So a little while back Anthony took our two oldest sons on an outing. There were several other kids about the same age as ours. When they came home, Anthony and I had a conversation that went like this…..
Anthony: “Wow, honey, you won’t believe how many kids there had iPhones. They played those things the entire time.”
Me: “Really? Did they call people?”
Anthony: “No, they could have, but all they seemed to do was play apps and games.”
Next thing we know Connor interrupts our little conversation…
“Ummm, Dad, actually those were iPods, not iPhones!”
Yeah, of course we know the difference between an iPod and an iPhone! I mean, this is 2011–doesn’t every informed parent know this stuff?
Some day I think we are the most clueless people on the planet. We’re so like 1990s. iPhone, iPad, iPod…what the heck. I cannot keep up.
Okay, so we totally laughed. Connor just kind of rolled his eyes (in a nice way) as if to give up on us completely.
You know, when Connor and Kellan were really little so many people used to tell me that I should make the most of those days–enjoy every poopy diaper and toddler tantrum, because it was SO much easier than raising kids as they get older. I’m beginning to see that now.
My struggle is not with the actual raising of kids getting bigger, but rather with the stuff that they are constantly bombarded with. Connor totally laughs at me, but my biggest struggle as a teen in the 80s was not whether to save for either the fancy iPod Touch or the regular ole iPod, but I got to obsess over how high my shoulder pads should be. Yeah, times sure have changed.
I gotta tell you guys, I seriously have issues with the things our kids deal with each and every day in 2011. I do. We say no to a lot of things, and we know we’re probably swimming against the tide.
Internet time in our home is very controlled. Our computer is in our living room where we get to see exactly what’s happening. There are only certain sites our kids are allowed to see.
We don’t allow them to have Facebook or any other social media (they’re 10 and 12, for goodness sakes). And they are not allowed to have their own e-mail address until they’re older–the family one works just fine for now.
Cell phones can wait a whole lot longer. TV is limited to shows we approve of. Video games are parent-approved too.
Yup, we’re swimming upstream. We know that.
For months and months Connor saved up his hard earned money. He saved up his birthday money and his Christmas gift money. He did chores and took care of various neighbors’ dogs when they went on vacation. He saved up every penny of his money until the day finally came–he could afford the thing he wanted the most…an iPod Touch. Uh-uh, not the regular ole boring iPod. All his friends had the super duper Touch kind, and that was what he had his eye on. We said fine–let him figure it out for himself.
Finally he brought that puppy home. He spent the last of his hard-earned cash on downloading the music of his choice and hit the jackpot when he found a few apps for free. Bonus. The dude was as happy as Larry.
He sat on the sofa playing with his newest possession and casually told us that he could just use the wireless network in our home to access the Internet on his iPod to get the wallpapers and stuff that he wanted.
Internet? On an iPod? We had no idea. Isn’t that thing for music?
Did I tell you we’re dorks? Yup.
Honey, that is so not going to work, thank you very much. You can use your iPod for music and a few games, but that is IT.
Why? Because we love you. Because the Internet is full of evil and you don’t even have to go looking for it–it finds you. The Internet sure has made the world a smaller place, but it has also caused many, many people to fall into all kinds of temptation.
Not a good thing.
I observed my son in the days that followed. Something happened in his heart. He realized that that extremely expensive little piece of equipment was really not worth it. The thing he finally got was, well, just that…a thing. He realized that in six months time, the next latest-greatest gadget would come out, and then his prized possession that he saved up for, what felt like forever, was already a dinosaur in the world of technology. He felt that there was just so many other things that he could wisely spend his money on.
I tell you, I was so proud of my growing up lad. He had to go through the whole experience himself to realize that his treasure does not lie in an earthly gadget, and that it may bring him some satisfaction every now and again, but to spend every dollar he had on it? It really wasn’t worth it.
In just a few days Connor learned a lesson that I have to remind myself of every single day of my life…stuff doesn’t matter. It can be gone in a heartbeat. It gets old and obsolete faster every year. My son learned that keeping up with the latest trends is futile, it can never bring lasting joy and satisfaction to his life. You get one thing only to discover that a new-and-improved model is about to be released next month. There is no keeping up.
It’s such a difficult thing for our kids to get in their hearts. Times have changed. By no means are we against technology and the amazing things that seem to come onto the market daily, but there has to be a balance. Falling into the trap of always wanting the next best thing is awful…so deeply unsatisfying. Learning to be content with what we have in a world so driven by consumerism is tough. We need more, we want more, we just have to have more, more, more. When are we ever satisfied with what we have?
Whether we are the parent or the child, swimming against the tide is not an easy thing to do these days. It takes courage, standing by our convictions, and constantly staying in God’s Word to remind ourselves about what truly matters in this life. The Bible tells us that where our treasure lies our heart shall be also.
I long for my children to learn that people matter more than things. That loving one another with all our hearts matters more than having the next best thing on the market.
That we should always seek the Kingdom of God first…not second, or third, or forth.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2