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10 Tips For Raising Kids in an E-Mail World

May 8, 2008
Kids long for connection, and technology is fulfilling that desire by allowing them access to worlds beyond their own neighborhoods. But with this vast expansion of opportunity comes a need for balance and consciousness. Kids still long to connect in "real time" with those they love.

In an online survey I asked 1,500 kids "What do you wish your parents did differently?" The overwhelming response was not what I expected. I expected them to want more freedom, a later curfew, or another gadget. Instead, what teens said they wished their parents did differently was listen to them more often. I received responses like these: "I wish my parents really listened to me instead of just acting like super mom and super dad." "I would love it if my mom was around more often to hear what was going on in my life. We rarely catch up." These kids didn't mean they wished their parents gave them solutions, advice or solved their problems. They simply wanted to be heard and respected. Something technology doesn't solve.

Try at least one of the following tips sometime in the next week. You will begin to see a shift in everyone's attitude.

1. Take time to connect as a family. Dazzling technology can diminish the worth of humans. Make your family time count.

2. Put the TV in a place that takes some effort to reach instead of allowing it to take center stage in your home. Your computer, on the other hand, goes in a central place so that technology is part of the family's group experience rather than a solo activity.

3. Designate this week as "We Care Week." Each family member does one caring thing a day for his or her secret recipient.

4. Frequently remind your kids how grateful you are they were born. Sounds corny but they NEED to be reminded of your joy in their very existence.

5. Pick one day a month as FAMILY DAY. Mark them on your calendar and begin planning now for all twelve magical days.

6. Don't forget the wonderful habit of note writing. Leave some unexpected words of encouragement in a lunch box, under a pillow. If you travel, begin a postcard tradition. Send your child a postcard from each trip you take.

7. Learn something new with your kids. Approach ideas from their perspective.

8. Come up with a secret sign that means, "I love you." It comes in handy at the bus stop or in a crowded room.

9. Ask your kids to write a letter a week -- longhand. They can write to whomever they choose: family, friends, heroes, someone they read about in the paper.

10. Wish upon a star with your child. Listen to his/her wish.
About the Author
Mimi Doe is the founder of Spiritual Parenting.com and the award-winning author of five books including "Busy But Balanced."

Mimi holds a Master's in Education from Harvard University and has appeared on Oprah and hundreds of other television and radio shows.
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