Today’s Table talk is graciously provided by Jody Capehart. I met Jody at least ten years ago after I sat glued to my seat while she spoke at a local MOPs group. I still think back to a few of the wise pearls she shared with us. I hope you enjoy her insight … I always do.

Thanks for walking the road with me. -Kay

Teens & Technology

The last thing parents need is yet another issue to deal with in managing their teens’ developing, increasingly complex world.The list – which already includes teaching responsibility, respect, trust, how to handle relationships, spiritual maturity, wise choices, and moral values – has always been challenged by issues such as drinking, sex, drugs, entertainment, bullying, homework, procrastination, and the list continues.

So how on earth are parents supposed to add technology to the mix with everything else they are already juggling?!

Make no mistake about it: technology is the new battleground for parenting and it is a tough opponent, too.Because in dealing with technology, other central issues come along for the ride: time management, making the right choices with content, having the wisdom to discern what benefits technology offers while avoiding the many pitfalls.Of which there are many.

Compound the problem with the daunting reality that our kids understand technology better than we do.This is why many parents haven given up the fight – a sure recipe for disaster, considering all that kids can do with technology.

But all is not lost.Take a deep breath, relax, and remember this: you are still the parent.This means that although you may know less about technology, you know more about life. You have the maturity they lack.You have wisdom about a topic that is central to good parenting: understanding the need for boundaries.

Our kids, especially our lovely teens, typically view boundaries as a negative, a prison keeping them from living the way they want.As parents, we know that boundaries are there to protect them, because living exactly the way they want – especially at their age – is dangerous.

“What can I do?” you ask.This first installment on the much-needed, much-appreciated MOAT blog is merely scratching the surface of answering that question. In the next blog I will get into specifics.For now, here are a few key points to consider before tackling the beast of technology.

First and foremost, you must learn technology yourself.I readily admit I am a dinosaur.So I know how terrifying the world of gadgets and gizmos can be.And how much easier it is to just give in, give up, and consider technology a “battle within the war.”But I assure you, technology is the war.But the great thing about it is this: if you win technology, you win a host of other, future battles.But you have to take this battle seriously.

Maybe that’s rule number one.And if you question this, go to Youtube, type in “social media revolution,” and watch the 4:23 length video by socialnomics09.The next step is to spend time with technology.Create a Facebook account, visit Youtube, learn all the things Google can do. Visit sites like,, and you already know the ins and outs of modern media.Great!If not, that may be your next step.After all, you wouldn’t teach your kid to drive unless you already knew how to yourself, right?

The rest of my advice is as old as me.Well, almost.Because parenting doesn’t change, and guiding principles withstand every generation’s newest attempts to push your buttons and bend the rules.So the next step is: be the pack leader.

If you haven’t yet watched Cesar Milan the “Dog Whisperer” on NatGeo, then you are missing out on a wonderful parenting tool.I don’t say this because your teen is an animal – although they may seem to be at times J!But after my son convinced me to watch the show, I saw what many have seen: his principles apply perfectly to parenting.You must be the pack leader.Lead by example.Take control of the room, the situation, and the energy exchanged in your interactions with your teen.

One thing Cesar does well that I have told parents to do in every seminar I’ve ever given on discipline is to be detached. By detached, I’m not implying that you are detached from your teen, but instead, detached from all the junk they send your way.

Here is a key point to remember. Your brain works differently than the brain of your teen.Your teen often reacts first from the emotion part of the brain.As the adult, you usually use the rational, logical planning part of the brain.The problem is that you seem to be communicating in a different ‘brain’ language. You may approach your teen rationally, but they react emotionally. If you react to their emotion with your own emotion, you ignite their emotional fuel. Kaboom! And who wants that in our homes?

So the secret is, remain calm. Stay detached. Respond rather than react.Speak softly but be firm.Use your eyes and body language.And, especially you dear moms, you have to remember to lower your voice as you speak, rather than incr
ease in pitch, and ending with a shrill, “Do I make myself CLEAR?!”

Watch the show, too.You can learn something valuable.And remember this: the owners having the dog problems always want Cesar to come in and fix the dog.They are always surprised to find out that they are more often than not the root of the problem.So don’t go into this issue with technology thinking, “That lousy teen…” – as hard as it is not to!Be the parent.Not their BFF or their parole officer.

As you learn more about technology, open up dialogue with your teen concerning the pros and cons of media usage.Again, more will come on the next blog on that front.For now, educate yourself, then educate them.In the end, any progress you make will only happen as a result of relationship.If they know you love them and just want them safe, they are more likely and willing to listen to your rules.And discuss your reasoning behind each rule.Technology, like any major parenting issue, is not easy to tackle.But if you and your teen are working together, success is more within reach.

Oh, and if you are always on your phone, always texting, Facebooking, always surfing the Web, put some boundaries on yourself.You cannot convince your teen to handle technology wisely if you spend more time with it than you do with them.So talk to them about their media use.Remember, relationship is key.

Yes, love is often spelled T-I-M-E.

Jody Capehart (

Part 2 of Jody’s “Technology & Teens” will be posted on May 19th.

{Jody Capehart is married to Paul who is in his 39th year of playing in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. They have 3 grown children and 3 grandchildren and are active members at Stonebriar Community Church. Jody is an educator, author and speaker with nearly 40 years experience. She is the author or co-author of over 15 books, with additional books coming out in 2010 including Bonding with Your Teens through Boundaries with June Hunt. Jody currently serves with June Hunt as Director of the Hope Biblical Training Program at Hope for the Heart in the Hope Center in Plano, Texas. Her interests include family, reading, gardening and cooking.}

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