Addictive, Lazy Society

I read a great post about busy hands and creative minds here. Amy is amazing, and I love her writing.

This post resonated on a number of levels for me – minus the pranking. We weren’t pranksters as kids, and I got my mom’s uncanny ability to fly off the handle if a prank catches me too off guard. (Thanks Mom! 😉

One way I related with this post was the busy hands, free mind thought. When I get my hands busy doing the dishes, scrubbing the bathroom, hanging the diapers, folding the laundry – any of the mundane tasks that don’t require much thinking – my mind wanders off on vast adventures that become fodder for a novel. Or my mind narrows in on a parenting issue and soon, I find myself with several posts to write, and a solution to a problem. Plus, if I’m feeling down, getting my hands busy seems to lift my mood and make me cheery once more.

The other thing that really struck me has to do with kids these days. With all of their electronic devices, and video games and what not, kids today don’t experience this busy-hand, free-mind phenomenon. In fact, kids today expect to be entertained around the clock. Take away the entertainment, and my stepson is lost. He has to have his phone or the television or the computer just to function.

I’m old fashioned enough to think that the smart phone should be allowed to occupy thirty minutes to an hour of his day for “playing” with. Then, it should be put up. Yep, I mean no texting, no games or videos, nothing. He can make a call, to a real person, but that would be it. Of course, I’m the only one in our circle that feels this way, so it’s kind of a moot point. I have tried limiting the phone use, and taking the phone away for the afternoon hours, but the result it not pleasant.

My goal with the younger kids it to not start such a bad habit. I don’t want them to have phones until they are older (15 or 16) and if I am paying for it, it will probably be a generic flip phone. That’s right, one that lets you check in and maybe do some texting. The 7 year old and 5 year old don’t get much TV time, either. They watch a couple programs with us, and occasionally some cartoons, but all total it’s less than 4 hours most weeks.

Now, I will admit this: the 7 year old has a tablet, but he is limited to 30 minutes or an hour, and he only gets to play with it during a few days each week.

Kids must learn to entertain themselves. Kids must be encouraged to think. I do think kids need exposure to technology, because using it, and being proficient with it will be necessary for their careers, of that I’m almost certain. But that doesn’t mean unsupervised, unending hours using this technology.

And this all answers the question I’ve been asking for weeks, “Where is all of this laziness coming from?” Electronics are not evil, but we can all waste our days and come to expect constant entertainment. This expectation causes people to become addicted, in the unhealthiest of ways, to their devices. Take the devices away, and the result is not pleasant. People, adults and kids alike, are losing the busy-hands, free-minds way of doing things. Instead, their minds are busy and their hands are free – which seems to result in a highly addictive, exceptionally lazy society.

How do you handle the entertainment battle in your home?

 

Social Media: They Are Watching

I think this is my last post (for now) about social media. This one is huge, in my opinion. As big as protecting our marriages by watching what we post, I think.

Our kids are watching what we post. No matter where you fall on TOS and letting kids younger than 13 create an account, or not letting them create one until they are 13. Or not until they are on their own as adults. It doesn’t matter how old they are, they are watching what you post.

In fact, my 7 year old watches everything I post, every chance he gets. He asks me, “Are you putting that on Facebook?” when I’m typing on my phone. He reads over my shoulder if I’m not paying attention. Because of his interest, his younger brother is taking an interest, too. And I’m friends with my stepson on FB, so he can see everything I post.

We are always talking about monitoring what our kids are posting, gently correcting them when they go too far, or post something they shouldn’t. Hopefully we are monitoring who they are friends with, and teaching them not to share too much personal data. No matter the level of involvement we take with them and their use of social media, we have all probably said something about using it carefully.

What are they learning from our example? Are we careful with what we post? Do we keep our words kind or say nothing at all? Or do we gripe about bad drivers, rude store clerks, and complain about our spouse and kids? It takes 10 positives to ease 1 negative. So just think, if we complained about the kids on Monday, it isn’t until Wed/Thursday of the following week that they are feeling better about that negative thing. (Assuming we post once per day, and don’t post any other negative in the time period.)

Ouch.

That’s not the end. Our kids are learning to lie or tell the truth based on what we do and say. Little white lies, even on social media, are telling them it’s okay to lie. They are also learning how to talk about other people. They are learning when to keep their mouths shut based on when we do the same. So, is it okay to call people stupid? I think not, but if I’m posting about that stupid driver that cut me off &%*$(, then they are learning it’s okay as long as you bleep out the yucky words. But let’s face it; it’s not really okay to talk about people that way, even if they weren’t driving the way you wanted them to.

They will also learn how to treat their spouse in the public eye based on how you treat your spouse in the public eye. Are you lifting yours up or tearing them down? Yes, the things you do in private, at home, teach them, too. But when hunny hurts your feelings and you blast it all over social media, those little eyes are learning that’s okay. And then, the will hurt their spouse the same way.

End the cycle now. Ask yourself, as you type out your next status update, what am I teaching my kids by posting this? Would I want them to see this? If the lesson is negative, or it’s not for their eyes, then don’t post it.

 

Battling Negativity

The mornings are becoming a challenge at home…and even the afternoons are proving to be a little difficult. I am noticing a serious thread of negativity plague this home of ours, and it is bothering me. It’s also very hard to not give in to the negativity and turn into a very crabby woman.

 

Unfortunately, I’ve struck a nerve and irritated the oldest boy, who also happens to be my stepson. I imagine he’s thinking he didn’t sign up for this, and while several weeks back he jokingly called me the wicked witch of the west, it seems the funny has wore off. He is not happy with all of the rules, and all of the reminders to do his homework and be to class on time. For as much as I thought I was prepared for these moments, and for as much as I thought I knew they were coming, these mornings are wearing me thin.

 

The complaints range from very small ones, to lots of large and whiny ones. And it seems like there is always a legitimate complaint wrapped in the mess of a million ridiculous ones. And the little boys are picking up on it, and before I can get them all out the door, I have three boys who are knit-picking each other, the house, the Christmas tree and my sanity.

 

And I want to join them! I want to express, with as much exasperation, all of my complaints… like clothes on the bathroom floor, messy rooms, missing homework assignments, wet towels hidden behind bedroom doors, messy hair, bad breath, mismatched socks, cutting up our clothes with scissors (I mean, seriously?!), and the list grows. And soon, I’m brooding, and I’m one whiny-boy complaint away from biting off their heads and yelling all the way to school.

 

I am horribly out numbered in the mornings, but please don’t let the boys know that. I can, for the most part, command silence, even when I don’t always have the answer for turning the attitudes around. But I heard a challenge…like the Holy Spirit beckoning me to do something specific with my attitude. A call, or a challenge to, in the midst of these hard mornings, and for the quiet part of the day after I’ve played taxi, to think about and dwell on the positive. What can each of these three boys do well? What unique talents do they possess? In what areas do they excel at school and home? When are they most helpful? Most hopeful?

 

Sure, it’s our job as parents to correct improper behavior, and to remind our youngsters to clean up after themselves, and say please and thank you, and to help them remember all of those manners. It’s also our job to encourage them. In fact, the bible says in Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” And in Colossians 3:21 – “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” I think this applies to me right now, even though I’m not Dad. If I join in, or intentionally push their buttons because they are pushing mine, I’m not bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. In fact, it says I am discouraging them. And I’ve met enough discouraging people in my life to make me realize just how badly they affect all of the people around them.

 

So today, as I pray for these boys, my heart’s cry is that the Lord will open my eyes and help me be an encourager. I pray that God will help me find 100 positive things about each of these boys for every 1 negative. I pray that I have the strength to endure the bad attitudes, and contagious joy that will help them overcome this negativity, too. I pray that God will reveal practical ways for me to guide them and correct them when they are being negative, so that they can learn to live peaceably.

 

Will you take this challenge with me?