First appearing as innocent catalysts to the wonderful world of information, the Internet (the
Information Highway), Texting, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace (to name a few), have all become the Trojan of those things we would otherwise not allow into our home. As a result, our kids have been introduced to too much too soon. Easy access rules! And from the throne of information, ideas and behaviors have crept into our communities, churches, and our homes and have slowly and cleverly redesigned how we process what's right and wrong for our children.
When my son was in the 6th grade, I was called by the school principal who shared that my son was part of a group of 5 boys caught passing a picture of a naked woman. I later learned that one of the boys had printed the picture (in color) at home and brought it to school to proudly share. Sure boys are going to be curious about a naked woman in a photo - my point is that regardless of the controls in school and at home, kids find a way to share information and for some children, that information may be too much too soon.
Not every parent pays attention to what their child watches and what they listen to or the access they have to internet and social media. If your child attends school (public or private), hang out with friends, or attend social events, rest assure they have been introduced to information they may not have been prepared to deal with. How do you handle discovering that your child has had a premature introduction to drugs or alcohol, foul music, and sex? The key is to have a solid home base. Home base is what your child relies on when challenged to over-step self imposed restraints. Home base is comprised of all those hard lessons, all those boundaries, all that love, and that support you give your child while they are under your wings at home. This does not mean they will be perfect and never make a bad decision. But a positive home base can minimize the pain of consequences they will face and help them to make better choices. I have decided that as the parent, I set the boundaries on what I knowingly allow my child to be exposed to and prayerfully, the guidance they have been given over the years will serve as a reference point when they are pressed to make those hard choices.
We can not afford to be spectator parents. We have to be involved in who our children hang out with and where they go. I ask questions and I ask often. Do I care about embarrassing my child in front of peers? Of course so I make the attempt to be "cool" and discreet when asking but there is no compromise when it comes to knowing who their friends are. I collect phone numbers and names.
The world is waiting for our children with open arms and will have their attention soon enough. Until then, we can shield their innocence and as best we can protect them from too much too soon. We have them for such a short time, and then they are gone...
Have you ever had a house guest you wished would go home yesterday? Whether it’s family or a favor for a friend, a house guest is someone privy to another person's personal space. So as a guest, every courtesy of discretion and respect for the host's privacy should be considered necessary.
Instead of characterizing the perfect guest, I want to describe how NOT to be the dreaded guest. First, don't invite yourself. And when you are extended an invitation, know when to go home! A "few days" does not mean you stay a few weeks. If you say you are going home tomorrow, find yourself packing and go home tomorrow!
Recognize the dos and don’ts of the house without someone having to spell it out to you. For example, if you notice that meals are eaten in certain rooms such as the kitchen, dining, or family room, then you should do the same. If you don’t hear anyone blasting music or the television in their bedroom, resist the urge to boom your favorite tunes. If you notice the house goes calm at a certain time of day, respect the quietude (and see that your children settle down as well.)
As a guest, tread lightly in the kitchen. Unless you were given free rein to help yourself (and even then be sensible), don’t assume the refrigerator and cupboards were stocked for your pleasure only. Consider a trip to the store to pick up a dessert, fruit, or juice to share. Personally, I don’t think a house guest should ever show up empty handed – a small gift for the host or the hosts’ child is always a nice gesture.
Leave the bathroom cleaner than you found it. Don’t leave hair or toothpaste in the sink and wipe the toilet eat when done. Check the bath tub and shower to be certain you don’t leave anything that points unfavorably to your presence. Maid service or not, clean up after yourself.
Above all else, be a pleasant guest.