The Internet takes a lot of blame for many of our biggest worries as parents: pornography, violence and exposure to all kinds of things we would prefer our children not see. Clearly, its use must be monitored and governed by wise parents.
But with all our concerns, we ought to also reflect on what cyberspace and the Web do for us as parents. From Googling whatever ails a child to mommy blogs to quick recipes, few of us could live a day in our homes without the Internet.
So today we wanted to take a minute or two to give the Internet a little personal praise from our own standpoint — regarding how it has helped our own parenting and how it has allowed us to share parenting and family ideas and programs with vastly more parents than we could ever reach personally.
Until the Internet, our Joy Schools, a non-academic preschool program and curriculum, got to parents only by bulky mail of manuals and CDs. Now, any parent anywhere in the world can get every lesson plan instantly at www.joyschools.com.
Until the Internet, getting any book we had written required a parent to make a trip to the bookstore or library. Now, every one of them is quickly available on a Kindle and many are just a free click away at www.EyresFreeBooks.com.
Until the Internet, most parents we were in touch with felt pretty lonely in their struggles to find the right tools to raise their kids. Now, parents commiserate with and learn from each other through all kinds of social media and feel far less lonely and far more connected with and sympathized with.
All three of our married daughters (bless their hearts for letting us pass our parenting torch to them) have blogs that collectively reach literally millions of other moms each month. Check them out at www.PowerofMoms.com, www.71toes.com and bostonshumways.blogspot.com. And our fourth daughter, who is single, reaches out in a different but still highly family-centered way at www.drippingwithpassion.blogspot.com.
The Internet is a parenting resource that just goes on and on. Parents who need help with having the “big talk” about sex, or who want a “secret code” for reminding kids to behave in public, or who need tips on how to teach particular values to their children can find it all online. We've shared our thoughts at www.valuesparenting.com.
Frankly, the problem for most parents today is exactly the opposite of what it was a generation ago. It used to be that the difficulty was finding the information and answers you needed as a parent. Short of going to the library and looking through book stacks and microfilm and card catalogs, there was really no way to get good advice and help.
Now the problem is that there is too much information, too much data and too much advice. It is hard as a parent, particularly a new one, to sort through it all and to discern which parts of all the conflicting and varying suggestions and advice are right for you and right for your kids.
So let us end on this note: trust yourself. Trust your instincts. You are the only mom or dad for your child. That child came to you for a reason. You know more about him or her than anyone. Seek advice and look for good ideas, but trust your own sense of what is right and best — and what will really work — for your child.
Use the Internet, but don’t be used by it.
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."