Parents are the primary teachers for life, and internet connectivity introduces an enhanced power crisis for parents and children. In a tap and click world, the devices inspire an intoxication feeling, which makes it difficult to put down the device, and kids can easily perceive that parents are irrelevant because everything they think they need to know they can “google”. In a hyper-connected world, formal authority in titles like parent, teacher and president have less gravitas, so how can parents assert their inherent authority when the world is flat?
“To educate is to enlighten the mind and warm the heart to the love of God.” – St. Joseph Marello
Power and control issues in the social network
The typical power and control issues include:
- The amount of time on the device
- Access to inappropriate apps and content
- Confusion between private and secret, and trust and love
Clarify your role as the parent as the primary teacher for life and the guardian of your child’s liberty in the social network and in the flesh. What does this look like?
Govern the home with the authority that comes from your faith. When you are committed to govern the home around the faith that your child has been granted command and control over their own intellect and will – because God said so, this is the mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible starting at home. This is power that we have as parents and families that cannot be taken but can easily be surrendered to the drug, device or the bully. In this way, the enlightened and empowered parent realizes they do not have the authority to govern the child; rather they have divine authority to govern the home so the child can learn how to exercise their God-given free will wisely and be a free agent in the flesh and in the network.
Engage the intellect and will of your child
- Realize that the first experience of empowerment happens when your child chooses to obey the boundaries to preserve personal security.
- The liberty our children seek comes from a disciplined mind, which they can learn from the boundary-setting examples at home.
- Establish house rules as boundary-setting that comes from the heart of God; the rules exist to benefit the personal security of the individual and the greater good of the family. Some examples might include: a designated time to put away devices (so that there is family facetime and attention to other important matters such as homework); do not post or share personal information on-line; never download an app, especially free ones that have not first been discussed and approved.
Fulfilling our spiritual imperative
In the parent-child relationship the spiritual imperative is seeking to know the love of God that comes from within – and it is fearless. We are wired for worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) In this way our children are seeking authenticity from us.
- With the hope of our faith, we can shed fear
- Get interested in who your child is by listening and then impart your wisdom by asking them if they want to know what you know about a situation or topic
- Establish and enforce house rules as points of reference for open dialogue about what is really happening on and off line
To learn more about creating a family culture characterized by open communication and individual resilience, go to: Fresh Start.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.
- Cyber safety for kids and families on TheFish103.9FM
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Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and spiritual resilience. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.