How Much Escapism Is Too Much?

If you have ever felt like running away from home, this may have been the year when the urge was the strongest. The only problem is that unless you are extremely wealthy, there is nowhere to run! It seems everywhere we turned, there has been doom and gloom. The questions then become, not “Can we escape?”, but rather, “Is escapism godly?” and “How much should we allow our kids to escape reality?”

Escapism is easier than it has ever been. Most of us carry with us a device that can take us to the virtual world of our preference. This includes live sporting events and concerts which have created new virtual worlds this year. We can even travel virtually and see the things we can’t currently travel to see. In this virtual world, we can close ourselves off from everything unpleasant if we should so choose. If your kids are like most, they are spending hours a day interacting with or watching some virtual experience.

The Bible doesn’t of course specifically address virtual worlds, because they didn’t exist then. It does however address leisure time…although, it’s a bit more than that. The weekly Sabbath, practiced by the Israelites, meant on one day a week, no work was to be done. Time was spent resting, praying and worshipping God. One has to imagine there were other activities, like day dreaming that occurred during this day of rest.

God never forbids having fun or enjoying leisure activities. What He did do was put some boundaries around leisure pursuits for His people. These boundaries would apply if your kids were laying in a field, looking up at the clouds and day dreaming or playing a video game. These boundaries or principles should be part of the discussion you have with your kids about how much time they should be spending in their virtual worlds, whether they are games, movies, sporting events or any place where they disconnect from others to enjoy an experience crafted to entice people away from the “real” world.

There are some signs, that your kids are perhaps becoming too enmeshed in their favorite virtual worlds.

  • Time spent in virtual worlds is beginning to interfere with obligations. School work needs to be completed properly. Chores done. When your kids are older, they will have work and family responsibilities as well. If the quality of school work, chores, jobs or relationships is suffering, then it’s time to decrease the amount of time spent in leisure pursuits.
  • The real world looks even worse because the virtual world is perfect. If the contrast becomes too stark, the temptation will be strong to live in the real world as little as possible. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world where no one asks anything of them or criticizes them? If time spent in the virtual world is steadily increasing, it is an indication that the virtual world is more appealing then real life.
  • The only relationships are with people they’ve never actually met. There are times when a supportive, online community can be helpful. That is rarely the case for kids and teens. If they are “too busy” to ever do anything with real people, they may believe their online “friends” are the perfect friends they can’t find in real life.
  • Anger is expressed when asked to leave the virtual world by a friend or family member. Anger, regularly expressed, when asked to put down a device or turn off the computer or television is a strong indication there may be an addiction issue. Theologically speaking, any addiction is putting something in the place where God should be…the most important thing in our lives. The brain science behind addiction is well known, making it easier for game designers and producers of events to structure things to encourage addiction. Be prepared for denial and even lies though…additional signs of someone struggling with addiction.
  • Opportunities to help someone, serve others or share their faith are missed or ignored. Do your kids no longer even notice that someone needs help? Do they turn down opportunities to serve or share their faith, claiming they are too busy (but you find them online during that time period)? God has plans for each of our lives. Those plans include serving others and sharing our faith. Those things can’t be done playing a game or watching a sporting event or video of some sort.
  • Do your kids know more about people in their virtual world of choice than their own family and friends? Relationships require spending time together sharing interests, feelings, ideas and more. A lack of knowledge about friends and family, with an immense knowledge of everyone in their virtual world of choice indicates an issue of some sort.
  • Are they more excited being in their virtual world than they are about spending time with God? Or even worse, have they stopped spending time with God to have more time in their virtual world? Christians who don’t read the Bible, pray and attend worship services become extremely vulnerable to Satan’s tricks. If your kids aren’t plugged into God because they would rather be plugged into their favorite virtual world, they are showing the early signs of a heart that is moving away from God.

Helping your kids (or spouse or yourself) detox from the perfect virtual isn’t easy. What Mom wouldn’t rather watch a Hallmark movie than clean up her child’s vomit? What spouse wouldn’t rather watch a ball game than clean out the gutters? Or what kid wouldn’t rather play a game than do homework? To live the rich, full life God has planned for each of you will require spending a lot more time in the real world than online. It’s worth the pain of detox to see your family living the lives God meant for them to have.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #24

Well, just when many of you were getting used to a school routine, some systems are changing again! With all of this constant change, you may be feeling the stress. Or you may not have given much thought to your Christian parenting journey because of the constant chaos. Here are this week’s social media challenges to encourage and inspire you.

Monday: Some are leaving social media because it has become toxic for them. You can read our Christian parenting blog posts and social media challenges by going to the Parenting Like Hannah website and signing up for the newsletter. You will receive three emails a week. Just be sure to open them (even if you don’t have time to read) so they don’t go in your spam folder. We do not sell or share your name with anyone. That’s www.parentinglikehannah.com.

Tuesday: These towers in Ireland were built to protect monks and their valuables, like the Bible, from Vikings. As they approached, the monks would climb a ladder and enter in that opening half way up. Then they pulled the ladder in after them. There was no ground floor access and the tower protected them. Did you know protecting your kids from evil is not only something God wants you to do, but secular science backs the need as well? The evils in the world cause stress in children when they aren’t protected from them. They can change their brain structure, have a lifetime impact on their health and in some cases even modify their DNA in negative ways…impacting their descendants. Sadly, many will mock you for protecting your kids. You can be over protective and totally shield your child from life, but that is so rare you probably will never cross that line. Protect your kids from evil. Your kids need you to be that protective tower for them.

Wednesday: Some kids seem to be born with a sunny disposition. Others…not so much. Yet God calls all of us to be grateful and to go about life without grumbling and complaining. This year has challenged even the optimists of the world. You and your kids may have developed bad habits. There’s still time to turn your family into one that is grateful, complaint free and hope filled. Find creative ways to challenge each other to break bad habits. Our recent post about a gratitude challenge with a twist could help. End this year on a positive note by filling your home with positive, godly attitudes.

Thursday: Since God created everything, it only makes sense that to reflect His image, we would be creative. Encouraging your kids’ creativity also gives them godly ways to express themselves and work off stress and anxiety. Art isn’t the only way for your kids to express their creativity. They may prefer cooking, building things, writing or dozens of other ways to express creativity. Help them find the ways God made each of them to be creative. Take it one step more. Can you help them find ways to use that creativity to serve others and share their faith? This process is one of the fun parts of parenting that can also help your kids find their role in the Kingdom, so make the time to help your kids tap into their creativity.

Friday: This sign makes sense to the people who live here, but we had to guess at the meaning. Life is like that for your kids. A lot of what you think is common knowledge or common sense is actually information you have learned over the years. You can improve your kids common sense by actually teaching them about the world and how it works. Then they don’t have to learn the slow painful way of trial and error. The same principles work for teaching them how to live the Christian life. The more time you take teaching them what God wants, the fewer unnecessary mistakes they will make.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #22

In my mind, the Holiday season has begun with several almost back to back holidays over the next few months. With everything you have happening, now until Spring can seem overwhelming. Take a step back and prioritize what is actually best for your kids, your spouse and you. You may want to read our blog post earlier this week on fun ways to express gratitude as a family. Here are this week’s social media challenges.

Monday: If you find this coin while eating a special Greek holiday cake, you are supposed to have good luck. Unfortunately, constantly using words like “luck” and “coincidence” with your kids minimizes the role God actually plays in the good things that happen in our lives. Helping your kids “see” God is pointing out to your kids when you see Him working in the world around you. (And scrubbing the worlds “luck” and “coincidence” from your vocabulary.)

Tuesday: Life doesn’t always come with warning signs…especially to warn your kids about the things that can pull them away from God. Sometimes Satan tempts them with sins in which they become enmeshed. For others, Satan can use things which appear to be good, but ultimately have the same impact of pulling your kids away from God. Teach your kids how to stay close to God and how to avoid being tricked into starting to walk away from him. If you don’t tell them the warning signs, who will?

Wednesday: Did you know the sound of water from a stream, waterfall or fountain is soothing? That walking can calm nerves, lift moods and clarify thinking? Teaching your kids godly, healthy coping strategies for when they are feeling emotions like anxiety can keep them from turning to less healthy or godly ways of coping out of desperation.

Thursday: Someone was creative when they designed this playground equipment. You may have to be creative with certain aspects of parenting. What works well with one of your kids may have no impact on another one. That’s why Christian parenting mentors who have raised children who are active, productive Christians as adults can help. Studies are showing those parents do have parenting skills and techniques that are unique. Tapping into their wisdom can make your parenting journey easier and more successful. Why not make your life easier by asking for advice?! It’s what the book of Proverbs suggests over and over.

Friday: Young people sometimes stop believing in God when they see bad things happen to “good” people. It’s important for you to teach them the realities sin brought into the fallen world. They also need to understand God’s plan to redeem us, His amazing love for us and the length of a perfect eternity in Heaven compared to the pain in this world. They also need to understand their choices will impact whether or not their eternity is spent living in the presence of God. Don’t let them reject God because they don’t understand the realities of the world that are clearly explained in the Bible.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #19

We had server issues last week, which is just so 2020. We are back online now. Don’t forget you can search on our site for past posts on parenting topics that interest you. You can also ask your Christian parenting questions on our private Facebook Community. Here are this week’s social media challenges.

Monday: I don’t know what these berries are. If I ate them, I might be fine, have a stomach ache or die…I won’t know unless someone teaches me about them. Your kids are the same way with the choices they have in life. They need you to teach them the difference between good choices, not so great choices and sins. If you don’t teach them what God says are sins, who will? While you are at it, teach them how to make a good choice when they are faced with a novel one and don’t have you there to guide them. Taking the extra time and effort to teach your kids about choices can save you both a lot of pain in the future.

Tuesday: Is your home a one room schoolhouse this year? You can easily add a Bible study to your family routine now that there is no commuting. Just a few minutes a day can increase your kids’ Bible knowledge, comprehension and the ability to remember what God wants them to do when they have choices to make. It’s the best thing you can add to your kids’ schedule regardless of where they attend school!

Wednesday: Which flower is the most beautiful? Not really a fair question is it? Each is uniquely beautiful. Your kids are the same way. They may be very different from each other and from you, but each is uniquely beautiful in his or her own way. The gifts God gave them may not be the gifts you would have chosen, but God knows best what gifts He needs them to have. Help them discover and develop those gifts – talents – even if it scares you. Your job as Christian parents is to give them strong faith foundations and to develop the potential God gave them. Forcing them into a mold God did not intend for them only ends up making everyone miserable.

Thursday: Have you ever watched a mama bird try to coax her babies out of the nest for the first time? The baby birds are not happy at all! I don’t speak bird, but I’m pretty sure some of them are angry their mother is trying to make them leave the nest. Yet the mama bird persists until they take their first flight out of the nest. Your kids may get angry when you ask them to do things independently. They may feign helplessness. It’s in everyone’s best interest though for them to do things independently in age appropriate ways. Otherwise, your kids will have a tough time reaching their full godly potential and doing all of the good works God has planned for them to do. Taking steps towards independence builds perseverance, responsibility, healthy self esteem and a host of other godly attributes. Don’t be afraid to be that mama bird!

Friday: Mr. Rogers once said, “All life events are formative. All contribute to what we become…”. It’s easy to assume that the little things don’t matter. Whether it’s family devotionals, serving others, the books read, the games played, the discussions had…or anything else that happens to your kids, all have an influence on who they become. Christian parents who raise kids who grow up to be active, productive Christians pay attention to the details, because the details can make all the difference in the world.

Fun Way to Involve God in Your Family’s Plans

Recently, someone I know shared a special “bucket list” her young granddaughter had created. It listed everything she wanted to do with her family before her new baby sibling was born. As I read through the list, I realized with a few tweaks this could be a great tool for Christian parenting.

One of the problems with Christian parenting isn’t that we don’t have enough time or even the skills needed to parent well. It’s that we let the every day take control over our lives. We meander about, dealing with what is happening in the moment. We don’t consider what needs to be done or give ourselves any framework to help us remember to do those things that are critical for our kids’ spiritual development.

The idea of a bucket list is actually a perfect tool to help parents overcome this tendency to Christian parent without a plan. In fact, you might want to have several different bucket lists you refer to regularly to keep you on track. The best bucket lists for this purpose have time limits on them. You may have weekly or monthly bucket lists and then a childhood bucket list that covers everything you want to do over your kids’ time at home to help them grow spiritually.

So, my monthly bucket list might have “make drawings and take a meal to Mrs. Jones”, the elderly lady down the street. Or it might have something about how many family devotionals we want to have or chapters we want to read in the Bible. Your kids might want to add to the list. Think about adding fun things like taking a hike in the mountains to appreciate and thank God for His creation.

On that childhood bucket list, you may want to add things like study baptism with Johnny when he reaches the age of accountability (we have a free e-book to help you). Or maybe go on a parent/child trip with each individual child so you can spend one on one quality time discussing their spiritual hopes and dreams for the future.

Bucket lists can be private ones only you and your spouse see or they can be ones the entire family creates together. The trick to successful bucket lists is to review them regularly and be intentional about accomplishing each item on the list. So pull out some paper and pens and give bucket list Christian parenting a try!