Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner 2019

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner 2019

 

By: Marina Spears and Ariane Robinson

 

This is part 2 in a series. Find part 1 here.

I had known Peter since he was 12 years old. He attended the same school as my children and was a regular in my home. In fact at one point, he had crushes on two of my daughters. So at the end of of his senior year of high school, when he “came out” as gay, I was shocked. I was also conflicted, in part due to my religious beliefs. Although I had always taught my children to love everyone and to be non-judgemental, I had also followed my church’s teachings and taught my children that homosexualtity was not a good choice. At the same time, I loved Peter; he was a part of our family. I deeply cared for him and his well being. I was unsure of how to make all the pieces of this puzzle fit.

I have gay friends and I love and respect them. But I did not know how to handle one of my children’s friends coming out. How should I explain this to my younger children? I was also surprised at my own conflicted reaction. I knew better. What was wrong with me? He was still the same young man who ate dinner at our house, the same young man who played board games and joined in other family activities. Why was I conflicted?

LGBTQ individuals are a part of our communities and the communities that our children interact in, both online and off. We all know someone who is part of the LGBTQ community and so do our children. As a result, we need to examine our own feelings and possible prejudices and be ready to deal with them. It is important that we make sure we are the ones to directly teach our children, often through a combination of discussion and example.

It took me a few days to evaluate myself and my feelings. I realized that Peter’s “coming out” scared me. It was unexpected, and I was afraid of how it might affect my children. But I soon came to understand that my reaction would have the greatest effect on my kids and would greatly affect how they would treat others in the future. Once I was able to step back and admit Peter was still the same kid I loved, I knew I had a great opportunity to show my children how we can treat all people with respect and love.

I felt the best thing to do was talk to Peter directly. I will be honest: I was afraid. I was not sure what I was going to say, but I kept my focus on the fact that I cared for this young man and his well being. He was a friend of our family and he would always be our friend. I let him know some of the conflict I was going through—he was aware of our family’s beliefs. He also knew that in our home “loving others” was the most important spiritual principle we lived, and that was not going to change with his coming out. Things did not change. He still came to our house and played board games and cooked dinners with my kids. Our home is always open to him.

When Peter was in his first year of college, he called me and related the following story. He explained that some of his friends were arguing that religious people had the worst attitude toward people who were different, especially homosexuals. Peter said, “I told them, I have a second mother, and she is a very active Christian and she loves me exactly as I am.”

When we hung up, I reflected on my experience when Peter came out. I was so grateful that I had not made a rash decision based on fear. Instead I chose to act out of love and the value I had for our relationship, and for Peter as an individual. I was grateful that Peter knew his being gay did not change my love for him, or my respect for him as a person.

Consider This:

Our children are growing up in a time of social change regarding identity and sexuality. LGBTQ issues are at the forefront of school, social media, and online platforms. As parents we need to be prepared to talk with them about their thoughts and feelings regarding these issues. Our children and their friends may experiment with things that we do not approve of, and they could possibly choose a path that we would not choose for them. As parents we need to be ready to handle situations that might challenge us and our beliefs. Are we ready?

What can we do to be ready?

Be informed, know what is going on in the world culturally and socially, because that is the world your children are living in. Take advantage of everyday opportunities to talk with your kids, honestly and openly, about their world. Daily activities like driving to and from school or meal times are great times to have conversations with your children. Whatever time you choose to talk with you kids, do your best to understand where they are coming from.

Consider the things that scare you, and educate yourself. There are so many great scholarly, well-researched resources out there to help parents educate themselves on LGBTQ issues. We cannot expect to teach or help our kids if we do not understand the issues ourselves. Educate yourself so you can educate your children.

Here is a great list of resources:

-Talk with another parent or friend, and try role-playing what you might say to your child. Your spouse or friend may be able to point out flaws in your thinking or points you may not have considered. This may help you to not feel as stressed, and give you more clarity in terms of the conversations you want to have with your child.

Think about and even write down what is most valuable to you: Is it relationships? A specific set of standards? What is the greatest priority to you and your family?

You might also want to do this exercise with your child and then discuss the answers together.  A written exercise like this can give clarity and help you articulate your thoughts in a different way. Don’t be upset if your child’s answers are different than yours.

As parents, it’s important to know that the experts agree that no matter your child’s sexual orientation the best thing you can do is to let that child know they are loved. Expressing our love and concern for our children should be an important part of the conversations we have with them about sexuality. Research has shown that LGBTQ youth who feel rejected or unloved by their parents because of their sexual orientation are “more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide”(Ryan, 2009). This is a scary statistic, but as parents we can help combat this kind of hopelessness as we become more open and understanding about the issues that LGBTQ youth are facing.

Below is a list of behaviors for parents that promote well-being rather than rejection if you find out your child identifies as LGBTQ (Ryan, 2009):

  • Express affection when your child comes out to you with their identity.
  • Talk with your child about their LGBTQ identity in a respectful way.
  • Advocate for your child if they are bullied or mistreated because of their LGBT identity.
  • Insist that all family members treat your LGBTQ child with respect.
  • Allow your child’s LGBTQ friends into your home.
  • Connect your child with LGBTQ support organizations.
  • Be optimistic with your child that they can have a successful future.

 

If you are unsure how to start the conversation about sex with your child. Take a look at 30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 3-7, 8-11 and 12+. It has great information about healthy sexuality, curiosity, sexual identification, anatomy, and more!

Find all of our books here.

Marina Spears received her Bachelor of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from BYU Idaho. She runs the student guidance program at the Summit School of the Poconos, and facilitates a support group for families of addicts. She is also a contributing writer and editor at Educate and Empower Kids. She is the mother of five children and loves to spend time with her family.

Ariane Robinson is the mother of five children. She is a Marriage and Family Studies Major and a certified facilitator with PREPARE/ENRICH. A program designed to help couples develop skills to improve their relationships. She enjoys working with families and helping to strengthen their relationships.

Citation

Ryan, C. (2009). Supportive Families, Healthy Children Helping Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children. Retrieved from http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/sites/default/files/FAP_English Booklet_pst.pdf

 

Starting Conversations with Your Kids about LGBTQ Identities

Starting Conversations with Your Kids about LGBTQ Identities

 

By: Ariane Robinson and Marina Spears

 

This is part 1 in a series. Find part 2 here.

Last week, I was driving around town running errands with my nine year old daughter.  As usual she was happily singing along to the radio. As we turned down a street that was not on our typical route, she stopped singing and looked out the window and pointed across the street and said, “Hey Mom!  Look at that pretty rainbow flag.” As I looked across the street, I noticed that what she was referring to was an LGBTQ flag.

My first thought was just to say, “Yeah, that is a pretty flag.” However, lucky for me I was having a good parenting day, and decide to seize the moment and have a discussion with her.  I asked her if she knew what the flag was for. She did not, and so for the rest of the drive home I was able to discuss with her what the flag represented, and that the achronym LGBTQ stood for; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. This led us to a short, but important discussion on the importance of showing love and empathy to those around us.

Having discussions like I had with my daughter about LGBTQ issues are important. Many of the questions asked by children and the issues discussed may lead to tough conversations for some parents, but they are important in helping our children navigate the world we live in. Having honest, open conversations with our children can also help to dispel any hateful or discriminatory statements that they may have heard or seen online that could be considered hurtful and inappropriate. When kids are curious about something, “googling it” to get the answer is second nature, and what they find can often be incorrect.

When discussions just happen, like the example above, it is an opportunity not to be missed! However, it is imperative to have these conversations, even if they don’t “just happen”. It is up to us, to make them happen.This ensures that the information our children receive is accurate and comes from a place of understanding, and kindness towards all people. The 2013 National School Climate Survey Report (Kosciw,et al, 2014)  reported the following statistics:

  • 74.1% of LGBTQ students were verbally bullied
  • 36.2% of LGBTQ students were physically bullied
  • 49% of LGBTQ students experienced cyberbullying

The statistics of bullying are not going down and LGBTQ youth are often targets. Hate is learned and perpetuated, and the best way to stop that cycle is to teach that mistreatment of others is wrong, and there is never a justification for it. Bullying does not happen in a vacuum, it affects the victim, their family, friends and the communities they live, both online and off.  Taking time to talk with our children and to listen to what they already know is of utmost importance.

If you are unsure of how you can begin having a conversation with your child on this topic. Here are several response questions that can be used to spark conversation and help you connect more with your children on LGBTQ issues.

  • Do you know what LGBTQ stand for?
  • Do you know anyone who’s identifies as LGBTQ?
  • Do you understand that people can fall in love with people of the same gender?
  • Does anyone treat them differently?
  • Are you aware of derogatory terms for LGBTQ individuals?
  • What do you think about that?
  • How do you think those terms and/or bullying affects the individual, family members, or friends?

As you begin having conversations on LGBTQ terms with your child remember:

It will take more than one conversation-As parents sometimes we think we need to have big long talks with our kids to be effective.  However, it is often better especially for younger children to have multiple smaller conversations over a period of time. This approach gives your child some time to think about and process what you’ve discussed,

Listen carefully-Don’t forget that you don’t want your discussion with your child to turn into a lecture.  It should be a two way conversation where you ask questions, and then listen to their responses and replies. When you listen closely to what your child is saying it shows them that you value them and their thoughts.  If they feel valued and heard it is likely that they will come to you again with other concerns.

Keep it at their level-Do your best to answer you child’s questions on a level that they can understand. Using simple words and explanations work best. Keep the facts appropriate for their age, and what you think is most important for them to understand now.

Emphasize the importance of respect-Make sure your child knows that anti-LGBTQ and gender-related put-downs are never ok. Remind them if they hear a term and they are not sure what it means to come and ask you about it.  Teach them that we can learn from people of all races, families, ethnicities, faiths and gender identities.(Human Rights Campaign, n.d.)

Remember that action reinforces conversations.  Our children watch us and hear us. It is crucial that our words of love, and understanding for all people be matched with our actual words and behaviors! Some points to consider:

  • How do we act around LGBTQ indivduals?
  • Do we make inappropriate jokes about this issue?
  • What stereotyped gender roles are we passing down, in statements such as “he throws a ball like a girl”?
  • Do we use derogatory terms such as “fag” or “dyke” ?
  • Do we avoid families with an openly gay or bisexual child? (Keep in mind every LGBTQ child has a family, and unfortunately the family may undergo prejudices and exclusion from their communities, friends and even family. Reach out, be a friend, you will teach your children a lifelong lesson.)

Even if you are unsure of where you stand on LGBTQ issues because of personal or religious beliefs, it is important to teach through behavior and conversation that treating others with respect is critical to our communities. This will lead to more tolerance and safety for all people no matter their identity.

For amazing discussions about healthy sexuality, curiosity, sexual identification, anatomy, and more, check out our most popular resource, 30 Days of Sex Talks, available on Amazon.

Great lessons, quick and simple discussions.

Ready to improve your communication with your child on this topic and many others? Check out our book 30 Days to a Stronger Child for activities and wonderful discussion questions that will help improve your family’s communication and connection.

Available in Kindle or Paperback!

 

Marina Spears received her Bachelor of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from BYU Idaho.  She runs the student guidance program at the Summit School of the Poconos, and facilitates a support group for families of addicts. She is also a contributing writer and editor at Educate and Empower Kids.  She is the mother of five children and loves to spend time with her family.

 

Ariane Robinson is the mother of five children.  She is a Marriage and Family Studies Major and a certified facilitator with PREPARE/ENRICH. A program designed to help couples develop skills to improve their relationships. She enjoys working with families and helping to strengthen their relationships.

 

Citations:

 Human Rights Campaign. (n.d.). Responding to Concerns on LGBTQ Topics | Welcoming Schools. Retrieved from http://www.welcomingschools.org/research/responding-to-concerns/

Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Palmer, N. A., & Boesen, M. J. (2014). The 2013 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.

Parent Alert: The Bird Box Challenge

Parent Alert: The Bird Box Challenge

 

By Trishia VanOrden

Netflix has recently released a new post-apocalyptic movie called Bird Box, in which people wear blindfolds in order to survive. The main characters of the movie are seen driving, boating, gardening, running through the forest, and even shooting a gun blindfolded. With its release, a new internet challenge was born; The Bird Box Challenge. The essential idea of The Bird Box Challenge is to see how someone would fair attempting to perform different tasks, including those from the movie, while blindfolded.

While this challenge has attracted the attention of many people, the main takers seem to be teenagers and young adults. Due to the high response, Netflix has issued a warning that attempting to do the Bird Box Challenge can lead to injury, as there is a huge possibility that attempting to drive, walk through forest areas, boat, cook, or shoot blindfolded could lead bodily harm or death. They further asked people to refrain from further attempts of the challenge

What can parents do?

Parents have an important and hard job. It can be hard sometimes to protect our children, especially when they are not home. While it may be hard, it is not impossible.

  • Communicate often with your children. Ask them if they have heard of the challenge and what they think of it. Many time teenagers don’t fully understand the dangers of what they are attempting to do as their brains are not fully developed yet. It might be necessary to explain what could go wrong.
  • Help your children realize that scenes in movies are set up with lots of props and protections to help actors stay safe. Often times what we see on the screen is not really what happened during filming.
  • Discuss peer-pressure with your child. Help them understand that while it is hard to say “No” to friends, sometimes it is necessary.
  • Be understanding. Allow your child to talk and express their thoughts and ideas.
  • Help them find better, healthier alternatives than risk-taking to “fit-in’ and have fun.  
  • Remember to keep your relationship strong. Let your kids know what they mean to you.

For more ideas on how to help your kids on understanding media and peer-pressure check out our books Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure, Message about Me: Sydney’s Story, and Message About Me; Wade’s Story. These books are great discussion starters on how the media is produced and how the media and friends can affect the way we think and act.

Engaging stories, great discussions!

For more ideas, activities, and discussion questions to help you create a better relationship with your child, try our book 30 Days to a Stronger Child. This book is filled with great activities and information that families and individuals can use to grow stronger bonds and withstand the pressures of the world around us.

Available in Kindle or Paperback!

 

Trishia Van Orden has a Bachelors Degree in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She has a love for psychology and hopes to one day open a Family Life Education Center where she lives. She is currently writing for Educate Empower Kids and working as a volunteer in a girl’s youth group program. She is also a wife and mother of three beautiful girls.

3 Strategies for Building Resilient Kids in the Digital Age

3 Strategies for Building Resilient Kids in the Digital Age

 

By Mattie Barron

I work in the Kids Club at a local gym and see a starkly different, tech-driven generation of children emerging compared to just a few years ago. Two-year-olds know how to unlock, use, and play apps on their parents’ phones. Four-year-olds sit glued to the television or stare hypnotized over the shoulder of a friend playing on a device. Seven-year-olds have their own phones. Ten-year-olds have tablets AND phones! WHAT?! I don’t even have my own tablet and I didn’t have a smartphone until I went to high school.

This new “playground” is significant. The convergence of tech and play, tech and learning, and tech and social interaction is ridiculously different from when we grew up. When I was their age, I occasionally played computer games, but for the most part, my friends and I played outside, used our imagination, and communicated face-to-face.

How are our kids supposed to learn, practice new skills, and creatively flourish when low-brow tech and mindless entertainment are so readily accessible and so hard to resist? Growing up in this digital age may have many conveniences, but it isn’t easy. Kids are experiencing low levels of self-worth, serious body image issues, and struggle with basic coping skills and the ability to create and maintain healthy, deep relationships.

In a study done by Jean Petrucelli (2016), the relationship between dissociation and body image was researched. In his study, he quoted one of his patients, Isabella, who said, “I am an organism fueled by shame. At my core I feel defective and my organism is hypervigilant to all the evidence that confirms this … I don’t know how to describe the emotion that I feel when I look and feel myself–the ultimate shame. There are no words that come … only the visions and the painful feelings that I have to translate into words” (Petrucelli 2016).

How devastating.

I know I don’t want my children to feels this way about themselves. What can we do? As parents, it’s important to instill resilience in your kids to combat the struggles associated with this new age.

Here are 3 strategies to help raise resilient children:

  1.     Emotionally Connect with Your Child–Daily!

Connection cultivates security. If your child doesn’t feel connected to you, they will struggle to learn from you. Here are some easy ways to connect with your child:

– Hug and say “I love you” every day.

– Play together.

– When kids come home from school– acknowledge them right away, asking how their day went.

– Don’t just listen, but empathize.

– Serve together.

Making the effort to do things like this with your child will strengthen your relationship and help the process of instilling resilience. When your relationship is strong with your child, they will gain inner strength themselves because they recognize they are valued and loved.

  1. Teach Life Skills

Teaching life skills will give your child the confidence to perform. Instead of allowing them to relying on social media and video game achievements to give them confidence, teach and give them opportunities based in reality.  Such life skills could include sewing a button, doing laundry, gardening, caring for an animal, etc. This will help them put forth the effort to achieve outside the virtual world. Here’s an example:

Activity: Make a Meal

– Ask your child what their favorite meal is.

– Plan a day they’d like to learn how to make it.

– Make a list of needed ingredients and go to the store together.

– Go through the steps and have them participate in the process as much as possible. Intervene when needed, but don’t take control.

– Consider writing down the steps with accompanying pictures.

– Once finished, give them a genuine compliment about their efforts.

This activity won’t only be fun for you and your child, but it will teach them necessary cooking skills. Now whenever they are craving their favorite meal, they can make it confidently!

  1. Teach Stress Management

Kids are prone to stress just as much as adults are! We all need our personal outlets to help dissolve stress. Make sure your child is involved in healthy ways to minimize their stress rather than always choosing technology to get away from life’s problems.Here are some tech-free ways to minimize stress:

– Meditation and relaxation

– Keep a stress journal

– Exercise

– Indulge in a hobby

Don’t just talk about these techniques to your children, but participate with them! If you simply suggest to your child they should do these things, they are more than likely to end up on their phones. But if you motivate them and do it with them, they will be more willing to do so. Bonus – it’ll help your stress levels too!

  1. Increase Self-Worth

This is a powerful parenting technique! When children develop a sense of self-worth they “feel loved and competent and develop into happy, productive people” (Finello). Aren’t these some of the greatest desires we have for our children? It’s important to recognize the major responsibility we have in developing such traits. Here are some ways to help increase self-worth in our kids:

Appropriately praise your child. Look beyond appearance and performance and be genuine! For ideas, check out “20 Ways to Compliment a Child That Have Nothing to do With Appearance.”  

Model positive self-talk. As parents it can be easy to voice “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not a good cook,” “I’m ugly,” etc. It’s important to understand that your children are watching and listening to you and tend to model your behaviors because how much admiration they have for you. Consider training yourself to say things like “I’m a good parent,” “I love my hair today,” “I’m really good at making your favorite meal.”

Support, support, and support your child! If they share their goals and passions with you, help them reach them rather than discourage them. If you desire your kid to go to college, but they’d rather make a career out of their self-taught photography, then support them. Make way for opportunities where they will flourish and love their life, rather than having them feel like they are disappointing you.

For more ideas on how to help your child develop resiliency, check out our book 30 Days to a Stronger Child. This book provides substantial activities and discussions to implement into your daily life and will help build a stronger relationship between the two of you as well.

Simple discussions–Huge results!

 

And check out our new 2nd edition of this amazing tool that makes tough discussions easy!

Mattie Barron is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Marriage and Family Studies. She is from Tri-cities, WA and has a passion to help create and ignite strong families. She hopes to work in the school system and aid in the support of children and families.

 

There are affiliate links in the blog post. When you use them to make purchases, we thank you for supporting Educate and Empower Kids!

Citations:

Finello, K. Simple Ways to Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem. https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/social/boost-your-childs-self-esteem/

Petrucelli J. Body-states, body image and dissociation: When not-me is ‘not body’. Clinical Social Work Journal. 2016;44(1):18-26. https://byui.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ofs&AN=113083395&site=eds-live. Accessed May 23, 2018. doi: 10.1007/s10615-015-0539-0.

Deeply Connecting with Our Kids: Moving Beyond “How Was Your Day?”

Deeply Connecting with Our Kids: Moving Beyond “How Was Your Day?”

Easy Dinner Conversation-Starters for Families

 

By Hannah Herring and Melody Bergman

How many times have you asked your child “How was your day?”–only to receive a one-word response? This can be frustrating to us as parents, but our kids are worth learning new skills to engage them!

One of the best things that parents can do is to set an example of communicating openly–being willing to talk about anything and being willing to truly listen to our kids.

Our emotions and our experiences show in our faces and especially in our interactions with our family members. I have learned so much just listening to my children talk to each other at the dinner table. For instance, one of my sons started telling his brother about how a “griefer” attacked his friend’s Minecraft. He seemed really upset and was so frustrated about it. After listening for a while, I started asking questions. I learned that “griefing” involves unprovoked, random attacks where players–often strangers–destroy others’ creations in the gaming realm. My boys were more than happy to involve me in the conversation because I showed interested in what is happening in their lives, rather than belittling strong emotions over a video game.

Kids are curious! They want to know what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it. It’s okay to start conversations with a question about their day. But if they don’t give a long answer, don’t get discouraged! Continue the conversation by telling them something about your day.

For example, sometimes when my children get home from school I have information pulled up on my computer related to my work. Lately I’ve noticed that my oldest son likes to sneak a peek over my shoulder to see what I’m doing. Instead of brushing him off, I will often stop what I’m doing, make eye contact, and engage him in conversation about it. He might say, “Mom, what are you working on?” and I’ll tell him about the article or briefly explain the research I’ve been looking through. And, just like I enjoy listening to him talk about his school day, friends, video games, or the books he’s been reading, he seems to enjoy listening to me talk about my work. It’s fun connecting this way–for both of us!

Dinner has always been a fun time for my family. We’ve been known to sit and talk for hours or debate our way through the meal. I’ve laughed so hard that I’ve fallen off of my chair and collapsed under the table (courtesy of some siblings). Most of our long-lasting and most loved, memorable conversations started because someone shared an experience or a funny moment from the day and it started a domino effect. (To read about more benefits of open communication and other ways to show your children that you care, read Four Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child This Year).

Nowadays, because of how familiar kids are with technology, that domino effect can be started by sharing experiences or funny moments related to our technology use. So many opportunities for good questions and conversations have opened up to us. We can ask questions that invite our children to consider the good of technology as well as the bad things about technology. We can help them think about where they are and where our family (and personal) standards are in relation to our technology. And we can start those conversations from our own personal experience.

Here are some ideas for tech-related conversation-starters:

  • “I saw the funniest meme today. (Share the meme). What is the funniest meme you have seen this week? Who showed it to you/where did you find it?”
  • “Yesterday I was looking at the news and I saw a video of (fill in the blank). It was really inspiring. What is the most inspiring or inspirational thing you saw on social media today? This week?”
  • “An old friend added me on Facebook today. I haven’t talked to them in years! It was so good to catch up. Did anyone add you on your social media accounts? How did you meet them?”
  • “I follow (name a person or group) on Instagram and they posted the greatest picture today. I’ll have to show it to you after dinner. Who is your favorite person/group to follow on social media?”
  • “I was talking to Mrs. So-and-so across the street after school today and she said that her family just implemented some new rules about their video games. (Share one or two of the rules that stuck out to you.) I really liked that. What do you guys think about it?”
  • “What are some rules that your friends’ families have about social media and technology? What do you think of those rules?”

You can also make it a little more fun! Try some of these:

  • If you had to pick one gaming character to be, who would you be and why?
  • What is the best thing about your smartphone? The worst?
  • What meme do you think best describes you?
  • If you could only play one video/computer game for the rest of your life, which one would you pick? Why?
  • If you had to lose every piece of technology except for one thing, what would that one thing be?

For more amazing conversation-starters that help build connection in your family, check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child.

It’s not always easy, but opening up communication over the dinner table–whether your kids are 2, 12, or 18–will be a huge benefit to your parent-child relationship. As we build meaningful connections with our kids, we begin to understand how best to help them, serve them, and show love for them. As we come to know our kids, we can come to love them more. So talk!

For more information about questions and types of questions you can ask your kids, check out Parents: Use The Power of Response Questions.

 

Hannah is from Utah and is a student at BYU, majoring in Family Studies. She is preparing to apply to graduate programs in Marriage and Family Therapy. She hopes to go into counseling with an emphasis in addiction recovery and mental health. From a large family, she loves children and their protection and education is top priority.

Melody Harrison Bergman is a mother and step-mom of three awesome boys, founder of Media Savvy Mamas, and a member of the Safeguard Alliance for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications and has been writing and editing since 2002. Her mission is to motivate leaders and community members to educate and protect children and families.

 

Citations:

Fritz, J. @. (2017, April 25). Family Dinner Conversation Starters. Retrieved May 19, 2018, from https://www.createcraftlove.com/family-dinner-conversation-starters/

Hyatt, M. (2015, September 14). How to Have Better Dinner Conversations. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-have-better-dinner-conversations/

 

Beyond Electronics: Gifts that Teach, Inspire, and Stretch Your Kids

Beyond Electronics: Gifts that Teach, Inspire, and Stretch Your Kids

 

By Courtney Cagle

In our tech saturated world, electronics seem to be the only gift to give, which greatly limits our ability to give individualized gifts that go beyond screens and buttons. This holiday season, let’s lead our kids toward empowering and educational gifts that foster creativity, intellectual growth, and overall health!

We’ve compiled several gift ideas you can give or make for your children this holiday season that can be empowering for the whole family. These gifts will help your children gain confidence and mental dexterity, improve hand and eye coordination, stretch themselves creatively, and inspire them to be better people, as well as provide opportunities for family time.

Put together an outdoor basket. Outdoor baskets are a great way to keep kids outside and active, and they will provide fun for the whole family. Here are some suggestions: water slides, climbing center kits, supplies to build forts, a ziplining kit, a swing, a trampoline, and there is much more; check out this website for supplies. Some other suggestions are: a gardening kit with seeds, trowel, and watering can; mud pie kit with plastic dishes and pans; a kite flying basket. Make it your own, and have fun with it!

Go on an outing to a museum, play, or musical. This is a great way to spend time as a family. It teaches kids about many different fields including art, music, history, science, and more! It all depends on what you decide to do as a family. It can help children to discover their interests and increases family connections. Make a disposable camera and scrapbook a part of the gift, and then work together as a family to make a memory book of the experience.

Create a building and construction basket. Help build your child’s hand-eye coordination in a fun way. In this basket, you can include toys like LEGO, K’Nex building sets, building blocks, and much more. Construction and building toys are fun and help kids develop their fine motor skills, while feeling accomplished by the creations they are making. These are for both boys and girls (Olden, 2018).

Put together a journal kit. Teach your kids their words matter, so much so they should be written and kept for posterity. Plus, writing in a journal each day helps to reduce stress, understand your thoughts and feelings better, know yourself better, resolve arguments, and solve problems effectively (Purcell, 2018). It’s best if we can get them started as soon as they are able to write a few words, usually first grade. Get them a journal, pen, and maybe some stickers (if they are younger). Have a time each day or week when the whole family can dedicate five or 10 minutes to writing in their journal.  

Create a yoga gift basket. This basket can include a yoga mat, athletic clothes, a yoga block, a yoga video or membership at a gym or studio, a yoga towel, and any other yoga-necessities. Do yoga with them and learn the basics with them. Teach them how to meditate and use yoga as a tool to relax the mind and the body (Orden, 2018).

Create a fun puzzle basket. Give them puzzles of all shapes and sizes. Puzzles are great for the mind and help kids to pay attention to detail. You could make a fun scavenger hunt out of the puzzles for a fun game on Christmas. They can look for the puzzle pieces, and once they put the puzzle together, it will tell them where their gift basket of puzzles is hidden. It will get them excited to do puzzles (Orden, 2018).

Create a music basket online. Give them the option to download classical music, sheet music, and any other music online that is beneficial to helping them learn or progress in the instrument they play. If they don’t have an instrument but are interested in one, you can buy them one. It can be expensive, but there are options to obtain an instrument without breaking the bank. Instruments can often be rented or even purchased second hand. Playing a musical instrument is great for kids. It requires focus, dedication, and practice and is a phenomenal way to get your kids to do something more meaningful and explore their talents.

Put together a craft basket.  This is a basket you could really go crazy putting together; the possibilities are endless. You could gear it more toward sewing, which could include needles, thread, sewing templates, and fabric. You could pack an art basket to include paper, colored pencils, paints, brushes, canvas, and an art book. Even younger children will enjoy a simplified version with crayons, glue, glitter, scissors, and paints. If there is anything crafty your children may be interested in, pack it up in a basket, and get their creativity flowing.

Create a book basket with empowering books. Give them books to educate them and inspire them to be better. We have great books that will empower your kids. For a book about media literacy, check out Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure. We have two body image books, one for boys and one for girls: Messages about me: Wade’s Story, A Boy’s Quest for Healthy Body Image and Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story, A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image. Kids love technology, so if you do decide to give in and purchase electronics, make sure to include our book Noahs New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good in their book basket. This will help your kids understand how they can use technology to do good in the world. These books will help guide your children to making positive decisions that foster happiness.

Engaging stories, great discussions!

There are so many innovative and personal gifts to give your kids this Christmas season. Take the time to give a gift that will help educate and inspire your children. Don’t feel pressured to buy them the usual tech just because, “That’s what everybody is getting this year.” Think outside the box and foster your child’s creativity!

For ideas of what to get them, check out these websites:

Young Explorers

HearthSong

Great Educational Gifts for All Ages, 2017–18 Edition

Imagine Toys

Educational Toys Planet

 

Courtney Cagle is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho graduating in Marriage and Family Studies. She loves kids and wants to help create a safe environment for all children to learn and grow.

Citations:

Orden, T. V. (2018, January 14). Finding the Perfect Gift for Your Kids this Holiday Season. Retrieved July 7, 2018, from https://educateempowerkids.org/finding-perfect-gift-holiday-season/

Purcell, M. (2018, March 22). The Health Benefits of Journaling. Retrieved July 9, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/

 

Snapchat and Teens: What You Need to Know

Snapchat and Teens: What You Need to Know

 

By Courtney Cagle

One day, my friend opened up her Snapchat and BAM! There was a picture of a penis there.. No warning, no signs, no message in the photo, just a picture of a penis. She was shocked! It was one of her friends from high school who loved to party and was probably drunk at the time, but it’s something that she will never forget. Incidents like this happen frequently while using the app and can easily happen to your teen.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Snapchat. It’s a messaging app that enables you to send snaps (photos, texts, and short videos) to your friends, which disappear in 1-10 seconds.You can post stories where the photo or video shows up for all of your friends (unless you block them from that story) and lasts for a day, but can be taken down at any time. You are able to see how many people have viewed your story and when someone takes a screenshot of a photo or video. It also has articles that can be viewed on the home feed. It’s an extremely popular app for people between the ages of 13 and 25 years old (Teensafe, 2017). Snapchat can be a quick, fun, and easy way to talk to people, which is why so many teens love to use it.

Snapchat has many features that make it exciting for teens to send photos and videos. It’s how they talk. It’s not about pictures and how good they look; it’s about having a conversation through pictures and videos. Snapchat also allows for people to maintain a streak between them and another person. This pushes more people to use Snapchat every day because in order to have a streak with another person, they must send a snap to one another every single day.

Many of our kids are most likely using Snapchat, whether we realize it or not. Maybe you see them on their phone a lot taking photos or sending messages. Do you know what they’re sending or who they’re sending it to? It’s likely that they are on social media of some form and Snapchat is among the most popular.

Should you worry? Snapchat’s messages quickly disappear within 1-10 seconds meaning that photos and texts seem to be gone forever, but this isn’t the case. People can take screenshots or use other apps to save pictures from Snapchat. It is also possible to grab another device, and take a picture of the screen. Many teens use Snapchat to trade nudes (a practice previously known as “sexting.”) This is a dangerous practice and usually what people end up screenshotting pictures of. Predators may trick kids into sending inappropriate pictures. Teach your kids to be careful about what they send and who they send it to.

Often, teens think Snapchat is an easy way to send inappropriate pictures or trade nudes without any repercussions. However, we need to teach our kids that everything on the internet stays on the internet FOREVER. There is no way to know where your photo went, so it’s better not to send any inappropriate pictures at all. Some teens may not realize this, so it’s important for you, as their parent, to have this discussion (Roberts, 2016).

With so many kids on Snapchat, it should not surprise you that the porn industry advises its own actresses and producers to use snapchat as a marketing tool. As Lauren MacEwen of Xbiz reports in her article about which social media networks are most porn-friendly, “Snapchat is definitely accepting of adult content. This can be a great platform for performers to give free content, or reward their followers with content” (Alexander, 2016)

Cyberbullying is another issue that occurs on Snapchat. Since the photos don’t last very long, most kids won’t get the evidence they need to show that they are being cyberbullied. People can say mean things or save bad photos of others to use against them later. It’s a quick and easy way for bullies to do what they do best (Everything Parents Need to Know About Snapchat, 2017).  

Here are 6 ways to help keep your kids safe on Snapchat:

1) Educate yourself about Snapchat. If your kids have asked you for it, download Snapchat onto your phone and play around with it. Get to know Snapchat and discover what your kids are spending their time doing. You could even add them to Snapchat and send them fun snaps. In order to be involved, you have to understand what you’re up against! You have to realize the draw to Snapchat and what makes kids want to keep doing it. If you download it and play around on it, you are allowing yourself to dive into their world (Smart Social Team, 2017).

2) Talk to them often about safety on Snapchat. Communicate with your kids about how their actions cause a ripple effect! Talk about healthy boundaries, the potential of technology, and how to stay safe (Alexander, 2018). This is so important in all aspects of parenting, but especially when it comes to social media. Predators go where our kids are, and our kids are on social media. Help your kids to be discerning. Teach them to keep their information private and to not trust strangers. Online safety is extremely important. Teach your kids that when they post something online, people can always access it. Things marked “private” may not actually be private (Smart Social Team, 2017).

3) Give them social media access at a later age. Children should get a social media account while living at home so that they can understand how to navigate the social media world under your guidance, but we recommend not letting them have social media under the age of 13. It depends on your individual family and the maturity of the child, but the best age would be around 15, 16, or 17. Kids make split-second decisions every day on social media that have the potential to change the rest of their lives, so it is a good idea to allow them to develop a sense of maturity before they encounter that kind of responsibility. (Alexander, 2018).

4) Set limits on their Snapchat usage. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “nothing good ever happens after midnight,” and that goes for Snapchat as well. The later it gets, the easier it is to send messages and pictures you wouldn’t have sent during the day when you are thinking clearly. I know this from experience! Have kids keep their phone downstairs after 10 pm or whatever time works best for the family. Make sure that they don’t have access to Snapchat late at night. Also, have times during the day where everyone has to be off of their phones. This will limit their Snapchat usage and will encourage them to have more face-to-face interactions with their friends.

5) Teach them how to be responsible with the messages they send. If you allow your kids on Snapchat, explain to them how to be good digital citizens. Show them how to use Snapchat in a way that is healthy and fulfilling. Encourage them to hang out with others face-to-face, instead of just Snapchatting and sending messages to others online. Teach them about the dangers of sending inappropriate pictures or mean messages to others. Teach them kindness and show them how to handle disagreements (Alexander, 2018).

6) Teach them to avoid the “Discover” section. The Discover section of Snapchat contains many articles and photos that kids can click on and view. There are also links to other websites. This is an easy way for kids to find pornography through Snapchat. Help your kids understand the dangers of this section and help them to avoid them. Teach them about the dangers of pornography.  

As we instruct our children in these ways, they will be better equipped to navigate social media safely and will learn how to think more critically about the way they communicate with others. These are essential skills in our digitally saturated world!

Here are some additional resources that can help your children stay safe on social media:

Lesson for Families: Using Technology For Good

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2018

Why Kids Are Leading Double Lives

30 Days to a Stronger Child: Topics covered include boundaries, empathy, honesty, friendship, and much more!

Engaging stories, great discussions!

Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good

 

Courtney Cagle is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho graduating in Marriage and Family Studies. She loves kids and wants to help create a safe environment for all children to learn and grow.

 

Citations:

Alexander, D. (2016, February 01). Porn Industry Trends – Where Will They Target Your Children Next? Retrieved from https://educateempowerkids.org/porn-industry-trends-for-2016/

Alexander, D. (2018, February 19). Teach Your Kids About Online Ripples: Our Actions Always Matter. Retrieved July 3, 2018, from https://educateempowerkids.org/teach-kids-online-ripples-actions-always-matter/?utm_content=buffer7972c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Alexander, D. (2018). Social Media and Teens: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Safe Online. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from https://educateempowerkids.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Social_Media_Guide_Contract_Single_Pages.pdf

Roberts, K. (2016, April 27). 6 Reason Why Kids Sext. Retrieved from https://educateempowerkids.org/6-reason-kids-sext-2/

(2018, March 07). Everything Parents Need to Know About Snapchat. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from http://content.mobicip.com/content/everything-parents-need-know-about-snapchat

Smart Social Team. (2017, August 22). Instagram & Snapchat Safety Tips from 7 Experts. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from https://smartsocial.com/instagram-snapchat-safety/

Teensafe. (2017, May 08). Everything a Parent Needs to Know About SNAPCHAT. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from https://www.teensafe.com/blog/everything-a-parent-needs-to-know-about-snapchat/

 

Teaching Our Kids Gratitude: A Simple Way to Keep a Family Journal

Teaching Our Kids Gratitude: A Simple Way to Keep a Family Journal

 

By Mattie Barron

Journaling is a great way to document your life. When I younger and playing at a friend’s house, I remember her mother gathering the whole family, including me, to discuss our days with one another. She brought out a notebook and asked each one of us the sweet, sour, and spiritual parts of our day. She wrote our responses in the notebook.

I LOVED this! I was blown away at how simple, yet substantial, this type of journaling was. It allowed us to reflect and capture just about all that occurred in our day. In that moment, I realized journaling doesn’t have to be pages of in-depth entries. It can be three simple lines that highlight our day.

That day, I began documenting the sweet, sour, and spiritual parts of my day in my own journal. In recent years, I have added service and silly moments of my day as well. I now like to call it “The 5S Journal” (sweet, sour, spiritual, service, and silly). Instead of documenting life on a phone, writing it down, makes it more valuable and easily accessible to look back on and remember moments that occurred in your life.

Expressing gratitude through a journal benefits families and children because “grateful people [have] less depression and anxiety and greater family quality of life” (Stoeckel and Weissbrod, 2015). Also, as you keep a gratitude journal, you will “report greater life satisfaction and positive affect” in your life (Stoeckel and Weissbrod, 2015).

It’s a reciprocal process. As you open your eyes to the 5 S’s, the more visible they will become. And as you and your kids express gratitude, the more grateful each of you will become. As we keep a gratitude journal in our families, our children will begin to understand the significant impact gratitude has on our lives.

How to Teach the 5 S’s of Gratitude to Our Kids:

Sweet – The sweet times are the easiest to recall. As we reflect on the sweet times, we are unconsciously already expressing our gratitude. Teach your kids how to reflect on the sweet times. With younger kids, you can ask them “What made you happy today?” For older kids, you can ask them “What was the best part of your day?” These questions will help guide the discussion of the sweet times.  

Sour – As we state and reflect on our tough times, we became even more grateful for the sweet times. Also, sour moments often will represent an overall larger trial we may be facing. Showing gratitude during the tougher times will enhance our attitude and coping during those times. Documenting the sour times and looking back on them after the trial has passed also can help teach children the perspective that trials are preparing and shaping us in a way that leads us to an undeniably better path. You can ask younger children, “What didn’t you like about your day?” and older children, “What was the worst part of your day?”

Spiritual – This is unique to your own personal belief system. You can ask your children, “How do you feel today?” or “How do you feel toward your inner self?” or “What characteristics and values of yours are you grateful for today?”

Service – Whether you did an act of service or were the recipient of service, each opportunity and/or act is a chance to practice gratitude. Acknowledging your children’s good deeds will help your children recognize service is necessary and one of life’s great opportunities.

During the holiday season, we often see individuals standing in front of grocery stores ringing a bell and asking for donations. When I was a child and went grocery shopping with my mother, she never hesitated to give a few dollars. Because of her example, I grew up donating as well. A simple, positive role model in service will motivate your children to participate in service activities themselves. Help them reflect on their feelings associated with service by asking, “How did this opportunity to give make you feel?”

Silly – I’ve recently added this due to the fact that my family makes humor a priority. We love to laugh and make each other laugh. Laughter should be just as appreciated as the other S’s. Teach your children the value of uplifting laughter. To help them recognize its significance, ask them, “How did laughing as a family make you feel? Do you feel closer together?”

This journal is an overall great way to for families to express their gratitude while also reflecting on their day. It’s a win-win.

How to Make the 5S Journal a Priority:

  1. Buy a journal for the whole family to share. If possible take your kids on this outing and have them help pick it out. If your kids are older, they may wish to have their own journal in which to record events.
  2. Print out a few family pictures and ask each child to help personalize/decorate the journal.
  3. Set a specific time every night that is designated to reflecting on each family members’ day. Consider setting an alarm to remind you.
  4. Place the journal where it is visible to all family members.
  5. Be as mindful as possible throughout your day. Knowing you’re going to be talking about specific parts of your day will help you better look for and retain the moments you desire to share.  But don’t beat yourself up on those days that fly by without being able to recall anything super significant.
  6. Have Mom or Dad write what each member says This way every member is voicing their day rather than passing the journal to just have everyone write in it.
  7. Keep it simple. Each daily entry might be only 1-3 lines per family member or maybe even five words.
  8. As years pass, take time to look back in your family journal and reflect with your family on the great and not-so-great moments that have made your family unique and special.

The 5S journal was an answer to me on how to keep track of my grateful heart. Implementing this journal into your family life can help you teach your kids to appreciate all events that occur in their lives rather than simply being grateful for only the sweeter moments. Looking for more ways to teach your kids gratitude, community, empathy, and more? Check out our book, 30 Days to a Stronger Child. Featuring great discussions and activities, you can find it here.

Available in print or Kindle.

                                  

Mattie Barron is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Marriage and Family Studies. She is from Tri-cities, WA and has a passion to help create and ignite strong families. She hopes to work in the school system and aid in the support of children and families.

 

Citations:

Stoeckel, M., Weissbrod, C., & Ahrens, A. (2015). The Adolescent Response to Parental Illness: The Influene of Dispositional Gratitude. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 24(5), 1501-1509.

Lesson: Helping Your Child Develop Empathy

Lesson: Helping Your Child Develop Empathy

 

Empathy is a critical component in developing emotional intelligence. We develop this skill as we become aware of other people’s feelings, needs, and concerns. Empathy is important because it helps us to understand how others are feeling and how our actions might impact them.

It’s important for building relationships with friends and family. Experts are concerned that too much screen time may be causing a decline in empathy because we are replacing the role of real live friends with virtual ones (Swanbrow, 2010).

Great Discussion Points:

Empathy is often confused with sympathy; however, they are not the same thing. Sympathy focuses on offering comfort even when you are not feeling the same emotion as the individual with whom you are interacting. Empathy goes beyond comfort and focuses on having a personal understanding and sharing emotions with someone.

Download the Lesson Here!

 

Looking for an engaging story that will tug at your child’s heartstrings and empower him to use technology to uplift and empower others? Check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good.

Available in paperback or Kindle!

Child ID Theft: Could Your Family Be At Risk?

Child ID Theft: Could Your Family Be At Risk?

What is child information and how is it vulnerable?

 

By Brent Scott and Dina Alexander, MS

Imagine the following situation: Your child is getting ready to go and spend some time with friends at the mall.  Before they leave you give them a hug and on their back you place a large sticker that includes your child’s name, age, nicknames, birthdate, address, social security number, banking information and other personal and private info. You may question what parent would ever do such a thing. The answer is: all of us, unless we have certain safeguards in place.

The Internet is a vast, intangible universe which our children will unavoidably explore. Unfortunately, there are predators lurking on the web waiting for children to share personal identification information (PII). PII can be any information that could be used to identify an individual. Examples include a Social Security Number, full name, driver’s license number, bank account, email address, etc. Once anonymous Internet scammers get a hold of your child’s PII, there could be a multitude of threats. Your child could face losing online accounts, having credit information stolen, or even worse, having their personal identity compromised. Children are at a serious risk for identity theft in part because of their clean financial records. A scammer can take that clean record and start fresh financially. Children are 51 times more likely to have their identity stolen than adults, according to a 2015 study by Carnegie Mellon University Cylab.   

How do children access and share information?

The growth of technology in the Digital Era has made it easy for our children to access and share information. At this point in time, it’s rare to find a teen who doesn’t have a cell phone. In fact, about 95% of American teens, ages 13 to 17, have a mobile phone and about 88% have access to a computer with online capabilities. The ease of access to the Internet allows our kids to share information whenever and wherever they would like. Some of the most popular social platforms where teens share information include Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, GroupMe, and Twitch. Children can also expose their PII through other online communities, such as gaming communities. Some children will give out information, intentionally or unintentionally, on systems such as PS4 or Xbox. These apps and communities are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to places where children can share information online.

How are children being exploited by the information they share?

As children play, watch, and stream online, they may encounter some strangers; some of these people will be on the hunt for their PII. Scammers may get them to click on a malware link, or have them give personal/account info in exchange for some reward. Kids, often believing the scammer will fulfill his promise, give up their information. Once the information is transferred, the cyber scammer can sell it on the dark web or use it to stalk, bully, or exploit the child’s identity. 

Cyberbullying

The anonymity of the cyber world allows people to bully without being identified. They can hide behind screens and keyboards, avoiding repercussions for their actions. If they do get a hold of your child’s info and are abusing them online, it should be reported right away. Read here and here for more information on Cyberbullying:

Cyberstalking

Cyber stalking is using the Internet to harass someone through repeated communication. Cyber stalkers are looking for information such as an email or location to talk to our children and possibly threaten them. 

ID Theft

When our children share their information online, knowingly or unknowingly, they are putting themselves at risk for identity theft. Using your children’s personal information, criminals can open fake accounts in their name, be charged with crimes under their name, steal financial information, and much more. Many times, this goes unnoticed by parents or guardians because many don’t think to check the status of their children’s personal information.

How to Identify and Resolve Issues Your Child May Face:

1. Monitor web use

It’s imperative to keep tabs on your child’s online activity.  It’s not nosey to be aware of what sites your child frequents, who they talk to online and what information they are putting on the web. It is not possible to always physically monitor online behavior but apps can be used to assist you in keeping track of online behavior. Along with Internet monitoring, consistently check personal financial statements to catch suspicious activity. 

2. Talk to our kids about sex earlier and more often

As soon as children begin to use tablets, phones, and iPods they are are at risk of exposure to hyper-sexualized images; it’s important to start talking to our kids about sex and the dangers of pornography at younger ages. Distributors of pornography actively seek to herd kids into their sites. Honest, open, and age appropriate conversations are a significant safety measure. Listed are some helpful  resources to help get the conversation going:

Talking to Younger Kids About Sex

Talking with Your Teen about Sex

3. Stay aware 

Stay aware of the latest apps kids are using to talk, date, and potentially bully. This can be done by a quick Google search, talking to other parents about what their children use, or simply asking your child what’s popular. The more you know, the better!

4. Enable parental controls

Many apps, online websites, and gaming platforms offer parental controls–use them! Based on your child’s activity, look into setting parental controls for their most used media sources. It can filter out a lot of nonsense, provide a history of activity, and protect them from identity theft while online.

5. Limit screen-time

The less your children are on screens, the less likely they will be targeted for identity theft or be exposed to inappropriate content. Set limits for screen time and stick to them. You should also encourage screen-free activities such as cooking together, socializing with friends or family, and joining extracurricular activities. 

6. Create a media guideline WITH your family

Creating media guidelines with the family, rather than on your own, is an inclusive, fair way to set rules. Make sure to set clear, measurable rules for which everyone is on the same page.

7. Don’t use screens as a pacifier

It can be easy for a parent to sit their child in front of a screen to save themselves from a possible headache. Don’t take the easy way out; screens should be a privilege for children, not something to get them to be quiet. 

8. Have the “difficult conversations” 

This isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Speaking to kids about the explicit content they may come across online can be awkward for parents. Check out this resource to learn more about how you can conquer this parenting challenge. 

Parents Unite

As parents, we are often overwhelmed when it comes to our kids and technology. We want to keep them safe, but we also want them to become capable, strong, intelligent adults.   The rapidly changing world of technology makes it critical for us to set specific rules for our kids, set up safety measures and parental controls on their devices, and most importantly, to talk about tough topics. As kids venture into the online world, they are bombarded by images, demands for their attention, and opportunities to compare themselves to photoshopped images of celebrities, and curated, filtered images of people who all seem to be living “perfect” lives. 

This is why we must be the first, best source of information when it comes to media, social media, gaming, and pornography–and its opposite, healthy sexuality. Some people fear that bringing these topics up will “give their kids ideas.” We want to give them ideas: healthy ones!

Give your kids the idea that you are a great source of reliable, honest information. Let them know through your words and actions that you can speak calmly, comfortably and rationally about human issues that affect all of us, namely, curiosity and sexuality. As you initiate discussions about these topics, share your personal experiences, spiritual values, and expectations kindly and thoughtfully. Your child will begin to see that you are ready to talk about “tough” topics and more importantly, listen to them. I promise you as you answer your kids’ questions openly and sincerely, they will come back to you for your wisdom and empathy.

Need Help with Tough Topics? We got you covered!

 

Dina Alexander is the founder and president of Educate and Empower Kids (educateempowerkids.org), an organization determined to strengthen families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including education about the dangers of online porn. She is the creator of Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good, Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure, Messages About Me: A Journey to Healthy Body Image, How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and the 30 Days of Sex Talks and 30 Days to a Stronger Child programs. She received her master’s degree in recreation therapy from the University of Utah and her bachelors from Brigham Young University. She is an amazing mom and loves spending time with her husband and three kids. Together, they live in Texas.

Citations:

Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2018, September 19). Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018 | Pew Research Center. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/

Power, R. Child (N/A).Identity Theft: New Evidence Indicates Identity Thieves are Targeting Children for Unused Social Security Numbers. Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.cylab.cmu.edu/_files/pdfs/reports/2011/child-identity-theft.pdf