How To Rob a Childhood And Miss The Sacred of Parenting
It’s been about 14 months since I wrote my boys a letter about why we limit electronics in our home. If you haven’t read it, please do so you can understand my heart before reading this post. At the time I wrote that letter because they felt different and continued asking why I wouldn’t allow them to carry a device with us everywhere we go. Much has changed in their hearts in 14 months. Much has changed in my heart. We all feel stronger in our resolve to limit the grip of electronics in our home.
I wrote that letter from my perspective, a mom not wanting to miss a moment of a fleeting childhood. A mom desiring to invest in the moments and watch real life bloom in their hearts and lives.
I received enormous amounts of mail from parents who felt just as I did but felt powerless to the electronics grip on their children. Parents who allowed their kids to play because they didn’t want their kids to feel different or alienated from their friends.
I have some new thoughts to share. My eyes have been opened to the threats this young generation is facing that we have been blinded to. I’m calling out to all parents who are with me in this season of life to rise up. To stand up and make a bold change. I’m asking you to take a stand that will save your child’s childhood from being robbed by a make-believe world. I’m asking you to protect the sacred moments of your parenting years. The window of time is barely a crack that we have them to influence and lavish with love.
My tone has changed in 14 months because God has awakened something in me. He has shown me where the enemy is blinding parents, allowing parents to justify their choices in allowing electronics to invade the home and family. “It’s all innocent fun.” “They need to fit in.” “I need a break.” I get it. I’m right here with you on every single point.
We were never called to fit in. We were never called to train our children to fall into peer pressure. We were never called to model to our children fitting in and finding acceptance in the eyes of others. We were never called to make choices for our children to make their paths easier in friendships and relationships. We were never called to set our children up for a life of addiction (this sounds dramatic, but I assure you video games are highly addictive and allowing addiction as a child only increases the likelihood of other addictions in their future as they will continue seeking the feel-good pleasure experiences).
Pregnant with my first child, I promised God I would raise him to love God more than anything else. That is the first and greatest command, after all. Baby arrives, baby grows, innocence fades, and that battle becomes real – tangibly real. My job as a mom is to battle hard for my children. I’m battling the dark forces of this world that my children are unable to see.
It’s a battle, my friends. A real-life battle. As our children sit hooked to their iPads battling in a make-believe world, there is a true battle occurring for their hearts, their minds, their souls, their very lives.
While our children live out their free moments in clash of clans, halo, or whatever new game comes along to clutch them in its grips, their childhood is being robbed. And they have no idea. They have no clue what they are missing out on. We know what they are missing. It’s our job to protect our children. Childhood is a gift to experience only once. Then the worries and stresses of life become real to them and childhood is gone.
Electronics are robbing our children of one of the sweetest gifts they will ever experience. The carefree, innocent life of a child.
Here’s what has changed in my boys in 14 months. They see mostly the tops of heads of children when we are out in public. We traveled by plane to Florida last week. We couldn’t spot one single child traveling device free. Entire families sat with heads buried. For the first time, they expressed sadness over what the kids were missing out on rather than what they were missing out on.
Traveling with devices is convenient. Devices don’t argue, they don’t ask for things, they don’t intrude on our time, they don’t demand anything, they entertain, they pass time. But what if God wants more? What if He wants us to teach our children patience and self-control, to become creative in boredom, not giving into our desires? Devices give our children what they want, when they want it. Devices entertain our kids so we don’t have to deal with the messy stuff. If they all play their iPads, I don’t have to deal with mediating arguments. I don’t have to answer questions. I can read my own book and enjoy some peace. My children appear well-behaved (until you take away the device). I look like a good parent who can take children in public, instead of the parent correcting sassy mouths and breaking up fights in public (which is quite normal). What if that isn’t what God wants for those moments in my parenting? What if He has precious gifts for me that don’t look so pretty, and I miss them because we are all living so darn distracted?
Here’s where we are right now. My boys don’t want to be “different”, but they don’t want to live with buried faces either. Would they have expressed this 14 months ago? No way! I had parents write me that I would breed resentment in my boys’ hearts. Prayer can change a heart and its hunger. I’m not worried about that. I serve a God who desires to have children who love Him wholeheartedly. And that is what I’m praying.
I had parents write me that I was setting my kids up to be outcasts. There’s a Bible full of outcasts that God used in amazing ways. We are ok with outcasts. It’s all in how you present things to your kids. I don’t come down as a dictator telling them I will not allow such in our home. I share my heart and passion with them. I share with them the why’s behind our concerns so they understand and as they grow hopefully they will be equipped to make wise decisions. We explain that this isn’t because we are mean and don’t want them to have fun, but that we love them so much and want them to experience the abundant life God has for them. If they are living through a screen, they will miss out on the moments God has for them.
Battles weren’t designed to be easy. I don’t expect that because I’m passionate about this topic, that God will smooth that path for me and give me children who desire no part of the video game world. I expect quite the opposite. I expect that God will allow me to walk a rough road so that He can refine me and show Himself awesome before my very eyes.
We are at a new crossroads. One where my boys find it difficult in their friendships now. They miss the days where they could have real conversations with their friends. They miss talking about sports and games and gross things and silly things. One of my boys said, “I just want to have real conversations again with my friends, but all they talk about is video games.” Childhood robbed by video games.
It looks innocent, it’s not innocent.
God placed talents, gifts, passions, and desires in each of us. When our children live in a make-believe world, and only live for the next moment they can play, they may never discover gifts hiding in their hearts.
We are currently on a fast from electronics, which is why all of our eyes are opened to the enormity of this issue. We planted a garden. I watch 2 of my boys spending time learning, growing, caring, tending these plants. I watch them amazed at the miraculous growth and watch them make connections about growing what we cultivate. I want to cultivate a love for life, experiences, and deep relationships.
One son picked up long lost hobbies of coin collecting and baseball card collections. I’ve watched another son become interested in reading and writing. I’ve watched one son spend more time reading his Bible. I’ve watched one son thinking more critically. These are gifts I am experiencing because their heads are up this month.
I’ve had gifts of extended, heart-pouring-out conversations with 2 of my sons. If they were engrossed in games, we would all miss out. We would all be robbed.
Electronics are robbing our children of their childhood and they are robbing us parents of experiencing their childhood as well. The enemy wants us to brush this off. The enemy wants you to read this and say, “She’s crazy and way too dramatic.” He’s good like that. He’s good at making big deals not such a big deal.
For some kids, video games don’t grip them. Some kids can easily handle playing and still relating in life, talking about normal topics, looking adults in the eyes, playing carefree. Other kids simply can’t.
God has given parents the gift of seeking wisdom from Him. If there is the slightest nudge in your heart to explore further, please seek God’s wisdom and guidance. Ask for His discernment in making changes that will save our children’s childhoods.
The most common response I receive is from parents who despise how their kids are sucked into games and want to get rid of it. I always ask this, “Then why don’t you?” It’s in us to want to please our children, we fear they will hate us if we take away their games. If it is affecting family life, relationships, work ethic, motivation, physical exercise, attitude, then let it go. We are still the parents. While they are under our roof, we have a job to do. That job doesn’t include making them like us or making them happy all the time. In fact, it might look the opposite for a time. But giving the issue over to God will change everything. God will change the angry heart. God will change the heart’s hunger. If we ask Him to.
I still have so much I want to share. But I have to ask my son’s permission first before I share it. But I will say this, God laid on my heart this morning to pray radical prays for the hearts of children in this generation to thirst and hunger not for video games, but for real-life, real childhood. Would you join me? If you feel frustrated by what you see in your own kids or the kids in your life, would you pray God remove their desires to live game to game and instead hunger for a life that offers more than they could ever imagine?
You may also enjoy this post: Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good For Kids
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