Managing Smartphones for Teens- Part Two

This is the second part in this series about how to manage a smartphone for teens.  The first part of this series talked about the most recent statistics of smartphone ownership for teens, and how teens with phones are still teens and they need your help in managing a tool that can and will impact them the rest of their lives.  Your teen’s  digital footprint is permanent, so that includes selfies, what they have posted on line or commented on, and more!  What teens post will be there permanently and can affect employment decisions by companies and college admissions.  Parents need to have boundaries around this device just like the boundaries in any other part of parenting.

The first part of this series also talked about delaying smartphone introduction, and some tools to look at utilization rates across devices and to set limits through things such as using your router to set Wi-Fi times, using a device like Circle, and having set hours for a cell phone to be in use. If you haven’t read this post, go read it now and come back to read this part!

Other considerations for parents:

This big question parents ask is:  HOW MUCH TIME ON A SMARTPHONE?  I find this is what parents really want to know, but yet there are very few guidelines out there that seem realistic for teenagers, especially older teenagers.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 HOURS across devices in a day for all teenagers. This post is about smartphone use, and I agree we must look at smartphone use against the usage of all devices in a day.  However,  I feel in an age where teens especially are having to access homework from a portal and use technology during class and for school assignments, this may not be a realistic estimate for many teens, at least in the  American school system.  For homeschooling families, this may be an easier goal for younger teens, but for high school many homeschooling families are  also utilizing classes on line and certainly older teens involved in dual enrollment are most likely using technology.

There is another  brief article about number of hours acceptable per day here on Common Sense Media but there is a large difference between 5 year olds and 16 year olds!  An article here from the UK  looked at 120,000 15 year olds and somehow came up with the numbers that two hours a day on smartphone was “just right” for benefits versus health; about an hour and forty minutes for video game playing; and 4 hours and 17 minutes for computer usage.  If you add all that up, that’s almost 8 hours a day on a device (!!) , so I personally think that still sounds more like an adult working an office job and not what a teenager, even an older teenager should have!

So, the bottom line is that you are going to have to come up with the guidelines that fit your family and what is going on with your children, and check yourself. Are you using tech to check out of your family?  Are your teens using tech to avoid you?  Do they have device use for school?  How does that tally into the number of hours they are allowed on screens in total?  Are they involved in other things other than devices?  Are they younger teenagers or older teenagers?  Where is their balance in life?

Personally, I think wait as long as you can  to have a cell phone or require computer work (so if you are Waldorf homeschooling, this would probably be in high school just like Waldorf schools, so age 14-15); strive for 1-2  hours a day across devices for up to age 14, 2-3 hours a day for ages 15 to 16 and then lessen the controls across all devices for those  16 and a half or so and up in preparation for being out on their own.   You cannot hold it for them forever; at some point they have to become their own authority and manage their own usage.  

Here are few other ideas and tips:

Have a plan: Cell phone contracts can be helpful in the beginning, especially with teens under 16.  Here is an example.   Here is another example.  Again, I  think these are great in the beginning, and for younger teens, but to me once a teen is past the 16 year developmental change, I think the controls should start dwindling.  They are going to be off and on their own and need to learn how to handle technology on their own.

Have “no cell phone zones”  in the house (and this means adults too!) Many families choose the bathrooms and dinner table to be off-limits to phones, and to have all phones docked in a central place at night.  Less temptations.

Choose data plans wisely.  Here is an article about the best cell phone plans for kids and it points out that many times adding a child to your plan will enable you to have control over blocking calls or texts on behalf of that child; that you can cap the number of texts a child can send; you can have a  GPS or a location-tracker on that phone;  control access to mature content and more.  Decide what controls you want, and know that determined teens can get around many of the controls better than you might know, so there must be an element of trust.  This goes back to the age you start to allow these devices access to your teens!

No driving with smartphone in hand.  Not only is this illegal in many states in the United States, distracted driving is a major source of car accidents in the United States, and teens may already be distracted when they are new drivers.  This is a link discussing apps for safe driving with a smartphone that lets you mute incoming texts, etc during driving.  Many new smartphones have these sorts of features right on the phone itself.

Consider social media. The upside of social media is this is where kids are hanging out, whether you like it or not, especially for many girls.  If you think back to when you were on the kitchen phone for hours with your friends or walking the mall (very American in the 1980s and 1990s), this is what social media is today.  Things are so structured for kids, that this is a “unstructured” place to be. As much as many of us as parents don’t like this idea, it is what is going on.

The downside and horrible part of social media includes depression, rejection and exclusion (here is a great article on how to help girls dealing with social exclusion and social media), cyberbullying,  child predators, and more.2011 California study found that teens who were the heaviest users of social media where also the least content, the most depressed, and perhaps generally bored.

Talk to your teens about on-line safety with this article geared just to teens.  This includes not accepting friend requests from people teens don’t know, using privacy settings, not meeting people you meet on-line off-line, not posting things you will regret- remember, the digital image of your teen online is permanent.  For parents, if your child is on social media, you should be on social media and be friends with them. However, most teens are using far more than Facebook or Twitter. Here is a list of more to check out.   And another list, from Common Sense Media, one of my favorite resources. Also be aware that many teens have multiple accounts to keep track of under one platform.  You need to have all passwords and all accounts, and know what your consequences will be if this is broken by your teen.

Talk about the negatives:  Cyberbullying (girls are cyberbullied at higher rates than boys; this article also ties in what happens in real-life in a school setting); cyberaddiction; sexting, (know the sexting laws in your state if you are in the United States!  And make sure your teen understands sexting could be illegal in your state!), teens and Internet pornography (here’s a report on a Canadian study that 40 percent of boys grades 4-11 search out Internet porn).

If your teen is at risk for depression, obesity or addiction disorder, you may need stronger controls. Remember, it is the responsibility of ALL parents of ALL teenagers to  not only set limits, but to engage the child in family activities, activities outside the home, meaninful experiences and to provide that balance that there is real-life out there to be lived and relationships to be had in real life!  Having a smartphone means you have to be MORE involved in parenting, not less involved.  

If you are looking for more information regarding smartphones and teens, here is another link:  Microsoft’s Digital Skills page has great points – like pointing out that  all those selfies that teens post can also end up impacting job interviews and everything else.  The Internet is permanent!  Teach teens to protect their reputation on-line.

I would love to hear how this resonates with you, and what you do in your own family with children ages 12-14 and up regarding smartphones and device usage. How do you stay involved and provide balance?

Blessings,
Carrie

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Managing Smartphones for Teens – Part One

According to 2015 statistics, tweens are spending about six hours a day on “entertainment media”, and teens are spending nine hours a day.  Much of this is probably on a smartphone, (according to this page,  88 percent of children ages 12-17 have mobile phones and 84 percent of that is smartphone usage ). Children with cell phones are still children, and for teens since the dopamine reward system of the brain is far outpacing the part of the brain that controls impulses, it is no surprise that a 2016 CNN report from a Common Sense Media poll found 50 percent of tweens and teens feel addicted to their cell phones.

Many parents have shared with me that one of the harder parts of parenting teens is managing smartphone usage.  This is important to talk about because all the selfies or commenting on controversial posts or even posting a lot about religious or political views on social media will follow your teen forever; it is a responsibility to have a smartphone as opposed to a simple phone that calls/texts.  Employers and colleges look for on-line footprints of individuals they are interested in, and yet many parents feel clueless as to what their child is doing online.   So parents have asked me about managing smartphones.   What should common parameters be?  Here are some ideas; take what works for your family. This post is geared toward those of you with children ages 12 and up.   Continue reading

Raising Siblings As Friends

In many sitcoms and movies, it is almost taken for granted that the siblings of any family hate each and throw snide words at each other. Like this is normal, and good. Like it is better to like friends more than your own flesh and blood.  Like it is better to not want your brother or sister around.

My children have gone through definite phases of needing more space from one another, partly due to age differences (16 down to age 8), and partly due to personality differences.  To me, those phases are kind of like a little dust storm or a big rainstorm.  I may not be able to see my destination clearly, through the sand or rain, but I know it is there.  And the big destination for me is to make sure my children adore each other and take care of each other.  I want to make sure they know that when my husband and I are gone, they will be there for each other. There will be things between them that my husband and I will never know, because siblings are the best bond ever.

As an only child, I often wondered if it was a big fabrication in my head that I built up that having siblings is truly wonderful (especially when they were fighting!). However, I  can say without hesitation in watching our own children, even through the phases of more distance, that yes, yes it is truly that wonderful.  Every time I see them all playing together, helping each other, doing fun things together, I feel that flush of happiness for them.

How do you get help them get that close bond?  Here are some of my top ways, in no particular order:

Don’t ever let them treat their friends better than they treat their siblings.  Call them out on that.  Every. Single. Time.  Part of being with friends includes being nice to a brother or sister if friends are at our house, and part of being with friends includes being nice to a brother or sister when you are home.  If you cannot do that and handle your relationships at home with kindness and love, then you are not ready for much in the way of friendships outside the home.

Make interdependence happen.  Help the children learn to work as a team in whatever way that happens in your home – cleaning up, having fun, taking a trip together, making food. Part of this is also making sure that activities outside the home don’t trump spending time with siblings and family.  It is all part of being a family, and part of learning what makes relationships tick is learning these first relationships at home.  All relationships, if you want them to last, require time well-spent, and kindness.

At the same time, allow for space.  Some developmental phases just simply require more space than others.  And like other relationships in life, sometimes one sibling feels rejected, the other just needs space, some siblings are closer at one point or another, etc. Space and individuality are important, and it makes interdependence work. I find when an older child is 10 or so and has younger siblings that sometimes they just simply need space away from the siblings.  Teenagers who are 14-17 sometimes have a hard time relating to younger siblings as well, especially those aged 8-12, and may need help to remember what it was like to be younger.

Encourage that equal doesn’t equate to fair.  I find this idea of things having to be “fair”  usually peaks for children between 7-10 years of age.  Usually the best thing you can do is empathize with whomever is upset, and have solid reasoning behind what boundaries you are setting and why. Sometimes having “this is just the age you can do X thing in our family” is helpful because it is a more generalized rule.  For younger children where things like taking turns or who gets to hold the special toy are problematic, I find using a timer or counting aloud for “fair turns”  is usually helpful.

In sibling fighting and drama, for younger children,  I usually start with helping the victim of the situation without much attention to the aggressor.  Sometimes just not giving attention for negative behavior helps.  Usually the aggressor has to help the victim by doing something nice for the victim :).  Kindness wins.

In sibling fighting and drama for older children, I try to listen to both sides with active listening techniques and empathy but then help guide them toward problem-solving the challenge themselves.  Stock phrases usually include, “What would you like to see happen?”  “How would that work out for your brother or sister?”  “How could we have an agreement that both of you would like?”

Take the hard knocks in stride.  Just because they don’t like each other at this moment, doesn’t mean they never will!  Keep working toward fun and positivity and help them see each other’s needs are valid.

I would love to hear your best suggestions for helping siblings get along!

Blessings and love,

carrie

 

Your Children Are Exactly Who They Should Be

We can spend a lot of time in parenting trying to change our children, or thinking about how we could change our children.

You know, like  when they are babies we hope and try to help them sleep longer or walk earlier or eat solid foods when they don’t care.  As they grow and become toddlers and preschoolers, we hope they aren’t too clingy or too fussy or have too many temper tantrums.  As they grow even older, we hope and try to help them with their tempers, their shyness, their this or their that.  Then we spend time shaping even more of their habits so we hope that they will do well in the adult world.  There isn’t probably anything inherently wrong in any of this; boundaries and guiding are part of parenting and so are hopes and dreams for our children.

However, sometimes it  is easy to forget that our children are exactly who they should be!  Sometimes children have traits that are just uniquely them, and make them so wonderful.  Some children have traits that really do make it harder to parent, but will serve them so well in the adult world and the adult world needs them so badly.

Boundaries and guiding are beautiful things.  Balancing things to help a child unfold is also a beautiful thing.  But let us also never doubt the sun we see shining in our children’s eyes, and let us never diminish that.

If you feel like all you notice or call attention to  are the bad things a child is doing, take a deep breath.  Get a break from someone you love and trust.  Or bundle everyone up and go take a walk together  out in the sunshine and just reset.  Do something fun and just love each other!

You are all on the journey together and becoming together.  I hope to be sitting around years from now with my adult children and their beautiful families and I hope we are having a great time and laughing.  Because that’s what it is about.  The light that shines so brillantly in all of us that the world so desperately needs begins right at home.

So balance and guide, but never forget that your children are wonderful with all their unique strengths, abilities, talents, and love to share.  Perhaps they are meant to be in this time and place.  May we all grow and shine together!

Blessings,
carrie

Suggestions for Dental Trauma in Children

So, unfortunately our family has a lot of experience in this area and we recently gained some more experience when our little 8 year old fell on a concrete floor, didn’t put his hands out, and fractured both front teeth and nearly knocked them out.  This happened a month ago, and the dentist was surprised at our follow-up appointment yesterday that our son hasn’t had to have double root canals yet nor has he lost the teeth.

So, I am NOT a doctor or a dentist or anyone important. I am just a mom and sharing my experience in case this ever happens (hopefully not) to one of your children so you can be prepared.

If you don’t know much about teeth, this is my understanding of dental trauma.  The tooth is covered by white enamel and a hard layer under that called the dentin.  Inside of the dentin is a soft layer called the pulp that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.  The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects the tissues surrounding the pulp. Usually adult teeth that have been dislodged  will need a root canal.   A tooth can survive without the pulp, which is the basis for something like a root canal.  The root canal, especially in adults,  is usually started within a few days of the injury. The pulp is cleaned out ( so all those vital structures such as blood vessels, nerves, etc are removed, because if things are traumatized or dying or dead, it generally leads to infection, the body reabsorbing the nerves and losing the tooth permanently and other things) and a medication is put in with a permanent root canal filling placed later.

However, children ages 7-12 may or may not need a root canal since the nerve roots are still developing. In this case, the child needs very careful long term follow up because sometimes the nerves of the teeth will die off without a lot of symptoms, the body will re-absorb the root and the permanent tooth will fall out.  So, in a way, a root canal “saves” a tooth, but the tooth is not alive and becomes a  sort of a placeholder.  There is new research (I am guessing experimental still at this point???)   that in young people stem cells present in the pulps of the teeth can be stimulated to complete nerve root growth and heal the pulp, but I don’t know anywhere doing this in practice in my area.

ANY dental injury should be seen by a dentist immediately.  Again, I am not a dentist but it seems that you cannot tell from the tooth or the bleeding how damaged the pulp is.  Neighboring teeth that were not directly  hit are often affected as well.   If a tooth is completely knocked out, is it important to handle the tooth gently, not touch the root and it needs to be placed back into the socket immediately by the dentist.  There are solutions you can buy at the drugstore to keep the tooth in until you can get to the dentist.  If the teeth are luxated, or moved, due to trauma, you need to see a dentist right away as well.

So, before something happens, talk to your dentist.  What do they advise you to do in dental emergencies?  Do they have emergency hours?  An emergency phone number?  If a 6-10 year old knocks out or badly hits a permanent tooth, do they treat it different than a 12-15 year old knocking out a permanent tooth?  Would you need to follow up with an endodontist right away?  What does the endodontist they refer to typically do?

So, now I want to share some things that we did that I think were helpful,things that were  a little out of the box.  Traditionally, since we don’t have stimulation of stem cells in teeth present in my area that I know of, which is probably experimental I guess but being mentioned in literature,  is just sort of  “wait and see”.  This is very stressful, and I  personally couldn’t accept that the nerve roots might just die or he might just lose his permanent teeth at only 8 years old. I thought even if I could save one tooth from a root canal that would be important.   So, the three main things we tried included cold laser therapy, chiropractic adjustments, hyberbaric oxygen therapy, and ozone therapy. Mainly we tried these things because I was familiar from hyberbaric oxygen therapy from working with burns and wounds and injuries, and the other things we learned about from friends and health care professionals.

One thing I would recommend is to locate who does ozone therapy for teeth in your area. If injury happens, you want to run to your pediatric dentist right away because most likely the teeth need to be splinted and xrays taken. They may use a local numbing agent as well because with this type of injury, especially to both front permanent teeth, it is exceedingly painful.

We had an ozone shot one week after injury but I wish I had known about it and done it within 48 hours after injury.  I learned about ozone therapy, not through our dentist, but through the place where we initally went for hyperbaric oxygen some days post-injury, but then it took me time to find a dentist who did it and to get an appointment.  There doesn’t seem to be much of a protocol on using ozone with injured teeth, but it does increase circulation and healing.  We only had it once, and I am not sure about whether or not it would be effective now that we are one month post injury to have it again.

We started cold laser therapy about 36 hours after injury. Our chiropractor happened to have one available so that is how we got to start so soon.   Many cold laser protocols say 10 sessions as a general protocol, but consult with your practicioner as there are different protocols out there and different cold laser systems.   We also started using hyperbaric oxygen therapy 72 hours after his injury. We went to a hyperbaric oxygen place for the first few sessions, but I  had a wonderful friend who let me borrow her tank so we can use it at home.    Most hyperbaric oxygen places seem to say “40 hours” in response to many traumas, so we are aiming for 40 hours or more during the next few months. We have about 15 hours in so far as we had some lag time in between what we could afford and in receiving and setting up the tank that we borrowed.

We went back to the dentist yesterday, one month after injury, and the splint was removed.  The teeth still feel a bit wobbly, which the dentist said is not totally unexpected after splint removal.  Our little guy will have to be carefully followed up through the next six months to a year with xrays to make certain that the root hasn’t died (which you can’t really tell by an xray, but you can tell if the body is re-absorbing the nerve that at that point must be dead).

We also had follow up with an endodontist and will have to continue to see him as well over the next six months to a year as we don’t know for sure if root canals will be needed or not (although it’s a good sign they were not needed yet!).  The first endodontist we went to wanted to do double root canals one week post injury due to lack of sensation to cold but the second endodontist we went to said that sometimes this is not completely uncommon one week after injury and in a small child there would need to be other indicators in addition to lack of cold sensation.  So, again, sometimes things can happen with the nerve root with no symptoms,which is why close follow up with xrays is important,  but many times there are symptoms of nerves dying such as discoloration to the tooth, pain with hot or cold liquids, pain with eating.  I think although a root canal only takes a small amount of time, because it cleans out vital structures, it is important to have more than one opinion and if necessary, to have someone who will be willing to follow your child closely, especially if they are under 12 years of age.

The homeopathics we used  for the first 72 hours after injury included arnica pellets, hypericum pellets, and yes, old fashioned ibuprofen for pain relief.  I didn’t have any helichrysum essential oil (it is expensive), but a knowledgeable friend knew it was good for inflammation and helping nerves heal. I had a topical only blend for skin care that had helichrysum in it and used that topically on the upper lip area, but will be getting this oil soon and will use it in a mouthwash type preparation to help over the next few months.

The other thing we had was a lot of prayers and healing touch from people we knew who were prayer warriors, positive wishes from many, and healing touch practicioners who healed from afar.  Our son was even prayed for at the Kurst Root Icon, which comforted me to no end, and I thank my Orthodox readers.  Our parish has said healing prayers  (he was also bit by a dog several weeks ago above his upper lip and needed stitches), and we had a wonderful discussion with our Children’s Director who  was invaluable in knowing just what to say!   Our parish has healing services with holy oil, so that also is comforting to us.

We have a long six months to a year ahead of us, but I hope by sharing this experience it helps someone else if their child is hurt in this way. Get second opinions, and don’t ever accept just “wait and see.”  We are made wonderful, and while complete healing is not always possible, it is always possible to try.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Growth Mindset + Waldorf Homeschooling

Waldorf homeschooling and Waldorf Education is amazing in that it teaches and guides children to be true “Renaissance People” – ones who can nurture themselves, humanity and the environment, provide compassion for others, explore all of the traditional arts and handicrafts, music, drama, academics and more.

Growth Mindset is the idea that individuals can develop their talents and their learning through hard work, good strategies,  repeated mistakes and growth from those mistakes, and input from others, as opposed to just “I was born smart” or “I was born dumb.”  This idea is one that is certainly trending in both education and in business. So,  I want to be very clear that to me all the talk about “growth mindset” as a growing educational trend in public schools has been in Waldorf Education all along through such things as  repeated attempts at mastery, repeated resilience to do and try things that are foreign, not just  doing the things that are comfortable, the use of a strong classroom organism to help an individual grow and more.

So where does the idea of growth mindset fit into Waldorf homeschooling?  Sometimes it is harder at home, I believe.  We may have a second grader comparing him or herself to much older siblings.  We may have children that seem unmotivated no matter how much vigor we bring to designing a lesson, and with no peer group to carry it along, it can be harder.  These are a few of the realities that homeschooling families face in the day to day of being in the trenches with our children as teachers and as parents.  However, we can certainly impart a growth mindset to our children and we can do this in accordance with the developmental features of Waldorf Education.

For those under the age of 9, we MODEL growth mindset for our children.  We look for times when we make mistakes and bring what we have learned that to the forefront as in incredible model.  We can use words to describe the process and the hard work of creating rather than focusing on the outcome, and we can use  brillant phrasing -short and concise- to help our children.  If you don’t know what to say, try the list here.  We don’t need to psychoanalyze what growth mindset is for our six-year-old, but we just do it in our actions and in the way we approach thing. We help find strategies that help our children be successful, and help them develop the skills to try again.  Ways to do that include not just “book work” but problem solving in outdoor play in a group of children and allowing plenty of time for free play and exploration.  If you absolutely MUST read books to your children about growth mindset, please let it be a little more sideways than what you would use with a ten-year-old.  I like books like “Flight School” by Lita Judge; “Whistle for Willie” by Ezra Jack Keats; “Brave Irene” by William Steig, “Extra Yarn” by Barrett, “the Dot” and “Ish” by Reynolds as examples of growth mindset that don’t hit you over the head but show the model of resilience and perseverance.

For those ages ten and up, I think you can start to delve a little deeper, especially for those children that are struggling in this area due to perfectionism or due to learning disabilities and who have already realized they are not quite where their friends are academically.  We still model, we still use the great words, but we work hard to help THEM develop their own strategies to be successful.  This is what they will need in the upper grades.  I like books like “Hana Hashimoto: Sixth Violin” by Uegaki and Leng  as an example of the hard work needed to shine.    I think it can be important for both of these groups of children to hear this.

For those twelve and up,  you can get a little more heady since they have more skills to see cause and effect readily.  “Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain” by Deak and Ackerly is a good place to start, and there are some wonderful resources for growth mindset for middle schoolers available on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I have used this ten lesson unit by Angela Watson with our upper middle and lower high schoolers.  Books for children this age include “Salt In His Shoes” by Dolores Jordan, “Nadia, The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still” by Karlin Gray, “A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin,” and all the wonderful biographies we bring through history in the sixth through eighth grades as teachers.

For those past the 15/16 change and adults: They might enjoy Dweck’s “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” and some of the other books about growth mindset available in the business section.   If a teen this age is not motivated, sometimes a gentle push toward a class or experience might just change their whole life for the better. This is the part of parenting that is hard – knowing how much to push and how much to let go when older teens are on the cusp of adulthood.  However, sometimes even older teens need an objective eye to encourage them to go for something great and to get a chance to stretch their growth mindset wings.  It will serve them well later in adulthood.

How are you nurturing growth mindset in a developmentally appropriate way?

Blessings,
Carrie

5 Steps For Raising Children To Have An In-Depth Life

In this day and age, it seems as if sometimes the most intimate and horrific things can be reduced to an emoticon.  There are not enough emoticons in the world for tragedy, outrage, and horror. And, in cases of serious challenges with rights and wrongs on both sides, there is no clear button to push on social media to express the grey.  So, instead of raising our children in an environment that expects easy and shallow answers to life’s grey questions, let’s raise them to become deep and intimate beings with capacities for willing, feeling, and thinking.

Keep your children close.  Not to micromanage, not to hover, but to be present and attentive to what the true deep needs of children are.  All children have little wants that they think are needs, but it is our job as parents to figure out what is it that this child truly and deeply needs. And we can only do that if we are paying attention over a long course of many years.    We learn to read this child through all their changes, just as when we live in one place we learn to read the signs of each season in the sky and land.  Attention leads to depth in relationships and the first ability of the child to empathize with another human being.

Keep your children outside.   Connection with nature is the foundation of emotional and mental stability, the foundation of academic greatness in many subjects due to developing keen observation skills for minute changes, but it also becomes a time when a child can learn to be with themselves. Only when we can rest peacefully in ourselves (and perhaps in  the things that are bigger than us)  can we truly have deep intimacy with others and the challenges confronting humanity.

Keep your children off of social media as long as possible.  Social media devalues things to a click, an emoticon, a passing by glance.  As much as I enjoy social media for myself, I also didn’t grow up with it and become a rich thinker through debates on all kinds of issues right at our dinner table.   Encourage reading, dinner time discussion every night, and meaningful conversations with real people.

Keep your children with great role models.  Of course, be the best role model that you can be, but I think it does take a village to help raise children,  especially as a child grows.  We never know what other teacher, what neighbor, what other adult at a place of worship or in an activity that a child loves that might spark a light in our child’s soul. Sometimes it is something that seems so small to us that makes such a big impression on them.  Build up great relationships between your children and the mentors, neighbors, or extended family they love.  I know in this day and age, where coaches are not trustworthy, neighbors are not what they seem,  etc. that this can seem scary.  However, I think it is worth the effort to find the adults you love and that your children really can be guided by.  Different seasons may need different role models outside of the family, but it is worth persuing.

Keep your children even in their relationships.  As children age into the middle grades, and early high school years, it is easy for friendships and crushes to come and go. Help your child sort out their  capabilities for emotional intelligence, how they treat people fairly, how sometimes old friends are actually the best friends, what to do when friends hurt them, how to react to conflict, how to be assertive and set boundaries and more.  This is another thing that seems simple, but if you do not have time due to outside pressures of your own, you will not be present to help your child navigate this piece of life that is becoming more and more important in today’s world.

Slow down, and embrace being unbusy.  Children are in your home for 18 years usually. It is a long time, but also short.  If you don’t slow down, you might just miss it.

Blessings and love,
Carrie