This is a question we get asked at almost every event! If you have an older kid and never implemented any phone guidelines, how do you reel it in now? We’ll tell you what NOT TO DO & offer some suggestions on next steps. It’s never too late!!
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Welcome to the nextTalk podcast. We are passionate about keeping kids safe in an overexposed world.
It’s Mandy and Kim and we’re navigating tech, culture and faith with our kids.
So, Kim, there’s a question I get asked almost at every event. Now it is like a normal question that I get asked during Q&A. Can you guess what it is?
Hmm, where’d you get that blazer girl?
I don’t wear blazers. Well, I do. I do if I’m supposed to look fancy, but that’s not typical Mandy. No, here’s the question. Here’s the question. So these parents have just sat through our Next Talk presentation and a lot of it is focused on preventative stuff, so engaging with your preschool or your kindergarten or your elementary age kid, and how to build the foundation for open communication. So they’re listening to all of this right, and at the end of the event, when I opened it up for Q&A which, by the way, q&a is like my favorite part of the events. I love it so much. But almost always I get asked this question They’ll raise their hand and they’ll be like this was all great, but I have a 16-year-old and I have done none of it, and they have their phones in the bedrooms and the bathrooms Like we had no guidelines that you’re talking about, you know setting up when they’re preschoolers, and so how do I reel this back in now, because I am feeling a little overwhelmed.
You know, it is one of those questions where people’s eyes get big or they get small and teary. It’s one or the other, you know, and when I’m talking with parents in person, I can just feel their hurt and their burden as I know you can too of oh, this all makes sense to me, but what do I do now? Like, where do we go from here? And I just got to say give yourself grace, start from a place of grace. We are all trying to figure this out. None of us knew what life was going to be like with cell phones and the online world with our kids and how rapidly it changes. So we’re all trying to figure it out. None of us knew what to do. And now you are hearing all these tools and options and ways to build this culture of open communication in your home. And it’s going to take a minute, but don’t beat yourself up. That’s step one.
That is yes. You can get to that and think, man, I wish I could go back and do that differently. I think that’s life, that’s like part of life, part of learning, part of growing.
Well and I want to throw this in here real quick because it’s something Mandy says to me all the time it’s okay to be sad that this happened or that maybe you missed some things, but don’t get stuck there. That’s what the enemy wants to happen is that you get consumed in the emotions of man. I really miss this. Give yourself some grace. You can grieve it for a minute and then let’s get to work on how you can change things now moving forward.
And kudos to these parents that ask this at the event, because one it takes bravery and courage in a room full of parents to raise their hand and be like I did none of this, so help me now, kind of thing. I always smile a bit and I try to say this when I get asked this question you’re going to be okay, because you’re humble. It’s the parents that are like I did everything right, it’s fine, I’m not taking anyone’s advice. Those are the kids that I’m really scared about, because none of us have it all figured out. We’re all trying to do the best that we can do.
We always say look in the mirror and figure out. What did I do wrong here and what do I need to go back to my kids and kind of reset. If you’re willing to do that, half the battle’s already won, because you’re not all about your ego, and so if you’re asking this question at events, I admire you, I think it’s very courageous and I love this question, but I do think we need to dig in here and say, okay, after I’ve given myself grace. What do I do next, though?
Yes, okay. So shifting gears here a little bit, give yourself some grace, don’t get stuck in it, because we’ve got to move forward for the sake of our kids. But instead of what to do, mandy, let’s start with what not to do, because I think a lot of us go there first and we’re all amped up and ready to go and ready to change things, and we go in guns blazing and make some mistakes.
This is what I want to warn parents about, because they’ve just heard all of this presentation about no phones in bedrooms, no phones in bathrooms and all these guidelines. Listen, what I don’t want you doing is running into the house tonight like a crazy person and yank at everybody’s devices and not letting them have their phones and go in crazy parent mode because, listen, that is going to hurt the relationship with your kid, they’re going to hate you and that’s not what we want here. We want your kids to feel safe with you, so responding with that is not no, please don’t do it. You’re gonna make everything worse. I need you to just breathe for a minute Like you’re recognizing okay, what did I miss? And then start asking your questions like what is most important for me to cover right now?
You know if you and why I say that is because it may look different for your kid, depending on their friend group, what they’re dealing with. If you’ve got a 16 year old boy athlete who has their phone in their room every night, my mind goes to Walker Montgomery, and so my mind goes to pornography, sex and masturbation and an Instagram scheme that could put your kid’s life in danger within two hours behind that bedroom door, you know. So that’s where we start. If you have a 16 year old athlete because that’s what that Instagram scheme is targeting If you’ve got a 15 year old girl on social media and you’ve noticed eating changes or something like that, then you immediately have to think okay, my first priority here is confidence. How social media makes you feel eating disorders Like that’s where your mind needs to go. So you just need a minute to process and think okay, what is number one priority right now that I think could put my kids at risk, and then kind of pray through what that looks like on how to tackle.
I love that and I had the privilege of walking this mom through this just recently and that was her exact question like where do I go from here now that I know these things? She processed and thought about the dangers first, which I thought was great, after wanting to run in there and rip the phone away, cause that’s what we all wanna do. That’s like our gut reaction because it feels dangerous. But she took a step back and she was telling me what she did. She prayed about it and I loved that.
She took kind of what you’re saying, mandy, as what are the biggest dangers and she brought her kid into the conversation and the solution. She said okay, I’ve been talking to Ms Kim and I’m learning these new things. Like she blamed it on me, which I told her to do and I really missed a lot of conversations. And now I wanna open this up with you and let’s talk through some solutions to keep you safe, cause that’s my job as a mom. And she handled it beautifully and her and her kid talked for over an hour. She was able to present some things that were scary and he was able to respond and they came to a solution together. And now, a few weeks down the line, it’s really changed their culture of their home, which I love, and so, seeing it in practice, I can tell you it works. When you don’t freak out and you take the time and you pray through it, it really can change everything and strengthen the relationship instead of making it worse.
Okay, that’s a beautiful real life example of this mom handling it so well. Couple things, though, that I wanna pull out that she did really well. One is she went to her kid and she basically apologized Like I’ve missed some things. Parents listen. When you do that, walls come down, not right away, but when you humble yourself before your kid, then it tells your kid okay, mom’s not perfect, I don’t have to be perfect. There’s something that clicks in your kid’s head that okay, we’re all making mistakes, we’re all learning here. If you can set that kind of culture up in your home, like I tell my kids all the time, yeah, I have a little bit of life wisdom in me and I can refer back to what it looks like as a teenager, but I’m still learning. Like I don’t know what it’s like to be a teenager with a phone. I have no idea what that’s like, right, and so we don’t know everything. And so mom went back and said I’m so sorry I missed some things. And then she talked to her kid about getting educated and you can blame.
nextTalk. You can just say I’ve been researching more, I’ve been learning more in this space. I didn’t realize we needed to cover all of this and it was also scary to me that maybe there was a little bit of denial that it was really happening or that it could happen in our family. But I’m educating myself now. Listen, kids love, especially teenagers. They’re growing up in a world where they love. When we’re saying, I’m getting educated in this, I am learning this space, they respect that. And so this mom did that, and then I loved. The next thing she did was she didn’t bark out orders, she didn’t lecture. It was a conversation. So because of all these dangers right, whether it’s Walker story or something else that you’re sharing, that you’re getting educated about, that could happen. You’re sharing this with your kid and then together let’s try some of these new guidelines.
How would you feel about this? And you know the bedroom guideline. I mean it may take a couple of weeks to get your kid on board with that. It may not be an overnight thing, but you know also, pull in just some science, the American Academy of Pediatrics. They recommend no phones in bedrooms at night. They recommend devices go off 30 minutes before you go to bed, because your brain literally needs to shut down, and if you do that you’ll probably be better at your sport. You’ll probably be better in class, you’ll probably have a better attitude in the day because you’re getting more sleep. So what if we just tried it for a week and I’m gonna do it too and then let’s see how it goes? So this way you’re kind of just seeing. You know everybody’s saying this is healthy. Let me see firsthand if it impacts me, if it makes me better.
The other thing about this which I think is so important if you do this, if you go down this road and you have this type of conversation and it goes well, like it did for this mom and her son, don’t forget, as you’re seeing, I mean because this isn’t easy. You may have a great conversation, but it doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy. But if you see changes in your kid or they’re making choices that are in line with what you’ve talked about, make sure you really praise them. You know, have that other side ready. You know, because you’re doing this and you’re really on board and I see these changes, let’s get you a new app or let’s you know something that is in their wheelhouse, whatever their currency is. Find that and bless them with it, encourage them with it Because, like I said, this is not easy.
We all know from our own experiences with our phones and with our decisions, with anything online or just even TV like Netflix, it’s hard to change a habit and these kids, their brains, aren’t fully developed. So impulse is like I need to have it, I need to do it. This is how I’ve always done it. So, if you see them really making inroads and changes, praise, praise, praise, because it is a big deal for a kid that age to change, and it’s a big deal what you’re doing, mom. So praise yourself too, you know, and dad, encourage yourself too. Like, okay, I did this hard thing, you know I’m doing it on behalf of my kid, and so it really can be a positive thing. We just need to not make it all about the rules, but also the celebration.
I love that, kim, and you said speak in their currency, and that can be with technology. Oh yeah, so for my son, you know, for my 16 year old son, if we were in this boat, I mean, he’s never had phones in his bedroom, but say he did. And then I went to him and he decided okay, let’s try it for a week. You know, if he did that all week and Friday came and I know his downtime that he loves is getting on the Xbox with his buddies and playing 2K. It’s a basketball game, and they’re on the headset talking to each other. It’s everybody he knows in real life, it’s people from his basketball team. You know, I would say at the end of that week, on Friday when he comes in the door hey, after dinner tonight, why don’t you just take tonight? Just go in there. If you’ve got buddies that wanna connect with you online, stay up till midnight, play the game, have fun. You know that way they see, okay, I have a bad one. Just don’t stay up all night, because then you’re gonna be grumpy tomorrow or you have practice tomorrow, whatever. But we’re not saying long tech is bad and so rewarding with tech is okay, as long as it’s safe tech. You know, if he were going in a room talking to all kinds of strangers on his headset, that would not be okay, even if it’s a 16 year old boy. But you see where we find kind of the balance.
One other thing, kim, that I wanna mention, that I always try to remember to say at events when I get asked this question If you have a kid with a phone and you were like, I need to reel it in, but I’ve never talked about sex, pornography, masturbation, none of that. I’ve never talked about any of that. So my mind immediately goes to these. Kids are vulnerable to sex torching claims, to online grooming, to all of these kinds of things. When you bring up these conversations with them and you say I’m so sorry, there’s things I missed, you need to say the words. You need to say I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I never talked to you about pornography. I never talked to you about masturbation. I never talked to you about extortion schemes on Instagram where they get kids to masturbate and video themselves.
You need to say that to your kid who has a phone. Why do I say that? Because you’re not going to overexpose a kid with a phone. Yeah, now you don’t say that to your five-year-old who doesn’t have a phone. Of course you wouldn’t say pornography and masturbation and all these big things. But if you are asking me, my kid has had unfiltered access and now I want to reel it back and you’ve never said the words. When you say the words, your kid automatically thinks Mom actually knows. Yeah, because up to this point he thinks you’re a pearl clutching Christian and that you can’t even say the word sex. That’s what they probably think of us Because we’ve never said the words. So you have to say the words. It validates you as a parent that you know what’s going on and you’re not afraid of it. We’re going to talk about it. You have to get a hold of your fear and bring it into the light. Satan wants us to keep everything in the dark. We’ve got to bring it into the light. We’ve got to say the words.
I’m so glad you said that because we’ve seen how important it is and also how hard it is to say the words. So, if you need to practice, say it 10 times in the mirror by yourself before you go into the conversation, whatever. But yes, say the words. You’ve got to get in there and have these conversations, rip the band-aid off and tackle it, because your kid is that important. They’re too important not to dig into these difficult spaces and help them have guidelines. We’ve got to do that for our kids in this world, or else the world will speak into them all the things that we don’t want them to. So we’ve got to get in there and do it.
Absolutely. I just want to end the show with a encouraging story, because the space we’re in we get to see a lot of behind the scenes stuff and we get a lot of parents coming to us with this question and so we’ve walked a lot of families through it and y’all, one in particular comes to mind. It didn’t happen right away, but the parent did everything we suggested Apologize, start the conversation, rip the band-aid off, say the words. The kid did not start opening up right away. It took weeks, turned into months, but parents kept pressing in and parents even started sharing with their struggles with pornography. As a teenager, they had a feeling that their kid was being exposed and watching it and struggling with it Like they just. They said every time we prayed, it was like we knew this was the thing. So parents kept pushing into it, whatever.
And I was so excited one day when this mama called me and she was like, oh my gosh, we were on a walk, this kid just started opening up about pornography and that he was watching it. And then he wanted to watch it and it was creating these weird images and his mind and all of this stuff. And I, just when she called me and told me. I was like thank you Jesus. You know like it’s weird to say thank you Jesus, that he’s watching porn. That’s not what I was really thanking Jesus for, right. But I was like thank you Jesus that this mom and dad looked in the mirror and said, man, we got some things wrong, but we’re not giving up, like we’re gonna press into that, we’re gonna look into the mirror and we’re gonna reset and we’re gonna do what we can right now, because now we’re educated on this and this kid.
It’s like years have gone by now and this kid is doing awesome and they have an amazing relationship. And I just wanna leave you with hope. It is never, it is never too late to create open communication with your kid. I don’t care what age they are. I don’t even care if they’re like my age and my mom’s age. It’s never too late to start this conversation. Today, you humble yourself, you get before your kid and you say I’m sorry, I missed some things. Can we start over, like this is really important to me and just see what God will do, because he is the restorer and he will redeem any relationship. And that’s our prayer for you if you are being faced with the fact that uh-oh, I need to reel this back in this podcast is ad-free because of all the people who donate to our nonprofit.
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This podcast is not intended to replace the advice of a trained healthcare or legal professional, or to diagnose, treat, or otherwise render expert advice regarding any type of medical, psychological, or legal problem. Listeners are advised to consult a qualified expert for treatment.
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