This week we began a conversation regarding several questions that were asked about parenting, church, and family life. The Q & A session was packed full of great questions and some of them we weren't able to get to because of time.
Here are a few things we left out:
What age should my child have a cellphone?
We answered this question during the session but here are some things we didn't mention. Facebook is a privilege not a right. Driving, staying up late, and having a cellphone are all privileges. NOT RIGHTS! We don’t have to let our kids have this stuff. WE don’t have let our kids engage in these things and we especially don't have to allow it to remain private. As the parent, we should be able to see every text, email, Facebook post, picture taken or received, or anything they have or receive on a device. It is important to talk frequently with our kids/teens about the immense responsibility it is to have a cellphone and to make wise choice about what they put online.
My mother doesn’t agree with the way I raise my kids, what do I do?
At the end of the day it is your child. It is important that you have a conversation with your parents/grandparents or in-laws. You should try to work to get on the same page. However, just like between a married couple it is critical that you don’t undermine each other in front of the children. This should be a partnership.
My kids play sports and participate in a lot of extra-curricular activities, when is it too much?
I know that this a question that could potentially get a lot of push back but we believe that communication among the family is important here. Mom and dad need to be the same page about what works for the family.
My person opinion is that teens should play no more than one sport/activity per season and no more than two sports a school year. There are only so many hours in a day and only so many opportunities for us as parents to spend with our kids per week. I think we need to ask ourselves do we want to have a relationship with our kids or do we want to do activities with our kids all the time? I'm not saying that it is impossible to have a relationship with your child/teen and be busy but it makes it very challenging to truly foster a great relationship if you are constantly busy.
Keep in mind parents, you get the final say. You don’t have to be so busy that you can’t keep what you consider a priority for your family a priority. Your kids don’t have to do everything. It reminds me of the song Running On Empty. You can only run on empty for so long before it can be damaging to your family. The Orange Losing Your Marbles resource is a great concept for explaining why we believe this. Check it out here if you missed the video on Sunday.
Consider these two other illustrations. Andy Stanley, Pastor and Leader said in his book the Next Generation Leader, “As a leader, gifted by God to do a few things well, it is not right for you to attempt to do everything.” When we try to do everything often times we end up doing nothing great or only a few things mediocre. What if we set a precedent that in our families we were going to do less so that we could do more? What we safe guarded our time so that as a family we could be the best at certain things rather than being involved in everything? JUST A THOUGHT.
I am currently reading the book Extreme Ownership: How Navy Seals Lead and Win. The two Navy Seal authors share a concept in the book that I think is a perfect illustration for why we need to consider minimizing our busy schedules as much as possible. They explain that when mission plans are too complicated, have too many steps, or too many variables nothing gets accomplished. Chaos erupts and lives are put in danger. My point here is that I think this same thing can happen in families too. We pack our schedules, we get overwhelmed, over stressed, kids are busy, we are busy, and we leave no time for the family to come together and be a family. It makes it hard for the troop leaders (Parents) to know what our soldiers (children/teens) are doing out on the battlefield (life). Do they really understand the mission, do they understand the dangers, do they understand the plans? How would we know if we never have time to sit down and talk to them? If we don't make time for the family, it may not be there later?
Again, I am just hoping to create a conversation. If you have a different strategy or a better strategy that is awesome. WE want to work together with families to create the best possible situation. Here is our challenge to consider: We highly encourage you to set aside and guard at least 3 nights a week that you will be home and have dinner together. As kids get older that may become more difficult but I would challenge you to at least shoot for 2 nights a week. See, if it doesn't grow your relationships as a family.
I hope this helpful. We will definitely try to do this again on a Sunday and I also have a part 3 to publish with some more questions we didn't get to soon.