Iphones and teens, not always a good combination…..

February 1, 2014

The ostrich effect is the easiest parental theory to implement. There are so many heart aches avoided, so many disappointments averted and peace reigns in our home. It’s just so much easier to look away. It’s so much easier to hide under the pretense that teens need to be trusted. It’s just so much easier not to pry…..

But my wife, bless her heart, pries, sticks her head out of the sand and pokes, pokes and pokes some more. She casually mentioned to a close friend the other day to check her daughter’s texts and Instagram in order to be aware of what her daughter is being exposed to. Her friend responded: But you need her Iphone code to do that!

I have a friend that says when everyone around you seems crazy, maybe it’s you that’s really crazy! My wife and I are in the minority regarding monitoring Iphone use for our teen. The Iphone is a wonderful entertainment piece and a very efficient business tool. However, it is also a conduit to all that is dangerous with the internet.

We have been flabbergasted with the texts we have read and the pictures we have seen from girls we thought were prim, proper and respectful. Many texts each other with regular use of profanity. They send provocative pictures that would destroy their reputations if posted on one of the many social media sites available.

They seem innocuous to the ramifications that could come about with their Iphone activity. Colleges are now scouring social media to find out more about applicants. Employers are doing the same. Schools have joined this effort to monitor for inappropriate behavior. The consequences are dire.

I know it’s easier to look away, but we MUST get involved. No, a young teen has not earned the right to be fully trusted. No, they do not have the life experience to properly asses a situation and deal with it accordingly. We are abdicating our parental responsibilities by turning a blind eye to the unfettered power of the internet.

You pay the Iphone bill, you have ALL the right to monitor its use. A few tips:

  • Get the code and forbid them to change it without giving you the new one.
  • Take the phone away for an hour at a time while at home.
  • Do not allow the phone in the room while they are sleeping. Group chats keep them awake for hours!
  • Do not allow the phone at the dinner table. Today’s teens have lost the art of looking people in the eye and holding a conversation.
  • Use the taking away of the phone as a way of prodding the type of behavior you seek from them. Take it away for a week so you will see the attitude adjustment that creates!
  • On a weekly basis take the phone away without forewarning. Look at the text threads, look at Instagram and Twitter. Search her camera roll.

Parenting is a full-time job. Teens need parameters now more than ever.  They need our life experience to teach them how to deal with the constant moral threats they are receiving.  At the end of our life, we will partake in the ultimate exit interview and final entrance exam! We will be asked what we did as parents to bring our children to God. What did we do to warrant the beautiful blessing we were given? How did we protect them from harm?  Did we pry and poke?

I for one do not want to fail that exam! Eternity is in the balance…..

Mother Mary pray for us……

Advertisements

Family vacation and Mass….Not mutually exclusive!

July 9, 2012

As we were nearing our destination of our first road trip this summer, we passed by a Catholic Church. My backseat was filled with two,  just turned teen girls and my daughter, a soon to be teen. As I was focused on finding the hotel my daughter stated, as a matter of factly, that we were passing a Catholic Church and one of her friends asked me to drive slowly to see what times the Masses were on Sunday! 

Now, I shouldn’t have been surprised and was in fact very proud that my wife and I apparently got through at some level to our daughter!  And it speaks volumes of the upbringing the parents of her two friends had done.  But I was surprised at this brief moment of religious clarity on their part.  I had spent 3 hours hearing the latest music, most of it sung by the three at the highest possible decibels, listening to gossip on boys and of course the requisite whining on material items they wished they had.

But at that specific moment they had a beautiful pause, albeit it for a brief instance, to wonder about Mass times!

I remember not too long ago on my walk how Mass was reserved just for Sundays and when we took  a vacation, it wasn’t only from work or school – but also from other “responsibilities” like Sunday Mass.  

One of the first things we  have done for years, is to seek out a local Catholic Church close to the area we are vacationing in.  It has always been a wonderful experience.  We learn about the universality of our religion and enjoy the different cultural differences each community has to express in a Catholic Mass.

In this past Sunday’s case the priest was there to greet each family before the Mass as they entered; not afterwards like at our parish.  This parish has the custom of having all parishioners share in the Blood of Christ as well as in the Eucharist.  We all share in the same faith but it’s really interesting to see how different faith communities worship  – while still staying within the parameters set by the Catholic Church.

We had a wonderful, relaxing and fun vacation, including a spectacular sunrise enjoyed from our room every morning.  The least we could do was to take an hour to thank our Lord for the wonders he has given us, as well as to thank Him for the opportunity to vacation as a family…. 

As this summer starts I hope we all share the same Mass opportunity with our family.  I am listing below a link to be able to find a Catholic Church and Mass times in whatever area you are vacationing.  Just input the zip code of the area you are visiting. Make this a natural part of vacation planning for you and your family!    www.masstimes.org or 734-794-2100.

                        Sunrise at Melbourne, Florida


You’re the worse dad in the history of the world!…No really…you are!

May 15, 2012

We have a new policy set in stone in the Alvarez family beginning the next school year. Boy do I wish I had implemented it this past year!  Our youngest daughter, evolving from a tween to a teen, will begin the school year grounded until we get the grades we feel she is capable of attaining….  As a seventh grader, we have struggled with the huge emphasis from her peers on guys and parties….Geez, I could have sworn our 23 year old didn’t start the drop off boy-girl parties until her sophomore year in high school….Then again our soon to be teen says her older sister was a nerd!

Parents, we need help, we need to work as a team of Catholic parents focused on living the faith we proclaim to be ours. It’s easier to turn a deaf ear to the constant wailing and whining when our soon to be teens do not get their way.  My 12 year old daughter, otherwise a wonderful human being, seems to thrive on skating on thin academic ice.  She expects us to jump for joy when her friends get summer school and she doesn’t. She expects us to applaud mediocrity.  She also expects us to reward her with party after party on the weekends…. 

We put our foot down this week and limited her to one party this past weekend.  Each and every day the week before the parties brought exaggerated levels of whininess, including the old standby: I hate you! She tried using her mother against me and vice versa. She actually waited until her mom was asleep, then cajoled an OK from her while she slept to go to the second party! When I held my own the next morning, she raged and sulked…something only a tween can do at the same time!

The morning after the grounding for the first party, the storm passed.  I can’t believe  my wife and me held our own and held to our new rule.  I’m sure our daughter now understands that rules will not be bent from now on.  But unfortunately, some of our peer parents don’t do the same.  We as parents, need to set the standard. We must set the bar at a level that will make them successful young ladies, both academically and morally.  Next year she goes into 8th grade. A pivotal year academically that will determine what high school she goes too. 

Sending our children to a Catholic high school does not absolve us from our responsibility to prepare their souls for eternity. I had the incredible blessing to go to confession with our beloved Bishop Augustine Roman only a few days before his passing.  I mentioned my concern as a Catholic parent that I wasn’t doing enough to guide my daughter through these tumultuous years as a Catholic young girl.  He told me in no uncertain terms that a Catholic education is only as good as the morals and lifestyle taught at home and shown by the parents. That Catholic High schools in and of themselves are not an adequate replacement for the examples of parents.

I wasn’t on a committed walk with our Lord while we were raising our eldest daughter.  Even though she is a wonderful young woman and gifted academically and artistically, I beat myself up for not giving her the example I should have as a Catholic father….  I am determined not to the same with my evolving tween….  I pray that the Lord give my wife and I the strength to hold our own and be an example as Catholic parents; not only to our daughter – but to our peer parents as well.