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A Clear Example

Parenting can be exhausting. Having reared three daughters and now encouraging two of them as they parent their own little ones, I think I have figured out some of the main reasons why this role comes with extra challenges. Join me, Holly, today to read my thoughts on this important topic.
Effective parenting requires 24/7 consistency of habits, routines, and expectations to get consistent, desired results. This level of consistency presupposes 24/7 selflessness and beginning every day with the end in mind. It is not for the faint of heart.
As Christian parents, my husband and I understood even before our firstborn daughter entered this world that to do it right, we needed God to be our counselor and helper. Did we always do it right? Of course not—we’re human, after all. Would we do it better today than we did then? Minus the extra years of aging, the answer would be unhesitatingly, “Yes.”
One of the most notable steps of our maturity over the years has been to learn and practice a biblical worldview―filtering our thoughts, attitudes, and actions through God’s roadmap for our lives. I was reminded of this “spiritual barometer” when a friend recently posted the following graphic on social media.
As I looked it over in agreement, I found my mind flooded with Scriptures that show how we should model the behaviors and habits we are trying to pass on. Please indulge me as I address the first one in this blog to show how responding with a biblical worldview results in modeling behavior that will empower us to parent well and influence others successfully. So, in true Reasons for Hope fashion, I will tap into at least three secular sources to provide evidence for my claim. Notably, you will see how these secular studies support what God’s Word has been telling us all along.

What’s Your Relationship With Technology?

Though the Bible doesn’t specifically address cell phones, iPads, computers, or gaming systems, it is very clear about valuing people and relationships over any earthly possession.

Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Philippians 2:3, 4 NKJV
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

These verses can be applied to many situations, and over the years, God has used them extensively to remind me where my heart should be focused—on the Lord and others. I’m also reminded in other passages that I need to be a light and an example to others, and might I add, especially to my children and grandchildren.

Matthew 5:16 NKJV
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

 In 2 Timothy 1:5, the Apostle Paul points out that the faith he sees in Timothy is primarily attributable to the examples of faith Timothy had through his mother and grandmother. These women took their role seriously in building a strong faith relationship with Timothy and putting aside other distractions to make this eternal investment.
On May 24, 2018, USA Today reprinted an essay written by a 2nd grader responding to the writing prompt displayed on the board in her school classroom: “Tell me about an invention that you don’t like. Why?” Pulling no punches, the young student wrote, “I don’t like the phone because my [parents] are on their phone every day … I hate my mom’s phone and I wish she never had one.” This response literally went viral, and I can’t help but wonder if, as a result, this student’s parents or any other parents evaluated their screen time and chose the more important action of spending valuable, quality time with their children.
Now, almost six years later, multiple studies have been done pointing to “technology-based interruptions in parent-child interactions” being linked to restlessness1, angry outbursts2, and stunted emotional intelligence3 in young children. The more screen time parents engage in, the less face time they have with their children. Using their time this way sends the mistaken message that the child entrusted to them by God is of less value than an inanimate device. Robin Nabi, a UC Santa Barbara professor who headed up one of the studies, stated it this way: “Where their [parents’] eyes are sends a message to their children about what’s important.”4
In 2022, Reasons for Hope produced a film entitled Within Our Reach to educate and encourage parents to step up and become the earthly heroes their children so desperately need. One of the points made was how addictive cell phone use has become. Though the main caution was for parents to regulate the use of cell phones in their children’s lives, I would like to carry this challenge over to the parents themselves and ask some personal accountability questions on this matter.
  • Do you find yourself checking your cell phone constantly throughout the day?
  • Do you ever feel that you lose significant amounts of time mindlessly checking apps or browsing the Internet on your phone?
  • Do you ever feel anxious or restless when you cannot access your phone, such as when the battery has run out, or you’ve forgotten it?
  • Do you sleep with your phone beside your bed or lose sleep due to phone use?
  • Has your phone use ever interfered with your productivity?
  • Do you ever look at your phone in dangerous or inappropriate situations, such as driving or when crossing the street?
  • Has your phone use ever negatively affected your relationships?
  • Do you struggle to wait to check your phone when you receive an alert?
  • Do you ever feel guilty, sad, or anxious about your phone use?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may have an unhealthy attachment to your phone, especially if it interferes with your relationships with your children, spouse, or those under your leadership. To take this a step further, how would your phone use fit within the guidance of the following Scriptures?

Colossians 3:17, 23 NKJV
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. . . And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

Ephesians 5:15, 16 NKJV
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

My point is this: how you spend your time sends a message. As a Christian parent, what message do you want your children to receive regarding their priority in your life? If you still need encouragement to shift your focus or to help someone you love shift theirs, please watch Within Our Reach. This film will help you better understand how important the time we spend with our children really is and how we can make the most of it—together. We’re here for you and praying that you will do as Mary, the sister of Martha, did and choose “that good part, which will not be taken away” (Luke 10:42).
Click below to watch the trailer for Within Our Reach.

Click HERE to access the full-length film.

1 Go to https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0190740920306848 to read the full article.
2 McDaniel, B. T., & Radesky, J. S. (2018). Technoference: Parent Distraction With Technology and Associations With Child Behavior Problems. Child development, 89(1), 100–109. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12822
3 The full article on emotional intelligence effects may be found on the following website, https://news.ucsb.edu/2023/020867/screen-time-concerns.
4 Ibid.
Author Bio:
Holly Varnum, Director of Curriculum Development at Reasons for Hope, serves as the Managing Editor for our book projects and weekly blogs, writes blogs and curricular materials to support many of our media resources, speaks at conferences, and trains Christian educators. With degrees in education, curriculum and instruction, and educational administration, she comes with over three decades of experience in working with teens and adults in camp ministry, teaching and administration, and curriculum writing (A Beka Book, Focus on the Family, and Answers in Genesis to name a few). God has provided her with a well-rounded educational perspective through service in Christian schools, charter schools, public schools, homeschooling, Christian camps, and local church ministry. She has been a classroom teacher, instructional coach, administrator, camp counselor, Sunday School teacher, ladies’ Bible Study teacher, and conference speaker. She looks forward to using her passion for God’s truth within the context of Reasons for Hope.

Her hobbies include cooking, baking, hiking, camping, traveling, and working on do-it-yourself projects. Holly and her husband, Paul, also enjoy any time they can spend with their three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren (so far!). They live between the beautiful states of Maine and southern New Jersey, and yes, they eat lobster (properly pronounced “lobstah”) and crab whenever they get a chance!

To learn more about Holly, or to book her as a speaker for educational, ladies', or girls' events, click
HERE.

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