Invading teen’s privacy – how far is too far?

Posted on January 25, 2012 by Phil

by Sandi Black on Thursday, December 29, 2011

This article is courtesy of Living with Teenagers magazine.

Most parents want their teens to have some freedom. But in today’s world, some freedoms can be unhealthy, harmful, and even dangerous. Without a doubt, parents need to establish proper boundaries for their teens. And, at the same time, kids want and actually need some privacy. So how can you balance independence with your parental right to invade their space?

Here are some facts about today’s teens that can serve as foundational points:

  • If your son is on a computer without an Internet filter to block porn sites, he’s probably “taking a peek” at sexual Web sites. Guys are wired that way because God created males to be visual creatures.
  • Teens are curious. They naturally want to know about things their parents consider unacceptable. In some cases, telling them not to do something may actually be taken as a dare.
  • Media exposes girls to various morals, cultural messages, and lifestyles. Images and sexual ideas that were once taboo are now perfectly acceptable in a secular world.
  • Adolescents get mixed messages as they process what the church says, what their parents say, and what the media says. They long to fit in socially with their friends, which adds to their confusion.

Early adolescence is a time of concrete thinking. Acting on impulse is the norm, and little thought goes into evaluating consequences. Media reports highlight many of the problems and dangers teens (and parents) might face.

So, how far is too far when it comes to spying on your teenagers’ habits? How can you know the difference between “what you need to know” and when to give your kid more space? Here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Follow your instincts. If you suspect something’s wrong, you are usually right. Even if you are wrong, it’s always best to err on the side of safety. In addition to Internet issues, this would include cell phone usage and searching rooms or personal items.
  2. It is important to have a good handle on the Internet-even if there are no signs of a problem. Parents should know all their teens’ passwords and should monitor their social networking randomly. If they show a lack of responsibility, take them off all networks for a month or so.
  3. Insist that you be added as a “friend” so you can view their status, the language they use, and the pictures they post. Again, if they show a lack of maturity, do not pay for their Internet access.
  4. Invest in good Internet filtering/blocking software for the computer. Make sure the computer is in a common room with the screen visible from different angles.
  5. Occasionally, view their browser history. Do your homework by becoming savvy regarding all the computer commands, networks, and Web sites that you allow your teen to use.
  6. Let your teens know you are on their side. You want to let them have some privacy, but God has entrusted their safety to you. Say something like, “I really don’t want to control you. I truly want to trust you, but you have to show me that I can trust you.”

Someone has said that parents spend too much time “correcting and too little time connecting” with their kids. Be intentional about giving affirmation and encouragement for every correction.

Bite your tongue when you’re tempted to lecture and learn to listen a little better. You can learn about their world best by listening more than talking. Plus, taking time out to be with them says, “You are important in my life, and I enjoy being with you.”

Finally, if you sense that your teen’s actions might be out of control, seek help. Consult a trusted pastor, a professional Christian counselor, or an0ther community resource. Often God speaks through sermons, through His Word, through a youth pastor, or other godly adults. Don’t hesitate to get an assessment of your situation. When necessary, consult a doctor who specializes in adolescents because God also can work through doctors and medication.

Above all, pray for guidance and direction in choosing the best help for your teen. Hopefully you will find a good balance regarding privacy and healthy parental “snooping” so you can lead your teen toward a healthier future.

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Conversation Starters: Watching Others

Posted on January 4, 2012 by Phil

There is a fine line between judging others and holding them accountable. Learning to follow Jesus in community with friends, almost always bring hints of conflict as we struggle through this. Help your kids begin to understand these topics from an early age… Not to mention learning how to love people through these times.

For Preschoolers
Are all boys and girls good?
When someone does something you think is bad, what should you do?
How can you still be his or her friend?

For Children
How do you know when someone is disobeying God?
Is someone always wrong because they do something different than you? Why or why not?
What does it mean to judge somebody?

For Students
What’s the difference between judging and rebuking?
Why are we so quick to criticize and condemn others?
How can you balance loving weaker Christians and standing strong in your own beliefs?

I can imagine that this can be a tough subject. Did you learn anything that could help the rest of us?

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Conversation Starters: Forgiven

Posted on December 7, 2011 by Phil

Forgiveness is crucial. It is usually a part of our kids lives from very early on. Of course, I’m not sure that she understands it, but my daughter Piper (5) is quick to forgive her sister and her friends. But at some point it seems to become more difficult. As I try to imagine Piper in conflict with her teenage friends, it makes me want to talk with her about forgiveness even more. And from there, the wonder of how God forgives us. Here are a few helpful questions…

For Preschoolers
When someone says, “I’m sorry,” what should we say back?
What do you think Jesus meant when He said our sins are forgiven?
Why do we forgive others?

For Children
What do I mean when I tell you you’re forgiven?
Why is it hard to forgive people who do bad things?
How do you feel when someone forgives you?
How does Jesus help you forgive?

For Students
How is accepting an apology different than forgiving?
What are some consequences of withholding forgiveness?
Who are some people you need to forgive?
What does it mean that Christ forgave you of every sin, past, present, and future?

Do you have any stories of when your child really understood forgiveness? Share it here… Enjoy the Holidays…

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Conversation Starters: Love

Posted on November 2, 2011 by Phil

The work Love is a normal part of even my 4 year old’s vocabulary. But do they fully understand what Love is? As they grow, we can slowly help them see, experience, and understand what Love is. Here are a few questions that might help you you and your kids talking…

For Preschoolers
How did you show someone you loved them today?
How did someone else show love to you?
Why is it hard to love people sometimes?

For Children
What is the difference between liking and loving someone?
Besides me telling you, how do you know that I love you?
How can you show love to people who might not show it back?

For Students
What is one of the greatest examples of love (marital, familial, or otherwise) you’ve ever witnessed or learned about (fictional/historical/personal/present-day, etc.)?
How has the phrase “I love you” been misused/overused?
Why is telling someone you love him or her not enough?
What is most difficult about truly loving people?

What did your kids say about love? Anything funny? How about profound? Share it with all of us…

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Family Connections: Secret Servants

Posted on October 5, 2011 by Phil

In addition to serving other people this fall, what if you could get your family excited about serving one another? Depending on the ages, you could make this really fun as you find tangible ways to serve other people in the home. You could have everyone draw a name out of a hat or partner up, but instruct all family members that their job is to make their special assignment feel encouraged and loved in the coming week. You may say to yourself, it’s not the same when I know I’m someone’s assignment. But I would be willing to bet that you would be proud of your kids as they love each other (or you) well. Set the pace and give positive feedback. Serving is contagious. Once it starts, it has the potential to change your home!

Try it out and share your stories here. We’d love to hear from you…

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Conversation Starters: Protective Rules

Posted on September 7, 2011 by Phil

Now that Camp is over, it’s the perfect time to make sure that you aren’t missing opportunities to talk with you kids! We encourage you to always ask you kids questions. In case you hadn’t picked up it, kids love to talk about themselves. Create a culture in your family of talking. The earlier you start, the easier it will be. Here are a few questions we invite you to use…

For Preschoolers:
Help your children know that when they disobey you, they are disobeying God. Very early on, begin to teach your children that your authority comes from God. When they disobey, reinforce the spiritual aspect of their choices.

For Children:
Start teaching your elementary-aged children the Ten Commandments. Let them see these are protective rules God gives to His children. Ask them how these rules are meant to protect us, and connect this to the rules you as a parent give to protect them.

For Students:
Give your teens opportunities to show they can be responsible. As you give them more freedom, ask them how they think your home could be more conducive to spiritual growth. See if they will offer ideas of things the family could do or not do to grow. They may surprise you!

Share with all of us how it went….

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3 Ways to Clear Up Misconceptions About God With Your Kids

Posted on July 6, 2011 by Phil

Each summer at Ridgecrest Summer Camps we hear lots of campers who have misconceptions about God. We’d love to share with you parents some of the things we’ve learned…

Here are three examples of how you can use everyday objects to help correct some misconceptions your kids may have about God.

The OnStar God. When you get in trouble along the road, press the button, get help, and once the crisis is averted, move on your way. Ask your children, “What’s wrong with people thinking of God this way?”

The iPod God. Some people pick attributes of God like they download individual songs instead of the entire album. Ask your children, “Where can we get our beliefs about God? Is it how we feel? Is it something else?”

The Video Game Score God. With a lot of video games, the score you get on one level determines whether or not you can advance to the next level. Is that how God will decide whether or not you can go to heaven when you die?

Do you have any good analogies like this to share? Post them below and help the rest of us out…

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Conversation Starters: Getting Our Way

Posted on June 1, 2011 by Phil

We at Ridgecrest Summer Camps love to stand beside you the parent as you raise your kids. Aren’t all of our kids dealing with “getting their way?” I feel like this is something that they will deal with for the rest of their lives. Try these questions as you begin to talk with your kids about these things…

For Preschoolers
Next time someone upsets your preschooler by taking a toy or not allowing him to have his way, stop and listen to him. Don’t just brush his feelings off. Listen to him and then talk with him about how to handle the situations in a better way.

For Children
Write a story or draw what it would be like if every person in the family got their way. Let them draw each room the way it would look if they got everything they wanted. Then show them how it couldn’t work for everyone and teach them that they can’t always act on how they feel or what they want.

For Students
Talk with your teens about areas in which kids their age don’t show self-restraint. Tell them about what teenagers struggled with when you were growing up. Give them permission to talk honestly about areas of struggle, and pray together for strength.

How did it go? Feel free to share what happened….

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Family Connection, More Than Words

Posted on May 4, 2011 by Phil

As you continue to connect with your kids by talking with them and asking them questions, try to connect with them in a different way…

Another way is to be involved in a project as a family. Here are some suggestions:

Volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter. Contact the organization in advance as many require appointments.

In many communities, families of children who receive free or reduced lunches during the school year struggle during the summer. Find out if there is a way your family can minister to these families during the summer months.

Giving Jar – Put an empty jar in a prominent place in your house and let your kids help decide in advance what organization will be the recipient of the money. As you add loose change to the jar talk about needs of people and pray not only about how you, as a family, can meet those needs but for the people receiving help.

Did you try it? Share what happened with us right here in the comment section. You may end up helping another parent as well…

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Conversation Starters About How Much Is Enough

Posted on April 6, 2011 by Phil

We probably both agree that talking with your kids is important. As you talk to your kids this month, we at Ridgecrest Summer Camps hope that these questions will provide a few starting places for you as a parent. Below you will find different questions that are geared for specific age groups, all centered around the same topic: “How much is enough?” We pray that they are useful to you and your family.

For Preschoolers
Each night this week, make thanking God for the things we have (toys, house, food) part of bedtime prayers.

For Children
Are you happy with the toys you have?
How many toys will it take to make you happy?

For Students
When billionaire Rockefeller was asked, “How much money is enough?” it is said his response was, “Just a little bit more.” What do you think of this? What are the dangers of always wanting more?

How did it go? Share your experience with other Ridgecrest Summer Camps parents…

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