To Blog, or Not to Blog?

Is this new craze safe for my kids?

To Blog, or Not to Blog?

My teens are into "blogging," keeping an online journal filled with their thoughts and feelings for anyone who logs onto their site to read. I know this is the hot new thing, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for kids. Couldn't this compromise their safety? Should I forbid them from doing this?

I love blogging! Recently two different families with whom we were close moved, one across the country and the other halfway around the world. If it weren't for the fact that both these families immediately created a "blog," we would have more than likely lost touch with some very dear friends.

I even have my own blog called Coffee Talk. Every week I journal what I'm learning as a woman, wife, and mother, and I upload this "diary" to my website. It's amazing how close I feel to my cyber-friends, most of whom I've never met in person. I believe blogging is another way to answer our God-given desire for community, our need to hear and be heard. Maybe that's why blogging's so popular with teenagers.

When my teens first asked me if they could create their own blog, I, like you, was a bit skeptical. I was concerned that anyone, including strangers and predators, could read their blogs and use this information to take advantage of them. After further research, I learned you can choose to make your blog public or keep it private, requiring an e-mail "invitation" so only friends can read your weblog.

Even so, we've talked about the importance of never divulging private information. I also believe in giving my kids a friendly reminder that most of the time what you write on a blog is there forever. Just as we teach our children to be careful what they say because words can't be taken back, the same principle is true about being careful what you blog.

Sure, there are some healthy concerns about blogging, but if you help your teen set it up, choose privacy options wisely, and make sure you receive an invitation to check in regularly, it can be a fun way for teens to express themselves and stay connected with those all-important friends.

Understanding Dad's Depression

My husband is unemployed and battling depression. My eight-year-old son is having a hard time understanding why his dad seems so down and withdrawn at times, even though I try to explain that his dad's discouraged about his lack of a job. How do I deal with the impact of my husband's depression on my son?

Can you think of a time when your son lost something important to him, such as a favorite toy, pet, or maybe a good friend who moved away? Ask your son to remember what he felt like after the loss. Explain that those feelings are similar to what his dad is going through after the loss of his job. Hopefully, this little exercise will help him understand more clearly why his dad is so down and discouraged.

Sometimes children blame themselves when their parents leave, whether physically, as in divorce or death, or emotionally, as in your husband's withdrawal. It might be a good idea to ask your son if, when he suffered his own loss, he blamed his dad for it. He'll most likely respond, "No, of course not, it wasn't Dad's fault." Take that opportunity to show him the importance of remembering that his father's behavior has nothing to do with his actions, either.

I'm also concerned for you. Your son needs you to "be there" for him at this time when his father isn't, but you also need to make time for yourself. Hire a sitter or let your son spend the night with a friend. Then you must grab a girlfriend and go out to eat and to a movie. Or enjoy a quiet evening at home reading a good book in a bubble bath.

Find times of refreshing for your soul and receive peace by placing your son in the hands of the "Father of the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5).

Missions Trip No-Go

I'm really disappointed our junior higher has no interest in participating in our church's short-term missions trip for youth over her spring break. What should we do?

My first question would be, does she have a friend who's already going? Maybe she doesn't want to go because she doesn't know anyone. That's a huge deal for a junior-high student. Your dilemma might be as simple as finding a friend to go on the missions trip with your daughter.

If she still doesn't want to go, then she probably wouldn't get much out of the trip anyway. Even worse, she could have a bad attitude about it and mess up the week for the other students and leaders.

It could be that she just isn't mature enough yet. Missions trips are most effective once a student enters high school. Part of this has to do with the fact that it's in the teenage years that young people become better able to grasp deeper concepts and find reward in intangible results. Serving others, reaching out to the poor, and playing with orphans provide abstract incentives. To a preteen, they may not be enough of a pay-off for all the hard work that's usually involved in a missions trip.

Your daughter may receive more age-appropriate encouragement at a traditional church summer camp. A preteen may more readily see the value in a week of fun, good food, crazy games, and lots of friends. There's still the opportunity for a spiritual jump-start, but if she comes home and has only gained a tan, a few pounds, and a dozen more e-mail addresses from new friends, don't despair; all is not lost, including your daughter. Be patient, give her a chance to grow, and watch those tiny seeds of Truth that were planted become fruit in due season.

Lisa Whelchel is the author of Creative Correction (Focus on the Family) and the mother of three. Visit her website at www.lisawhelchel.com. Have a parenting question for Lisa? E-mail her at tcwedit@ christianitytoday.com.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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