Be your Kid’s Search Engine

I had the pleasure of sitting down with a man the other day who likely has a greater personal understanding of evangelism than most people unfortunately will ever strive to obtain. He is the director of a national ministry that introduces the general public to their need for Jesus Christ, and has led thousands to a relationship with their Savior. One of the most poignant memories of the discussion, however, is a comment that he made with regards not to that relationship, but to his relationship as a father with his own son.

He told me about a scenario wherein he had been, as a good parent should, monitoring his son's activities on the internet. He came to find some history that suggested that his son (under 12 for the sake of discussion) had googled a term that led to him viewing some unacceptable explicit content. He knew he needed to discuss the situation with his son. Here is how it unfolded.

He sat down with his son, and started a discussion. He asked about what they were doing at school, and what they had been talking about at lunch. He took the time to ask the questions, and (important note here) they had enough of a history of regular conversation that his son was not put on an immediate defensive because of dad's "sudden interest".

After a little well-directed discussion, his son said that he and his friends had in fact gotten onto some "stupid" discussions, one of which had led the son to search for a term that he didn't understand by googling it. To understand it in context, he clicked the resulting links, and found himself in a place that he knew he didn't need to be. Just like that – a confession without an accusation! His response to his son, instead of "why did you do that" or "I thought I taught you better" was, quite wisely, "In the future, why don't you let me be your search engine first". Way to go dad.

A couple key notes for this story:
1. This would not have worked had he been a disengaged father. I think that too often we fail to take the time to have relationship with our children, and then we punish them for doing things that we should really be blaming on our own parental shortcomings.

2. We need to be keeping track of our children, not only to hold them accountable for what they are doing, but also to be there to safeguard them when things like this do happen, and to be ready to take these opportunities and turn them into positive learning experiences as we see here. This young man didn't get "punished" because he already knew that the space in cyberspace was the wrong place for him to be, and of his own volition, hadn't returned there since. He did, however, solidify that his dad was a rational person who he could trust to understand, and will be more likely to come to him as a result.

3. This dad took the time to calmly think the situation through. Simply reacting to the initial data he saw on his reports would have likely built a wall between he and his son that would have taken years to break. Instead, the situation drew them closer, and increased the son's faith and confidence in his father's interest in his well being.

4. The software that made this situation possible is called PCTattleTale, and is available online for $49.95. that's cheap for what it can do.

To the man who shared this story with me…Thank you for the fine lesson on parenting. You know who you are.


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