A Bright Consensus About Screens and Kids

Earlier this week, the NY Times published an interesting article: A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley. Essentially, there is a growing movement among the technical gurus of Silicon Valley to seriously restrict their children’s use of cell phones and tablets. Interesting, but not surprising. As my husband says, it’s pretty obvious that smart phones and tablets are not good for kids, especially when you see them so sedate and glued to the screen. Normal heathy kids should be running around, playing outside, and using their imaginations. Most parents would agree that we need to limit the amount of time our children spend in front of the screen; many parents struggle to do so.

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Screwtape Intercepted: An Angelic Letter for a Homeschool Mom #2

I hope you enjoyed last week’s Screwtape Letter for a Homeschool Mom #2. Screwtape is a nasty one, isn’t he? You’ll be glad to know that Bitterwench never did get the letter because, just like last time,  Martha’s vigilant Guardian Angel intercepted it. Here is Archangel Gabriel’s advice to Angel Fairlight:

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How Catholic Parents Can Reform the Church

It’s been a tough summer for Catholics this year, and I would not be surprised if by now you’re tired of hearing and reading about church scandals, church politics, and maybe even church in general. As we wait for our bishops, cardinals, and the Pope to shed light on how they will address these problems and “clean house”, we lay people can feel rather helpless. Especially as we watch our beloved Church get attacked from the outside and ripped apart from within.

But I have news for you… well not quite news, but an important reminder:

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Church Scandals – What’s a Parent to Do?

How have you been coping with all the recent news of church scandals and clergy abuse of minors? All this news makes me sick to my stomach. Part of me doesn’t want to think about it, much less talk about it. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? The silence, the covering-up, the pretense that sexual abuse by clergy isn’t really real.

But it is.

And while church officials talk about accountability and processes to protect youth and reform the system, we parents need to take the bull by the horns and talk about it with our kids (at least middle schoolers and older). If we don’t, they will catch wind of it somewhere else and feel confused and scandalized (as they should), and their faith may be seriously compromised. Here are three points to think about and possibly talk about with your kids:

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Helping Your Child to Practice Piano Effectively

Here’s a question that came in as a comment: How do you deal with piano practice? I find that if I let my children (8, 5) practise themselves, they’ll skip some scales and end up doing really shoddy work on their pieces. I find myself having to sit down with them every time in order to get good progress, and it’s really frustrating because I can’t do chores or help/play with/read to the younger ones. I’d really appreciate your advice, thanks.

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Protecting our Kids from the Dangers of the Internet, Part I

With two teenagers in the house (how did that happen so fast?), I have become increasingly concerned about the dangers and effects of the internet and social media on our young people. I’m particularly worried about pornography, although internet, video game and social media addictions are also a concern. Have you seen any of the latest statistics on children/teens and the internet?

Here are some stats from Covenanteyes.com

  • 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18.
  • The first exposure to pornography among boys is 12 years old, on average.
  • 83% of boys and 57% of girls are exposed to group sex online.
  • 71% of teens have done something to hide their online activity from their parents.
  • 28% of 16-17-year-olds have unintentionally been exposed to pornography online.

These stats are unsettling, aren’t they? We need  to protect our kids from the dangers of the internet. But with smart phones and iPads being ubiquitous, the task seems almost impossible. Of course, we need to use parental controls and put filters on our routers. (Here is a great list of resources.) However, even if we have the most sophisticated parental controls and filter systems, our kids are still in danger. After all, our children have friends, and their friends (will) have smart phones, apple watches, iPads, and laptops. And who knows how protected their gadgets are?

Parental controls,  filters, and monitoring tools.  They are a no brainer.

But we can’t stop there.

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How My Kids are Keeping Busy this Summer

When I was a child, my mother used to say, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” I find myself saying the same thing to my kids whenever boredom leads to trouble. Not that I’m against boredom. A certain amount is healthy — it allows children to use their imaginations and creativity in a free and leisurely manner. Excessive boredom, however,  makes children want to eat when they’re not hungry and waste time on video games (which we don’t do here). It also incites kids to pester their siblings because they have nothing else to do.

The warm, care-free days of summer are a wonderful gift. But children still need structure. They still need to use their time constructively.  Besides play-dates, swimming, biking, and sports, here are some things we are doing to make the most of our summer days.

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The Five Types of Tattle-Tales

Summer is here! And with it, mosquito bites, scraped knees, and an outbreak in tattle-taling. Being home all day with half-a-dozen kids,  I have noticed there are five (yes, five!) different types of tattle-tales. Not all tattles are created equally. Here’s what they are and what we can do about them:

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Help for Mean, Moody Mamas

Do you ever have those days when a dark cloud seems to be hanging over you? Perhaps you didn’t sleep well the night before or health problems are gnawing away at your energy and patience. Maybe your kids are particularly ornery and you can’t get them to stop squabbling, let alone get them to do their school work. Or maybe you had a marital disagreement which has left you feeling deflated and depressed. It sure is hard to be joyful and kind on such days, isn’t it?

Here’s an excerpt from Evangelizing Our Children with Joy that describes the importance of being joyful even in the face of tribulations.

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