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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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