01/04/2018

Media Madness & Tips to protect your children from it

Posted in Family, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:18 pm by The Water Bearer

 

 

 

Warning: This post contains some explicit content.

I must admit straight out the gate that this is a topic I can get pretty passionate about. If you too find yourself throwing your hands in the air as a result of the current Media frenzy impacting our homes and our children, then this is the post for you!

CYBER-BULLYING, GET SERIOUS!

Today I saw yet another video of the horribly cruel things children have been exposed to over social media. Honestly, I say this with love and compassion that we know not what we do more than half the time. But some of the children bullied in this video were as young as 10 years old and all of them were under 16.

 

Please understand that I trust my teenage daughter as much as a trustworthy adolescent can be trusted, but I recognise she is not merely a small adult. She has not yet had chance to develop the maturity and sense of self-confidence required to withstand the impact such horrible comments can have on her mental health. She is still figuring out who she is and what place she holds in this world, and the negative effect of no privacy and constant peer pressure is not a risk I am willing to place on her shoulders.

 

For over 8 years I have held the stance that my children are not permitted on social media until they finish high school. Sure, I’ve heard the usual retorts that I’m too overprotective, that I don’t trust my child, that I’m preventing them learning life skills. These comments don’t sway me, because I’ve done the research. I’ve looked into the developing adolescent brain, and the stunted behavioural development that stems from online relationships replacing face-to-face ones. The reality is that I don’t usually go looking for trouble online either, but it sure as hell still finds me and impacts my soul. I’m very concerned about how many children need to suffer depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, self-mutilation, or become suicidal before we admit that Social Media is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18?

 

I’ve come to realise that the parents who get really opinionated with me, are usually the ones who have little to no control or knowledge of their child’s online life. It’s hard to keep on top of, especially if you work full time, it’s far easier to give in, and to justify it. Trust me I understand.

 

I agree, it would be nice to live in a utopian society where people don’t treat each other in these heinous ways, but the reality is that verbal abuse is all too common. And yet its not illegal.. Probably should be, but sadly that’s not the case. We must accept the true condition of our world as it is, and protect our children until this kind of behaviour is but a distant memory…

 

Thankfully I am now hearing parents changing their tune and wishing they could protect their children from it, and yet have no practical ways to combat the tidal wave of pressure to comply. Keep reading cause those practical tips are coming…

 

ADULTS GET CAUGHT AS WELL

Even adults struggle with the more serious impact of social media, let alone the less violent concerns like wasting their precious time, creating a temporary false sense of joy, and replacing personal interaction with impersonal clicks and comments. So why would we expect our children to know how to cope? Even the simple addictive nature of opening the app, click click, scroll scroll, is causing actual physical damage to our nervous system, our brains, and our bodies. It’s so mindless!

 

Another point to consider is all the photographs of children plastered all over their parents Facebook pages. Does anyone else feel this is seriously lacking in self-awareness and self-discipline? My sympathy if you fall into that category, which the numbers show you probably do. But ask yourself, were these children asked permission? Were they informed enough to understand that their entire lives would be on display for all to see and judge? That some of those in their parents “friends” list are people they don’t even know, yet they’re able to see images of their personal intimate moments? Could this be more detrimental than the paparazzi? Because at least the law forces them to stay outside our homes.

 

The line in the sand has blurred so much that children are now sending unsolicited images of themselves all over Snapchat without being aware of the consequences to their reputations, privacy and self-esteem.

 

Why am I the one left feeling awkward when I ask people to please take down photo’s of my kids, that have been put up without my permission or theirs? It is ridiculously hard to monitor! So why is this even legal?

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Neanderthal, I understand there are some precious memories that warrant photo evidence, and the cultural call to share triumphs, and world travel, weddings and so forth. Inspiring stuff right! An occasional pic (with permission) is not completely without merit. But WOW, it has gotten seriously out of hand. Can we stop it? Is it too late to hit the brakes? Rewind? Delete?

 

EYES ARE THE DOORWAYS TO THE SOUL

Its not just social media causing all the trouble either. Other forms of media have a lot to answer for!

Want a couple of mind-boggling examples?

 

During a NEWS program at dinner time, an advert for the trailer of the new 50 shades movie came on. I was sitting next to my young teenage daughter when all of a sudden, we are watching two people, mostly naked, in the throes of some pretty intense sexual activity. It’s honestly no wonder the line between consensual flirting and sexual harassment has become so hard to define.

 

I recognise that we have allowed the lines of morality to slur closer and closer to the abyss of ‘FREE EXPRESSION’, but when will we actually stop and look at ourselves and realise that we are watching people have SEX for our entertainment?! Not hidden behind closed doors, with the saddest, depraved, and sexually warped individuals, but out in the open! With our children!!

 

Many years ago, I used to watch the TV show Law & Order, I love the law and detective work, but then Special Victims Unit came along and all of a sudden we were watching children getting molested and calling it entertainment! Actual real life children are being given scripts to read, and roles to play where this is the story! Am I the only one who sees something very, very wrong with this? And don’t even get me started on some of the twisted content available on YouTube and similar formats.

 

Yeah, you say perhaps I’m just too sensitive. But I wonder if we know what exactly it was that our Saviour came to save us from? And do we even see the value of it?

 

My tears fall for all those who can’t see what’s going on! For the children exposed to images and abuse that corrupts their innocence and depletes their self-worth. I’m not sure how much longer we can sit by and watch this happen! So in the meantime, while we wait for the world to change, here are a few practical ways you can protect your family.

 

TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN FROM MEDIA

Tip 1:

Be their parent not their ‘easy going friend’. It is perfectly normal for them to get moody and upset with you, you may feel fear at losing your ‘friendliness’ with them. But their tears won’t hurt them as much as certain forms of media can. When done right, you’ll end up all the closer for it.

 

Tip 2:

Exception not the rule. Set clear boundaries that Social Media is a unique privilege only for special circumstances, such as an overseas trip with school or sporting team or church. Refuse it if you can until last few weeks of high school.

 

Tip 3:

Prevention is better than the cure. It may be hard to hold your stance and you may want to cave under the pressure, but remember they never miss what they never have. Taking it away could be a far more difficult task. It’s much easier to stand your ground beforehand.

 

Tip 4:

Communicate. Explain your reasons and show them evidence of its toxic nature (they will also see the unwanted drama their friends experience). Regular communication is vital, listen to their side, and try to be compassionate. Yet stay the course.

 

Tip 5:

Consequences. If they do have social media and you see their behaviour, grades, or communication with you begin to suffer, use an app blocker to block certain apps as a consequence. Or confiscate their device for periods of time.

 

Tip 6:

Respect their Privacy. Create a private album for your Facebook photos of your children and only allow people they know and trust to see them. Remove any photo’s of them that they may not appreciate once they grow up.

 

Tip 7:

Value & Permission. Respect your child’s image by asking permission before you share photos of them online. Empower them to value images of themselves and not spread them mindlessly.

 

Tip 8:

Monitor & Follow Up. Monitor and put up firm parameters around your child’s use of internet and YouTube (Check the history regularly).

 

Tip 9:

Get Informed & Guide them. Use sites like IMDB to view the parents guide of all TV shows and Movies BEFORE your child has permission to watch them, and when something is rate PG or higher, (Parental Guidance is Recommended) Which means Parents watch with their child and guide them on how to think faithfully and healthily about any parts that are of concern.

 

Tip 10:

Fill Their Time. Find lots of good media content to fill the spaces so they still have the chance to enjoy a good movie, and the benefit of knowledge and research online, don’t go into cult mode. Have lots of physical activities planned for their spare time. Team sports, extracurricular subjects, and youth groups etc.

 

Tip 11:

Assess Your Child’s Growth. Be willing and open to discuss exceptions and pray for guidance on when the child is mature enough for the next stage, not just because “everyone else is allowed”.

 

Tip 12:

Outside the Home. Ask other parents to restrict their child’s access to social media and internet when your child is under their care. Inform your child’s friends that they are not permitted to share photo’s or information about your child online. Back this up with those awkward conversations. “Please remove that post and please don’t do it again”.

 

Tip 13:

Develop Trust. Teach your child to be able to monitor media content themselves and check in with you about it, and teach them to have the courage to say “I’m not comfortable watching this” or “Could you not put that photo of me online?”.

 

Tip 14:

Pray! Pray for the strength to hold to your stance! In spite of the possible hostility from your child, in spite of the looks of condemnation from other parents, in spite of the awkward conversations. Stand Strong!

Your child may not completely understand or agree right now, but they will learn to trust you more and more the longer you stick to your convictions, and they will thank you for it one day. I promise!

 


12/03/2018

Identifying & Overcoming Emotional Abuse

Posted in Family, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:42 pm by The Water Bearer

Most of us can recall a time in our life when we felt scared, threatened, yelled at, picked on, blamed, criticised, belittled, controlled and so on. Whether it was a rare event, maybe from a school bully, a grumpy teacher, a boss, or a family member having a bad day, or perhaps an ongoing occurrence for many years, at some point it has happened to us all…. Throughout this article I’ll share some of my own personal experience on this topic (which I have never actually verbalised publicly). But for now it’s important to understand that the actions listed above are all classified as emotional or psychological abuse.

When we’re exposed to any form of abuse it can have severe long term effects on self-worth and mental stability. I can testify to this truth. The psychological abuse Ive experienced is still a contributing factor of the deep Inner Enemies I face on a regular basis. So when do the behaviours above transition from a normal part of life, into life altering abuse that needs to be identified and treated?

This article has some definitions of emotionally abusive behaviours, and states…

“Beverly Engels defines emotional abuse “as any nonphysical behavior that is designed to control, intimidate, subjugate, demean, punish, or isolate another person through the use of degradation, humiliation, or fear.” The purpose or attitude behind emotional abuse can be conscious, subconscious or unconscious.”

It is important to recognise your own feelings when determining if someone is possibly abusive toward you. If, while in their company, you commonly feel unsure, afraid, stressed, like walking on eggshells, or an unhealthy need to prove yourself, it may be due to some form of abuse. The tricky thing about being abused by someone you love or look up to, is that you constantly look to them for approval. You may get momentary praise, attention, and even affection, but it is never stable enough to stand on, because before long they are blowing up, yelling, name calling, or criticising once again. You begin to believe that if you could only be ‘good enough’ they would have no reason to be angry at you, no reason to yell, no reason to find fault in you. Apologies may or may not come after the abuse, however if the behaviour doesn’t change, and you feel unable to sever contact, you may be stuck in a cycle of abuse.

Cycle_of_Abuse

 

 

In order to break the cycle of abuse, it is vital to realise that their abusive conduct has absolutely nothing to do with our ‘bad’ behaviour. No matter how ‘well-behaved’ we are, they will always find a ‘reason’ to become critical and abusive. If you notice closely, often when you do really well and succeed in anything, they actually pull you back down, saying things like “You think you’re so much better than the rest of us don’t you” Its a toxic cycle. Make a mistake and you feel you are worth less than dirt, do well and succeed and you are labelled self-righteous and arrogant. It’s an vicious unhealthy mindset to try to function in, trust me! But you CAN BREAK FREE FROM IT!

The difficult part is, that even once you have come to this understanding, old patterns are hard to break, especially in a relationship with a spouse, a family member, parent or sibling etc. It’s almost impossible to relax around someone who is abusive, you can learn to control your reactions, set good boundaries, and keep your distance, but sure enough when the time comes to interact with them once again, the subconscious nervous system goes haywire, you watch what you say, hold your breath, waiting for it….

As mentioned above, sometimes the abuser is completely unaware that their behaviour is actually abuse, especially in the case of psychological abuse as there are no bruises or external scars to prove it. Often without proper therapy, someone who has been emotionally abused themselves isn’t able to identify it as abuse, and therefore can’t recognise when their own behaviour becomes abusive. Developing self-awareness and recognising if our emotions are uncontrollable, manipulative or used as excuses for any of the behaviours mentioned early, is vital if we are to identify our own possibly abusive behaviour.

I recently read this excellent post just to gain more understanding of abuse, and abusers who are unaware of their abusive behaviour. I just had to share a portion of this article with you….

When coming to the understanding of where the roots of her abuse began the blogger writes…

“It isn’t so much about blame as it is about the truth. Blame was like a stepping stone on the journey; it was necessary for me to go there. There was blame that had been misapplied to me and I had to put it back where it belonged. Once I saw the truth I was able to heal. I no longer have the anger and resentments that I had for most of my life. I also no longer have the pain of living with such broken self esteem and low self worth that I mistakenly believed was there because there was something “wrong” with me”.

I’ve been researching this subject for many years, fascinated by the power emotions can have over us. Determined to put a stop to my own manipulative emotions and ensure the legacy of emotional anarchy was not passed onto my children. It was the main reason for beginning my journey of faith and self-awareness.

It took a long time to understand the powerful effect this abuse had on my insecurities. Many years of therapy unraveled how each painful memory had affected me, and uncovered some memories I hadn’t realised were damaging my mental health long term. At some point I had an epiphany, I identified the abuse for what it was and realised that there was no way I could stop it, but knew I had to choose to defy it. I had to stop validating the compliments, I had to stop seeking approval, I had to dismiss my urge for affection. I had to allow abusive people to have as many issues with me as they liked and learn to ignore it. I had to stop trying to adapt to others expectations and adapt to my own instead. I had to trust God to defend me and hand it all over to Him. All these strategies are easier said than done, but they are possible. With a healthy dose of self-awareness, development of good boundaries, and trust in the promises of God to love you, heal you and deal with those who do you wrong.  The Psalms are filled with prayers, hymns and praise about God’s deliverance from thine enemies.

Yep, I’ve been working hard for decades and now I am at a new challenging stage…. Forgiveness  (OUCH)

Funnily enough I always thought I was forgiving, because I put myself back in that firing line over and over again. Plus I tried so hard not to use the abuse as a reason to in turn become abusive. I kept civil and polite as much as possible. I took the hit (so to speak), recoiled in pain, put some distance between us and then once the dust had settled and I believed I had moved into forgiveness, off I went back in. I realise now that forgiveness isn’t about staying in contact with my abuser. I can keep my distance and still forgive. They may not feel forgiven, or accept my choice, and I guess that was always my problem, I wanted them to understand my reasons for distancing myself. I wanted desperately to explain how much it hurt. I wanted them to admit it and stop it. But that never came.

It was freeing to accept that forgiving them is not about them, its about me. Its about giving myself permission to step out of the firing line, while forgiving the misunderstanding, and the false-accusations. However, the voices in my head need forgiveness too, and all the strangers whom I now fear abuse from even before they have inflicted it. I need to forgive myself for allowing it to go on SO LONG!

I’m actually really excited by this new level of understanding. I’m eager to practice forgiveness, even if it hurts, because at least now I know I’m almost at the end of a very long journey towards healing! And then only God knows what I’ll be capable of when the fear of abuse, and the fear of criticism is no longer a constant voice in my head that needs silencing, but has become a long and distant memory.

Psalm 138:7  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.

 

 

 

 

 

30/11/2017

Teary Confessions – The Wilderness

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:51 am by The Water Bearer

Do you ever feel as if you just can’t be yourself? Investigating your truth, may threaten to segregate you from society. It can feel like entering the wilderness. And yet sometimes God challenges us to that very place. A place where we must stand in discomfort, with no foreseeable support from the world. Being misunderstood and persecuted, though awfully painful, can have a hugely beneficial result if you learn to trust God completely during these wilderness experiences. Let’s talk about this more in the vid linked below.

 

Please Enjoy!!! … xx

 

 

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