I want kids to know that in Christ they possess all the self-control they will ever need. Enough power all day, every day, to say “yes” or “no” to anything. Christ’s Spirit lives in His children at all times (Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20).
Here is my advice to kids:
- Don’t be available all the time.
- Don’t over analyze his or her texts or posts.
- Try not share too much.
- Avoid using silence as a weapon.
- For goodness sake, don’t take pictures of yourself for the other person
- State your preferences – like saying you would rather talk on the phone, meet in a group setting, or appropriately face-to-face.
- Great text-messagers can be terrible boyfriends or girlfriends.
- Know that your mom and dad love you and want to protect you.
As parents, we know that we (parents) are often frustrated in this digital age. They are frequently out of the loop because so much interaction occurs without ever meeting the person who might be “talking” to their kid in the intimacy of their own bedroom.
Here is my advice to parents:
- It is normal for your child to want to connect with the opposite sex. Social media creates a space for teens to take time to get to know each other minus the physical component of a relationship.
- Find a way to respectfully spy on your kid. If a parent is cool, kind and calm about it, knowing what is going on in their child’s social media account is a form of protection and love.
- It is best to start intervening in your child’s social media world early. Get them accustomed to you lovingly having access to their phone. A basket during meals is a good idea. Phone curfews are wise. It is challenging, but not impossible to set guidelines at a later date. After all, you do pay the bill. If the student resists and the device isn’t easily handed over, texting privileges are removed for a season. But remember, this is motivated by love not a legalistic regime. Over time, students should be given more freedom, as they demonstrate maturity.
- In general ask questions and listen to your child. Let’s refrain from interrupting our kids when they are trying to share their stories. Try not to take over the conversations. The Holy Spirit is sufficiently capable of assisting us in this.
- I often share my own experience that relates to theirs, without sharing unnecessary details.
- Clarify the difference between punishment and consequences, motivated by love. Discipline and punishment are two different things. They have different goals. Discipline’s goal is to protect and teach. Punishment’s goal is to cast judgment or condemnation. God disciplines those He loves (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6).
- Patiently help your teens understand what is undergirding every boundary and patiently work through any resistance.
- Keep assuring your children that they are loved, and that no matter what they have done in the past, that you believe that they are capable of making great decisions in the area of dating and this digital culture.
Tracy Levinson is the best selling author of “Unashamed – candid conversations about dating, love, nakedness & faith.” Visit her website: www.tracylevinson.com