Parenting is a tough job. Air traffic controller, brain surgeon? Admittedly, these are extremely stressful jobs. But nothing comes close to parenting. The responsibility we have to raise our children for the Lord is a daunting task.
Technology has changed the way we parent. It has become a force for good and evil. On one hand, we now have access to the largest library in the world. On the other, we have unprecedented access to unlimited evil. But technology alone isn’t the culprit. How we let it affect our family is our responsibility. Kristen O’Neal recently wrote, “Technology is a tool—and in order to discover the morality of any tool, we must look to the hands that hold it. It’s time we stopped blaming technology for our own bad behavior.”
The danger we face today is a result of the marriage between technology and a corrupt culture. So what can we do in response?
Guard Your Own Heart First
This is so often over-looked, but if your heart is not strong, you’re in no position to strengthen the heart of your child. Make your personal walk with God your first priority. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
A strong heart provides stability in your family. Children need to know where you stand.
In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.—Proverbs 14:26
Commit to an Offensive Strategy of Parenting
Unfortunately, when most parents think of how to best win the hearts of their children they think defensively—meaning they implement a protection strategy rather than a transformation strategy.
Often in football, when a team gains a significant lead over their opponent, the team with the lead will stop playing to win and will instead play to not lose. Occasionally, this works out in football, but it is never a wise strategy for parenting. Don’t play to not lose, play to win!
Go after the heart of your children. Teach them biblical truth that they can practically apply in their lives.
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.—Deuteronomy 6:7
Ted Tripp in his book Shepherding Your Child’s Heart said, “A change of behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable, it’s condemnable.”
Intentionally strengthen family relationships on a regular basis. Children who know they are loved and cared for will generally make better choices. Teach timeless, biblical principles. Technology changes, but principles never do.
Become an Educated and Vigilant Guardian of Your Child
You have a biblical responsibility to watch for the souls of your children. You will give an account for the spiritual oversight you provide for your family.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.—Hebrews 13:17
Technical ignorance does not excuse you from vigilant parenting. You must understand the dangers that exist. Times have changed. When I was a kid, the only danger I was warned of was sitting too close the TV!
Get connected and join your child’s online conversations. Keep your child’s online account private.
Don’t ever stop learning. Remember, it’s better to wait and be sure than to allow and be wrong.
Media and technology are constantly competing for your influence. Don’t be afraid to schedule times to power off all devices (dinnertime, bedtime). Plan outdoor activities as a family.
Give your children time. When you commit to investing into your children, you will reap influence with them.
Establish clear working boundaries with each child. Teach technology safety and responsibility. Your teenager needs to understand that their online privacy is not a right—yet. Privacy is an earned privilege after a proven track record of wise behavior.
Real life rules apply online. Facebook now has a dislike button. Children must be taught to treat people online as they would in real life. Nothing posted online is truly ever private. Everyone has a digital history. Teach your children to never accept a friend request or message from an unrecognizable individual.
Filter, monitor, and regulate all online activities. Be a hands on parent. Look for signs—perhaps a change in behavior, over-protective of their devices, changed lock-screen codes, deleted history, or hidden apps. Install filtering software and keep it updated! Utilize parental controls.
Know What to Do When Things Go Wrong
Be thankful when sin is exposed. Your child’s struggle is not always what you think. Be thankful when hidden struggles are brought to light.
Quickly identify the root problem. Discern their response. Are they repentant? Are they sorry they were caught, or sorry they sinned? Are they being completely truthful? What is the heart issue they are struggling with? Have them articulate this to you.
Begin battling through prayer. Pray with them. Pray over them. Pray often. Have them pray with you if they are willing. This is the single most powerful spiritual weapon at your disposal. It’s never too late to pray.
Be willing to make radical adjustments. Cut the cord to the television and/or Internet. Take the phone away. Stay up all night. Cancel work or a planned trip. Whatever you have to do to get their attention—do it! This will show them your level of commitment. Remember, spiritual warfare always arrives at the worst possible time. It’s always easier to do nothing.
Create a plan of restoration. When your child sins, give them a path forward. Help them to rebuild the trust they’ve broken. If you make it seem as though all hope is lost, your child will see no point in even trying. Give them hope. Your plan of restoration should include frequent checkpoints to review book reading, verse memory, or whatever you decide.
Be sure to show your child the love of Christ. The love that Christ shows us is completely undeserved. Even when you’ve been betrayed, lied to, disrespected, and ignored, keep loving like Christ has loved us!
Never give up. The temptation is to walk away, to throw in the towel and surrender. Don’t! Your greatest victory may be just around the corner.