What’s Your #1 Priority as a Parent?

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I recently read this blog about how the television shows our children watch could be really damaging the way they see themselves and each other. The writer of this blog focuses on The Disney Channel, and her opinions are her own, but I think her main point is very clear and very true: As parents, we should know what our kids are watching. We should be watching it too. And we should be talking to them about the messages being sent through these television shows, and whether or not they are positive.

It doesn’t end with television.  My only child is just three-years-old, so it is easy for me to get stuck on what three-year-olds do, but let’s not forget what older children enjoy: the internet.  Parents, please make sure you know what your kids, tweens, and teens are doing on the internet.  Does your child have a computer in their room?  Do you know what they use it for?  What about tablets and smart phones?

Remember this: You paid for that computer and you pay for the internet service.  It does not belong to your child and your child has no rights to the electronic devices you pay for or privacy while using them. You owe it to yourself and to your children to know what they are looking at, who they are talking to and what they are discussing.  Know what pictures they are taking and posting to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat… Look at the apps on your teenager’s phone.  If you don’t know what they are used for, find out.  If you don’t know what information is shared through a particular app, find out.  And don’t just look at the “public” stuff.  Look at the private messages.

The main priority we should have as parents is making sure that our children grow into compassionate, caring adults who can take care of themselves and others.  Before you get mad and say “Jessica, my most important job is loving my child,” please hear me out.  Do not misunderstand me.  If I did not already love my child, I would not care whether or not she grew up to be compassionate, caring, or competent. I have to think about what will my child be like when I’m not there to guide her, hold her hand, or push gently nudge her in the right direction.  How will she act when I’m not watching?

Being nosy will annoy your children.  That’s okay.  It’s the only way to protect them from the unseen, unheard cyber world that belongs only to them.  You may discover that your child has inadvertently put him or herself in danger. You may discover that your child is involved in bullying another child, or is being bullied.  You may discover that your child is already compassionate and caring. Most importantly: You will show your child that you care.

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