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consumedym : August 21, 2015

by Doug Fields and Jonathan McKee
Continuing from last week (if you missed it, click here) I want to share a resource called, “Should I Just Smash My Kid’s Phone?” by Doug Fields and Jonathan McKee.  It has a lot of helpful information and questions to consider when navigating the world of smartphones and technology.  Here is part two of their work:

In a world where 8 through 18-year-olds devote  as many hours plugged in to entertainment media as their parents spend working full time jobs… today’s kids are going to encounter distractions difficult to dodge.  As a result, parents are left with some big questions, like:

“What guardrails can parents set to protect their kids from veering off course?”

There is a strong temptation for parents to jump straight into a list of “effective guardrails.”  As a parent, you want something that works–something that will solve the problem of your son or daughter and their obsession with their phone.  Good guardrails will help, but there is a much more important question to ask first.  What good are guardrails if you don’t even know where the road is going?

Teaching Values
This brings up a foundational issue of one’s values.  As parents, do you just want to enforce rules that your kids will robotically follow, or do you want to teach values that will last beyond their behaviors when you aren’t around?

Think about it.  Whenever a parent presents a rule, the most common question is, “Why?”  That’s a fair question from a child’s mind.  The best answer will flow from your family’s values and belief system.  Have you ever had a conversation like this:

Parent:  John, be home at 11:00 tonight.
John:  Why eleven?  Is there something magical about eleven?  Does the Bible say, ‘make sure your kids are home at eleven?’  How come the McCain’s don’t make their kids be home at eleven–aren’t they good parents?  Why not midnight like all my other friends?

Honestly it’s a little shortsighted for parents to just arbitrarily enforce guidelines without having some articulate reasoning behind them.  Our values will confidently supply answers to the “why?” questions.The best rules and guidelines flow from our values.  In the long term, values are more important than the rules.  As our kids learn and embrace values, the rules will make better sense.

The reality is we aren’t helping our kids grow into responsible adults if we simply set guardrails and never talk about the direction of the road.  They should know the “why” (values) behind the rules.  The boundaries we impose should naturally flow from the “why.”  These guardrails should help keep our kids from veering off course, but should never become roadblocks to learning healthy discernment.


Next week we’ll look at the road paved with values.  Since values answer the “why” question, we need to ask an important question, “What values are we teaching?”

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consumedym : August 14, 2015

by Doug Fields and Jonathan McKee
Over the next few weeks I want to share a resource called, “Should I Just Smash My Kid’s Phone?”  It has a lot of help information and questions to consider when navigating the world of smartphones and technology.  Here is a section of their work to start us off:

Everywhere we go we hear these common struggles from parents about setting rules and guidelines:

  • “My kids tell me I’m way more strict than their friends’ parents. Is that necessarily a bad thing?”
  • ?”I know my kids need some rules, but I’m just not good at defining and enforcing them.”
  • “I don’t like to hover over my teenagers’ every move, so I give them a lot of freedom.  But now they are starting to make some really bad choices, and I’m beginning to wonder if I gave them too much freedom.”

Parenting isn’t easy, and as technology continues to permeate into every area of our lives, parents have additional struggles in learning how to set rules or limits with these devices:

  • “I’m having fits with my daughter and her stupid cell phone.  I just want to smash it.”
  • “I have no idea what my son is doing for hours each day on his social networking sites.  Is it okay for a parent to spy on what their kids have been doing online?”
  • “My kids don’t even seem to want to talk to me.  The only way they communicate these days is with their thumbs typing into their cell phones.”
  • “We thought we were being good parents getting our kid a phone, and now we never see her eyes anymore…she’s always looking down at that thing and ‘talking’ to everyone but us!”

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

A Little Guidance
The truth is, every parent needs a little guidance navigating the road of parenting.  It’s okay to stop and ask for directions every once in a while!  Even if you’re a man–yes men, even you can get some helpful direction.

Guardrails vs. Rules
From here on out, perhaps a better way to view things is by switching up some terminology.  It’s subtle, but much more positive as well as visual.  “Rules” tend to skew the negative.  “Guardrails” is a more neutral term that is easier to envision.  Guardrails keep us from crashing.  They also empower us to drive with confidence toward our chosen destination.  Guardrails don’t hinder us, they keep us on course.  That’s the primary goal of guardrails and rules.  They are essential toward helping your child feel a strong sense of self and be empowered to make decisions while navigating the real world.

Parenting is a learning experience.  The more we learn what is best for our child, the more we can guide them… and guardrails help.  Guardrails are not intended to punish your child, they are to protect your child form veering off course.  Therefore, establishing a balanced approach to guardrails is an act of love.

Next week we’ll look at the road we want our kids to travel.  Since guardrails protect us from veering off course, we need to ask an important question, “Where is this road taking us?”

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Staying Connected while Your Teen is Pulling Away

consumedym : April 1, 2015

A funny thing happens to children once they reach the teenage years: They don’t seem to want their parents around all that much. Sure, they need to have your presence in their lives. They just don’t want to be reminded of that fact.

This comes as anywhere from a mild surprise to a major shock to parents who are watching their fun-loving 12-year-old become a sullen, more serious 13-year-old seemingly overnight. So, here are a few helpful ways you can still be a part of your teenager’s life without pushing him or her away in the process.

  1. Remember that because a teenager doesn’t say, “I love you” as much as they used to, does not mean a teenager doesn’t love his or her parents anymore. They just don’t want to say it at school, in front of their peers, or when you drop them off in front of a friend’s home.
  2. Keep in mind that, one-day, it’s likely you will have a loving friendship with them. Until then, Mom and Dad, resist the temptation to be one of their peers. Yes, peers are a primary influence right now—and you may want to be a part of your teen’s “inner-circle.” You definitely need to know who these friends are. But you can’t be one of them no matter how much you try.
  3. Don’t forget that your job as a parent is a calling – so treat your kids as gifts from God. This will help you through the lonely days when it seems like your teenager really doesn’t care about you anymore. He or she will eventually get over it. Remember what it was like to be teenager. Keep this in mind and give your child a healthy amount of space when appropriate.
  4. Do the little things to stay connected—even when these seem like they don’t matter to your teenager. Don’t underestimate the positive message you are sending your kids by watching all those sports games, or the hundreds of other ways you are present in their lives. Kids who grow up believing and knowing that their parents will always be there for them can face anything.

by Jim Burns

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Making the Most of Our Time

consumedym : December 21, 2014

I read a blog article the other day that gave some very great advice on how to make the most of our time.  They suggest we form three practical habits to help us when it comes to being with our kids.  Here’s my take on that article (which you can read here.)


When we can visually see how much time is left, we will make the time we do have matter more.  Quick, answer this question: How many weeks are left before your teenager graduates from High School?  You probably don’t know that off the top of your head.  So having something as simple as a jar of marbles to represent each week is a visual reminder of the time you have left with your kids.  Try taking a marble out each week until they leave home.  That way you can see the time remaining you have with them and being to make it matter more.


Let’s face it, we are over-scheduled, busy people.  As a working dad, I am constantly filling my days with meetings, and deadlines, and tasks that feel really urgent. But if I’m not intentional, that is ALL that will get space on my calendar. So, once every month or so, I look at my calendar and schedule the things that no one is asking me to schedule. I mark up the calendar with things like:

  • go on a date with Amber.
  • take the kids out.
  • have a movie night.

That may sound silly. But by “marking it up,” it reserves the time. Because I know the weeks are limited. I need a reminder to make the weeks count.


Every day isn’t a special day. In fact, most days are pretty typical. But one of the best ways to make the most of every week is to create some habits that begin to add to the typical. For example, what do you do every morning at breakfast? What if part of your breakfast routine just became looking for ways to encourage?  Or, when do you eat together? What if one meal a day was media-free time when you were intentional about having a conversation with your child? Or, what’s the last thing you do before they go to bed at night? Every day ends the same way. We go to bed. So what’s your bedtime routine? How do you make the most of the moments right before your son or daughter drifts off to sleep?

I know there are parents reading this who are smarter than me and parents who are just better at this TIME thing than I am. So what are your habits? How do you make the most of your TIME? How do you Count it Down, Mark it Up, and Measure it out. I’d love to learn from you!

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GUEST POST: Putting the “Thanks” Back into Thanksgiving

consumedym : November 9, 2014

Most of us are sentimental when it comes to Thanksgiving—and its cherished traditions—at least during the weeks leading up to the holiday. The truth is that for many, Thanksgiving boils down to a lot of work! From making travel arrangements, and getting the family packed and ready to go, to planning the dinner menu and shopping, and coordinating who is responsible for what. . . it’s easy for families to get cranky and frustrated in the run-up to Thanksgiving. Too often, it seems a celebration of giving thanks is the last thing on our minds as T-Day arrives.

Don’t forget that if it’s Thanksgiving season, then “Murphy’s Law” is in effect. You can count on something not going as planned. As I’ve heard it said, “Stuffing happens.” It’s no wonder we can so easily ignore the “giving thanks” part of this holiday.

So, allow me to simply remind you that there is always at least one good reason to give thanks, whatever your circumstances this Thanksgiving season, and it is this: God is good.

Here are three of my favorite ways that God displays His goodness:

  1. God is good because He gives us free and amazing gifts! Do we deserve God’s kindness, mercy, and forgiveness? No. But God loves us and gives us these three free gifts! This is a reason to be thankful!
  2. God is good because He loves us unconditionally! His love comes with no strings attached. He loves us not for what we’ve done but for who we are. This is a core truth about God, and a reason to be thankful!
  3. God is good because He offers us life forever. He offers us life to the full—here and now (see John 10:10,) and someday, life in heaven. This too is a great reason to be thankful!

As parents, we set the pace for our families as to whether or not Thanksgiving Day will only be a day of family, friends, food, football, and fun or whether the bar will be raised to a holiday where giving thanks is at the focus of the celebration, and not only an afterthought.

God is always good, so what are you waiting for? Thanksgiving Day? There’s no need to wait. Make November a season for your family to give thanks!

Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever. —Psalm 106:1 (NLT)

Doug Fields is a communicator, resource-provider, writer, pastor & leadership mentor. He’s the author of more than 50 books and is currently working with Youth Specialties & Azusa Pacific University (HomeWord’s Center for Youth/Family). More information about Doug is available at www.dougfields.com.

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