Staying ConnectedRecently, my friend, Cara, had a link to an article on her website that talked about how clueless parents were when it come to what their kids are up to. The article said:
"A third of American teenagers have attended parties where parents were at home while alcohol or illegal drugs were used, according to an annual back-to-school survey on teens' attitudes that paints an overall portrait of a generation of parents clueless about their kids' vices."
You can read Cara's post here. Her post has a link to the complete article.
I'd like to think I know my kids pretty well. Maybe that's due to the fact, I'm with them most of the day, every day. (Except for the 17-year-old who works at Target now or likes spending time with his best friend/cousin. Still, I'm able to keep track of him in both cases :-)
My kids are 17b, 14g, and 12b. And John and I have worked hard to stay connnected with our kids.
We make sure our house is the #1 Sleepover spot. Between our three kids, there are friends over probaby 1/2 the nights of the week. (It helps that their friends are kids of our friends, and we know what they're like.) The cost of food, videos, and games is worth it.
We also: 1) spend most of our free time with our kids. In fact, last week my husband was recovering from surgery and had to stay in bed all week. I hung out with him . . . and so did our kids. They lounged on the bed too or brought chairs into the room. We chatted, watched TV together, etc.
2) 99% of all movies we watch WITH our kids and discuss it. (Yes, I've seen ALL the teen flicks. And they've seen movies we watch . . . and if it's unacceptable for them to join us, then we know we shouldn't be watching it either!)
Last night we watched "Walk the Line." It was a little intense for the 12-year-old. Or was it? We were able to see what drugs did to a man's life and talk about it.
Two nights ago John and I took Leslie clothes shopping, out to dinner, and then to watch Step Up. (The dancing was amazing and the story--while predictable--was good too.) It was a great bonding time, and we were able to preview with her a movie she wanted to watch. (And yes, we were the only ones over 25 in the theater!)
3) I provide my kids with A LOT of healthy reading/listening material. We have Christian books from floor to ceiling in three large bookcases in the house. My daughter has read more Christian novels that I have, and her and my husband are always talking about their favorites. (Because he's read more Christian novels than I have too!) I also purchase good magazines like CCM, Brio, Breakaway, etc. I buy them Christian music cds and books on tape. (My youngest son LOVE the Jonathan Park cds and the Narnia cds.)
4) John and I give our kids a healthy example. They see us reading together and praying together in the mornings. I also do devotions with them (the twelve-year-old) or they have their own quiet time with God. In fact, my 14-year-old took it upon herself to read the Bible through. She's in Judges, and she the other night as we shopped, she was talking about what she was reading.
5) Service is a part of our lives. We mentor teen parents and have them over often. We volunteer at church and in the community and our kids are involved too. It's totally the norm for them.
That's not to say we're perfect parents. Far from it! And we don't have pefect kids. Don't I wish. And they do have vices. For sure. But mainly we know about them because we are in their lives. Either that or they've confessed them to us. (Yes, giving them a healthy sense of what's right and wrong is important too. As is loving on them after they fess up.) So while it's not perfect, we are perfectly happy with where we are this stage in the game.