This is what social media and texting are doing to our “selfie” generation.

 

I want to say the duck face picture days are behind us but I’m not sure if that’s a safe statement yet. We still have the mouth wide open, peace sign pics but I haven’t seen a duck face pic in a while so I’m hopeful.

I’m not one for selfies. They actual freak me out and when I see my teenager take 75 selfies during the 3 minute ride to church, I completely lose my cool. She says she has to get it just perfect.
She once tried to get me in one of her selfies so I shot the camera the bird in an effort to make it unsendable (I know, I know, there’s no need for chastising comments) …it ended up being sent anyways and now she’s the kid who’s mom flipped off the camera.

Seriously.

Snapchat is nonstop in our house. We have two teenagers that use snapchat 26 hours a day.

What’s wrong with these kids?

How did we raise a generation of selfie taking narcissist who are constantly sending their friends pictures of themselves. I told my daughter to send something else instead of a selfie to her friends on snapchat and she looked at me like I had 2 heads. “Like what? What else would I send?”

I was speechless.

Last week one of our teens missed a week of school and ended up in the ER because she was so sick. I have no doubt that on Monday morning ,when her friends realized she wasn’t at school, they started snapchatting. I’m pretty sure they all got a selfie of my sick child with puffy eyes and pale face.

Oh my God, make it stop.

But then something strange started happening.

The first day she was home sick the doorbell rang mid-afternoon and it was one of her selfie taking friends with a milk shake for my daughter. She knew my daughter couldn’t eat because her throat was so sore so she brought her a milk shake. She drove to Sonic and spent her own money on a milkshake for my daughter. Even if it seems like the smallest act of kindness, it’s kind of huge in the teen world.

They next day the door bell rang and it was the delivery guy from Panera Bread. Her “oh my gosh mom, stop calling him my boyfriend, you’re so embarrassing” called in an order for her and had it delivered to our house. For real, this sweet young man placed a lunch order for my daughter and had it sent to our house. What? Who does that? I’m sure she snapchatted him a thank you. I called my husband to tell him he needed to step up his game because this kid just schooled him!

The following day the doorbell rang again and when I opened the door, there stood a pizza delivery guy. Her BFF (who doesn’t even live in our city) called in a pizza and had it delivered to my daughter. He handed me a personal pizza, fries and a drink and let me know that everything down to the gratuity was covered.

I called her mom later on in the day to tell her thank you and her mom had no idea that her daughter had sent mine lunch. There was no glory in it for her friend, she was simply and silently being kind.

The next day we landed in the ER and as she laid in the hospital bed I watched her phone go off nonstop with friends checking on her. I also watched her snapchat pictures of her IV, monitor, socks, and whatever else was in that room.

On the last day of the week, her “oh my gosh mom, stop calling him my boyfriend, you’re so embarrassing” and her best guy friend showed up to our house during their lunch hour with hamburgers from our favorite fast food joint. The three of them sat outside and had lunch together. They kept her company and gave her several reasons to smile after a long and isolated week.

 

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I have no explanation for the scrunchies in their hair or why he has the order number on his head. I can tell you that they’re the sweetest boys just being silly to make my daughter smile and that’s what matters.

 

 

These kids proved me wrong over and over all week-long. It was a humbling experience to say the least.  Maybe all this technology, snapchat, texting and selfies aren’t making them all crazy, self-centered bullies. It’s giving them access to each other in ways that we didn’t have growing up and maybe that’s not always a bad thing. I know that sometimes social media is abused and used in hateful ways but I’ve learned this week that sometimes it’s used in the sweetest, most generous ways.

When I was growing up and friend missed a week of school due to illness we really didn’t do much about it. We might have called them from our Swatch phone after dinner to see if they were okay and if we were really cool we added a friend to the conversation by using three-way calling. But other than that we kind of just let their parents handle it and waited for them to return to school.

The instant access these kids had to each other over the week gave them the ability to show compassion to my daughter in ways we couldn’t when we were their age. It gave them ways to love on her while she was home sick. It gave them the ability to show her that they cared and that she was not only loved but she was missed. I want to call each one of their parents and tell them thank you and well done.

We don’t give this generation enough credit. These are good kids doing their best to navigate through a world that has instant access to everything and every event the moment it happens. Their lives are being played out through social media in real-time right in front of all of our faces. Teenaging is hard stuff right now but they’re actually doing a pretty good job at making it work for them.

If you have little ones and are terrified of the teen years please let me tell you that the best is yet to come. These kids are the coolest and even through their struggle in trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in, they can be surprisingly awesome.  It’s so amazing watching these kids grow into compassionate and generous young adults, even if we have to see most of it via snapchat. .

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This is the most normal pic I could get them to take.

 

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Snapchat would have come in handy here. Next time they’ll let each other know what they’re wearing before he picks her up and they’re accidentally wearing matching outfits. I added this pic purely for my enjoyment and because it’s adorable. .

How a simple drink order completely wrecked my world.

We decided on a breakfast date before our appointment and headed to the best pancake house in our city (shout out to Magnolia pancake Haus!). While we patiently waited for our table, we told each other the most immature jokes we knew and giggled like we were both 16. Toilet humor is our favorite and we each told our best potty jokes. I may or may not have spoken in a British accent half of the time.

Her phone buzzed, letting us know that our table was ready, and we both shot off the waiting bench and almost knocked each other down trying to get to the table the quickest. I won because I outweigh her by a million pounds and she’s easy to push out of my way.

By the time we settled in our seats the conversation had somehow made a dramatic flip and we found ourselves sitting with serious faces. We talked about depression, addiction and how suicide totally sucks for those left behind. We couldn’t decide if we were sad or mad that our dad hadn’t taken us into consideration before taking his own life but we could both agree that it’s wrecked our worlds. Her world was wrecked at the sweet young age of 12, mine at 36.

The waitress approach in the middle of the thick and asked for our drink order.

Black coffee for me.

My sister asked for coffee and a chocolate milk.

That’s when my heart was torn in two, much like her drink order.

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The kid in her craved an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk, the kind we all cherished as kids.  I remember dumping heaping spoon full of Nestles Quick into my milk and stirring as fast I could, trying to get it all down before the remaining undissolved powder settled to the bottom.

My sister is a child. She was born when I was 23 yet my silliness and immaturity brings us to the same age. We overrule the fact that I’m old enough to be her mother and treat each other like sisters. She giggles like a kid, does crafts with her nieces and stays up late at night sharing secrets with my oldest daughter.

My sister is just a little girl. She likes her chocolate milk as cold as ice.

The adult in her likes her coffee hot with a side of cream. She needs the morning boost. It’s sometimes hard for her to face her day and she needs a cup of grace to get her through. She’s not like other kids her age. She’s seen more storms and treaded through taller weeds. She’s delicate when she pours her cream. It’s like sweet therapy.  I like my coffee black. I prefer nothing come between me and the fresh brewed goodness.

My sister is an adult child. She was born when I was 23 yet her boldness and maturity brings us to the same age. We have to sometimes remind ourselves that I’m old enough to be her mother and help her make choices only an adult is capable of. She spends hours in her room alone, painting with methodical strokes. She meets once a day with adults who have faced life in a similar way that she has.

My sister is walking a fine line on a fast track to adulthood. She likes her coffee hot with a swirl of sweetness.

My heart is torn in two for her. I want her to be a child. I want her to have a milk mustache that I have to tell her to wipe off. I want to correct her homework, fold her clothes, cook her dinner and watch her play in the yard. I want her to just be a kid but she can’t, the world has messed that up for her. The world has stolen from her, beat her up and knocked her down. But she’s got a little fight in her. She’s got resistance and spunk. She’s a little bit of a princess and a whole lot of a warrior.

My sister like her chocolate milk cold and her coffee hot and that shatters my heart into a million pieces.

I’ll always fight to keep the little in our kids. We’ve become a society that expects them to grow up so quickly, turning our little girls into teenagers long before their time. Turning our teenagers into adults extremely prematurely. Giving miles where we should only give inches. Letting go when we should covet just a little longer.

There’s no rush.

Let’s let them be kids, play with dolls, have bare faces and natural hair, unadorned with jewels and covered in age appropriate clothes. Let’s let them stay small and allow them the joys of just being a kid.

Let’s pray that their drink order stays an ice-cold chocolate milk for as long as we can.

Let’s keep the little in our kids.

Today is the day. I’m finally pushing my teenager off of a cliff!

When she was 5 years old I would drop her off early for school because I had to head to work. Her school was huge and it was usually dark when I dropped her off. She would fearlessly shut the car door behind her and I’d watch through the window as she made her way up the stairs to the cafeteria. Her backpack was bigger than she was and her pigtails would swing from side to side.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I wanted to hold her hand and walk her up. I wanted to wait until the very last-minute, right before the tardy bell rang and then open the car door to send her on her way. I wanted to keep her home with me but I couldn’t, I had to let her go.

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When she was in 3rd grade we sent her to day camp. A bus would pick her up at church and drive her to a neighboring city where she would spend the day outside doing various camp activities and then the bus would bring her home that same night. I would wait in the parking lot of the church an hour before I knew the bus would be there. I wanted to be first in line.

The first day after camp she got in the car and announced that she had volunteered to say the prayer during lunch. My little 9-year-old daughter, who was in the youngest group at camp, confidently raised her hand to say the prayer for the hundreds of kids who were ready to chow down.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I wanted to  make her hang out with me all day. I wanted to take her to the zoo and see a movie. I wanted to keep her home with me but I couldn’t, I had to let her go.

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When she was in 5th grade she got the lead role in the school play. She swelled with pride and spent hours going over her lines. She would come into our room and rehearse the entire play while my husband and I sat and listened.

The night of the play she proudly put on her costume, gave me a kiss and headed backstage. She didn’t miss a beat. She nailed the play. There was a standing ovation and she proudly took a bow.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I didn’t want to send her backstage.  I was scared she would forget her lines. I was worried she might trip or fall or completely melt down. I wanted to keep her in the audience safe with me but I couldn’t, I had to let her go.

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The summer before her freshman year she started volleyball training with the high school girls. We woke up at the crack of dawn and I drove her to the new, gigantic high school to drop her off at camp. She pulled up her knee pad, threw her hair in a ponytail and hopped out of the car. With barely a wave she practically skipped to the gym.

She was fearless in that gym. She put everything she had into her game and never back down from the older and more experienced players. She played harder than she ever had and even though she was sore and pouring sweat, she competed like a champion.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I wanted to home school her. I wanted to tell her to stay away from the older kids and to call me if she was scared. I wanted to tell her that it was okay to be the new guy. I wanted to keep her home with me but I couldn’t, I had to let her go.

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Today I’m dropping her off at church so she can go on her first mission trip with the high school group. They’re headed to New Orleans to spread the love of Jesus and be His hands and feet. They’re camping out at a church, sleeping on cots and being fed by the sweet people of the church. They’ll be painting, preaching and cleaning, not necessarily in that order.

Last night we packed her bag. She eagerly threw clothes in my direction and I sorted through what she would and wouldn’t need. She laid a huge pile of toiletries on the bed and I put what she truly needed in a ziplock before packing it away. She added three pairs of shoes to the luggage and I removed two. Then she carefully placed her bible in her backpack, next to her snacks and phone.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I want to tell her not to go. I want to remind her not to talk to strangers and always travel in groups. I want to write her name on the inside of everything she takes. I want to follow the bus to the edge of the city limits. I want to keep her home with me but I can’t, I have to let her go.

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Today I’m pushing my daughter off of a cliff and I can’t wait to watch her fly.

This is what God has called her to do.
This is her passion.
This is her mission

She is so proud of herself and has no idea that my heart is breaking into a million pieces.

She’s been preparing herself for this day for 15 years. I wish I would have done the same.

There goes my girl.

Please pray for her trip. Pray for safe travels, comfy cots, yummy food and open eyes. Pray for the people they meet and the projects they take on. Pray that they are able to be the hands and feet of Christ. Pray for the people they meet, that their hearts will be open to God’s word. Pray for the parents left behind whose hearts are breaking into a million pieces. 

Birds and Bees

birds and bees

I’ve had several request from friends asking me to write a blog about the birds and bees talk with our kids. Maybe it’s because I’m a mommy to lots of girls or because I already have a teenager. Maybe it’s because they’ve seen how open and confident our teenager is when it comes to discussing these issues with us. I’m not sure why they trust me on this matter but I promised that I would write about it. It won’t be for everyone and I’m definitely not an expert, this is just how we do it in our home, what I believe in, what we see going on in the teen world and how we handle it. I am under no delusion that everyone agrees with me.  I guess it’s not really a post on the birds and bees but what the lack of communication, lack of brutal honesty, our self-centered society and what  our entitlement and the entitlement we give to our children does to them in the long run. I’m also going to give my view on divorce and how the way we as parents handle it affects our children. You might not like it, you might disagree and there are several exceptions to my experience on it. I understand all of that, this is my view and my experience.  I’ve written this for my girlfriends.

I recently read somewhere that children who become involved in a relationship, boyfriend/girlfriend, before the age of 12 are 60% more likely to become sexually active as teens. I read it in a book from an author whom I put much faith in and who dedicates her life to teaching young girls and boys about purity, faith and living the way that Christs intends for us to.

I also recently read this startling bit of info. A recent  survey found that 38% of Christian teen girls have sent or received a sext message, 57% have viewed porn, and 73% struggle with self-image.

Maybe I should stop reading so much because it’s starting to freak me out.

Our birds and bees sex talk with our girls isn’t a moment when we sit down with them and go over everything we think they need to know. It’s an ongoing, progressive talk that we’ve been  having for many years.  It’s also not all about what we say to them. It’s about the examples that we set, the way we act, the way we treat our spouses, how we speak to each other, how we dress and how we treat ourselves. The aren’t just listening to us, they’re watching us too.

The very first time that we had to have any sort of sex talk with one of our girl was when our oldest was 6 years old. Yes, 6. We were all sitting down eating dinner when she calmly let us know that “Stacy’s parents don’t have sex anymore.”.
I would pay good money to have captured to the look on my husbands face when those words flowed from her mouth. We smiled and said okay and then rushed through the meal. Apparently Stacy’s parents fought in front of Stacy and weren’t very careful about what she heard. Stacy repeated their fights to her friends, teachers and counselor at school. I bet Stacy’s parent wish they would have been a little more discrete while fighting in their home in front of their small impressionable little girl. I’m sure Stacy wishes she had never heard or seen them fight.

Later that night while I was getting her bath ready this conversation went down.

“Honey do know what sex means?”
“Yes, it’s when a boy and girl lay in bed and hug each other”
I would have liked to stop there but knew that I couldn’t.
“Well it’s actually when a HUSBAND and WIFE  lay together at night and show each other their love with their body’s while they hug and kiss.”
“Okay”

And that was that.

Conversation about sex go very differently with her 8 years later.

We’ve decided that brutal honest is best. I promise that if we aren’t talking to her about it and telling her the truth then some teenager is talking to her about it and telling her their version. I’d rather her hear and trust our version.

When she asks what any sexual act is  we tell her in as much detail as needed. We also do our very best to not have a completely shocked look on our faces or scream “Where in the world did you hear that!!” . We try to never bash the source of where she heard it and we make sure that she knows that kids will inflate stories to sound cooler than they really are so there is no repeating of the gossip to her friends.

She is completely confident that she can ask us anything and she will get the honest answer and that there will not be any repercussions for knowing and asking. She is just as comfortable talking to her daddy about these things as she is talking to me about them. Daddy has a harder time keeping the shocked look off his face, especially the day she had maturation class and called him to tell him all about how feminine products work.

She got in the car two days ago and said “Mom I can tell you anything right?”.  Then a barrage of shocking stories spewed from her mouth about the goings on with middle school/high school kids.

Did you know how common it is for boys to text girls and ask for nude pictures of them? It’s happening and more girls are complying than I care to admit. In the last week I’ve heard of three girls that took pictures of themselves nude and/or in a sexual act and sent them on to “friends”. Those pictures were then passed around like hot potatoes. That’s just in one week!

Boys and girls are getting caught having sex at school.
Sexual acts are being filmed at school and posted on social networks to show just how cool it is.
Girls are “satisfying” boy in class, in the lunch room and I’m sure other places I haven’t heard about. It’s happening outside of school too. It’s happening at the movies, the park, friends homes, our homes, even church…yes church!

This isn’t just happening in the public school system and my daughters are part of a pretty amazing school district. When I was the cheer coach for a Christian private school I was told by the girls that it was going on there too. One even showed me texts a boy at the school had sent her requesting nude photos… a Christian boy at a Christian school.

I’m not okay with any of that.

What is going on in our society that kids are starting to think that this behavior is getting them the attention that they crave.  A little girl doesn’t let her friends film her satisfying a boy at school because it’s cute, she does it because she is desperate for some sort of attention. Why? Where are we going wrong?

Kids are living in the now with very little consequences and it’s terrifying. We’ve become scared to punish their behavior or hold them accountable. We have become too worried about them liking us as their friend.  We have accepted that broken homes are common. Our society is becoming more and more numb and accepting that this kind of behavior is the new normal.

It’s not.
It’s not okay.
It’s not normal.
It’s not God’s plan for our families and future generations.

It’s up to us to stand up for them, to teach them the truth no matter what is becoming acceptable around them. We also need to not be naive and think that it can’t happen to us and our children. These kids don’t need us to be their best friends, they need us to be their parents. It’s not cute when an elementary/middle school child has a status of “In a relationship”, “taken”, “single” or anything else that defines where they are with the opposite sex posted on their social network site.. I’ve been challenged as being wrong on this one  saying that they are learning to form romantic relationships with the opposite sex that they will use in the future. I disagree. At that age they need to be learning how to form relationships as peers, not partners. It’s okay to wait. There’s no rush. Let them be kids because once they become adults there’s no going back.

Our oldest daughter is the victim of divorce. That’s not her fault, never has been never will be and it’s not her cross to carry. It has been her daddy’s and my number one goal in her life to never let it affect her. From day one we put our feelings aside and her feelings first. She has never heard a single negative thing about the other parents come from either of our mouths. As a matter of fact she hears us tell each other that we love each other and how thankful we are for each other every time we are all together.  My first priority is her relationship with her dad, yes that relationship comes before my relationship with her.  She will never have an empty space in her where her daddy should be.  She will never be desperate for the affection of  a father figure or a man who truly loves her. She has a daddy and step daddy who fill that need each and every day. That has been  my responsibility to her since I chose divorce.  As parents we have to stop using these children to manipulate and hurt the other parents. We have to stop using them to control our relationship with the other parent or gain some sort of power over the other parent.  It’s causing a bigger problem in their lives than we are able to see. It’s filtering over to their social life, self-image, sexual exploration and  desperation for a relationship and love.  I understand if one of the parents is a harm to the child and there is a need to be separated.  I am writing about divorce where both parents are capable and healthy for the child but the parents can’t seem to separate their own feelings from those that are truly best for the child.  It’s not just divorced parents  but also parents that are fighting in their marriage and using the kids against each other as well. These kids are not pawns and it is affecting them greatly. I’m sure little Stacy can testify to that.

Very early on in our daughters lives we start to pray for their husbands with them. We pray that he is respecting himself and others and that he is doing his best to stay pure. We pray that the devil is terrified of his faith and can’t get near him. We remind our daughter to respect their future spouses and themselves. We tell them that first kisses are best reserved for real love and that sex was designed by God to be one of our most amazing experiences but that experience is intended for our husbands only. If they wait for their husbands they will experience sex the way that God intended it to be and it will be wonderful.  We also tell them that the devil uses sex probably more than anything to get us away from God.

We check our daughters phone daily. We have an open door policy, meaning I can open her door whenever I want to and if I feel like it  I can go through everything in her room. We know who her friends are and who their parents are. We say no even when we don’t want to. We talk to her daily about whatever we can get out of her. We listen. We answer. We are not overbearing but it is our job to give her enough rope to venture, explore and learn but not enough to hang herself.

Not once in 13 years have we had to go through her room.
She’s never been grounded.
She’s never made a bad grade.
I’ve never been shocked by a single text or phone call in her phone.
I’ve never had to question her whereabouts or had to double-check her story.

She trust us and we trust her. She respects us and we respect her. We make it our goal to teach her to respect herself.

She’s not the perfect child (major teen brain these days) and we are by far the perfect parents but she knows without a doubt that she can tell us anything, I mean anything, and she will never get in trouble as long as she is honest with us.  She also knows that no matter what she will get the truth from us and we will give her as many details as she wants.

We decided to not be embarrassed or scared to talk to her about anything. We’ve decided that we pray for those who we feel are on the wrong path and never put them down or repeat rumors that we’ve heard about them. We’ve decided to tell her the truth about sex before someone else tells her lies or tries to physically show her what it all means. We’ve decided that her trusting us, knowing that we support her and that she is in an open and safe home is more important than the fear and mild embarrassment of having to sit down and talk about the birds and the bees.

Empty Nest

My W3 sisters are going to send me into retirement already. Sylvia has written for us again. She wrote it while flying with her two teenaged children to visit her older son in California. Here’s blog blog from a mile high.
Flying Out Of The Nest

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to go visit my son out
west and since we are in the school thanksgiving vacation, I
had my older teens go with me.

It’s always nice to travel with
them, soon they will be leaving to live their own life so ever
minute I have with them is cherished… Yes even when my
daughter sings to me; to the time my son likes giving me
reasons why he needs a new longboard (another name for a
stakeboard).
It was just like yesterday the two older teens were in
elementary school and the older boys (the two sons that are
on their own) were in junior high.

Letting Them Go

It’s getting closer for me to
understand the phases “empty nesting” I hear its difficult for us
women because these are are babies that we carried for at
least nine month.

These are the babies that we had to let go
just as they turned 5 yrs of age to attend school, we let go to
attend summer camp, we let go maybe for a slumber party, we
could go on and on…but it gives the same example of us
letting them grow.
Even when the two older sons left I only felt half empty and
having the younger two still home it’s has kept the “empty
nesting” foreign to me.
Well this coming Monday is going to change the above. My
two older teens will not be flying back with me. They will be
vacationing out west with their older brother. Their plans of
cooking their own Thanksgiving dinner warms my heart.

So come Monday night as each of their rooms will be empty
(ok not completely empty, the cats will be there) that is when I
will ask our Father in Heaven;

How did/could you send your beloved son down to earth?
When I think of how God sent his son to us, knowing what he
would endure. I ask, would any of us to that with our children. I
would think we would put our own lives up first before them.
So this Thanksgiving Day.. I have many blessing to be
thankful for; health, family, friends, and the small stuff.
But I also will be giving Thanks to my Holy Father in heaven.
For his unconditional love, his amazing grace, and his most
precious gift…Jesus