Hey Siri, How Do I Raise Kids in the Digital Age?

As my oldest dives farther into puberty I find myself Googling a lot lately. Like A LOT! With information only a click away these days and resources abounding, getting answers to hard questions is much easier for our youth (and youth stewards like myself) than when I was younger.

I’m not sure I was ever given sex education by my parents. In fact, I’m fairly sure that I learned most of those things from my awkward teenage peers. What a plethora of “useful” information we gathered as we added up that kid’s story and that friend’s older brother’s cousin’s best friend’s experience. The only nod to real sex education was a slide show in the ninth grade that was enough to make you puke.

Today, you can Google just about anything. On some devices, you can just yell out your question, and a little box on your night stand gives you the answer. But that doesn’t make it any easier when the information in your search bar is something that makes any decent human being uncomfortable mentioning aloud. Because once you’ve armed yourself with this information, you now have to apply it. Whether it’s talking with your kids about the birds and bees or the harder stuff like when they think they might be gay or if they or a friend has faced some sort of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

There is no amount of Googling that can prepare you for these conversations.

I find myself discussing this because I know that I am raising members of the future generation of adults, and I want to make sure that I arm them with the right information. Maybe if adults in my life would have had today’s resources back in the very beginning of the 1990s, we could have openly and honestly discussed seeing two little boys doing inappropriate things during recess. Maybe I would have been less likely to suffer from a sexual assault in my teenage years that had me convinced I was at fault. But instead, it was all swept under the rug, lips were shut tight, and doors were closed.

Armed with a voice today, I am willing to speak freely about those traumas that made me uniquely me. I didn’t have the resources then that I do today, and healing was quite difficult. In fact, I took life pretty terribly after that. Back then, I could often times be found making all types of awful choices. My life meter was set to Destruct.

It wasn’t until well into my twenties I was even able to speak out loud what happened to me. After finding God, baptism had me feeling cleansed of all the sins collected down such bumpy roads. Now I turn on the TV and it would seem that we victims are given a voice. Armed with information, we’ve gone from victims to survivors, and we aren’t going to sweep this under the rug anymore. We are calling out our abusers and holding people accountable. #METOO has empowered so many people to speak and own their truth. That in and of itself lets others know that it’s okay to discuss. Break the cycle.

We need to protect our youth, both male and female. But protecting them and sheltering them are not the same thing. There is great beauty in the world, but also great danger. We must learn how to discuss not just the crazy cat video or a viral tweet with our children. We need to go deeper and have the conversations that make us cringe too. These uncomfortable things don’t need to be silenced. An open discussion with a side of love is in reality more important than any fairy tale or fiction. Discomfort just means that we need to adjust.

Be safe, be great, be you! Amen.

Reality Changing Observations:

1. What obstacles have you silenced in your life that need air to breathe?

2. How has owning your truth affected your relationships?

3. Do you think it’s better to protect our children or to be brutally honest? Where do we draw the line? What level of awkward are you willing to hit to make sure your kids don’t experience the horrible misfortunes of this world?

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