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Susan Wanderer has worked with families in kids ministry for 20 years, with the last ten years serving as Kids Minister at Mount Ararat Church in Stafford. Susan and her husband Ed reside in Fredericksburg and have three amazing kids who joined their family in 2011 and who fill their days with adventure. Come join the conversation over at www.susanwanderer.com 



My Stomping Grounds

This week has felt like Full-On-Springtime. The temperatures have been in the 60’s and 70’s, birds are chirping, the playgrounds are full again, people are out running and biking, parents are gleeful because KIDS ARE OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE AGAIN!

Families are experiencing warmth and embracing outdoor activities like it is their job. An early celebration has begun. Social media is declaring “I LOVE THIS WEATHER! BRING IT!” 

Except for one group of people. 

What? Who are these people who are anxiety-filled about Florida Temperatures invading the rest of the country?

Farmers. 

This warm weather has also affected their crops.Their little budding-blooms are confused. They feel the warmth glowing on their soon-to-be-petals and have begun bursting out of hibernation with an array of beautiful colors, fragrances and hope.

However, in a week or so, our winter weather will return and the blossoms will be vulnerable and without protection from the harsh elements. A freeze will occur and the majority of crops will be lost. 

Joy will not fill the homes of the farmers. They will line up at banks, asking for loans and praying prayers of providence over their crop-loss and empty bank accounts. 

How do I know this? I am a farmer's daughter.

As a child, during early-spring-experiences I would hear jubilation from friends over the beautiful days. And rightly so, WARM WEATHER IS SO LOVELY! Then a few months later, I would hear concerned-filled-prayers from my parents.

It’s all about perspective. To most of America, warm weather is a refreshing reprieve from the harsh winter cold. To American farmers, it’s the precursor to a devastating loss. 

Perspective and personal experience brings a new and different view. 

(What is up with this girl writing about weather, farmers and global warming?  I thought this was an article about kids and technology.)

Hang in there. 

What’s another American perspective? 

Technology.

girl cell phone

To most, it’s a game changer in the best of ways. It provides immediate connection, time- saving assistance and awesome effectiveness. It opens up doors we never thought possible, it allows us to be efficient in ways we never dreamed and it provides connection with co-workers, friends, and family in a fraction of the old-school-communication time. 

Smart technology has changed how we work, interact, parent and live life. 

Then perspective and personal experience steps in. 

To some parents, technology is not delightful, their experience of their child with their first Smart Phone/Tablet is different. Their child is now face to face with images and conversations that they never knew existed before that little tablet/phone entered their world… and all innocence feels lost. 

No matter how many boundaries were put into place, somehow something went wrong. 

To some marriages, technology is not merely an easy way to share a calendar or communicate about dinner plans. It’s the reality that time and intimacy have been stolen because virtual-reality feels better than dealing with real-reality. It might mean that the intimacy of communicating and connecting has been lost to social media scrolling, binge-watching Netflix or deeper still, pornography. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do adore a good Netflix marathon. I am not casting down judgment on a good Gilmore Girls binge-fest. I love to hit play for one more episode to find out what is happening in Stars Hollow. Who doesn’t want to know what’s going on in that cozy town? As much as I adore Lorelai and Luke, sometimes those continuing ‘extra episodes’ seriously distract me from my own main squeeze. 

To some personal lives, technology is not life-giving. It provides a way to check out and not engage. I work with families for a living. I see people walk into church each week.  The ones that do not want to engage in conversation keep the phone in their face. 

I also notice the same thing when I walk through the halls at my kids’ school. The parents who would rather zone out have a greater ability to do so when they mindlessly scroll through social media. 

Please don’t think I am wagging my finger. I too, at the end of a day, am a scroller. I sometimes don’t want to engage. I want to zone out. So I scroll. And because of that, I miss valuable connection with other parents, friends and family. 

Technology has provided us a way out. And perhaps we don’t need a way out. Perhaps what we truly need is a way back in.

It’s all about perspective. 

While technology is beautiful and glorious in its time-assistance and awesome-effectiveness, it has also provided a great divide in homes, families and in communication.  It depends on your perspective and personal experience.

We as parents can figure out technology boundaries, because we are adults. However, kids need guidance to know where the boundaries are with their technology guidelines. 

I have worked with families for twenty years. I’ve sat and held hands with parents as their kids have experienced great embarrassment and loss. 

Just as the blooming buds on my dad's apple trees need protection from the harsh winter elements, we as parents need to provide that protection for our kids. Because when our kids are exposed too early to the freedoms of the internet, tables, iPhones, etc… it can be devastating for some families. 

Yet, we are also the very first generation of parents to walk this road and travel this journey. We are writing our own textbook on how to parent in the smart-technological age. And there are days we are going to win and days we will fail miserably.

My best advice:

•    Circle up with other parents and create community. Ask them how they are guiding their kids with technology. Ask often. The wisdom of other parents is a glorious thing. More than the wisdom though, its important to link arms with other sojourners on this journey. Create Community.

•    Be open and honest with your kids. Tell them why you have created boundaries and rules for technology – that you care about them and love them. They may eye-roll you. Who cares? Keep telling them. 

(Side Note: Oddly enough, the best thing to happen to us when we explored boundaries for technology: A sheriff visited our kids' school and explained the importance of technology boundaries, why boundaries were necessary and the consequences of stepping outside the given boundaries. It opened up incredible dialogue with our teenager. Not fearful dialogue, but a very sobering dialogue of why we need boundaries and what could happen should we not honor those guardrails).

•    Grace. Grace. Grace. We are going to parent our tech-savvy kids beautifully some days while other days we are going to cry our eyes out. Because life. The best thing we can do is give ourselves a break and not load parent-guilt on our already burdened shoulders. 

We CAN navigate this journey, parents. I believe in our kids. I believe in community. I believe in us.

I also believe in lots of prayer for our families as we navigate through this very tender topic. 

 

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pouches explorers

The long running Spotsylvania Sheriff’s cadet program has reorganized as a Boy Scout Explorer troop, said Sgt. Blackington, who took over the program in February 2017.

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