Grow Up Faster, Kid

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Tab and I were at the bookstore recently and I came across Iron Man: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer. Knowing Colfer’s reputation from his Artemis Fowl series, I picked up the Iron Man book to read to Wyatt before bed. Being a good dad, in that moment, I decided to read a bit of the book before reading it aloud to the boy. I am happy I did.

Within the first chapter, teenage Tony Stark is accused of being “one of those boys”. Howard Stark’s secretary is angry at Tony for something he might have/have not done with her daughter. Tony acts surprised. All I could think of, as I was reading this, was having to explain to my 8 year old what “one of those boys” meant. I get that this is 100% par for the course for the character of Tony Stark. But I wish that Colfer could have played teen Stark more like he is in the cartoon Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Which is to say a Tony Stark that is driven, sometimes moody, but always resourceful; a Tony who is not on the girl crazy bus, yet.

For years now, I’ve noticed that children’s media (cartoons, TV shows, books, etc.) seems aimed at rushing kids to grow up. Presenting them with topics and life issues kids won’t encounter until well into the middle school years.

As someone who was homeschooled fourth grade through high school, I know that there is no hurry to grow up. Kids can be innocent, their imaginations left to thrive, by proper parental engagement in curating media choices.

My goal is not to shelter Wyatt. I want to help him work through life issues as they are presented to him. My goal is to be wary, watchful, and help make sure no outside media influences are forcing him to grow up faster than he is ready to grow up. I want my kid to remain a kid, on his own terms.

Age classifications and ratings boards cannot do the job of a parent. Just because another entity designates a piece of media as age appropriate doesn’t mean that it is.

As parents, we need to stay vigilant, realizing that we might need to hold off on introducing such things as Iron Man: The Gauntlet until our child is ready for it. Even if that day of being ready is weeks, months, or even years away.

What are you kids consuming, media-wise, that is causing them to grow up faster than they should?

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The Electronic Monster in My Pocket

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Every time we go to a school event, I’m struck by parents glued to their phones.

The other day, I watched a parent sitting in front of me flip through their cell phone’s menu screen. Aimlessly. No doubt with a delightful internal monologue:

“Which app do I choose? I haven’t played Clash Royale in ages. Ah, don’t make eye contact! They might want to talk!!”

The introvert side of me gets it. The phone provides a safety blanket against scary “stranger” conversations. As a parent, as a dad, I wonder what the kids see though. Do they see parents:

  • Distracted/not present in the moment?
  • Displaying the same electronic habits at home?
Put it down.

The screen is so magical!

I know that being in a crowd of people we don’t know can be intimidating. I know that it is easier to escape into a phone, look important, and ignore those around us. But at what cost does our escape come at? What are we modeling for our children when we can’t even put down our phones for a moment?

I’m not trying to sound judgmental nor make others feel guilty. I’ve used my phone to ignore people many times. The thing is, I want my son to know that he is important. That I can be present in the moment. No matter how hard or uncomfortable that might be.

We are the gatekeepers

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In Raising a Modern-Day Knight, Robert Lewis encourages dads to model positive media behavior. He says that sons are always watching and listening. Using dad’s actions as a way to filter the world.

Talk about a big responsibility.

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In my house, I’ve realized that my wife and I are gatekeepers. Curators. We preview and engage all media consumed. Not out of some crazy quest for control but out of love for our son. My experience with Aliens, at the neighbors, in first grade, not going to happen to him. This allows us to introduce age appropriate entertainment. Books, movies, television and games consistent with our Christian worldview.

Sometimes these experiences bring about questions and conversations. Which is fantastic. Just the other night we had a short discussion on Five Nights At Freddy’s, a playground topic.

I am learning that I have more influence, as a parent, than I ever knew. I want Wyatt to grow up to make smart decisions, in all areas of life. Media discernment is a great first step in establishing healthy cultural engagement.

From Across the Net: “Sharing FFXIV with my kids”

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Enjoyed this piece by Justin (aka Syp) titled “Sharing FFXIV with my kids“.

And then I tasked them with helping me find on-screen clues leading us to the poacher, so there were three sets of eyes combing the screen and pointing to anything with a name tag over it. “Is that it?” “No, that’s another player.” “What about that?” “That’s the same player.”

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