Thursday, March 26, 2015

The day my son saw a naked woman.

Ughhhhhhhh. I want to scream out in frustration!

My son came to me today while he was online- he's learning to make websites, which is great and he loves it. He came to me and said he had seen an inappropriate picture. He closed the tab and came to get me. Phew. That's the good news...and I'll go back to that in a minute.

The terrible news is that I went into the history and looked at where he had been. He had been searching for an image of cardboard armor and had then stumbled onto an adult dating site. Well, the homepage for this site is a nude woman. Standing there with no clothes on, inviting you to try this site. I am SO sad for this. I am sad and disgusted that the first naked woman he's seeing is a girl he will never meet in real life, and certainly not someone he will be romantically involved with. I am screaming inside. I'm so upset about it. I've had some time to think about it, I'm more angry. Angry that we live in a world that makes it nearly impossible to guard our children's innocence. Certainly we can and need to be taking measures and steps to protect our kids on the internet with internet safety programs, blocking adult content, etc. But in the end, it is not a matter of IF, it's a matter of WHEN.

Sigh, even as I'm writing this, I'm blaming myself. If we would just have had better security, maybe that wouldn't have happened. And then I feel pity, my poor precious son, being exposed to something that he should never have seen. I feel discouraged and so so sad.

But wait.....really, wait!!! I have to stop feeling like this and focus on something else- his repsonse to it. This isn't the first time he's come to us saying he saw something inappropriate. The other times it's happened, the pictures haven't been so graphic, and as far as I know, this was the first totally nude photo. But he shut the tab and came right to me and told me. This is all I could ask for.

This has been a long, ongoing conversation we've been having with him and our other boys since they were young. We've told that girls are precious and their bodies are something private. We've talked to them about their own private areas and why it's important to keep them private, and what to do if someone violates that privacy. I know we need to continue having conversations, ones that will be more intense as they get older.

So, in a way,  I feel like we've prepared him for this moment. I'm just disgusted that we have to do that. Coming face to face with it isn't fun at all. But I feel like my choice is to despair and just be upset. OR.....I can keep the conversation going with him. His dad is going to talk with him when he gets home from work tonight. I think his dad can ask him questions that maybe would be embarrassing for me to ask him....

I think I have to believe that nothing was ruined today. We've only just stepped in to an extremely intense, very real battle that was already raging. To think that my kids would be the ones who would somehow manage to escape the horrendously high statistics of children exposed to pornography, would be ignorant and untrue.

My kids will face this challenge and my hope and prayer is that they can do it armed with the right tools to be able to face it with honor and respect for women, and a desire to fight against lust and a lifetime of bondage to pornography.

I know it's possible. I don't like it and I wish we didn't have to go through this, but I'd rather walk right beside my kids and get in the mud with them, then pretend it didn't happen.

For God's Kingdom, and for His Glory.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Teaching Our Kids to Take Responsibility Part 2

This is the next post in Teaching Our Kids to Take Responsibility. You can read the first one here- about teaching our kids to take responsibility for their actions. This post?

Teaching Our Kids to Take Responsibility for Their Happiness

Happiness. It's something we all want right? But I can say that it is 100% difficult to make someone
else happy if they don't want to be. You can try, and sometimes it does work- but I find it's hard to make it last.

This is especially true for a child who doesn't want to be happy. I mean, I've bought toys, planned special trips, promised tv, let them play extra nintendo, bought donuts, candy, you know, all those healthy things- and while those things do seem to provide temporary happiness- usually just around the corner is something that makes the child unhappy and now we're back to square one.

So…I learned early on that if anyone was going to be making my kids happy, it wasn't going to be me. I just can't keep up with it! They MUST learn that if they want to be happy- there is only one person who can make that choice- and it wasn't me, lol.

We don't want to become the source of their happiness, because I think what will ultimately happen is this- we will be helping to create an unhealthy pattern, instead of making them happy. Our kids will get used to us finding a solution to their negative feelings. But, one of the problems is......what happens when we are no longer around our kids as much? Who will make them happy then? I guarantee they will try to find someone to fill our shoes.

I saw this fantastic picture floating around Facebook- it was a picture of two people sitting on a train. One was looking out at a beautiful sunset and he was smiling. The other was on the other side of the train next to a stone wall- he looked depressed. The quote on the picture was-

"Every single day you make a choice."

This really spoke to me- I printed it out and slapped it on the fridge. And then pointed it out to my kids. It's been a great reminder. And the basis of this is just to really hammer in that our kids are the ones who have the power to decide whether they are going to be happy in any given day or in their life. This is so key to helping them understand that if they want to have a happy life- they can CHOOSE it. Much like taking responsibility for our actions- this is tough stuff! But, my hope is that by starting to teach my kids while they are young- they will have an easier time with it.

Next step.... how to make this practical. Here are 4 ways you can help your kids take charge of their happiness.

1. Find autobiographies, biographies, and stories of people whose odds were against them- but they still chose happiness. 
There are SO many stories of people who overcame unthinkable odds- Joni Erickson Tada, Corrie Ten Boom, and Nick Vujicic are great examples. These people encountered extremely difficult circumstances. And despite this, they chose to be happy and live very fulfilling lives.

I think naturally, as we're growing up, we think that if good things happen to us then life is good and if bad things happen to us, then life is bad. A great example of this is my 5 yr old- you know, when something good happens, she says she's having the best day of her life. But then when something she doesn't like happens, she's having the worst day of her life. I think that we need to teach our kids that- hey, that's not the truth. We can make a choice to have a good attitude whether or not something is "good" or "bad". You can choose to love and behave in a way that is right.

Ultimately, we don't have to live based on our feelings. This is obviously a tough subject. Even adults struggle with this, I know I do. But, I want to go ahead and get my children thinking about this and understanding this now, while they are young. Reading inspiring stories is a great way to teach them!

2. Teach your kids that choosing to be happy doesn't mean bad things won't ever happen. 

I feel like this is really important to teach our kids. Being happy isn't some magic formula. We can't always control what happens to us. Life happens, tragedies happen, we can't stop those things. But again, we can teach our kids that they still have a choice when it comes to how they respond. If they can learn to see things in a positive light- they will have a powerful tool. They will also be able to influence those around them, shining a light in dark times.

I always go back to something I read about Mr. Fred Rogers and what his mom told him-

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

3. Let your kids be unhappy. 

I'd say this step is more for us as parents than anything else. But, I think we need to be ok with our kids being unhappy. Let them be bored or upset. It's an amazing thing to watch a kid who's totally bored, be given nothing to fix that, and then actually find something fun to do. There is so much satisfaction in that! This happened to one of my kids during quiet time, and by the end of it, she was playing a really fun game with herself and had quite forgotten that she had "nothing to do."

If we don't rush in and try to make them happy, they will work out ways to fix it themselves. Well, that's the idea anyways, lol. I think with anything- this kind of thing takes practice. And of course this doesn't work for every situation, but in the times when we know that our kids could be choosing to be happy and just aren't, those can be the times we help them learn.

4. Teach your kids that God is our ultimate source of happiness. He is the only one who can totally fulfill us. 

And I know this can sound a bit cliche. But, it's the truth. We can only be completely fulfilled in Him. He is the best friend when no one's around, He always wants to be with us, He won't stop loving us and will never turn us away.

We can tell our kids this, and we can model in our own relationships with the Lord.  We can encourage our kids to talk to God anytime and anywhere.

A couple awesome scriptures for this?

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deut. 31:8

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15

One last thought- I think one of the best things we can do to help our kids choose happiness, is to model this ourselves. Even as I've been writing these last two posts, I'm thinking...yea, wow. I need to be taking more responsibility for myself. How can I teach these things to my kids if I'm not doing it myself?? But isn't that true for most things? I tell you, my kids drive me to be a better person in so many ways! I want to be modeling things for them that they can imitate.

So- today we all have a choice!

Happy Saturday.