Take charge at home
by Katie Pearn
Our world has changed. We now live in a time where children are ahead of their parents when it comes to technology and the internet, leaving many parents feeling lost and underprepared for the risks associated with it. Some of these risks, like pornography and online predators, can have very real and devastating long-term consequences. But how do we keep our children safe when we are no longer the subject-matter experts in this field?
This is where the TakeCharge@Home, a Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre (CPCC) educational program, hopes to help equip parents as they raise children in this new reality.
“We’ve heard that parents are feeling lost and we really want to help them raise their kids in a digital age,” says Cliff Wiebe, Community Development Specialist for the CPCC. “The reality is the internet is here to stay, and there’s a lot of great stuff on it, we just need to know how to navigate it.”
TakeCharge@Home workshops are available to anyone, and provide its participants with insight, resources and tips including: how to build healthy, trusting relationships with your kids, safe-proofing your home regarding the internet and leading by example.
The program began as a part of Next Step Ministries, a non-profit organization that helps women escape prostitution and exploitation. More severely traumatized women were coming to NSM for help, and Wiebe and NSM Founder, Phil Reimer wanted to understand how they could help prevent such cases from occurring in the future.
They began asking the question “why would a man go see a prostitute?” in the hopes of uncovering information that could help them develop some preventative measures. This led them on a path where they spoke with boys and men struggling with or in recovery from sexual addiction, as well as psychologists and counselors. They discovered that early access to pornography was a common factor for men who see prostitutes, which led them to begin developing a program targeted to parents about the importance of keeping homes safe.
The program grew so quickly that it became a challenge for NSM to continue running it, and in God’s timing, it eventually moved over to the CPCC as part of their education component. The workshops are currently more geared towards parents with younger children and grandparents as they set up safe home spaces in the early days. This includes providing participants with resources like age-appropriate books and the opportunity to purchase the Kids Wifi unit, that filters, monitors and controls children’s online devices, at cost. As it grows, they are looking to develop a workshop more geared towards parents with teenagers or parents whose kids are struggling with pornography addiction or addiction to online activity.
“We know that almost no home is immune to this and it will take some effort,” says Wiebe. “Kids are going to access things they shouldn’t, and we need to help them understand what’s good, what’s bad and what to do when they come across bad stuff.”
Wiebe’s biggest piece of advice to parents is to focus on your children’s hearts, and to take time to understand their worlds.
“Tools are important, but not as important as the relationships we have with our kids,” he says. “Take interest in the things they are interested in, spend time connecting with your children and developing those relationships with them so they will come to you.” To book a free TakeCharge@Home contact firstname.lastname@example.org.