Lead Your Family Above the Noise

We get bombarded all day and night with messages. We are pounded with billboards, website banners, pop ups, commercials on tv, and jingles to name a few. I don’t have a long commute but do listen to sports radio while running errands. My kids and I sing 1-877 Cars 4 Kids. Why? Because it’s stuck in my head! And yes, I sing it with a heavy twang like the singer in the commercial.

I don’t know the exact formula of marketing, but I do know it’s powerful. Kids programming is about 10 minutes or less of the actual show before the kids are hammered with a commercial. Of course they are going to ask you for to buy stuff all day. Did you know by the way, Sea Monkeys are still around? Yeah, the same Sea Monkeys that we read in the comic backs back in the day?

So much of the tv shows and radio programming out there is just noise, and we have to rise above the noise ourselves as individuals and bring our families with us.

Get clarity for yourself first. You are in control of the screen door to your mind. What are you allowing to influence your mind? What are you screening out? My email inbox is at least in the hundreds daily. Twice a day, I do a mass delete of emails and save the bill reminders and the handful of emails I will actually read. One of those is a Bible-verse-a-day. Here’s what was in this morning’s inbox, “There is a way that seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.” Proverbs 16:25. My purpose for getting that daily verse emailed to me is to entice me to read the entire proverb to get the full context. I will meditate on that like chewing on some beef jerky and set the course of for the day. It will show up in my speech and what and how I talk with my family.

Next thing, is just to turn it off. Turn off the news. Turn off the reruns. Put the tablet running YouTube videos down. Get outside. If you stay inside do something else. The main thing is to turn off the noise when you have the ability to do so.

What do you instead of watching tv all day or having a device in your face? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and we will continue on in a couple of days. Make it a great Monday above the noise!

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.

A Vision for your Family

My daughter and I watched these mice run on the wheel almost mindlessly at the pet store the other day. We giggled as we watched their little legs go as fast as they could to keep up with each other and keep the wheel going quickly in rhythm without stalling the wheel or falling off.

It may seem that way with us bi-pedalers as well. Have you felt that way? Have you felt like all you’re doing is running on a wheel and really going nowhere? You wake up, get the kids ready to go to school, drop them off, go to work, get off work, pick up the kids, take them to practice, inhale dinner, off to bed, squeeze in a workout, watch a funny pet video on FaceBook, post selfie on Instagram, sleep in front of the tv, then repeat the next day?

Surely life should be more than that. It is, however, it is up to us to get the meaning out it all. What I am trying to do that is actually harder to do than running on life’s wheel. I am approaching the wheel with more intentionality. I am finding out that this approach requires living life with vision. It may be foreign thing to do, but have a written mission statement for you and your family. You may believe in having a specific calling on your life to do something that has a positive impact in this world. How does that apply to your family?

Here’s an example of a vision statement for a family.

Our family mission:
To love each other…
To help each other…
To believe in each other…
To wisely use our time, talents, and resources to bless others…
To worship together…
Forever. 

I don’t think there are copyrights to vision statements, and this one may work for you. Find out your core values; the things you won’t budge on because they are convictions of your hearts. If you’re married, ask your spouse. Ask your children. Don’t try to cover everything. Narrow the list down to the principles and goals that are the most important to you.

Don’t assume that you all want the same goals. In my college days, I landed a sweet job working in a youth program that steered students away from drugs and gangs. A young teenager was sent to me by a school principle to give a pep talk to. He had been in a lot of trouble and was on his way to being expelled from school. I illustrated to him the American Dream; the wife, the house, car, and a cool dog in an attempt to give him an alternative future. I remember the boy looked at me squarely in the eyes and challenged, “Why do you think I want that?” I was speechless. It caused me to reexamine my core values. Think about your core values? Are these principles  really what you believe? Are these goals real what you want?

Once you have formed thoughts into words, then write them down. Post it somewhere where everyone can see it. Make it your creed. In other words, make the vision statement words to live by. Live by them. Stick to them.

Don’t “try” it. Do it. Take the first steps. Talk to your family. When you come up with your vision statement share it in the comments below. If you think my message is important please share it.

Make the Time

Do you make the time for yourself? Do you make time to spend time with the ones you love?

I took this shot a couple of years ago while watching families play on the beach this gloomy day, and happy I got this moment between a man teaching his son how to bodyboard. This was not a spontaneous outing. The father spent time and money to fit his son into a wetsuit and the right board. He may have spent time studying beach breaks that would be the best place for learning. It was apparent that this man was investing into his child and got some water therapy for himself at the same time.

I tried to get my kids to do the same, but they did not have the same love for the ocean as I did. What we do have the same passion for is cookies. That kind of backfired because after a few sessions and a couple of baking books, my daughters kicked me out of the kitchen to show that they could bake without my help. However, they make really delicious cookies. We might have the potential for a tasty family business.

The point is that you have to carve out time from your busy schedule. The time will not come to you. Believe me. As I tap out these words, I realize that I have not been on a date with any of my daughters in months. I was on a nice schedule of taking each one out for an ice cream cone night or trip to the bookstore where we just browsed and talked about books. These daddy-daughter dates did not happen because I didn’t set aside the time for it. It is time for me to get back on track.

Set appointments to enjoy time with loved ones. You have to do that with yourself too. Me time is important. Do not make excuses. A tight budget just means you need to be more creative with the activity. Besides, if it is important to you, then you will invest money into it as well as time. Put the dates on your phone. Add multiple reminders. Write a note and post it on your refrigerator. Make sure that you follow through.

What are you doing to carve out time for yourself and your loved ones? 

  • Do you make appointments on the calendar?
  • Is it consistent?
  • Are you giving your loved one your undivided attention during your time together?
  • Is there something like a hobby or television time that you can give up to invest that time back into yourself or a loved one?

If you have tips or insight, then comment below. I’d love to hear them.

Memory Go Round

His memories of this place were as vague as he chose them to be, but this day, this man relived this one a little longer. 

He sat on a wooden horse 35 years ago and watched his mother bury her face in her hands as his father walked away. He never saw the man again. 

His thoughts were interrupted by the laughter of his 2 children going around on their wooden horses. 

He clutched his wife’s hand a little harder and waved at his children,  determined to give them different memories. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this 1-minute fictional piece I wrote a couple of years ago. You may have had more than your share of painful memories as a child. You do not have to repeat them. Even if you did repeat them you can commit to break out of the cycle. The greatest security blanket you can give your children is you.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children?

Thoughts on Throwback Thursday #tbt


I posted this picture on Instagram and FaceBook on Throwback Thursday. Who switched it anyways? I thought it was Flashback Friday.

My son and I walked through Venice Beach back in 2009 with a Canon Rebel. We were armed with a 2GB card for pics and $25 for lunch.

We had a fun time that day people watching and taking pics. He’s an adult now, so the question is, “Did I provide a lot of memories for future Throwback Thursdays?” Am I providing enough for my wife and daughters?

I think most of us agree that the things we attain and our accomplishments mean very little when we have no one to share them with. Our greatest investments will be time spent with those who are closest to us.

What are you doing to deposit memories in the bank for future Throwback Thursdays?