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  • Writer's pictureMartina Voorwinden

It's so easy to steal, lie and cheat!

Updated: Jul 27, 2019

What have you been buying on iTunes?

I was making lunch when the concerned questions started coming. Pieter was calling out the amounts, one for €109, one for €119, here’s another one for €32, €109 again… what is this?!

I don’t know, I haven’t bought anything.

We both looked at each other … CUB ONE!

Cub One had been rather quiet all morning and now it made sense, his conscience had been bothering him. I was glad at least that he quickly admitted he had bought things that morning on Talking Tom Gold Run. AHHH… that game!

We sent him to his room to wait for a response from us while we dived into damage control. My husband started adding up the amounts, he figured it was a total of €659… GULP! All the In-App purchases were made within a 45-minute time slot. I couldn’t burn money that fast. I felt instantly sick. The money was one thing, but I knew it wasn’t that that was bothering me the most, it was that my son had gone behind my back, got up before me, used my passcode to get into my phone which he had watched me do and remembered it, it was that there was nothing that stopped him in his tracks, the voice inside him wasn’t loud enough, scary enough, strong enough, convincing enough, it just wasn’t enough to keep him from doing wrong. The sickness was a feeling of hopelessness, a sort of lostness. How do I raise this child? How do I respond? In my last blog I wrote about responding in anger to my second eldest son and how much regret I had from that, now how do I keep the monster under again? Is motherhood going to be a battle against a surge of overwhelming emotions?

We wrote to iTunes Support explaining that our 7-year-old son had made unauthorised purchases and over the next couple of days Apple refunded all the purchases Cub One had made. We had told them it was €659 but we had miss calculated, they refunded the full amount for the 14 purchases of €820! We had prayed, God heard, people were reasonable, and we were so grateful and relieved. I saw the grace of God in this and a parallel to asking Him for forgiveness when we confess our sins, we confess so much but we actually have no idea how much we really have sinned and God forgives it all, all what we acknowledge and even that which we don’t even realise we have done, forgiveness is in full… just like our refund.

Back to the Cub still sitting on his bed… As I ascended the stairs to speak to him, I really didn’t know how I was going to communicate to him the seriousness of what he had done. Like with everything there is more context to this story than I can quickly communicate here. Talking Tom Gold Run had been a struggle between us already over the last few weeks and this was the tip of the iceberg. On each step I stopped and asked God for help, for wisdom, for control over my emotions, for real connection with my son, and then I reached the top. It was time to talk! Time to pray with him, time to explain the consequences and then with forgiveness sought and given, it was time to give him the opportunity to rebuild trust.

There are so many things working in a situation like this, and the struggle is not the parent’s alone, our children are also under attack and being aware of it helps us as parents to respond with compassion. As a child I also played computer games and so I guessed I was not really against my kids playing these sorts of games within reasonable limits, but the games are addictive, and the pull is real. The grumpy and irritable behaviour that follows when you try to limit screen time with children and teenagers – all too many parents that I have spoken to can attest to. So, what do you do? It’s easy to give in, but we all know that isn’t the answer, we would be just exchanging a moment’s peace for our children’s health and well-being.

I’ve come to realise a few things in this world of technology and internet games, and I know I have more than a few things yet to learn. One, our children need our protection, they need us to be strong with them, to help them wield the tech which is too powerful for them, we can’t expect them to be able to self-regulate when using highly addictive material that is designed to egg them on to play more and more. You’re the mum, you’re the dad, you’re allowed to say no, you’re allowed to have tough rules, you must follow through, make your tech plan clear to yourself and your children, stick to it and take control.

Two, we need to be educated and pro-active about security and know the power of the device we are leaving laying around on coffee tables and besides beds. Three, technology makes coveting, lying, cheating and stealing so easy that we and our children may not even blink an eyelid when we do. Cub One sincerely told me that he knows he couldn’t steal from a shop, but he had never thought that spending my money on app without my permission was stealing, or that sneakily using my passcode was indeed a form of lying. We need to have these discussions with our children.

Four, our children watch us so closely, our own technology use patterns will be taken over by our children. If I take a video or a photo of my husband on the phone in our lounge room or vice versa, he of me, it can be confronting when we play it back, it’s a good exercise if you are serious about seeing your own blind spots.

Some days as a mother I just wonder what is going to happen next, and why is it such a rough road at times? Then I embrace the challenges because even looking back on this one, in the last week I have had opportunities to talk to my son about God’s grace, trust, temptations, consequences and so much more. He has felt the burden of guilt and the relief of forgiveness. We grow when it’s hard.

James 1:2- 8

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

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