This week, I put a picture on Instagram and used a certain #hashtag. I thought it was a cute hashtag, but didn’t think much of it. It was a saying that I actually have in my oldest sons baby scrapbook (that of course, I’ve never finished). A sweet saying. Completely innocent.
Well last night, I decided to click that hashtag to see what cute pictures other moms have posted.
I was horrified.
What seemed like hundreds of completely nude and pornographic pictures popped up. On Instagram. A social media platform that, I know, thousands of young preteen kids use.
It got me thinking. Satan has found an easy way to drag people down. Without batting an eye, women can post sexual pictures of themselves, naked. And with little to no effort, ANYONE can find these pictures. Married men, curious teenage boys who are just starting to battle what could lead to an addiction, young girls going through puberty, dealing with self image or self confidence issues and trying to figure out who they should be. Anyone.
We have passed the times of hiding Playboy magazines in a box under the bed. Or going to Blockbuster and renting a certain type of VHS.
This stuff is now at our fingertips. At the fingertips of our kids. It is readily available and easily accessible to anyone with a phone. Laptop. Tablet. TV. Text messaging. Social media. Instagram. Facebook. Snap chat. Google.
It is no longer something that is hidden in the dark shadows of the bedroom. It is here. 24/7. Anytime, anyplace.
I wish there was a way to fight it. To protect our kids. But honestly, I don’t think we can. Technology has made it available and technology is a part of life now.
Even if we try to limit our sons to flip phones, the boys in the lockerooms will still have smart phones. Even if our Jr. High daughters don’t have snapchat, that slumber party they went to will possibly have a few dirty pictures sent out from someone’s phone.
Even the “good kids” are often involved in sexting.
We can’t put parental controls on everything. Instagram doesn’t even have them. And we can’t always be there to try to help our kids stay strong.
My boys aren’t to that age yet, but I know in the blink of an eye they will be. I’m dreading trying to figure out a way to successfully parent my 8 going on 11 year old son as he comes across these inappropriate pictures and videos that are all over the place. Sometimes I feel like I will be fighting a losing battle. That there is no way to protect his heart and his eyes.
I’m not gonna lie. I have no clue how I will parent through this, but here is where I am going to start.
Maybe I shouldn’t focus on fighting this solely by protecting my kids. Maybe I should focus more on fighting this by teaching them.
The first step in teaching them, is being aware that it’s there. Guys, we can’t turn a blind eye and just pretend it’s not out there. Until last night, I had no clue how simple it was. How just one innocent click and bam. I mean I’ve heard stories of junior high and high school kids sending out nude pictures to each other and boys looking at porn in the locker rooms, but I’ve always thought “Oh that’s forever away. They will have developed technology by then that will help prevent that.” But that’s simply not true. I am now aware that this stuff is real and it is not going away.
We HAVE to teach our kids self control. Starting young. We cannot fight this for them. We have to teach THEM to fight it themselves. And learning self control at a young age is a great way to start preparing them. Give them some freedom and then guide them to make choices using self control.
They want 5 cookies but only eat 3. They really want to take that one dollar they earned to the store and buy an easily breakable toy, but instead they decide to save fifty dollars and buy something awesome later. They really want to hit their brother when he breaks their toy, but instead they walk away. They see $20 laying on the floor and really want to just sneak it in their pocket, but instead they give it back to the owner. They really want to look at those images that popped up on their tablet, but instead they close out.
We need to talk about it. Not just with our kids. But with their friends parents. See where they stand. Talk with their coaches and teachers. I know that if I have concerns of things going on at school or athletics, then I will definitely be (respectfully) letting my voice be heard. Talk about it at church.
We can’t ignore it or try to hide it and just wait for our kids to discover it on their own. We have got to let them know that this is out there and that sometimes it will take every ounce of strength they have to fight the urge for our sons to look. Or for our daughters participate.
And just as important, we need to listen. Let our kids talk to us. Be a safe place for them. Sometimes bringing our struggles into light is the best way to allow Jesus to conquer them. We need to let out kids talk to us.
We have to teach the importance of friendships. Good friendships. With good people. Looking back, and watching kids now days, I have decided that probably one of THE best solutions for kids to be able to stand firm in their morals isn’t necessarily parenting with rules. It is encouraging the kid themselves, to surround themselves with friends who have strong morals.
You are who your friends are.
I had several best friends in high school. And one was on the basketball team with me. I still remember our junior year, sitting in the hallway outside of the locker room because we didn’t feel comfortable with the language and stories and music on the other side of that door. There is no doubt in my mind that if I didn’t have a friend who shared my morals, that I wouldn’t have been gutsy enough to distance myself from it.
My prayer is that my sons will have that friend with them in the locker room growing up. We are stronger when we aren’t alone.
Which leads my to my last “battle plan” so to say.
Pray protection over your children.
Pray for them to be able to learn to put on their full armor of God and stand firm against the devil.
Pray for God to place awesome friends in their life so that they can stand firm together and hold each other up.
And encourage your kids. Let them know that you have high expectations for and confidence in them. Let them know that you are there and you trust that they are strong enough to stand up to the devil. In whatever way he is tempting them.
And when they fail, love them.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16
If you have any strategies regarding this topic, I would love for you to share your advice in the comments section!!