There are some truths that are obvious, but still difficult to put into action.
In debt? Quit spending more than you earn
Overweight? Eat less and exercise
Unhappy at work? Get a new job
I’m here today with one more obvious truth that I hope you take to heart.
When we consider all the many ways our children can stumble in life, whether it be drugs, pornography, unhealthy relationships, or the worst, suicide, there is one solution that is guaranteed to prevent almost all of it.
One solution and it is crazy simple.
Be there. Put down your phone and spend time with your child.
Here are several pictures of kids who are NOT getting into trouble.
It is an obvious truth right? Unless you are insane, your child isn’t watching porn with you, doing drugs with you, or being cyberbullied by you.
Simply doing things with your child not only physically prevents them from getting into trouble at that time, it builds a relationship that can help keep your kid safe when you are not around.
If we are being 100% honest with ourselves, most of us don’t spend enough time interacting with our children. How often do we let their devices babysit them just so we can have a few minutes of “peace” or scroll social media for the hundredth time in a day?
I know that moms and dads have to work. I know it is impossible to be with your child at all times. But when you are physically with your child, are you being present? Are you making eye contact? Laughing? Asking questions?
I can hear all the stay at home moms and dads now, “I’m with my kids all day.” That’s great, and I’m happy for you. But what I’m talking about here is deeper than being in the same house at the same time.
Often times, I will be at a doctor’s appointment or some other place with my children, and I have an opportunity to observe other parents. This is what I see: kids staring at devices and parents doing the same. No one is communicating. No one is laughing. No one wants to do anything but interact with the outside world while the most important people on earth are right beside them.
Why do we spend all of our time online and act like we have none left for our family? I would say the majority of parents I know are just as addicted to their phone as their kids are. If this describes you, you need a digital detox:
You are agitated when your child interrupts your phone usage
Your phone is the last thing you look at before bed and the first thing you look at in the morning
You can’t go to the bathroom without your phone
You text and drive
Your child has to say your name several times to get your attention
Your battery doesn’t last all day
You are on your phone even while watching TV
If you have these signs, please consider a digital detox. Your brain and your kids will be much happier!
Another reason parents aren’t doing things with their kids is because it is not convenient. I can cook dinner by myself much faster than if my kids are “helping” me. However, I choose the help because with the help comes lots of laughter and conversation. Involve your kids in whatever it is you have to get done. Eventually, they will get good at it, and you can get the job done faster together.
Spending time with your kids is easy. You don’t need Pinterest activities or planned outings. Here are some things you can do with your children:
Jump on the trampoline
Push them on a swing
Go walk, bike, swim, or run
Clean- even if they hate it, you are together and building strong relationships
Play with their toys
Sit down and learn their favorite video game
Read to them or let them read to you
Teach them a skill- are you a photographer, seamstress, or carpenter? Share your knowledge!
Do yard work. It is a great way to get some physical activity, learn work ethic, and spend time together.
See Jenny Go has some great ideas for things to do with your children.
Whatever you do, just remember that even as kids get older and more independent, they still need you. They need you to be involved, to know what is going on in their lives, and to care about the small stuff. It may mean listening to every single detail of the latest video game or movie they watched. It might mean watching as they do the same exact cannonball into the pool fifty times in a row. But know this- care about the small things now, and they will come to you with the big stuff later. You NEED them to come to you with the big stuff, so you can guide them and help them in making wise decisions.
Want to keep your teen out of trouble? Start young and don’t stop. Haven’t been there for your teen? Start now and don’t stop.
We only get one shot at parenting our children. Be there and be present, so you can enjoy a lifelong friendship with your child.