of pacifying my child with a screen. Let me hear their questions and answer them with a grateful heart. Help me direct them to You to find ultimate fulfilment.

Amen!

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•Fully Focus•

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•Fully Focus•

In a world full of distractions – it’s most difficult to f o c u s.

Our families deserve our “best” affection, our workplace deserves our ~excellence~, our churches deserve our *dedicated* service.

It can become overwhelming to say the least – and I just mentioned a few areas. A sweet chorus my mom used to sing me to sleep resonates in my heart this morning :

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”

When we “fully focus” on Him – the hustle and bustle of things don’t seem nearly as demanding as they do when we are -fully focused- on “those things”. Our attitudes become like His, our words become life, our actions reflect His love. 

See, Matthew 6:33 says, 

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

All “these things” will be •given• to us once we are fully focused on Him. 

For me “these things” are characteristics of The Father in order to walk out His calling in my life. For example – raising children requires MUCH patience and grace. Eating clean requires self-control. Serving in various areas requires humility and God confidence. If I don’t start my day in Him I run out of those by 8 am. 

The point I’m hoping to pull out is this – seek HIM- trust HIM- be imitators of HIS Word- and you will radiate the characteristics of God. 

Ephesians 5:1-2

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

Father,

May I have the “God scent” you desire me to have- to You first and then to the world. Help my actions line up with my words. Help my life to be a reflection of Your love. Help me focus on You – above ALL else. Help me in the areas I lack for IN You – I lack nothing – I AM a new and whole creation in You. 

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”2 Corinthians 2:15

Much Love,

Jessica Fox

(Photo credit: http://www.influencechurchradio.com/uncategorized/women-of-influence-focus/)