From one Christian mom to another, just trying to keep it real . . .
Parenting my kids is hard. We’re living in the 21st century and fighting the forces of technology’s negative influence on our children, from the time they can hold a brief attention span to the time we send them off as an adult to college. Cell phones, I pads, computers, X Boxes with numbers that I cannot keep up with stuck behind their title, and weird devices that look like over-sized swimming goggles that create a virtual reality experience when you use them. To put it bluntly, as a mom, I’m overwhelmed.
We have five children, ages 7 to 19. We parent them the best way we know how and yet I always sense the need for our growth—the need to do something more, to do other things less, to keep this or that thing going and to stop doing the other. It’s a continual process as we walk with the Lord, praying for each child intentionally, trying desperately to stay attune to God’s leading, His conviction, guidance and desires for our roles as mother and father to the kids that He has entrusted with.
We know that we are living in this world but told not to be of it. As parents we can take this to one extreme or the other, and we can also spend countless hours of mind-time driving ourselves crazy over what so and so’s family is doing or not doing in comparison with what we have chosen to do. I’d personally rather be parenting back in the 19th Century when life was simpler; however, God has placed me here at this time and this place and with this beautiful family. And we have chosen to allow technology to be a part of our family. The good and the bad about it.
Here’s where I get to keep it real. I hate it. I love it for my own personal uses—I use it every day for ministry, for studying, for communicating and yes, for frivolous things as well . . . but I hate trying to keep a handle on it with all of these children. It’s too much. With all of the different arenas of Facebook, Snap chat, Instagram, Twitter, games and the like, my head is swimming even at the thought of trying to keep up with who’s doing what and who’s on it for how long and who’s playing what. I’m not saying that I want to bailout of my responsibility to be the parent with the authority, I’m just saying it is so very difficult and extremely exhausting.
And yes I have good kids and yes they listen to me (most of the time) and yes they tend to make good choices (some of our attempts to be consistent over the last two decades have paid off) . . . however, they are children (and well, one adult now). Since the time when they were babies, they have been prone to folly and to an undisciplined nature (For pete’s sake, so am I!). I can relate to their struggle to do what they know is right when it is so very hard to pull yourself away from the technology that keeps our eyes, thoughts, imagination, and fingers literally racing. Lord, help us each one. Seriously.
So we’re starting the new year with some new boundaries, some new ideas to keep our family intact and to do our best, in the power of God, to allow Christ to be the center of it. We’ve scheduled monthly one-on-one parent/child dates, we’ve committed to prioritizing our marriage so that our children can see our covenant relationship thriving by the grace of God, and we’ve purchased our own little technology device (yay me!) that will physically allow us to monitor, turn off, adjust times and content, etc. for every child, every app and every device that connects to our internet.
Trust me, we’re fighting the spiritual battle to follow through even as we speak. Everyone in the house has something not-so-nice to say about mommy’s new piece of equipment. And not everyone wants to sit and have family meetings, not everyone wants to read Scripture and discuss what God’s been doing in our lives of late. Too bad, so sad, I think to myself. It’s for our own good, and for theirs as well. As parents we’ve decided that we can and will step out in faith—that we will build relationships with these kids and point them to the love and grace of God.
And we will give thanks for the opportunity to do so, every day. Because I know this much to be true: not every mom gets to be blessed to raise five kids with the last name of Hoos. And the glorious reality is that if we make it through this parenting season, technology challenges and all, there may one day be a ton (yes, I said a ton) of little people running around with their own devices in hand and the same last name as ours.