The journey is not alone

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”~Ernest Hemingway

Many of you will agree that the journey is what counts the most. This is a consistent theme, yet I can still get so consumed with the destination that I forget that it is what happens in the process that makes me who I am.

When I took this picture of a young man walking his mother to a wedding ceremony, I was reminded that we don’t do this journey alone. People’s journeys and destinies are tied to mine. The ones most affected by my journey are the ones I lead, that is, my family.  I set the direction. I set the pace. I define the boundaries. I speak the dreams. I share the victories and the disappointments.

Many parents have dreams for their children to become a wildly successful lives as adults. Let’s not forget that it’s the process that happens on the way to the destination that makes the child become who he is.

Remind everyone on the journey with you that it really is the journey that matters, in the end.

Using Boundaries

Could you imagine driving the day our government lifted all traffic laws? It would be a great start to get on the open road and put the pedal to the metal without the worry of getting pulled over by the police. Most likely, you wouldn’t make it to the open road. The chaos of multitudes of drivers driving every which way would make your journey treacherous to say the least.

Traffic laws were put in place to save us from ourselves. Do you know where I am going with this? We pay attention to the lines in the street. Just like the painted white lines in this highway keep the drivers and their passengers safe while enroute to a destination, so do the universal boundaries that govern the areas of our life: our health, money, career, and our family. I believe that God put them in our lives to bring benefits to our lives not hamper them. People have tested boundaries from the beginning of time. I can tell you that gravity does not exist, but the moment jump off the roof it doesn’t matter what I believe. I will be going down in a hurry and injury and pain will be the result. These boundaries exist.

Take this perspective and apply it to your parenting. Use the boundaries to guide your children to keep them on the road to well being.

Make the boundaries clear and consistent. I recently drove through the local mountains in a thick fog. Visibility was very poor. In some stretches of the mountain road I had to rely solely on the reflective center line to navigate through the fog. Make the boundaries clear for your children. Write them down. Put them on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror. Tell your children. Have your children repeat it back to you what the boundaries are. Don’t be wishy-washy. Don’t change the boundaries based on your feelings or your convenience. By doing these things you are making boundaries clear and keeping them clear.

Follow though. I have been in of countries that had traffic laws but didn’t have the traffic officers to enforce the laws. I remember in one city street, the drivers made 8 lanes out of 4 marked lanes. It was nuts. Men got out of there cars to handle their disputes that turned into fist fights, meanwhile bringing traffic to a halt. The chaos and violence were a direct result of a lack of follow through. Whatever you decide as the correction part keep it consistent. It isn’t based on your temperment. It should be based on your children’s development. The purpose is to get your children to think about their actions and attitudes.

You might be familiar these words that start off Psalm 27, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” King David, the writer likened himself to a sheep and God as his shepherd. David stated that the shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me.” Isn’t it interesting that the “sheep” said that it was the instrument of correction that brought him comfort. That is because the rod isn’t just for correcting. It is more than that. The rod is used to protect. David himself was a shepherd and killed a lion who preyed on the sheep. The staff he used to prod and correct the sheep was also used to eliminate danger as well.

The point of discipline is to help your children create those boundaries in their hearts to guide them when you aren’t around. Your discipline of your children should go beyond telling them, “No,” and correcting them just because you are at your wit’s end. Help your children establish the boundaries for themselves. Who’s old enough to have taught your teenager how to drive a car? I am sure that you didn’t decide to permanently stay in the passenger seat to teach your child how to drive. It was a much shorter process than that. You intended for your teenager to know the rules of the road for him/her to operate the car without you. Shouldn’t we have the same intentional process with our children?

What are your thoughts? Your input is appreciated.

Your Children And Social Media

girls playing on street

Would you let your child freely interact with strangers? That question is the basis for my thoughts and opinions on children using social media. It is hard to have a simplistic grasp of the explosion of social media. We can share our lives via photo, video, sentences, and a song in an instant. We are interacting in ways that we couldn’t imagine years ago. My 80-year old low-tech dad just followed me on Instagram. Times have changed. Social media has opened avenues of communication that allows the participant to access dozens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. Where do our children fit in the social media picture that is increasingly becoming an integral part of our daily lives?
That brings me back to the first question. Would you let your children freely interact with strangers? The answer for my children is no. In public situations, when strangers approach my children, I make sure I redirect the interaction between me and the stranger. When I’m shopping, I don’t let my children leave my side to interact with people I don’t know. Why would I allow my children to do that on the internet?

Things to think about…
  • Predators are rampant on the internet. They are all over the internet in every social media platform: FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Personal profiles can be easily be created to misrepresent the user. A predator wouldn’t typically identify himself as one on his profile. People are not who they say they are. I just checked into my Instagram account and someone started following me. The profile pic was stock photo of a model. Who knows who the real person is behind the account? I don’t. Neither does your child.
  • Peer pressure to post things for shock value. We are a “like-hungry” society. We crave more likes and reposts on the photos, videos, and words we post on social media. People pay money to buy followers on social media platforms. “Likes,” “Favorites,” “Repins,” and “Reposts,” are the fuel that make social media go. That pressure is on our children to fit in their digital world as well as their physical world. We all know that the easy way to get attention to internet activity is to promote sex and vulgarity. The pressure is on our children to promote the same things!
So when can my kid join in?
I’m going back to my theme. The permissions I allow my children to be in the physical world is similar to the interaction I would allow my children to have on the internet. If I allow my son to work at the local movie theater, where the bulk of his interaction is with people he doesn’t know, then yes, I would allow that in his digital world as well. With boundaries? Yes, and I will set them. Freedom without responsibilities and accountability is not freedom. The process is all about trust, and trust is earned, not given.

What is your involvement?
Parenting is active. Anytime, you don’t interact with your children or you do not actively supervise your children’s activities, it is very likely that your children will go beyond the boundaries. Street signs remind me about the rules while I drive to keep me and others around me safe. Those road signs are not consistent on the internet. The parent must be guiding his/her children, and that includes setting limits on time, content, and interaction. I can and will tell my child, who can and cannot be his internet friends.

The key rule in my house is that all devices stay in the living room. All interaction on all devices happens here. My pre-teens in the house and friends that wanted to video chat today. It had to happen in the living room. I did not have to be in the chat with them, but at least I was within view and earshot of their conversation.

Our children need boundaries the same way a river needs banks. When there are banks, the river is a source of life. When the banks are gone the river becomes a flood. I believe in saying no with purpose. I believe that setting boundaries for your children will help them create boundaries for their own lives.

What are the boundaries in your house for your children? Is it clear? Are you actively involved? Do you have any ideas and tips to share? Comment below.