Parenting Value #1 — Reconciliation

I read an answer on Quora that made me pump my fist and say, “You tell ’em, champ!” The question was about a parent breaking an iPad because a child was addicted to a game. The parent wanted to know if breaking the iPad was overkill… Yeah, seriously.

Anyway, the answer this guy gave made me smile for a week. In short, he said his parents knew tech was the future and encouraged his gaming. They also ensured they spent lots of time doing activities as a family. Then he said, “If my parents would have broken my gaming system, I wouldn’t be working in tech today — where I make five times per year what my parents make combined.”

I’m tired of tech-bashing posts, articles and videos aimed at parents. The reason it bothers me so much is that it blames technology for family problems rather than challenging us to look in the mirror at the real problem. Technology is serving the role of both the babysitter and stable significant other for many kids. It’s not the child’s fault and it’s not tech’s fault. Kids are the victims of family angst. Tech is the fall-guy.

A lack of relationship skills is at fault. Primarily, the skill — or value — of reconciliation. We tell our kids to say sorry when they hurt someone and to forgive people when they apologise, but we often struggle to do this ourselves. Children do what we do, not what we say.

Values are caught not taught. I had a little guy in for a chat this week who I called a ‘silly monkey.’ He laughed and said, “That’s my nickname — Monkey!” And it reminded me of the three monkeys — one covering its eyes, one covering its ears, one covering its mouth. And it reminded me of my Mum shaking her head as I did another crazy thing because my friends did. “Monkey see, monkey do!” she said time and time again. We learn from watching, hearing and repeating what we see others do. We’re just like those silly monkeys!

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I have three kids that love their parents and each other. As a family, we regularly laugh together, play board games together, eat together and chat for hours. That said, they love their tech (as do I!) and have been tech-kids since they were in nappies. The oldest coordinated mouse-in-hand to cursor-on-screen when he was just two-years-old. He’s been at it since. Today he’s almost halfway through a Computer Science Degree in which he’s thriving. Boy two is in his first year of a Data Science Degree and thinks it’s awesome. He’s also a WOW legend! Our daughter, a budding florist, strengthens her skills by watching her favourite YouTubers and learns one creative thing after another from Pinterest, Instagram and other social media.

Dad (that’s me) has been a blogger for nearly two decades and a YouTuber (that’s what the kids at school call me! lol) for just over a decade. In just the past year, more than half-a-million people have read/listened to my content. Crazy, eh?

Tech isn’t the problem. It also isn’t the reason my kids are awesome. And, they are awesome!

They got a good start at being great people because their parents choose to suffer and succeed together. We fall. We get up. We apologise. We forgive. We mean it. We learn from our mistakes. We grow stronger. And we do these things privately, publicly and honestly — in front of our kids. They know what stupid mistakes look like. They know what huge belly laughs feel like. They apologise quickly. They forgive eagerly. They move on. Because they’ve seen it work. Loving and lovable people are good at forming and reforming relationships. Relationships are built on the ability to make things right — that’s reconciliation.

To whom do you need to apologise?

Whom do you need to forgive?

Do it. Regularly.

Let the monkeys see it and hear it — and soon they will say it too.

TECHnically Great Families

I'm tired of tech-bashing childhood research.

The reason it bothers me so much is because it blames technology for the problems caused by loss of family values and skyrocketing family breakdowns. Technology is serving the role of both the babysitter and stable significant other for many kids. It's not the kids' fault and it's not tech's fault. Kids are the victims. Tech is the fall-guy.

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A lack of relationship values is at fault:
Commitment.
Confession.
Forgiveness.
Reconciliation.
Here in lies the true problem.

I have three kids that love their parents, each other and have long-term friendships with non-family members.

As a family, we regularly laugh together, play board games together, eat together, and chat for hours. That said, they love their tech (as do I!) and have been tech-kids since they were in nappies. The oldest was the first one to coordinate a mouse-in-hand to cursor-on-screen when he was about 2 years old. He’s been at it since. Today he’s almost halfway through a Computer Science degree in which he’s thriving. Boy 2 is in his first year of a Data Science degree and thinks it’s awesome. He’s also a WOW legend! Our daughter, the youngest, strengthens her faith by watching her favourite Christian youtubers and learns one creative thing after another from Pintrest, Instagram and YouTube.

Dad (that's me) has been a blogger for nearly two decades and a youtuber (that's what the kids at school call me! lol) for just over a decade. In just the past year, more than half-a-million people have read/listened to my content. Crazy, eh?

Tech isn't the problem.

It also isn't the reason my kids are awesome. And, they are awesome!

They are great people because their parents suffer and succeed together. We fall. We get up. We apologise. We forgive. We mean it. We learn from our mistakes. We grow stronger. And we do these things privately, publicly and honestly - in front of our kids. They know what stupid mistakes look like. They know what huge belly laughs feel like. They apologise quickly. They forgive eagerly. Because they've seen it work.

People need to stop blaming tech and start loving each other!

A safe Australia is a values-centred Australia

Individual values shape family values. Family values shape community values. Community values shape cultural values. And cultural values shape the character of a nation. Australia is not the safe place it was a generation or two ago. Due to changes in cultural cohesion, community involvement and family structure; what it means to be Australian is shifting and in the process we are losing focus on our shared values. In short, we are no longer able to articulate what it means to be Australian.

Because values provide the foundational core of culture, The Australia Government is doing everything they can to help us find ourselves. This is why schools have values statements, buddy systems and peer mentoring for the students and programs like Real Schools for teachers and staff. It’s also why schools have chaplains, mentors, councillors and well-being officers.

US President Theodore Roosevelt said, “To educate a person in mind and not morals is to educate a menace to society.” A safe Australia is a values-centred Australia. We know this! Not only do values keep us safe, they play a key role in our happiness, wellbeing and success. But, where do they come from? How do we develop values?

Values are caught not taught. We develop our values by watching and participating with other people. Values transfer from one person to another through relational pathways. The stronger the relationship, the more likely we will embody the values lived out by the other person. For most children, parents are their primary relationships and thus the strongest source for their values. Significant family members are also relational values givers. Those we value most provide most of our values.

As a parent, if we want to raise children with holistic healthy values, we need to know our core values and live by them. To do this, we need to take our own values seriously. Sit down and make a list. What are my core values? Why do I have these values? How do I live by these values and how will I ensure I live by them in the future?

A list of commonly held values is a good place to start. Values specialist Michael Gurian suggests ten moral competencies all humans need: decency, fairness, empathy, self-sacrifice, responsibility, loyalty, duty, service, honesty and honour. Happiness guru Martin Seligman adds humility, self-control, love of learning, industriousness, leadership, caution and playfulness. Parenting experts Linda and Richard Eyre continue the list with courage, peaceability, self-reliance, dependability, respect, love, unselfishness and mercy.

An honest personal values list will have just a handful of values. Although more confronting, reverse engineering your list will give you the most honest results. Instead of picking your values from a list; look at the actions, activities and communities in which you are regularly involved. Why are you involved in these things? Your core-values will likely be at the heart of the reasons why you dedicate time and energy to these things.

Once you’ve generated your list, talk about it. Notice when one of your values is lived-out by one of your children and tell them what you’ve seen in them. Put a name to the actions you want to see. Celebrate your values in action!

One by one, both you and your child will become all you hope to be. And Australia will be better for it!

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...