Remember when you could turn down an invite and that was the end of the story? These days you best truly be busy or ill because if you turn down an invite and do anything else your ass is on Facebook. And then you have some explaining to do.
When I was a kid if you had a bad day you could go home and be alone. You could settle in, digest what happened and go to school the next day. No one could reach you without walking to your house or calling your HOME phone.
Omg a "home phone." And your parents answered. Remember when boys tried to call and you just about died because they had to speak to your parents? Horrifying. But what we never realized is that it was a layer of protection. When you were home kids couldn't make fun of you and you could escape from friends that weren't behaving in a manner that made you feel good. Parents knew who you spoke to outside of school because they either called the house or came over.
Those days are forever gone. People can reach you anywhere, anytime. Kids are online and it's a world that offers no layer of protection. Scary stuff.
In our house we have had many meetings with our kids on keeping eachother's privacy, being kind and giving support. I call our home and family our "safe place." Everyone deserves a place they can go where they feel loved, they are away from the chaos of the world and they know their not-so-great moments will stay private.
Our home is that place for our kids. We fight to keep it that way and we remind them every so often to abide by certain rules.
RULE #1 NO OVERSHARING.
This is tough. My kids have ipods and the xbox with the headset. I tell you the first time my son put on that headset and played xbox with friends in different houses I was freaked. I remember one evening it was time for dinner and my son said to his friend "Hang on I'll be back I'm going to have dinner..."
Then he set the headset down and walked away. I asked him if the boy could still hear everything through it and my son said he could. I told my son he needed to turn around and power it off because that is not allowed in my home. When you walk away from that game console you turn it off. I don't need more little ears than I already have in my house.
The xbox headset is what pushed my "safe place" rules into effect. This was four years ago.
When we are home we deserve privacy. All of us. If my daughter farts I don't need one of my son's blabbing that on his Facetime. I never imagined a day I would worry about who has gas and who is on an electronic device. My kids are close in age, and I realized early on that a brother or sister sharing something embarrassing can have devastating effects.
We're navigating new waters here. Our parents would have had mini-strokes if they dealt with even half of the crap we deal with, but we have to stay vigilant no matter how tough it is.
Which brings me back to no over-sharing. We all need a place to clog toilets and be an ass without worry it will be shared via iphone, xbox headset or by mouth. We should all be able to have bedhead and mismatched pajamas without our brother showing what we look like on Facetime.
What happens in our home stays in our home unless it is a happy story worth sharing. Secrets are respected and privacy is protected.
This is a constant uphill battle, but it is very worth it.
Rule #2 BE A BIGGEST FAN.
I know kids argue and poke fun at eachother. My kids do it all the time. The troubles arise when feelings really get hurt. My boys are the biggest offenders of this rule, and there are days I feel like a referee.
When I have one or both of the boys in a different state of mind because they feel they aren't loved I get angry. And I remind my kids to BE KIND. The world is cruel enough outside our front door and I don't need my kids bringing negativity inside our home.
I do not tolerate name calling or nastiness. We are to offer support and encouragement. When my kids get home I want them to know the battles they face daily are over. If one of us is having a bad day, no one is allowed to contribute to it. We are a team, and we work to keep our teammates happy and feeling loved.
RULE #3 TURN IT OFF
It's tough to limit electronics. I admit this wholeheartedly. I prefer the "as long as you've done _____, _____ and _____ you can play your video game. It's easier for my family and it keeps the focus on what you ARE DOING and not WHAT YOU CAN'T DO. When you work hard life rewards you. That is the same in our house.
However, when I say you're done, you're done. If I tell you to power off, you do it. If I notice we're creeping past two hours on a device it goes off. If the sun is out, you go outside. If someone in our house needs a moment, you keep your Facetime and your headsets off.
I feel my approach focuses less on deprivation and more on earning your keep. I just have to monitor the time and be aware of what they are doing on those devices.
My goal is to teach my kids courtesy and to respect one another. I know we won't all get along all day but there is no excuse for cruelty. I want my children to feel respected and comfortable to be themselves when they drop their backpacks by the backdoor. Our home is a sacred, safe place my kids can always return to and know they are loved, wanted and accepted.
How do you keep the peace and encourage kindness? What do you do to keep your kids feeling confident and "safe" in your home?