Over indulgence lives somewhere in the recesses of my parenting super ego. Sometimes it crops up when I want to show off how much I love my kids. It's always there, just waiting for the right opportunity to spring up and make things worse. It's the parent in me that wants to give my kids everything I never had.
It starts so well intentioned. There is love dripping off the edges of this idea, and it comes from a good place. However, it begins to set the tone for an unhealthy future. When I give my kids more and more things, I can slowly begin to place more value on the “stuff” and devalue the “words” that should come first.
When we give our kids the world in the palms of their hands, it's all too easy to be tempted to let up in other areas.
Don't let those temporary smiles fool you into believing that it's a permanent thing. Amusement parks, fancy dinners, beach vacations, and new lego sets all have their place; but they are no replacement for time spent with your kids. They don't replace meaningful conversation at the dinner table and at bedtime. They can't measure up to taking those kids to the back porch and reading them a book.
What's my point? For heaven's sake give your kids the best you can financially afford, but make sure that you guard against watering down your time with them as an side effect.
I'm a dad that wants his kids to have access to the world wide web. I want them checking email, watching fun youtube videos, looking up origami instructions, and discovering all the mistakes on Wikipedia. I want all these things for my kids, because they are the things I enjoy.
I'm also a dad that wants my kids safe. I don't want them accidentally seeing things that ruin their innocence, insult their intelligence, and expose them prematurely to foreign concepts. I want my kids secure, because these are the things I want for myself as well.
Here are some Internet Safety steps we've taken in our house to lead our kids (and myself) well.
OpenDNS – This is slightly complicated to explain. Go open an account with OpenDNS, then follow their instructions to setup new DNS servers on your wireless router, and then play around with the customized content filters. When you're completed with setup, it will filter the web for every device that connects to your wi-fi router. It's really not that hard, and if it's too hard for you then pay a friend $50 to come over and set it up for your family. Totally worth it. iPads, iPhones, computers, and Kindle Fire's are all protected with one step!Google Safe Search - Why would you not just use what the Internet Search Provider to the world offers? It's easy and a no-brainer. You can even lock it down so it's ALWAYS on!MiFrenz - This is the most poorly designed email clients I've ever seen. The logos are horrible, the program is blocky and disgusting looking, the name is comical, but it's does what it's supposed to. It allows me to use any email account, and filter who can send my kids messages. It gives me 100% control over the email my kids receive and send. MiFrenz just works, really it does.Macbook Parental Controls - This is another of those must haves. Setup a user account on the computer you use, that is only for the kids. In our house the password for the Cliff Kids is “SMART“, and that step alone lets my kids know how important the wise choice is online.
That's not all, we also regularly use the following: Timed Access Control on my Time Capsule WiFi Router, I check my kids devices (yes, you can do this when you're the parent), all Internet-enabled devices are used in public spaces with other people around, and then we reward responsibility with landmark freedoms as they age.
Anything our parents would add to these guardrails? I'd love to hear what else is being used!
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