Resource Review: Tools for Parents

On Sundays I have been teaching a Parents Class at church. The class is designed to have an open discussion of issues that our youth are facing, as well as, equipping our families with resources to strengthen them in their role as spiritual leader and resources that will help them to deal with the issues they might face. In this post, I will list several beneficial resources for parents to use, as well as, give my take on each resource.

stickyfaithbook

1. Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark.

This book is a great beginning resource for parents as they try to establish a faith based home. It talks a lot about their research and studies they have conducted to identify the primary reasons for the lack of faith once our students graduate from high school and move off to college. The book gives you practical ideas on how to build that faith in your kids that will stick with them through the years. It's very easy to read and I found it especially informative from a youth minister's standpoint and I am sure it will be as equally informative for parents who read it, as well.

2. The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara E. Powell

 This book which was published this year (2014) is a great compliment to the previous book released by Kara Powell. This book walks the family through forming a sticky faith plan. The book discusses a lot of the same items as the other book; however, in each chapter it provides family tested ideas that work. Also, at the end of each chapter is an assessment to measure how well your family is doing in the areas being discussed. This book is also easy to read and offers a lot of practical ideas for you to implement in your own family. I particulary like this book because it highlights areas that I believe parents tend to struggle with in the realm of spiritual leadership in the home because they feel uncomfortable or inadequate in those particular areas. This book will indeed strengthen your family if it is read and implemented in your home.

3. The Joshua Project - A home devotional series

Many congregations have started home devotional series over the years for families; however, there are many who have not. Our families are struggling with this aspect of their daily lives because they feel inadequate or uncomfortable having these types of conversations. However, the Joshua Project sends out weekly devotionals to your e-mail for you to use throughout the week to help lead these conversations. What is different about the Joshua Project is that they break down your time together. They provide suggestions of items to talk about during meal time, scripture to read, ways your family can serve together, and suggestions to do for family time that week which all coordinate with the scripture for that week. To sign up, follow this link.

4. Walking in His Footsteps Family Devotionals

As Jonathan Germany alluded to in his last post, we are gearing up to also provide families way to strengthen their faith conversations at home. In the coming weeks, we will kick off a special project in which we will provide one lesson for you each week (released monthly). The lessons will have a scripture and a few discussion questions to be read and discussed one night around the dinner table (which should also encourage family meals-one of the most important events a family can do). We will even make these lessons FREE. We want to help invest in you-families. It's so important that families set time aside each day at the same place to have faith based conversations and we want to help you do just that!

5. K9 Web Protection

As our society moves more and more into the age of technology, we must find ways to protect our children from going to sites that they should not go to (whether accidental or on purpose). K9 Web Protection  is a free Internet filter and parental control software for your home Windows or Mac computer. K9 puts YOU in control of the Internet so you can protect your kids. It can be installed on your computer, phone (apple or android), or tablet. If a user has visited a questionable site, the device will emit a barking noise. Here are some other features:

  • Web site blocking by category, including pornography, illegal drugs, personals/dating, violence/hate/racism
  • Easy pre-set levels to choose from depending on the age of your children
  • SafeSearch enabled on all search engines to show cleaner search results
  • Time restrictions, including NightGuard(tm), to disallow internet access during designated times
  • Custom “always allow” and “always block” lists for your personal preferences
  • Ability to override a block with the parent password
  • Tamper resistant for more savvy kids
  • Reports showing activity to categories of web sites
  • Real-time categorization of new web sites
  • Compatible with Windows or Mac machines

To learn more about K9 Web Proection, visit www.k9webprotection.com.

6. Covenant Eyes: Internet Accountability and Filtering

When I worked for Tuscaloosa Christian Counseling, this was a must for those who were struggling with pornography addiction. In each case, an accountability partner was one of the ways to overcoming this entangling addiction. It's similar to K9 Web Protection; however, a big difference is that Covenant Eyes is not free to use. Covenant Eyes monitors the websites visited, the search terms used, and the YouTube videos watched, and lists them in an easy-to-read Report that is designed to start a conversation about healthy online habits. Each day it will send a report to someone of your choosing for each device that you have linked to the subscription in one report. So, you can use 3-4 devices throughout the day and the report will list all the activity from those devices. Like K9, you can block and restrict sites. Covenant Eyes is setup to be more of an accountability program and hold internet users (individuals or families) accountable for the websites and apps they visit. To learn more, visit www.covenanteyes.com.

7. X3 Watch

X3 Watch is another internet tool that can be used. You can choose the premium package or the free package. It's very similar to Covenant Eyes. It's online accountability. To learn more visit, www.x3watch.com

Personally, I would go with K9 Web Protection. It's free and you can easily monitor the activity on your computer or other electronic device. It all depends on your family and which web protection you use. To not have any web protection, is not the way to go. Please choose one of these resources to help your family be accountable to each other and what they are looking at online.

8. TV Guardian: The Foul Language Filter

As you know television has become more tolerant of what words can be said during a show or live broadcast. Those who watch TV are exposed to all kinds of language and images that are sexual in nature. TVGuardian monitors the hidden closed-caption text in the background while you watch TV. Even though you usually do not see the closed-captions, they're required by law on TV shows and movies. "TVGuardian reads the closed captions ahead of the audio, and knows what's going to be said, before it's said.  Each word is checked against a dictionary of more than 150 offensive words and phrases. When a foul word or phrase is detected, TVG automatically mutes the offensive language. TVGuardian has multiple filter settings, include:  Strict, Moderate, Tolerant.  There are also these other settings to fine tune your experience: offensive religious uses, sexual references and Hell/Damn (www.tvguardian.com/learnfaq.html)." Each unit costs around $90.00 but it is money well spent when protecting the mind of your child and family. I've seen the TV Guardian in action and it works the majority of the time. It is not often that something slips by the filter.

I hope that this list is a good start when it comes to resources for your family. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me: andrewt519@gmail.com.

May God Bless You and Your Family. Be strong!

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Andrew Thompson

Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister at Rose Hill Church of Christ. He is married to the beautiful, Joy Thompson (who is way out of his league!). They enjoy sharing life together, ministering to teens and families, football in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!), and musical theatre. Andrew is a proud supporter of sarcasm and dry sense of humors. Thank you for reading! Follow Andrew on Instagram and Twitter!