I want more for them than just video games. I want them to experience all that real life has to offer.
I want more for them than living vicariously or dreaming for the shallow and unchaste relationships presented in some magazines, TV shows, and movies. I want them to develop healthy and respectful relationships with members of the opposite sex in real life fun settings.
I want more for them than just Facebook friends; I want them to have face-to-face relationships with other teens who they can truly care about and be truly cared for.
I want more for them than just the latest clothes or stylish haircut; I want them to learn the value of true beauty and acceptance not based on their looks or ability to buy the latest items.
I want more for them than just their own car, either new or used; I want them to learn the value of the dollar and the hard work and responsibility required before owning a vehicle.
I want more for them than just an Iphone or other handheld device; I want them to have some safety from the Internet and from addictive games. I want my children to know how to handle boredom.
I want more for them than just an Ipod or mp3; I want them to engage in conversations with those around them, particularly those of another generation. I also want them to experience silence.
I want more for them than fast food, soda, and junk food; I want them to taste real food and appreciate the work and time it takes to have real food. I also would like them to enter adulthood feeling healthy without sickness and lively without caffeine.
I want more for them than getting everything they want now—new soccer cleats, new bike, latest video game, new CD; I want them to learn patience and a truer appreciation that comes from earning these things, preferably over time. Getting everything you want curiously leads to discontentment.
I want more for them than watching hours of TV and movies; I want them to have a true sense of reality that often gets lost in many, many TV shows and movies. Better to have a select few to watch and take the time to judge what message is presented. I also want them to have more time to read good books.
These are some of the things I want my teens to have more of so that they can experience a fuller and more meaningful life. It means that they will have less or sometimes none of the others. I know that they do need to learn how to handle these “distractions.” The trouble with these distractions is that they are all too easily available when we have free time, like summers! When challenged and taught to judge these distractions, our teens can choose to spend their free time wisely, keeping these “distractions” to a minimum. However, our teens need to be taught how to judge. Parenting by keeping the kids constantly busy or parenting by keeping a hands off approach will not achieve this. Parents and teens need dialog that goes along with all of the no’s.
That is why many of these items are not forbidden in our home, but limited and judged together. But like many of today’s parents, I often let my children give into many of these distractions while I myself am busy with my own. Good parenting takes time. This manifesto is a reminder to me to hold fast and to keep in sight what I really want for my children. It may seem counter-cultural at times or swimming against the stream to live with such limitations on our children today, but the “more” that is promised is definitely worth it. The time taken for our children to judge and learn the benefits of limits on these “distractions” will be rewarded exponentially as our children enter into adulthood not only more disciplined, but already experiencing the “more” life has to offer.
Copyright 2011 Tami Kiser