I want a moat circling my house, and I want it deep. I want it filled with alligators that float by menacingly; yellow eyes glowing, very hungry, sharp teeth. A drawbridge would be good too, manned by a muscled gatekeeper keeping watch.
It's possible that, at that point, I would feel that my kids were somewhat safe.
A German castle may have given security in the 19th century, but it won't cut it now. The Internet invades my family's space daily, bypassing any security I have set up to keep my kids safe.
TV stations waltz right into my living room and broadcast stuff I would be embarrassed to have my wife see. Commercials for shows that I would never choose to watch push the envelope of propriety.
And then, my kids go to school, to a neighbor's house, or who knows where?
I got my kids cell phones - all the kids have them now - and they are such a mixed blessing. My kids can reach me and I can reach them at any time, but so can everyone else.
The news is full of abuse and danger directed at children. Where's my moat?
How to keep your children safe
does several positive things. It lets your children know there are dangers out there that have you concerned enough to take this action. A police file lets you keep records that will prove invaluable if an issue arises. At the very least, it is a conversation starter that keeps safety in the forefront of a child's mind.
"Don't talk to strangers"
is the old adage, but your children are not often at the mercy of strangers. It's more likely someone close by that will do them damage. Get specific with the behaviors that are not appropriate from anyone. Fortify your child to say no.
Don't invite crap into your home and then be upset when your kids do the same. Don't be a part of pornography or anything that approaches that category. Do you think you are watching your kids closely? You should see how closely they are watching you.
Take Net Nanny seriously, and use the parental controls on TVs and computers. If you don't know how to use them, have your kids show you.
Watch movies that you would watch with your children
Don't rent it or download it if you don't want your kids to see it. Music is the same thing. Don't listen to the CD if you have to turn it off when the kids come home from school.
Doors stay open, lights stay on, and cell phones are checked regularly
Hands stay at 10 and two. Call me when your plans change. Nothing good happens after 12 a.m.
The old rules were good rules
Stay or get involved with your kids. Ask to hear some of their music. When they walk around with their ear buds in, ask to listen to what they are listening to. Don't do this just to catch them in the act. Do it because you are truly interested in them. They will know, and knowing that you care will fortify them, and they might start caring, as well.
When something does sneak in, or your teen lets in something sneaky, make sure that there is a consequence for it - one that fits the crime, and follow through. Did your teen lose TV privileges? Limit your own TV and grab a book to read together, or both of you paint a wall. Show your teen that you are serious, and you are willing to make the sacrifice to get your message across.
Try, try again
Now, what do you do if you are realizing the wisdom of upping the standard, but you and your family have been living a lower one? Can you change course mid-stream?
You bet. And this is how. Gather all your music and DVDs together and sort through them with your teen. Tell them what you are trying to weed out, and have them help you trash the trash. Then, do the same with the family media. Ask your child if you both can go through his media, as well. This is a good time to discuss why you are changing or upgrading the family guidelines and what his safety means to you.
Tell him why the change. You don't like what this media represents, or you don't like how the house feels when it's playing. Whatever the reason, let him know that the standard has been upped. And then - hard part - be consistent.
You have just filled the moat.