What does modesty mean?  That is a good question to ask your sons and daughters.  It is especially good to address this if you have a pre-teen daughter.  “All the girls at school are wearing these, why can’t I?”… “It’s my body; shouldn’t I decide what to put on it?”  These questions reflect the timeless struggle between teen girls and their parents over the issue of modesty. This issue is more critical than ever in today’s society, where pre-teens are encouraged by the media and peers to act and dress years older than they actually are. Everywhere you look, young girls – whether in real life, on television, or in advertisements – are dressed in ways that emphasize their sexuality and, to be blunt, degrade the value of female character.  This makes for a good conversation and you might be surprised on how much your daughters agree with you.  They just need to hear it.

The power in your hands

When he was four years old, Albert Einstein’s father gave him a magnetic compass. Albert turned it every which way and was fascinated by the new toy. It was his first brush with the power of nature – one which lasted the rest of his life. Parents, while you may have never given your children a compass, your actions or inactions do determine the direction of their lives far more than you realize. Lead wisely.

How much time does your child spend in front of a screen?

Forty-five percent of children younger than 8 and 80% of those ages 14 to 15 exceeded the recommended screen time for electronic devices (less than 2 hours per day), an Australian study in BMC Public Health indicated. Researchers also found girls were more likely than boys to spend more time watching television, surfing the net and using social media according to a recent article from Studies have found that, when children spend prolonged lengths of time staring into screens, their physical and mental health may suffer. For instance, increased TV viewing over time has been linked to a higher risk of depression and anxiety among teen girls.

People who work with children — parents, teachers, pediatricians, Sunday school teachers — are all uniformly observing that kids have shorter attention spans, require large amounts of super sensory input to hold attention, struggle with restlessness and distractability more, have very little patience, have difficult time sitting quietly and have less developed social and emotional coping skills that come from working with lots of live people. We can wait for a scientific study to prove it or we can as parents recognize the impact this new lifestyle is having on our children in an everyday manner and decide if this is the new type of kid we want to raise.

So, parents, what should we do? Take your kids outside in nature, go hiking or biking, or go to a park to get some fresh air and quality family time. Play sports and play games with your kids. Give teenagers gadget breaks. Do not bring gadgets to the dinner table, when playing outside or in nature. Parents have to lead by example. If they always look at their phone when with their children, then that is what their kids will do.

Are you protecting their heart too?

Most parents are very careful to protect their children from physical harm – like running into a busy street.  But what about protecting their hearts?  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  In other words, be careful what gets into your child’s heart because it’s the reservoir from which everything flows.  It’s amazing to me how we’ll let our kids watch stuff – like sex and violence – on TV that we’d never allow to be done in our living room.

So if you want good things to flow from your child’s life, protect the source… their heart.

Set up rules for social media

Are you savvy about social networking? Many teens are on – or want to be on – social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and others. As parents, it’s up to us to set careful guidelines before our children venture into the rapidly changing world of social networking. First, sit down with your spouse to discuss whether or not you will allow your teen to join any of these sites. Then set some guidelines that would be appropriate, based on your teen’s age and maturity level and trustworthiness. Here are examples of guidelines you may want to set:

1.) Parents will know the password and have access to child’s page.

2.) Parents can customize their child’s settings to make profile safer (privacy, visibility, etc).

3.) Email of posts, friends, etc. come to family’s home e-mail.

Raising your media standards

Ever heard this question around your house? When your kids want to watch or listen to something and you say “no,” they respond, “Well what’s wrong with it?”  Why not answer their question with this question: “Will watching or listening to this make you a better person?”  Many kids have a pretty low standard when it comes to media.  Encourage your children to start raising their standards and watch and listen to things that will build them up.

Watching what your kids watch

A study in the journal Pediatrics found that 55% of teens who were exposed to a lot of sexual material in movies, music and the Internet had intercourse by the age of 16. Compare that with only 6% of teens having sex who rarely saw such imagery in the media. This is staggering proof that what your adolescents watch matters tremendously.

Parents, you HAVE to keep tabs on what your kids are exposed to in the media. I even recommend that kids not have a TV or Internet access in their rooms. Overprotective? Maybe… but probably not.