If you are reading this blog, then you probably are pretty good at social media. You might have navigated here from Facebook, or heard a Tweet, or someone e-mailed you about the great articles on Christian Work at Home Ministries. Maybe you Googled to get here directly, but chances are you use social media on a regular basis, and I bet you use it like a boss.
As much as you dominate social media, as our kids rise in age, they will make us adults look like social media infants with how they use online interaction. BUT, as excellent dads, we always have some wisdom to share, and, in this case it is some criteria for using social media like a gentleman rather than a Walmart-speaking troglodyte.
I mentioned in my last article that my social media manners list will have quite a few “don’ts” to mark off the edges of the social media playground. Unfortunately as a counselor I see/hear many people using social media in negative ways. It leads many people to quit social media all together. However, knowing the boundaries for appropriate social media use helps everyone know where we can truly enjoy online interaction.
You can go online and see many of these faux pas (“mistakes”) just going through your favorite social media ‘feed,’ but I’ve compiled a list of some of the wise social media “don’ts” to teach your kids
· Don’t ‘break up’ via social media. Or text. It’s bad form. Teach your kids to deal with emotional interactions via voice or ‘face-to-face.’
· Don’t give away movie plots. As I’m writing this, I’m in hiding from several forms of social media because I haven’t seen the newest Star Wars movie yet and there is always someone that will give away major plot points.
· Don’t bully others. More and more this is becoming an offense that is punishable legally or through work/school. It’s bad practice anyway; don’t say mean things to people or post hurtful pictures about people. Oh wait, Jesus said this the best in the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31): “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
· Don’t troll . . . or at least don’t become a troll. An “internet troll” is someone that tries to start arguments in social media. Sure, we’ve all posted something that we knew would be controversial, but if you troll frequently, then you become a troll. And nobody likes a troll.
By the way, the best way to defeat internet trolls is to ignore them. Don’t get baited into an online argument. This of course, brings me to the next “don’t:”
· Don’t get in online arguments. No one wins online arguments. People don’t change their minds based on online arguments. If we went back in time throughout this last year there were many, many people that participated in fruitless online arguments about politics.
· Don’t disrespect the military or anyone that has died or is hurting. Not too much to add on that one. Some kids might think that pictures or memes from 9/11 or the Holocaust are funny. They’re not. Teach your kids about appropriate public humor.
· Don’t send any pictures of body parts through social media. Unless it’s your elbow – I found the main picture for this article on my phone when my kids were little. It’s an elbow. For real. But, I ’bout blew a gasket when I saw it. Now I just think it’s funny.
· Don’t bait people to respond to you with a vague status. It’s just appears like the person posting needs attention. Vague status’ examples, “I can’t take it anymore” or “I can’t believe it’s happening again”
· Don’t post incessant pictures of cute, inspirational, or wise sayings. It’s social media, not share-a-saying media. The same thing goes for memes. Use memes and inspiring pictures the same way you’d use pepper on a nice steak . . .
· Don’t post cheesy religious statements and challenge people to type “amen” or to share it to prove their faith is valid. Urg, it’s the social media manners equivalent of belching loudly at the dinner table.
Which brings me to the conclusion of this ‘don’t’ list. There are other good ‘don’ts’ and I’d love to hear your responses for good social media guidelines. Make sure that you or your kids know that social media is fun, but that it also is VISABLE and doesn’t go away (yes, even Snapchat). So don’t do/say anything embarrassing that will come back to haunt you when you are on the Ellen show or run for public office.
The proverbial Rule of Thumb for social media to teach your kids: Would I stand up in the church pulpit and say this post to the congregation? – If the answer is a nervous laugh or an emphatic “NO” . . . then don’t post it. Only say what you’d say from the stage at church if your principal, grandparents and parents were in the audience. This guideline still gives you leeway for cat pictures, appropriate jokes, people crashing their skateboards, etc. But it does eliminate swearing, being mean to others, and half-naked pictures, and stuff you’d be embarrassed for an adult you respect to see.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brad Washburn is a father, husband, and Director of a Christian counseling center in Tampa, Florida. He has helped hundreds of people over the last 15 years. In particular, he desires to see fathers be “men after God’s own heart” — a description of King David in the Bible who was a lover, fighter, sheep herder, and harp player . . . .
Find out more at www.pathseekercenter.org
n the last article we took a short side-step from our Mr. Manners series to talk about one of the greatest potential God-centered holidays, Halloween. So for this article we were planning to get back on track and talk about Social Media Manners for your kids. It’s a great topic and we’ll definitely feature it.
Unfortunately though, while I have been compiling wisdom and manners on social media, I have been experiencing the election process here in the U.S. I’ve had some first-hand witnessing to a lot of bad social media behavior, especially on Facebook. So my list for social media manners has a lot of “don’t.” Before I flooded you with “don’ts” I need to take an entire post and set the stage for the idea of a border marking off a really safe and fun area. Sure, there are don’ts in life, but there is also a free and fun area that they boundary. So, I think it’s time for me to give you my Playground Analogy.
I hope you are ready for this. The Playground Analogy is one of the Top Ten great analogies of life. It helps describe a healthy relationship with God, and positive attitude for your life. Great Christian psychologists are humbled by this analogy; it puts books like Boundaries into the “Amateur Psychology” section of Barnes and Nobel. And, most importantly for us dads, it is a great mindset to teach your kids.
I went a little far describing the importance of this analogy. Or did I? You may be the judge.
Some of you may not have had an elementary school experience and it’s an essential part of this analogy. I’m going to describe the typical elementary school playground environment to give you the basis for this fantastic metaphor.
At my elementary school in the late 70’s there was a brick building that was the school. It was pretty typical of a school: teachers, principal, music, art, gym, cafeteria – the whole thing. As students, we would sit in class for a portion of the day, then we would have recess. We would all line up and file out to the doors opening up into the . . . playground.
The playground was an area directly outside the school. Part of it was asphalt, and there was a portion that was a grassy field. In the playground there was a kickball field painted on the asphalt. There were slides, there was a merry-go-round (now condemned by most schools as a ‘death trap’). There were swings and monkey-bars, and basketball hoops and teeter-totters (seesaws) and one of those new play equipment things that one kid used to call the Big-a-bang.
. . . and there was a fence around the playground.
The fence was an important part of the playground. On one side, it created a safety barrier to the road and the downtown neighborhood. Another side bordered the high school, where sometimes teenagers could be seen walking the track, skipping school, and having class outside. Another side bordered a woods and graveyard. Read More→
In the world of expressions people use, “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do.” is one that you might hear, even in our contemporary society distanced from ancient Rome.
The expression has roots in the Bible, to the Apostle Paul expressing how to reach your community:
1 Corinthians 9:20-22
20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
So, if the Romans . . . or your neighbors, celebrate Halloween, don’t let this Holiday pass without using it as an opportunity to be a witness. This Halloween, the teaming unwashed ‘lost’ are coming to your door OR you might be taking your youngsters out to mingle with the costumed masses. People are wandering around looking, even asking, for you to give them something. How about a witness, a window into how God overcame the world?
How Dads can Do the Halloween thing:
First, don’t believe all the religious hype. Legalistic religions will spout all kinds of nonsense about it being the Devil’s holiday. I have all kinds of Scriptural arguments against this idea, but it boils down to one of my favorite verses in the Do the Dad Thing series:
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Once legalistic guilt is absolved, you can start being your authentic Christian self and celebrating Halloween with your neighbors . . . do it with the intent to be a living example for Christ. Here are just a few thoughts on how to rock Halloween as a dad.
Watch your kids: This goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway. The later evening can be dark and in some neighborhoods there are a mass of people walking around, all in costumes that look similar. Make the rule that younger kids have to stay with you. Also, I’ve noticed over the years that there might be 50 fairies or Iron Men that all look like your kids in costume – make sure you don’t lose track of them in the hustle and bustle.
Have your kids be polite: We all hate the people that grab handfuls of candy out of the “Take One” bucket. Don’t let your kids be those kids. Also, teach your kids to say “thank you,” and “please” when they trick or treat the houses.
Scooters: Trust me, if your kids are little, have them go house to house on their Razor scooters. You might be able to hike a few blocks with your long dad-like legs, but your kids will start whining “carry me” after a few blocks.
Take extra bags: If your kids have trick or treat bags, they can bring them back to you to dump into a bigger bag. That way, little kids won’t start complaining that their bag is too heavy AND it won’t look like your kids are hauling away tons of candy.
Elderly person giving out candy: “Oh little princess, your bucket is almost empty. Here, have 50 Butterfingers.”
Talk to people: This goes along with being a witness to your neighbors. Meet people. If the opportunity comes up, tell them where you live. Share an interest. You never know where it might lead. Read More→
Quick Preamble: The organic flow of kids
I didn’t have personal experience with social interaction much as a kid. I grew up in an Amish area, and the nearest neighbor with a child my age was miles away (several cornfields at least). So, I had to learn much of the information on dealing with neighborhood kids, visiting friends, having ‘play-dates’ through my kids and trying to navigate the experience as a parent. The good thing, is that our family will routinely have ‘pow-wows’ to discuss how to handle social issues. Much of the ideas in this article and others in this series involving ‘other people’ were developed from meeting as a family and discussing how best to handle each experience.
Ok, back to our previously scheduled blog article . . .
Knocking: Essential to relationships. And just like other activities that involve others, there are some manners and ethics to knocking. I’ll cover just a few in this article:
- Don’t be afraid to knock
- Be safe to knock
- Don’t knock at 7am
- Jesus knocks
Don’t be afraid to knock. Sometimes my kids would want to fill out a street-kickball game, but they needed a few more players.
Me: Why don’t you ask Kyle?
Kids: He’s usually playing x-box
Me: Did you actually ask him?
Kids: But there are no cars in his drive.
Me: [leveled stare]
Kids: Fine, we’ll ask him.
Minutes later Kyle has been shooed out by his parents to get some sunshine and he is standing on second base (which happens to be a pile of leaves they put in the road).
Sometimes people need to be asked. Some people even need to be approached and asked to be involved. Our world is full of loneliness and people that are disconnected. Knocking on a door to ‘hang out’ and/or ‘play’ isn’t that tough – the worst someone could say is, “no.” Read More→
Brad, you gave us some great ideas for dads to teach kids good behavior in a waiting room situation. But what about the grocery store? My kids are unholy terrors when I take them shopping.
Ok, so in actuality no one really asked that question. But they should have! Because the grocery store is one of the greatest trials to kids and behavior. The few times I was threatened with “Wait until your dad gets home . . .” were uttered by my mother at the grocery store. I don’t remember much of how I misbehaved (especially after the beating I received from my dad for misbehaving– just kidding), but I’m sure I was fighting with my sister, asking for things, and touching everything. My mom would probably remember more because memory is augmented by trauma. I probably need to call my mom someday and apologize for every grocery and department store trip I ruined. However, if Karma is a concept God allows, I am definitely getting my due share of payback. I have a flexible schedule, so I have been harnessed with doing a lot of the shopping over the years. It’s not so bad now, but when our kids were little my wife signed us up for some sort of shopping-rating survey system, so shopping was complicated and already felt like it took FOREVER, even without the kids.
Now my boys are almost to the age where I can tell them, “Hey, would you run up to the store and pick us up some bread for dinner?” Almost. So I still do the shopping and I frequently view other poor adults struggling to manage kids while they are shopping.
Since I’m a Christ follower, I need to first direct focus on the Bible and see how other people of faith managed the grocery store experience successfully:
Grocery Stores and Department Stores didn’t exist in Biblical times, so it’s more difficult to get a grip on any of the great Dad-ing techniques of the Bible. However, I think the entire book of proverbs could be retitled “How to instruct your kids to behave at Walmart.” . . . Maybe I’ll suggest that to Zondervan.
In all seriousness though, in ‘Biblical times’ kids, even little kids, had some big responsibilities.
“You want to eat dinner tonight toddler? Good, pull up this row of leeks.”
“You are a preteen Israelite boy, get out there and kill us a goat for dinner.”
“You’d like new socks? Here, let me show you how to knit.”
Times have changed, but kids are still kids. They can accept and rise to many challenges and responsibilities. It does take more time on the front end to teach them. The typical Israelite dad would have to show his kids the correct way to plant, harvest, thresh . . . but after a few times of instruction, the kids are helping with the ‘grocery shopping’ for the rest of their lives. That’s worth it.
So, technique #1 to thrive at store shopping with your kids is to….
Give them Responsibilities and teach them how to succeed. This might require some short, ‘practice,’ trips to the grocery or department store, but it will be worth it.
Speaking of training, I developed a technique to train your kids that could almost be considered sadistic torture. Take your kids to Toys R Us (or any toy store) and park in the parking lot. Tell your kids that you are going to go inside with them to look at cool stuff. But also tell them that you are NOT going to buy anything today.
Then, stick to it. Read More→
My wife has white coat syndrome. She grew up in a military family where she was taught to respect people in authority, especially if they are wearing a uniform. Doctors wear a uniform and are in authority at their office so they benefit from the double-whammy of respect from her. So my wife gets pretty stressed when she goes to the Dr. and sometimes needs someone to advocate for her.
I suffer from the opposite malady of “white coat syndrome.” I have the, as yet to be diagnosed, Rebel Syndrome. I think people in authority are not to be trusted and uniforms only serve to identify the people to people to mistrust.
So I go with her to doctor appointments. Sometimes I try to be comedy relief for these appointments, but most of the time my attempts fall short. As it turns out, my wife doesn’t think joking with the doctor is a good thing. I think she’s afraid they will take revenge on her somehow medically if I am not funny. And, I should probably add, that my wife rarely thinks I am funny.
One time when we were dating, she was trying to run away from me (it’s a loooong story that does NOT involve creepy stalking . . . unless you count throwing pebbles at her dorm room window trying to get her to come down and neglect studying and hang out with me). I had some flowers for her, but she did not want to hang out; she wanted to study. So I brought the flowers to the bottom of the stairs at her dorm and she came and got them, then started sprinting up the stairs before I could get kissy.
. . . So, we were at the emergency room with her having a broken leg. I was there to be supportive, it was probably one of my first stints as “doctor companion,” plus, she was blaming me for her leg being broken. We had another friend with us also; one of Giselle’s girlfriends named Jennifer.
So, I’m doing my ‘thing’ and trying to keep Giselle entertained and her mind off of her leg. It was all falling flat. In the hazy memory of my mind, I think I might have been making the doctors, staff, and the whole waiting room laugh, but not Giselle.
Our friend Jennifer picks up a pamphlet for STDs . . . and asks Giselle if she needs to read it. And, that cracks her up.
I can’t win.
Anyway, I go to waiting rooms with Giselle a lot. As you might guess, a lot of women also go to some of these appointments and many times I see them toting their kids along because they are too young to stay by themselves. So, I’ve had a good vantage point to observe how kids take advantage of moms when they are involved in something that my wife would say is quite stressful. Read More→
I think it is a guy’s job to name things of importance.
Good thing that this blog column is for Dads and females aren’t reading it . . . right? Right?
Oh man, I think I’m in dangerous waters.
First, let me start with the Bible. In the Beginning account in Genesis, Adam’s job was to name the animals. In the Old Testament, men were responsible to name places, and put names to events where God did something amazing.
As you continue throughout Scripture, guys put names to things of importance. Read about Zechariah in Luke 1; even when he was mute, he wrote down on a slip of paper that his newborn son was to be named John (the Baptist).
I can hear legions of women picking up pitchforks and heating up cauldrons of tar. Let me expound on this a little more before the mob arrives.
In the history of culture described in the Bible, guys had a significant role as leaders and God-followers. So, much of the “important” details of naming things fell to them. There are, of course, very clear accounts of women also naming things. For instance, the plethora of kids named in the ‘son making war’ in Genesis 30.
There are other examples of women in the Bible naming things, but I’m risking provoking a
feminist mob to say this: Dads, we need to take the responsibility to name things.
I’m not talking about kids or pets. Although, as a side note, most of my awesome name suggestions for our kids were somehow relegated to our pets. Our turtle got the name Quinn. Our Dog, the PH.D. in Phrenology, got the name (Dr.) Bohdi. We had a snake once named Martok, and in each of these cases I think you will agree that these are EXCELLENT names.
I think my wife was agreeing to me using some of my best name suggestions for the pets, so that I wouldn’t try to use them for our kids. She’s devious. And, she’s obviously never seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade . . .
Anyway, sometimes Dads need to be the one to name, or label, what is really happening.
For instance, let’s say that it’s the week before school starts. The family has been doing all the usual roles of a family preparing for this event. Parents are quietly rejoicing and shopping for school supplies. Kids are trying to ignore the fact that schools starting. Many families try to squeeze in a vacation. Schedules begin to be disrupted. . . . and suddenly there is the presence of a high amount of stress.
This is where a Dad steps in and names the situation. “We are all stressed because school is going to start.”
It seems like a miniscule thing, but naming a situation like this helps everyone understand how they are feeling and gives them insight on how to cope. Once such back-to-school stress is named, then everyone can take measures to deal with it. Read More→
I think this article will apply to dudes that are dads of both genders of offspring. Because Anime is popular and rising in popularity AND it’s prevalent in your everyday life. I was in the Barnes and Nobelyesterday and there were two aisles dedicated to Manga. Two aisles! You might not even know what Manga is, and that’s ok. This article with contain some basics about Anime, and some application on how it might affect your son or daughter.
I think we probably should start with some of the vocabulary involved with Anime just so everyone can be on the proverbial “same page.”
Anime: Short for ‘animation’ (actually based on the Japanese pronunciation of the American word ‘animation.’)– It’s animated stories, usually from Japan. They are not “cartoons” (Anime fans would scoff at that term), the content is usually along the line of stuff you would view on Cartoon Network in the U.S.; probably leaning more toward “Adult Swim” in content (adult themes are prevalent). ‘Cool’ kids watch the Anime in Japanese with subtitles. Not-so-cool kids watch versions dubbed into English
Manga: Japanese comic books. You read them backwards.
Otaku: People that really love Anime.
Cosplay: Dressing up in a costume of a character from TV, Anime, or Movies. Literally means “Costume Play”
Hentai: Japanese animated pornography — usually involving really bizarre stuff, like alien squids raping school girls. This, is a good example of why we Dads need to have a good knowledge-base of this stuff.
After I defined Hentai you are probably ready to steer clear of all Anime. You could do that. But Anime is pretty prevalent in our culture and it’s hard to totally avoid; plus, it’s entertaining. Like most media, there is a good and bad. Our job as Christians is to:
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) Read More→
Because pastors are human, and they are involved in a difficult role; ergo they are not always the easiest people to “hang out” with. Pastors are burdened with their service to their ministry, and with their relationship to their spouse, and many of them are Dads . . . and none of them want their kids to turn into the infamous “preacher kid.” But pastors are also wary of relationships, because they’ve been hurt many times, and so their conversations are usually very “shallow” at first. Pastors are good at talking about sports. They are good with talking about the weather or current events (although most are timid about talking about politics), and definitely good at talking about movies. Most Pastors, however, are hesitant to talk about the ‘real’ topics important to them: their personal struggles or family issues.
Back to my confession. I talk to pastors. And one of the stops on the progression toward “real” talk with a pastor involves Theology. It usually goes something like this:
Sports/Movies talk >>>>> Theological/Doctrine Talk >>>>> Real Talk
Theological talk is an important step for pastors because it’s a screening process. If a pastor says that they are a “neo-Calvinist” or listen to John Piper . . . then they are searching to see if you can connect at their theological level of understanding. If you say, “huh?” to the neo-Calvinist remark; then you might be safe, but, you clearly don’t know about “their world. However, if you say, “Oh, I’m an Arminian” . . . then you are also not on the safe list for open conversation about their personal beliefs – because Arminian and Calvinist are opposing viewpoints.
Yeah, pastors are weird.
I counsel pastors and consult with pastors and lead a couple of local ministeriums, so periodically I get the ‘theological’ talk from one of the local pastors screening me to see if I’m safe.
Pastor: So, I’m a Reformed Dutch Lutheran . . .
Me: I’m a bit of a Christian Mystic, like the Desert Fathers . . .
Pastor: [uncomfortable silence]
Yes, I am also a pastor; and, as a pastor, I also am a weird one. Because the Desert Fathers are a relatively obscure Christian sect from the 3rd Century. You can google/Wikipedia them, but I’m warning you right now; it’s boring. Read More→
Periodically, I get a brave teenager who wants to befriend me on Facebook. I say ‘brave’ because they first will have to put up with my frequent uncool posts. The ones where I take a picture of the lava lamp by my desk and speak in terms of “groovy.” Or the ones where I post pictures of my Sugar Gliders doing cute things. Sugar Gliders are cute, but definitely not cool.
The worst is where I make some sort of dorky crack on their posts. Recently, a FB friend, whom shall remain nameless, posted that she was having an argument with her mom. First came the cracks:
But then, other people were posting some serious stuff and I felt guilty having sooo much wisdom to share and only making jokes, so I posted the following: Read More→