A controversial approach to phones for children

The debate continues. Should children have smart phones?

Experts are on both sides, but many psychologists agree that phone use—especially at bedtime—is harmful to the development of children. Use of smart phones also opens them up to groomers, hackers, and bullies. It enables them to begin harmful habits, like self-harm and porn. Phone use can even instruct them how to hurt others—and commit suicide.

So, I will float a controversial idea.

It may rock your boat. And, if you listen, it may save your child.

Give your child a simple phone that only calls parent-approved numbers. It doesn’t take pictures. You can’t text with it. They do exist, and there are many on the market. Just search for “simple phones for children.”

Your number and emergency personnel should top the list, followed by trusted others and maybe some of the child’s best friends—kids you personally know well.

Instruct your child never to share his phone number—even though it’s a “dumb phone”—to anyone you haven’t previously approved. Even so, check his phone from time to time.

Non-smart phones enable your kids to stay in touch with you with several added benefits: You have saved them from comparisons, bullying, and wasting time. You’ve enabled them to enjoy their childhood, be creative, read, run, and have genuine, playtime fun.

I understand that I lived in a totally different world when I grew up. My parents didn’t have to fear letting us ride our bikes all over the neighborhood. They weren’t afraid we’d get kidnapped or trafficked. They taught us our address and home phone number, and with those two pieces of information, we knew how to contact them.

Today, many women work outside their homes, and I understand that it’s important for them to be able to stay in touch with their kids. A simple phone does this. It lets them call their parents, and parents can call them. Anyone can leave a message, if needed. The added benefit is that a simple phone is easy to use. Even a first grader can master it.

Happy childhoods require unconnected time.

Experts used to warn us about television viewing. Now, phone addiction is a sad reality.

I often wonder if a born again Christian child can even meditate on a Bible verse, since he’s always staring at the device in his hand. How can he pray without ceasing if he’s continually tuned in to his phone? A simple phone can enable spiritual freedom, as well.

Unconnect your child today. This year, give your son or daughter a phone designed for children, and you’ll notice an awesome difference in your family.

I guarantee it.

Your thoughts are welcome, even if you disagree. Feel free to comment kindly.

Your Kids in Church? 8 Practical Tips for Parents

Today’s churches are struggling to keep the younger generation. Their parents are in church. Their grandparents are in church. But, there are huge gaps. I see it every time I go back to the United States. I sit near the back of the auditorium of a church of around a thousand. I look around me. Probably half of the attendees have white hair. What does that tell me? We’re not keeping our kids. (You see, I have quite a few gray hairs myself, and my kids are grown and married. They are the next generation, so I know what I’m talking about.) There’s a whole generation of teens and young adults who simply aren’t there.

Why?

It’s happening in excellent churches with Bible preaching pastors and wonderful people making up the church body. These people care. They have good families. The preaching and singing glorify God.

So, what’s the problem? Why don’t kids—teens and young adults—go to church?

I believe there are two reasons.

  • Parental values. They say that values are taught and caught. I believe there’s a lot more to it, but it’s true that children—especially from age eleven upwards—acutely understand what’s going on at home. They have the best antennae in the world. They pick up on lifted eyebrows and nuances. They can hear through walls! Your young child knows more about your real values than you know yourself. He is watching you for leadership. So, what are you doing? Oh yes, you go to church—every time the door is open. You even do one good work. It might be ladies’ meeting or a special prayer effort, a children’s outreach, or a sports night. You do one thing besides services. You’re an active member. Yet, that’s about it. Junior has never seen you open your Bible on your own. You forget to pray before meals. You don’t have family devotions of any kind. You don’t pray together about family matters. You don’t ask God to meet needs. Yet, you go to church every service. Do you know what the antennae pick up? Static. Hypocrisy. Junior isn’t convinced that church attendance actually did you any good. He’s not sure your works are an outpouring of your heart. So, he throws it all away—lock, stock, and barrel. He wants something real.
  • Parental involvement. Time is everything. Quality time is everything. You need both in parenting! I believe that a parent who invests his life—sacrificing much of his own “free time” for the good of his children—will reap the rewards. So many parents have their children signed up for lots of worthy activities after school: gymnastics, soccer, music lessons, etc. Kids are whisked from school to the activity, they grab a bite to eat at the nearest fast food and go to the next thing. At ten p.m. they’re trying to finish up their homework—and tomorrow will be the same. Families don’t have family time. They have time in the car. Truthfully, that’s better than nothing. But, they aren’t together as a complete family in non-pressure time. Kids don’t feel connected with Mom and Dad because they’re not together much. Children don’t feel free to discuss things with their parents and confident they’re loved just as they are. They’re not secure.

These children get to their teen years, and they deal with challenges by clamming up at home, and texting and hanging out with friends. They don’t relate to Mom and Dad. Unless these teens are with other church families—doubtful—they quit going to church.

What can Christian parents do?

  1. Cut down on the extras—even good activities. Children need free time for playing. They need family time and enough sleep. They do better when after-school activities are limited. Be choosy. Less is more.
  2. Make family time a priority. What I mean is that, unless it’s extremely important and rare (which kids understand), you’ll be home with your kids at least three nights a week. You do something together—all the family—on Saturdays. It can be cleaning the garage or yard work and laundry, but you are together, doing things as a family unit. Hikes, bike rides, or a visit to a neighborhood park are great, refreshing get-aways for everyone. (By the way, all family time should be phone free for everyone.)
  3. Invest in each child. Doing things along with your child creates fabulous opportunities to talk. It’s not too confrontational, because all the time you’re both doing something. Kids need to be able to express their fears, news, and concerns. They need to know that Mom and Dad are non-judgmental and safe. Moms and dads shouldn’t go around sharing what their teen told them. This builds respect, and believe it or not, these stable relationships between children and their parents contribute to the furtherance of the church.
  4. Help your child have good, Christian friends. This was difficult for us, because our children were in the “between” age group in our small church. But there was one fine young man our son could befriend, and we tried to get them together often. Our daughter had it harder. We actually found her a friend in another country (about three hours from us), and a wonderful friendship developed. It meant traveling for us and the girl’s family, but it was more than worth the effort. Please understand: our kids had other friends, too, but their closest friends were Christians. In the teen years, these friendships are vital.
  5. Be faithful to church—and involved in a family ministry. Many church families only warm the pews once a week. When the whole family is faithful and involved, children get the message that church is important. What kind of a ministry can you do together with your kids? Give it some thought and volunteer. If you can’t think of anything, ask your pastor. Most children who were actually active in church all their lives continue to be active in church. When they were involved along with their parents, they usually stay in church.
  6. Be genuinely godly. Teens know your priorities. They feel genuineness and artificiality, as well. They sniff out hypocrisy better than anyone. The family that has a sweet atmosphere because both parents genuinely love the Lord and each other will help their kids desire to love God and family. The parents who share their own Christian walk in a transparent way help their children understand how to deal biblically with struggles, how to pray, and how to trust God. But, when there’s strife, selfishness, harshness, and contradiction between words and actions, children tend to trash their parents’ “values.” Sadly, that includes the church. When parents can’t forgive nasty people in their church, it’s no wonder kids blame the church for their hurts. Show them how to biblically resolve problems and show faithfulness in spite of hurt.
  7. Pray for each child. This begins before your baby is born and continues ever afterwards. Even when your children are adults, pray for them. God can turn around the most wayward child and break through to a hardened heart.
  8. Trust God. Many times, we can’t see what God is doing. Trust Him to do what’s best for your child.

If your grown child isn’t presently in church, pray for him and trust the Lord. God cares.

Are children responsible for their actions? Five ways to teach them

When our children were small, I often heard mothers excusing the behavior of their children with such sayings as: “He’s just a child,” “Children will be children,” and so on. And, of course, it’s true. You can’t expect maturity from a child. Are children responsible for their actions?

Once, a boy tried to throw rocks around eight inches in diameter at our kids. His mother’s reaction? “He’s just a boy.” She didn’t say, “I’m so sorry that happened. I will make sure he never does that again.” No. She just excused him.

Another child stole things. The father’s response was denial: “He didn’t take anything.” But he did, and we could prove it.

Are children responsible for their actions?

The Bible says yes. Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right (Proverbs 20:11).

I don’t know at what age a child is responsible for sin. That’s not what I’m talking about here. In this post, we’re looking into a child’s actions. Children are known by what they do.

Yes, children naturally do things like throwing fits, making small dramas into big ones, and so on. And, they bump into things, spill milk, get themselves messy, and leave toys out. That’s what normal children do. They are not teens or adults. I believe it’s perfectly fine for children to be themselves—while you teach them manners, how to look out for danger, and how to care for their home.

What should we look for in teaching our own children? How can we help them to be known for good works?

1. One of the most important things to teach them is to heed our voices. The Bible says, My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother (Proverbs. 1:8).

2. Teach your child to obey you. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise) Ephesians 6:1-2.

Our family was picnicking in a narrow park next to a street. A child’s soccer ball went out into the street with a little boy running after it. The child’s father yelled, and the boy stopped immediately, turning around to face his dad. A car would have hit him had he not listened to his father and obeyed immediately. The car actually grazed the soccer ball. The outcome could have been tragic, but the child listened to his father and obeyed right away. This incident was a great object lesson for our grandson, who watched it unfold.

3. Teach your children their good works please you. My experience as a young mother was that it was easy to get caught up in disciplining and correcting and forget to praise. It’s important to do both, of course. Let your children know that their obedience, thankfulness, thoughtfulness, sweetness, and giving please you. Praise these things. Thank your children. Notice the things they do well and compliment them. You’ll see their eyes sparkle. They want to please you. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother (Proverbs 10:1b)

4. Teach your child to love God. This is the most important thing you will do as a parent. Show your child what it means to love God.

This begins with your own faith. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

Teach them what God has done. This will mean reading them Bible stories, sharing your family’s answers to prayers, and making the Bible come to life as you share your own spiritual journey with your children.

I’m a grandmother, and it’s such a satisfaction to see how the biblical worldview and love for God that my husband and I passed down to our children is getting passed down to theirs.

We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children (Psalm 78:4-6).

5. Expose them to God’s plan for salvation. When our first child was very small, my husband and I talked to her Sunday school teachers and asked them specifically to tell the little children—probably around three years old at the time—that Jesus died for their sins and rose again. We wanted the gospel woven into every lesson. Our desire was that she would begin to understand what Jesus did for her. Now, she is a mother. After a move, she and her husband were visiting area churches. One of the factors in their choice was the children’s class. In several of the churches, three-year-olds were kept in a nursery with no Bible stories at all. In the church they attend, the gospel was taught—with fun activities—to all the children in every age group.

Make sure the gospel is also taught at home in your family devotions. You don’t have family devotions? You can begin now. We used to do them at the table after our main meal, but you can choose any time the whole family is together. For small ones, keep it short and sweet. Prayer, Bible story or Bible reading, and that is enough. Don’t make them hate it by having long periods of prayer requests. (I used to go crazy with those!) Change it up. Sing a hymn sometimes. Just make sure your family focuses on the Lord together.

When you teach your children respect, obedience, and to love God, they will be known for their good actions. They will be a credit to you. And, best of all, they will be happy.