This past Sunday, we hosted a sweet, substantive event at North Life that we are praying will yield much fruit in our families.  While much of the day was built upon Scripture and Spirit-led applications, we did have some informal Q and A time that I wanted to share.  

Here are some questions we received and responded to:

“How do we keep technology to a minimum?”

  • We have gained so much and LOST SO MUCH with the invention of the iPhone on June 29, 2007.  It used to be that we gathered around one communal fire and then at least one radio and then TV.  Now with personal digital technology, most families are divided not just at work/school but at home.
  • With that being said, the “threat of technology” is less a source problem and more of a symptom of multiple problems.
  • As one writer asserts, “Social media/technology is here. It’s not a trend. It’s not a fad. It’s part of the atmosphere we breathe in, like oxygen. Like it or not.”
  • So how do you parent teenagers in the rushing rapids of our current technology-driven cultural change?
    Here are a few tips I have garnered from other authors:

    • Anchor your lives in eternal things.
      Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
      No new technological advancement changes the nature of Jesus or of God’s Word. The gospel is and forever shall be the good news that the risen King Jesus saves and redeems.  Be about eternal things, not temporal things.
    • Be aware of the major trends.
      You don’t have to sign up for accounts on every new social network that opens up. You do have to keep an eye on the potential threats.  You don’t have to be an expert. You do need to be aware.
    • Have intentional and honest conversations.
      I know you want to make them feel trusted. But they’re still kids. They need us to ask tough questions and offer solid answers. The last thing they need is our silence. Don’t assume that you’re on the same page when it comes to standards of privacy and decency.
    • Engage with them in their world.
      Your kids probably don’t want you joining in on their group conversations with their friends.But separately from those conversations, they’d probably be delighted if you occasionally spoke their language via text or direct message, or funny gifs and memes.
    • Develop an understanding about online privacy.
      First, make sure they know that there is no such thing as online privacy. It’s an illusion. Someone is always watching. Someone always knows. That’s not a conspiratorial statement—it’s a fact.
    • Establish some standards and filters.
      In our home, our kids know their devices are our devices and are always subject to and available for inspection at a moment’s notice. It isn’t that we don’t trust their character. It’s that we know their character is still in the testing and development phase.  This would also include “no fly zones” where all technology is turned off like meal time, family game night, and quiet evening time.  (With the stage the Snode family is at, we used permission asked, time limits, usage only in our presence with access monitored by me.)
  • The key is to avoid making technology an idol of the flesh and instead seeing it as an instrument that must be yielded to the Spirit!

“How do we navigate the tension that appears to always come up between ‘family time’ and ‘church time’?

  • Don’t try to separate the two or pit them against one another; they are both God-ordained.
  • Be a contributing part of supporting a pastor and church who want to support/train/challenge your family members in a Spirit-selective manner.
  • Be willing to serve in the church as a family.
  • Be faithful to weave the church teaching/experiences into the family devotional life.
  • Have family interaction with church people outside of church service times.
  • Build your schedule around church just like you do work and school and the doctor and lots of other things.
  • Practice at least a portion of the Sabbath rest as a family away from the church on a day OTHER than Sunday.

“How do we avoid motivating our children through SHAME?”

  • I recently read, “If you parent using fear and intimidation and shame, your kids won’t turn to you when they mess up or encounter something they shouldn’t have. They might, however, open up to you when they know that there is grace available to them.  That doesn’t mean there are never consequences for disobedience or unwise choices. It just means that our love, affirmation and affection are based on grace, not on their performance.
  • How to not shame our kids into compliance:

    • Don’t “forgive” and then bring it back up to them, family, friends, or complete strangers.  (That’s not forgiveness; it is gossip!)
    • Don’t overreact emotionally to honest, minor mistakes.
    • Don’t micromanage to help them avoid future mistakes.
    • Look for opportunities to “catch your children doing right” much more than to criticize.
    • Don’t forget your own shortcomings and what it feels like to be shamed by others.
    • Realize that often the reason you shame your child is that you are ashamed of how they made you look more than how you are making Jesus look!

“How do I make time with my children when I am so busy and come home so tired?”

  • Plan ahead on vacations and leisure activities.
  • Watch your kids expend energy when you are too tired to fully participate.  (This may look like refereeing.)
  • Go for manual walks/bike rides in the evenings.  (Blood flow is key to renewal of energy.)
  • Find projects on the house that need done anyway that you can do with your family (may take longer but more meaningful).
  • Facilitate learning/growth proctored by other solid, high energy resources available to you as a parent.
  • Being willing, every now and then, to drop everything to have a fun day/time with your kids…they love extemporaneous excitement! (You do that for other priorities.)

How do I as a grandparent/mentor influence kids to whom I have limited access or receive inconsistent influence?

  • Be eagerly available to watch them even when it is a personal inconvenience.
  • Be considerate of the parents when buying gifts or providing activities.
  • Stay positive in your teaching; avoid confronting the other influences in their lives if at all possible.
  • Ask loads of Spirit-led questions and wait patiently to be asked for the answers.
  • Don’t try to fix/worry about what is outside of your control; yield those matters to the Sovereign Lord.
  • Don’t allow resentment and bitterness to fester when you are ignored or forgotten.
  • Don’t be defensive when you are misrepresented to the children.  Allow your actions/tone do the talking.
  • Claim the transcendent promise that is not fulfilled UNTIL adulthood:
    Pr 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  The jury is always out until adulthood to the plus or negative anyway!  Many times your influential relationship with them will grow during the twilight moments of adolescence.   One practical idea is to partner with them in college/career/ministry training financially.

I hope this practical Q and A time will be a help to you and spark further thought and application in your family.  Remember the insightful words, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”