#1 Reason NOT to “GIVE” Your Child/Teen A Smartphone For Christmas

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Tech Stuff, Teen Girls, Teen Guys, Texting

​I know how much joy you would get from giving your teen the latest and greatest smartphone.  Or even one that’s not the newest model, but one that you can at least read the screen. (I didn’t know cell phone glass could crack into so many pieces!  My daughter’s screen is barely readable!)

The joy on their faces would be so satisfying if you were to hand them that new device.  They would adore you forever.   Well…at least until the next time you told them to clean their room.

Here is why we don’t GIVE them a phone.  We buy the phone and let them use it.  We make it clear it is OUR phone.  Yes, there is a difference.

It may feel like it’s theirs, but make it known from the beginning that it is yours and therefore it can be taken away at any time for any reason.  You can ask to see it.  You can go through it.   When they spend too much time on it or you sense there are issues, you have the right to take it away for a while.  (Um…Aren’t you paying for the service, anyways?)

Since it is your phone and they are borrowing it and because it is a privilege (It’s not an American right), you can use it as leverage.    “Not doing well in school?”  No more cell phone.  “Disrespectful?”  Gone.   “Didn’t do your chores?”  Say good-bye.

There are dangers that come with these devices which means there is added responsibility.  Please check out this post about protecting your loved ones: TWO SETTINGS TO KEEP THE DARK SIDE OUT.

For those of you who are new to having a child with a cell phone (or tablet), you may want to look at this agreement (edit it as you see fit).  This is the best way to start giving them this new responsibility.    Click here for more info on hosting our Parenting Techies Workshop.

For those of you who have already made that purchase and planned to put it under the tree, wait until all the gifts are unwrapped and explain to them that they have a “loaner” phone.  Trust me, they will be just as excited.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Helping You Have Homes Devoted!
Jonathan & Carrie

Teenage Girl Ditches Her Smartphone

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Faith Conversations, Heart Connections With Your Kids, Tech Stuff, Teen Boys, Teen Girls, Teen Guys, Texting

hand-top-white-oldSomeone passed this on to me and it’s worth passing on to all (us) parents who are struggling though the maze of the smart phone battle. I had breakfast with a dad last Saturday that took away his son’s smartphone after finding some inappropriate things aboard that small, but powerful rectangular electronic wonder.

His son’s reaction? He became almost violent. His dad had to pull him off his mother as he was squeezing her, shaking and crying. Dad was shocked and described his son like an “addict.” The good news is that after a few weeks, his son detoxed and was glad not to have his dealer of all information and connections.

I’ve read that teens would rather have their car taken away than their cell phone. This black box is a portal into the universe of many “friends.” To go without is to commit social suicide.

May this incident above and the link to this video and article be another tool in your arsenal to help you communicate with your kids the importance of being in the here and now and developing real friendships. (How addicted are your kids?)

Teen ditches cell phone for a flip phone: Video
Article she wrote in 17 Magazine. (Caution: other articles probably not appropriate.)

Hold them close mom and dad. They grow up fast. As they become teens, you will be defending other influences, but don’t give up the fight. “Impress these on your children.” (Deut. 6:5-8) Keep your relationship prominent and you will be their coach for life, when all others have faded into the dark abyss of empty and shallow relationships.

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Some questions:

  • How much time do you think is too much to spend on your phone “connecting” with others?
  • How much time to you spend with your “head down?” (i.e. on your phone?)
  • What do you spend most of your time doing on your phone?  Research? Posting photos? Reading friend updates?
  • How many friends do you think you connect with during the week?
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13.20
  • What characteristics do you look for in friend?
    Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
  •  What characteristics do people see in you that makes you a good friend?
    A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17.17
  • What do you think would happen to your social life if you didn’t have a phone?
  • How many of your “friends” would you stay in touch with if your phone broke?
  • Would you consider going to a flip phone? Why or why not?
  • What might you be missing from spending time on the phone?

Connecting With Older Children

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Teen Boys, Teen Girls, Teen Guys

As parents, we long to connect with our children in meaningful ways. Those connections often provide opportunities to teach because feeling closeness softens the heart. When children are young, those special feelings of closeness happen regularly, even daily. You read a book to your four-year-old, he leans on your arm, and you cherish the time of connection. You correct your six-year-old, and she cries that repentant cry and wants a hug—and tears come to your eyes too, because you know you’ve connected with her heart.

The closeness you and your children feel is a function of the heart. In Acts 4:32 we read the early disciples “were one in heart and mind,” a statement of their unity. The heart is where we build the close relationships that help us to teach our kids in ways that will have a lasting impact. Closeness allows us to work with our children rather than against them as they develop the valuable character qualities they need to succeed in life.

These special moments of heart connection also happen with older children, but, in many families, they come less often. Connecting with an older child’s heart often takes deliberate actions on the part of the parent. Moms and dads need to be watching for opportunities and then take advantage of them when they come.

A fourteen-year-old gets a positive school report, giving her dad an opportunity to affirm her hard work. Her smile confirms he made the heart connection he’d hoped for.

Mom makes herself available when her son gets home in the evening because that’s often the time he likes to talk.

You Never Know When They Might Pop Up

Be on the lookout for opportunities to connect with your kids on a heart level, affirming their successes and sympathizing with their hurts. The relationships you build with your children are an essential foundation for helping them to grow. In those moments of closeness you may have opportunities for significant conversations or you may simply want to enjoy the heart connection.

This material comes from the book Parenting is Heart Work  by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. This book was written after a thorough study of how the word “heart” is used in the Bible. Do you know that there are more than 750 times when the word heart is used in the Bible? God cares about our hearts and we should care about the hearts of our children. Many parents focus only on behavior. Character is developed when we focus on the heart.

See this original article here. 


Parenting Techies Workshop

Check out reviews, full description, promo video, editable flyer, PowerPoint slide, and more details HERE.  Our Parenting Techies workshop is getting rave reviews as we equip parents, so they know how to protect their children/teens online and on their gadgets.

A Conference to Inspire Parents

Looking for a conference that comes to you to equip and inspire parents to lead at home?

Book Suggestion: 5 Reasons For Spiritual Apathy in Teens.

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Books, leaving a legacy, Resources, Teen Boys, Teen Girls, Teen Guys

KINDLE VERSION:

PAPER BACK:

Rob is a friend and mentor serving on our advisory board. With decades of ministry experience working with students and families, Rob and Amy bring to the table lots of insight and practical ideas to help.  Click here to purchase book.  Click here for Kindle.

(Just a reminder, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Homes Devoted. Bookmark this link and support us every time you shop.)

“When teens are struggling, disconnected, and apathetic, they need parental engagement more than ever. It is not the time to passively accept the behavior as normal and ignore the situation. Parents must express unconditional love and give genuine attention to their teens cultivating faith and character for a lifetime. It’s about pressing in to the heart of your teen, and pushing past the emotional struggle that often occurs in this phase of growing up. Rob and Amy Rienow share from a place of genuine concern for teens and parents alike. They remind readers that spiritual apathy is a serious problem that needs to be given proper attention. The Rienows share five reasons spiritual apathy exists in the lives of teens, and counter those reasons with practical steps parents can take to resolve the issue. Readers are reminded teens are in the midst of making decisions that impact the rest of their lives, and parental involvement is needed more than ever.”511LxTjFrfL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_

What Death Taught Me

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Boys, Teen Guys

This month marks the 9th anniversary of the death of a friend of mine. She was 24. Her family were missionaries to Mexico and Haiti; a beautiful picture of God’s love. They were hard at work when, one day in 2004, they received word that their daughter had cancer. Within a year she had gone home to be with the Lord. She was an amazing young woman – I hadn’t known her that long, but the love of Jesus radiated from her like a brilliant light shining on a dark night.

 

I remember visiting her one day at her home. She lay in bed, too weak to sit up. All we could do is talk to her while she listened, and then she would slightly whisper into my mom’s ear. But she was stunning. Through all the pain, tears, and physical hardships, she loved Jesus like no one I’ve ever seen. You could tell just by looking at her laying in her bed. When she died, I cried the entire funeral.

 

Looking back now, I learned so many things about life just from this one young lady. Death can be a painful instructor, yet one that teaches us lessons we remember throughout our lives. Here are three which stand out to me (I by no means have these perfected, but continue to work on them daily).

 

1)     Life is a Vapor. You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14 says it perfectly. We don’t know how long we have on earth, which means we need to make our time count. Be a “fragrant aroma” (2 Corinthians 2:15) to the world around you in everything you do, always pointing people to Christ.

2)     We Don’t Know Who’s Watching. When this young lady died, I don’t think she knew what an influence her life would have on people. She had no idea that nine years after her death, Beecher, who was just a little kid, would be writing about what an impact she had on him. Her testimony was both lived out and spoken in front of everyone – people all over the world. Who knows how many people were forever changed by just one encounter with her?! We never know who’s watching, and we never know if we’ll see that person again – so make a difference in their life.

3)     Our Lives can Create Lasting Repercussions. If you do what God calls you to do, whatever that is (one thing we do all know he’s called us to do is to spread the Gospel and love others), your life will have a lasting impact. Just like Shelby’s. You see, this young lady’s name was Shelby Kennedy. Her life still impacts people. How? Well, in 2009, the first annual nationwide Bible Bee was put on by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation. Thousands of kids participate every year, memorizing thousands of verses, and then compete to win the Bible Bee. It is an incredible event. And it all began because of this one young lady who was pursuing Christ passionately and spreading his love.

 

You see, our lives go much farther than just our little “circles”. They can create lasting change that impacts countless people for good. But we have to be living intentionally. Follow Christ and do what he commands you to. Serve. Love. Give. Disciple. And if you haven’t been living intentionally, start today. God will redeem the time “the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25), and you can start afresh. Go make your life count – you never know who God will change through you.

 

Questions:

Who’s someone in your life that inspires or challenges you to become better? Write them a note today thanking them!

What’s one thing you can begin right now that will have lasting change? Maybe it’s a Bible Study or serving someone, but do it now.

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