Your Kids Are Not Your Kids

When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.
Exodus 2:10

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Your kids are not your kids.

One of the lessons I learned alongside the parents in our student ministry when we read Alex Cheiak’s Preparing Your Teen for College is that to be a parent is to be a steward.

Steward isn’t a word we use in everyday life.

Chediak defines steward this way:

someone entrusted with another’s wealth or property and charged with the responsibility of managing it in the owner’s best interest.

According to the Bible, all parents are stewards.

We have been entrusted.

They belong to another.

We have been charged with the responsibility.

 

But at any point, God has the right to call us to give them back to him. After all, they belong to him.

In a way that can sneak up on you, it shows up throughout Scripture.

Abraham is told to send off Ishmael and his mom.

Then he is told to kill Isaac, the son of promise.

Jacob and Rachel didn’t even know it, but God sends their favorite boy Joseph to Egypt.

The angel of the Lord tells Samson’s parents he must take the Nazarite vow.

Hannah gives Samuel to God to live in the temple forever.

Elizabeth’s son John becomes a hermit who survives on locusts and wild honey.

And a woman named Mary watches her son hang from a Roman cross before the sky goes black.

Abraham and Sarah. Jacob and Rachel. Zorah and Manoah. Hannah, Elizabeth, and Mary.

Moms and dads throughout Scripture had to learn.

Your kids are not your kids.

 

sir_lawrence_alma-tadema_-_the_finding_of_moses

This truth snuck up on me in the midst of the numbingly familiar story of Moses. Whether by Charlton Heston or an animated feature on Netflix, you’ve surely seen this story played out plenty of times.

But did you know? Moses’ mom had to learn this lesson twice.

First, she places him in that basket and pushes him off into the Nile. We are scared to let our kids cross the street or hang out at the mall, yet this woman sends her son to the crocodiles and hippos.

And you know the story. Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and raises him as a prince of Egypt.

Except that’s not how it ends for Moses’ mom.

Pharaoh’s daughter cannot nurse, and Egypt is all out of baby formula. Fortunately for her, Miriam, the baby’s older sister, is watching the whole thing. With quick wits, Miriam suggests to the princess that she find a woman who can nurse the boy.

That’s how Moses gets to go back home, and he gets to stay. In Ancient Egypt, young children nursed until they were about four years old.

Moses belongs to Pharaoh’s daughter now. By God’s grace, Moses’ mom gets to be his nurse and caregiver.

Then, she gets to learn the lesson all over again.

Your kids are not your kids.

After four years of feeding and caring for her biological son, Moses’ mom gives him away once more.

She wakes up one morning and realizes Moses has been eating solid food for a week. This game is not going to last forever. Someone is going to notice.

So she gets Moses dressed. She tries to nurse him one last time. Maybe he will latch and she can postpone this another day. She throws all of Moses’ things into the same basket she pushed into the Nile, and she leads him out of her house for the last time. She enters the gates to the royal palace. She kneels to hug the boy who is trying to pry loose and run and play. She says the few words of Egyptian she knows to the princess. She stands and watches as the princess and her boy walk into the palace. The palace doors close.

Her four year old boy is gone.

But that’s the thing.

He’s not her four year old boy.

He belongs to God.

 

Moses’ mom has been a steward given an extra season of responsibility, but that time has passed. Now, her responsibility is to let her boy go and to trust God’s plan.

This is what it means to be a parent.

You have been entrusted with a child that belongs to another. You have been charged with the responsibility of caring and leading the child.

But at the end of the day, you are still only a steward.

Are you ready to send your graduating student to college?

Are you ready to watch your adult child move across the country to pursue a career?

Are you ready to kick your non-growing-up 35 year-old jobless son out of the basement?

Are you prepared now or preparing for the day when God will do as he pleases and calls your kids out for his purpose and glory?

Because that’s the thing.

Your kids are not your kids.

 

 

 

 

 

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Social Media & Jesus: Part 3 – Three Kings of Social Networking

We’ve already talked about why you should care about social media. In the last post, we looked at six resources you can use to help you shepherd your family online.

Now I want to turn our attention to three kings of the social media landscape. None of these three networks will surprise you. My purpose in writing about these three kings of social media is to highlight how teens are using these apps and to point out a few features of the apps that you might not be aware of.

1. Facebook – The Falling Giant

For many adults, when you hear someone talk about social media, you probably first think about Facebook. In many ways Facebook reigns supreme in the realm of social media.

Except in one very important sphere: Teenagers.

Study after study reveals that teenagers are using Facebook less and less. And one of the biggest reasons? Old people.

Bianca Bosker, in this report for the Huffington Post, said, “Facebook is the living room. Twitter and Instagram are the bedrooms and rec rooms.”

Why would the teens want to hang with the adults when they can go somewhere else and do their own thing?

The point is this: Mom and Dad, if you think you know what your kid is doing online because your friends with your student on Facebook, you are sadly mistaken.

Most teens use Facebook to portray a family-friendly persona while using other apps that their relatives do not use in order to be teenagers, to push the boundaries, and to explore the deeper, darker taboos in life.

Facebook may be the first thing you think of when you hear “social media”, but don’t depend on it to keep tabs on your student’s social media activity.

2. Twitter – 140 Characters of Fun

Go follow me on Twitter - @ja_nichols
Go follow me on Twitter – @ja_nichols

If you’re a more in-the-loop parent about technology, you might not just think about Facebook but also other popular apps like Twitter. 

If you do not know about these other apps, you need to. 

Twitter lets users send out really short posts— there’s a limit of 140 characters for each tweet. 

Many students will have a Twitter account, but Twitter is rare in the fact that it is actually more popular with adults than with teenagers.

Content-wise, Twitter does have filters set for adult content, however like any other filter, it struggles to keep up with everything. If explicit content does make it on Twitter, it is usually through other networks like the Twitter-run Vine. 

Here are two items you need to know about navigating Twitter:

The Following List – If you’re student has Twitter, you need to be aware of who your student is following. The Following list is everyone that your student is able to see when they post. For the most part, you control what material you see on Twitter, so managing the the Following list with your student is crucial to using the app wisely.

Following List
Following List

Trending Topics – These keywords are what is most popular on Twitter right now. When your student clicks on one of these trending topics, he is able to read tweets from anyone using the keyword(s) including people who are not on his Following List. This is often where inappropriate content can find its way on Twitter.

Trending Topics
Trending Topics

3. Instagram – The True King of Teens

Instagram is probably the most popular app today among teenagers. Instagram is a photo-sharing site that allows users to also connect their photos to their other social media accounts. 

In an article on babble.com  about different apps argues, the author writes, “If there’s a network that parents aren’t on but should be, its this one.”     

Here are some important thing to know about Instagram when talking with your student.

Following List – Like Twitter, it is crucial to know who your student is Following. The Following list is every person that is able to share photos directly to your student.

Following List
Following List

Private Messages – Instagram allows you to send pictures to people privately. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. Private messages can be accessed by clicking the disc icon on the top right of the home screen.

The Favorites Page – Like the Trending Topics on Twitter, the Favorites Page (identified by the star in the bottom left of the screen) includes posts by people beyond the Following List and includes whatever is most popular on Instagram at the moment. It also includes a search menu that enables you to look for photos from different people or different topics.  In my discussions with students about purity and accountability in regards to Instagram, this is where the trouble can happen on Instagram. If your student is on this network, you need to have conversations about their experiences on the Favorites page.

Favorite Page
Favorite Page

Bottom line: If you want to shepherd your student on using social media wisely, you must talk with your student about how they are using Instagram. Its the first step.

Go follow me on Instagram - @ja_nichols
Go follow me on Instagram – @ja_nichols

You are probably aware of all three of these networks, and your student probably uses one, if not, all of them. You need to have consistent conversations with your student so that they can know how to navigate these social media networks with wisdom.

In the next post, we are going to look at a few more apps that are just as popular with the students but have for the most part managed to escape the knowledge of the adults. Stay tuned as we take a look at one app that has been called “the parent’s worst nightmare”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you help your student navigate their use of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Are there any lesser known apps that you would like to know more about? Let me know by leaving a comment in the section below.