Book Review: Rescue Me.

Ok, it’s more like a COMIC book review. Rescue Me is a comic book with a twist. You see he author of this comic is a Christian with a desire to share the Gospel with kids. Here is what I thought.

The plot is a fairly standard comic book style good versus evil story. The super hero, Captain Sun, takes on the villain Black-Out. The story is well written and the illustrations are nice. As a fan of comic books I can truly say that I enjoyed reading this one. But, there is more than just a cool story with some good drawings. You see this comic book is separated into different sections. Each of these sections is divided by a “news paper”. This news paper carries a message gleaned from that section. The object of this comic seems to be both to entertain at to teach kids and I think it succeeds on both points.

The price listed on the back cover is $8.99. As a children’s pastor I see great potential for this type of thing as an outreach tool. However, I think that this price point would probably be a little high for that purpose. Still I think it is a tool that could be used in other ways in children’s ministry. If nothing else you can point parents to it as a way to encourage their kids.

You can learn more about the book and the author and order your copies at www.itscaptainsun.com. Thanks to Bryce Morgan for creating this resource and for providing me with a copy for review.


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Greatest Parenting Struggles: Introduction.

Recently I posed a question to all of my Facebook Friends. The question was, “What is your greatest struggle in parenting your kids.” This is the first in a series where I seek to address some of the replies. If you were one of the people that replied thanks for your reply and I hope that this helps. Also, don’t worry, everything will be done anonymously so no one will know exactly who I’m talking about. I do this as some sent me private messages because they did not want to post their reply publicly. As we prepare to get into this new series let me start by saying that I am no parenting expert. Quite frankly I think that anyone that claims to be is a fool. I have two kids, a 5 year old daughter and a 12 year old son. Even though these kids have the same parents and live in the same house they are vastly different. Still there are some basic principles that work for both of them. No, I am NOT an parenting expert. I am a parent. I am a kid’s pastor. I am a Christian. The thoughts that I share in this series will come from my own experience as a parent, pastor and follower of Jesus. What is YOUR greatest struggle in parenting your kids?

UPDATE: Sometime after posting this original post a friend referred to this series as a different kind of GPS. So, from here out this series will be called GPS, Helping Parents Find Their Way.

Here are links to all the posts in this series. Check back often as new posts are added.

GPS: Contentment

GPS: Single Parenting

GPS:Enough Time

GPS: Boundaries

GPS: Expectations

GPS: Complacency

GPS: Stop Yelling at Your Kids (coming soon)

 


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Should My PreTeen Have a Facebook Page?

Recently my 12 year old started talking about getting a Facebook page. He had not previously expressed desire to have one. BUT, he is now in middle school and many of his friends from church and school have one. My first response was that Facebook’s policy is that you must be 13. This appeased him for a time. A few days ago he told me that he couldn’t wait till next year so that he could get a Facebook page. This got me thinking, even when he turns 13 should he have one. Ultimately this is a personal question and the answer depends on the maturity level of your preteen, but here are some thoughts.

Facebook policy requires a person to be 13. This is the reason that my son does not currently have one. Maybe you think that your preteen is ready. But, I have told my son no because this is the policy. What lesson are we teaching them if the rules say 13, but we let them have one early “because WE think they can handle it”. What other things will our kids decide to do even though they are not old enough, “because THEY think they can handle it”? Might they take your car without your permission or knowledge? Might they sneak out of the house? Might they see an R rated movie that you told them not to? Might they drink alcohol? I know that some will disagree, but I believe if we allow them to have a Facebook before the age of 13, then we are telling them that such rules are ok to break, sometimes.

What will they see? I know that even on my Facebook I see pictures that simply shouldn’t be shared publicly. Are you ready for your 13 year old to have access to all these photos? I know what I was thinking of when I was a teenage boy and I know that most are thinking the same thing even today. Girls have little problem posting pictures of themselves in all sorts of cloths and poses. Some of these picture border on pornographic. And this is what other teenagers are posting.

Will they be safe? I have heard many stories of kids being bullied via Facebook. Personally I don’t get the whole cyberbullying thing, but for kids these days it is very real. Recently in my area there was even a young girl that committed suicide after being a victim of cyberbullying. You have to ask yourself if your kid is ready to deal with this kind of thing.

I know that I can not protect my kids from everything. I also believe that we don’t need to try to protect them from everything. Difficulties in life cause/allow us to grow. But, what I can’t protect them from I want to prepare them for. So, when the time comes that my son gets his Facebook page here are some things that will happen first.

  • Facebook Contract: Much like the cell phone contract that I wrote about earlier in the week, when my son gets his Facebook I will write a contract that he and I will sign. 
  • Password: One non-negotiable is that his mother and I will have his password. No password, no Facebook. 
  • Monitoring: I know that checking his Facebook activity every day is not only unreasonable, it’s probably not necessary. But, regularly checking to see what type of stuff he and his friends are posting is a must.
  • Friends approval: Many kids may have a problem with this one, but I WILL reserve the right to approve or disapprove any of his Facebook friends. Here are some basic guidelines for Facebook Friends:
    • Only friend people you actually know. I don’t even accept friend requests unless it is someone that I actually know. For me it may be someone I work with, or used to; someone I went to school with; someone from church; or other places, but it is always someone I actually have a real connection with outside of Facebook.
    • ALL adults must be specifically approved by me or my wife before they can be his Facebook friend.
    • Any “friend” that mistreats you online WILL be deleted.

These are just some basic thoughts. The point is that Facebook can be a great way for our kids to connect with and stay connected with their friends, but it can also be dangerous. It would be an extremely rare 13 year old that would naturally think of the kinds of cautions that I mentioned above. It would be an ever rarer one that would make the right choice in these situations. With a little guidance Facebook can be a great thing for our kids, but they can not do it on there own.

What sorts of things do you do to keep your kids safe on Facebook? If you were writing a Facebook contract, what things would you  include?


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PreTeen Cell Phone Contract

This year my oldest entered middle school. This has meant a lot of firsts for our family. Among these was the decision to get him a cell phone. After much thought and discussion we did give him one. This had me thinking does my 12 year old son really have the maturity to properly use this phone without help. Will he automatically know what is alright and what is not? I have expectations for him in this area, but does he know what they are. The truth is if I don’t tell him what I expect he will not know. So, I have written a cell phone contract for him.

I have made an actual document that we will share with him and the he and I will sign, along with his mother. When we share this with him it will be one of those times when we sit down and have a “grown up” talk with him. The main thing we want to communicate is that we are doing this not to confine him or because we don’t trust him, but rather to protect him. Having a cell phone comes with a lot of responsibility and we want to help him learn to use it responsibly. Below are the terms that are included in the contract.

When you share this with your preteen (or teen) be sure to do so with love. Be sure that they understand that your goal is to protect them, not control them. Also, be open to discussion with your preteen about the terms of the contract. Be firm, but flexible. If your goal is really to protect, them you should be willing to listen to your preteen and maybe even adjust some of the terms of this contract. Ask your preteen if they have any questions about any of them. Ask them if there is anything that they think needs to be added. Ask your preteen if there are any conditions that they would like added for you to follow.

I hope that you find this helpful. Are there any things that you would add to this contract?

  1. I understand that Having a cell phone is a privilege. As such it can be given or taken away by my parents or other authorities in my life as they deem appropriate.
  2. I will not make phone calls or send text messages after 9pm or before 7am on school days, or 10pm on non-school days.
    1. In case you receive such a text you can reply that you are not allowed to text at that time.
    2. There are some exceptions such as during youth activities or when texting or calling your parents.
  3. I will never send any texts of a sexual nature or involving any degree of nudity.
  4. If I receive a text containing anything of a sexual nature or containing nudity I will show it to my parents promptly and will allow them to delete it.
  5. I understand that my parents have the right and responsibility to review any of my phone activity at any time. For this reason I will not delete any text messages from my phone, for any reason.
    1. Your parents can delete texts after reviewing them.
    2. If you have a text that contains something bad, share it with your parents and let them delete it.
  6. I will never use my phone to harass or mistreat anyone. This includes sending text messages that might cause someone emotional pain.
  7. I will alert my parents if I am being harassed or mistreated by anyone via my cell phone.
  8. I will never put a password on my phone or change my password without my parents knowing the password.
  9. I will always answer calls or text messages from my parents. If I miss a call from them I will call them back immediately.
  10. I will not lie about where I have been or how I was using my phone.
  11. I will alert my parents when I received suspicious or alarming phone calls or text messages from people I don’t know.
  12. I understand that my parents love me and that these rules are not meant to control me, but to protect me.

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