Bark CMO, Titania Jordan, sits down to speak about the benefits and pitfalls of allowing kids to use devices on the internet, as well as practical ideas to keep them safe.
Titania Jordan is the CMO and Chief Parent Officer of Bark.us, an internet safety solution that helps parents and schools keep children safer across social media, text messaging, and email.
As the current host of CONNECT with Titania Jordan, and former host of NBC Atlanta affiliate WXIA’s weekly television show Atlanta Tech Edge, Titania has the honor of covering the latest in tech news and talent across both the city and the globe.
Early in her career, Titania started her own marketing consulting firm, and served as the CMO and co-founder of PRIVET, and Executive Director of Band of Coders Girls Academy. She travels the country serving as a tech expert on national television programs and conferences and contributes to Forbes, Huffington Post, USA Today, and Vogue.
“He has opened doors that I didn’t know were there, where I only saw walls. But with Him all things are possible and He has made this possible for me.”
“It’s truly just finding the beauty, even in the hard moments. I really try to see beauty in everything, even in the rainstorms.”
“Just letting them know that you understand the pain that is present in their world, and letting them know that you’ll be there for them when you do make mistakes… You don’t expect them to be perfect all the time.”
1. It’s never too late to try.
2. Withholding judgment from your kids shows them you are there for them and you care.
3. Have an ongoing dialogue with your children.
Ray: Well, hello, everyone. This is Ray Hilbert. I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith where we love to talk about eternal business and real life. That intersection of our faith in business and leadership. And I learned of today’s guest, we’re going to be talking with Titania Jordan, who is the CMO and chief parent officer of Bark. And that’s an internet safety solution company, we’re going to learn all about this. But I saw Titania about a year ago or so on I believe Fox News, their Fox & Friends Morning Show. I was so taken by what God has called her to do, how she is uniquely gifted, called and qualified to help parents, to help teachers, and frankly, just our community really bridge this gap around social media, technology, the dangers and the benefits. And most importantly, Titania is a woman of faith, and her faith drives all that she’s doing. So Titania, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Titania: Hey, thanks so much for having me. It really is such an honor to be here and be able to do the work that I do.
Ray: Yes. And so walk us through what you’re doing at Bark, what it’s designed to accomplish, and what we need to know about your work.
Titania: Sure. Yes, so it’s no secret that children are more connected now than ever, and they’re becoming more digitally connected at a younger and younger age. In fact, Common Sense Media just released their study on children and media, and the rate at which children are getting smartphones even from five years ago has jumped a considerable amount. And so, what Bark does is that we keep children safer online and in real life. And the way we do that is by using artificial intelligence.
Basically, we’re just using technology to connect to over 25 social media platforms, email accounts, and text messages. And then, once we have connected to those accounts and devices, we then analyze for dangers. So, our technology is looking for things like cyber bullying, sexting and sexual content, thoughts of suicide and depression, potential drug use, online predators, and acts of violence. And when our algorithm detects these dangers, we’ll then send an alert via text or email to the parent not only telling them what happened and where, whether it was Instagram, or Snapchat, or text, but we’ll also give them best recommended next steps for how to address it because our generation of parents is the first generation that is ever had to deal with parenting in this type of tech world, and so we need help.
Ray: We absolutely do. And I got to tell you, I’m very honored that you’d be a part of our program here at Bottom Line Faith because you become a pioneer in this space. You’ve really become very well known, you’re a regular expert on programs such as the Today Show, Steve Harvey, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, Fox News, SiriusXM Radio, on and on and on. What would you attribute this great interest? You’re on these programs and people want to know what you’re doing. Why is this so important for us to understand what’s happening here?
Titania: There’s two layers to that question in my mind. One is the very obvious one of children are accessing the family iPad before they can even walk, children are getting smart phones at seven and eight, suicide is now the second leading cause of death in children 10 to 18. There are multiple epidemics happening right now with our children, with our most vulnerable population, and so it’s a topic that is in the news every single day. So there’s that top very obvious layer of why is all this happening.
The bottom layer, more specific to why I am on all of these outlets, I believe goes to the faith based aspect that you alluded to, in that I did not go to school to learn how to code. I am not a programmer. I did not get a degree in computer science. I did not get a degree in public speaking or journalism. But for some reason, I feel that God has given me a gift of communication and understanding both of this tech landscape and of parenting to where he has opened doors for me that I didn’t even know were there. I only saw walls. I did not see that I would ever be able to be doing this in any way, shape, or form. But with him, all things are possible, and he has made this possible for me, and I’m just very grateful.
Ray: Well, how did you get here? Give us a little bit of the background of the journey of kind of how you got to this point, what you learned along the way, maybe previous stops in your career, and kind of how Bark itself came about?
Titania: So I’ll start with the last part of that question because it’s the easiest to answer. Our CEO, Brian Bason, had actually sold his last company to Twitter. Was working at Twitter and looked at the landscape, and he has two boys, and given his background at the intersection of social media and technology, realized there’s no good way for him to keep his own two boys safer online given what existed out there. So he took a leap of faith and left Twitter to start Bark. So that’s the why behind Bark.
Now, how I got to where I am is a much longer meandering path that I will try to summarize succinctly. I started my career in traditional media at a local radio station here in Atlanta. So top to market, big, big market, learning the nuances of communication and copyrighting, which is writing commercials, writing the ads. Marketing how that went along with. And at that time, in the early 2000s the internet was blowing up and it was also becoming a vehicle for internet marketing and media marketing around that time. Things like Pandora were strutting up, and Myspace was coming up, and Facebook moved from a platform that only college students to use that 20 somethings like me at the time could use. So there was this whole new world of communication that was blowing up. And so, I’m thankful to have been in at the time where both traditional and digital media were crossing over in really, really new and innovative ways. So I had a unique insight into that.
Around that time, I decided that I wanted to try to start a family, and so was blessed to have my son, Jackson. And at that same time, the economy tanked, like … And so, being a commissioned, 100% commissioned sales person at a radio station, when you are the youngest account executive on the team is not a great place to be in because I didn’t have the big accounts like Home Depot and Warner Brothers. I had the local sandwich shop that didn’t have the budget. So combine that with my postpartum depression that about 10% of the population will experience as childbearing women, which I didn’t realize at the time, it was just too much. I could not go back into that space. I just had to be with my son. I had just given birth to this baby, and I just had to focus keeping it alive much less thinking about getting dressed for work to go close deals. It wasn’t in my realm of possibilities.
So given that specific time in my life, I turned to the internet. I turned to Facebook to learn how to breastfeed, and what problems I’m having, and how to get my kid to sleep through the night, and how do I deal with these feelings of anxiety and depression that I’m going through, and is this normal? And what do I do? And it’s just all these things that I had thankfully the internet, and mom groups, and Facebook groups, and forums, and blogs of other women who were brave enough and candid enough to share their stories. And so, I saw all of this happening.
And I mentioned breastfeeding, which I promise has something to do with my career. I was having trouble, and so I reached out to a lactation consultant who was in her 60s. And she helped me figure out how to feed my son in that way, and I wrote her a note to thank her. I just, “Thank you so much for helping me get through this rough time. How can I ever repay you? If there’s a way, let me know.” And she actually wrote back, and she said, “Well, actually, you can help me. What do you know about Facebook?” And I was like, “Oh my gosh, what do I know about Facebook?” Like, “Let me help you out there.” She was like, “I need to be able to reach moms on Facebook.”
And so I helped her do that from home, I helped her grow her Facebook page to a group of about 8000 moms, and her brand took off, and it went really, really well. And so I saw an opportunity to be able to basically create my own social media marketing agency for brands that wanted to speak to the millennial mom. From there, this is where I can really fast forward. It snowballed, snowballed, snowballed. One of my clients, because I grew to have a team of clients and a team of other moms that could work for me from home, one of my clients asked me to come aboard and be their full-time CMO, and that was an amazing opportunity because it was right here in Atlanta.
I didn’t think that I could have a tech career in Atlanta. I thought I had to be in San Francisco or New York. This was a company in Atlanta. I also didn’t think I could be the CMO of a tech company without having a CS degree. But again, with God, all things are possible. It became possible. And then, from there, it just opportunities kept coming about.
Ray: Yeah. First of all, thank you for the transparency of sharing that. And as you said, even when the ladies on those platforms would be brave, and daring, and courageous and share their stories with authenticity, that’s where real growth, that’s where real community develops. So, thank you for that. So, in that season of life, we’ll get back to work, and career, and technology and everything, but this is just as much about your story as anything. How was it that God pulled you through that dark time? You talked about the postpartum depression, you talked about finding meaning and purpose. How did your faith anchor you? How did the Lord speak to you and pull you, personally, through that dark season?
Titania: Wow. Well, we’re about to get really real here then, because as I was literally giving birth to Jackson, I had been in labor for 28 hours, and I just … I couldn’t do it anymore. I was not strong enough, and I just prayed. I was like, “God, I don’t know how millions of women before me have. But I don’t think I can do this, so I need you to get this baby out of me sooner than later because I’m freaking out here. I don’t feel like I can breathe.” And so, as I was giving birth, I just started praising. Not even praying but praising over and over just praise you, thank you, praise you. I just was thanking him because I had literally just given up and given God, and it was just a blur around me. So that was one element of just surrender and giving up to his strength and his glory and grace.
And then, afterwards, I was really short of breath, and I didn’t know that that was a problem. And then I was reading some literature in the hospital like, “If you’re short of breath, that’s a big problem.” And I was like, “Oh, uh-oh.” So, long story short is my heart after having my son, the muscle had been weakened, and that’s called postpartum cardiomyopathy. Sometimes it will kill the mother right away, other times it makes the mother have to be on a waitlist for a heart transplant, other times it makes the mother have to live with reduced heart function for life, but it’s manageable with medicine. And then, in other cases, it gets better.
So, for the first 30 days of Jackson’s life, I was short of breath, terrified, sleep deprived, and worried that I was going to maybe die. And so, I just spent every night on my knees just praying for God to have mercy on me, and heal me, and help me to be on this planet for my child. And so, I went back to get the followup … what’s it called? Echocardiogram to check my heart, and they said, “You’re fine.” They said, “You’re fine. You are healed, you are fine, you don’t need medicine, you don’t need a heart transplant. You’re okay. And come back in six months, we’ll test you again.” And so, that six months span was also a time of fear and prayer, and fear and prayer, and I went back again, fine. Totally fine. Totally healed.
And I don’t say that with … I don’t know what the word is but I know there are many, many times that people go through hardships and illness and they are not divinely healed. I don’t want to assume that that will happen just because you pray or because it’s a matter of how strong or not strong your faith is. But for me, I attribute that to God. I am eternally grateful to him for that gift that I get to be here with my son, and I don’t have to be in a less compromise state of health. And yeah, so that’s one element of it.
And then, also, even during that time where I was at my most depressed, and anxious, and sleep deprived, and hormones are crazy, and everything’s out of whack, it’s truly just finding the beauty even in the hard moments. I mean, I had a beautiful, healthy child. And watching him grow, and him laugh, and the bonding, and when it was warm enough to take him outside for walks, just nature. The clouds, the flowers, the everything. I really, truly try to see beauty in everything, even in the rainstorms. And so, clinging to things of beauty and joy were also helpful during that time.
Ray: That’s so powerful, and I’m going to add just a little bit of levity to our conversation because you’ve given me additional context. Because growing up, my mom would away say something to me like, “Oh no, you’re not going to talk to me that way after I gave you birth.” And so …
Titania: I say that. I say that to my son.
Ray: So you’ve just given me even greater appreciation for my mom. As soon as we get end the conversation, I’m going to call her and tell her I love her all over again. Thank you, Titania, that’s fantastic.
Titania: Oh my gosh. I remember looking at my mom and just being like, “You did this twice without drugs!”
Ray: Yeah, yeah, “What were you thinking?” Right?
Titania: How did women … Again, I have so much respect for every single mother both biological and not biological, but specifically the biological ones that did this for so many years without the medical intervention that I had. It’s a thing.
Ray: That’s so powerful. So, we’ll get back to the technology conversation in just a moment. But as you’ve shared your story, thank you. And so, let’s say in our audience, Titania, is primarily business owners, leaders, executives, who are trying to live out their faith, right? So what word of encouragement would you have right now? Maybe there’s a business woman, an executive, an owner, what have you, who’s listening to our conversation, and maybe she had a similar experience in childbirth, or in the early days of parenting, or maybe she’s wrestling right now with just balancing this motherhood and business, and what word … just give that woman right now a word of encouragement. What would you say to just lift her spirit and give her courage?
Titania: Oh gosh. I would say you are doing a great job. You really are. If your child knows that you love them, okay. That’s all that matters. I mean, my son doesn’t see me a lot during the week. Sometimes, I don’t get home until after dinner or sometimes until after he’s already asleep in bed. But that child, you ask him if his momma loves him, he will say nothing but a resounding “yes”. So I know that there are moms that are working overtime with multiple jobs at once, single moms especially, oh my gosh, you are doing a good job. I mean, my mom was a single mom growing up, raising two children, it was very hard. There’s a lot of stress, a lot of conflict, a lot of mistakes that she wishes she could go back and fix. But end of the day, when I look back on my childhood, I have a few things.
One is mad respect for her. I know that she worked so hard to try to provide for us, and I respect her work ethic. I respect her strength. And she couldn’t be there every field day, or PTO cookie sale day, and maybe at the time I was a little lonely, or sad, or jealous of other kids whose moms could, but I’m okay with it now.
And, I think there’s also a reality check that we all need to realize that we can’t do it all, we can’t have it all. I cannot wake up at 5:00 AM, workout, try to keep a perfect body, try to feed our family only organic, non-GMO whatever, and hit all my goals at work, get enough sleep, see my friends and family enough. I’m not able to do all of those things all at once. A couple and be okay with fast food every now and then, or missing certain engagements.
So, just to every women and men listening, you are enough. You are doing good enough. Make sure your child knows that you love them and you’re there for them, and everything else will fall into place.
Ray: I love it. Thank you for that because we all need a word of encouragement, and we all need to be reminded that we are doing our very best. And the tie in in my mind is as a parent, so often we feel helpless, so often we feel like we don’t have the answers. I’ve got three kids. I’ve got a 20-year-old son who’s in college, I’ve got an 18-year-old daughter who’s in college, and I’ve got a soon to be 16-year-old going on 40 who’s in high school, and I so often feel like I’m overwhelmed because they’re on all these tech. The platforms, and the new app, and their snapping this, and they’re using terminology that I don’t get, I don’t understand.
I’m still learning the … Somebody said, “What kind of phone you use?” I said, “I think it’s black. I don’t know.” And so, this issue of feeling helpless as a parent or feeling like I don’t have control, how in what you’re doing can you help me, as a parent, come to grips with this overload of information, and how can I … you understand what I’m saying? Help me.
Titania: Yeah, absolutely. So, because of those very questions that you just threw out there is the reason we started a closed Facebook group called Parenting in a Tech World. It’s completely free. You don’t have to pay for Bark to be a part of it. You just have to be able to access Facebook, and you can search for “Parenting in a Tech World”, it’s a Facebook group. And there’s close to 50,000 parents in there right now that are dealing with this exact same thing.
They’re asking the questions like, “When do I let my child have Snapchat?” And, “My child was caught sexting, what do I do?” And, “My child’s being cyber bullied, what do I do?” And, “My child’s struggling with pornographic sites, what do I do?” I mean, you have a question about parenting in a tech world, it has been discussed there. And there’s a great community there, and we’re here for each other, we’re here to answer each other’s questions. There’s both tech savvy and non-tech savvy, so it’s a great group, a great mix of all types of people from all walks of life. And so, that’s probably the first thing I would suggest to any parent who’s dealing with this is go there. Go to this community, use the search function, asks the questions you need and know that you can get help. And even if you don’t feel like asking it publicly with your Facebook profile attached to it, you can send a message to our moderator, Jody, and she can ask the question anonymously on your behalf. We’ve had people use that. So, there’s that.
Also, as a brand, we spend time creating content and investigating all these things for you. For example, TikTok is blowing up, and so we wrote a blog post on what you need to know about TikTok. And so, I would recommend everybody, again, even if you don’t use Bark to keep your children safer online, check out our blog. It’s just bark.us/blog. If it’s something you need to know about, we have covered it. We have a very, very amazing editorial team that is very thoughtful about the information we present to you.
And then, if your child does have a device that can connect to the internet, if they have a smartphone, an iPad, if they use a Chromebook for school, they have an email address, think about using Bark. It’s $9 per family per month. There are coupon codes floating around out there, so a quick Google search will probably save some money. And yeah, we will connect to unlimited devices and accounts, and then send you an alert when your child has encountered a problematic issue.
One thing I want to point out is that some parents either don’t think this will happen to their child, or think that they’ll know if something is going on with their child, and unfortunate, that’s just not the case. And we know that because we now protect close to four millions children across the nation, and our data points suggests otherwise. Helped escalate 16 credible school shooting threats to the FBI. We have caught over 300 online predators. And yeah, we have flagged over 21,000 severe self-harm situations. And again, this is all children. It’s just children that this is happening to. Children from all walks of life. And so, it’s really happening and it’s not always easy to know how to find that sort of thing and protect your child. And so, that’s why you need a monitoring solution like Bark.
Ray: Let’s talk just for a moment about a couple of questions that you or statements you made that brought up questions to me is as a general role, and I know each situation, and family, and child is different, but what guidelines would you say just based on your own experience and expertise, at about what age should we open up these technology devices and the internet to our kids? And at what age would you say, “Okay, your child or your college student is old enough now you got to kind of turn them loose”? Any thoughts around those book ends?
Titania: Yeah. So, the tech landscape for every family is very different. And so, I’d say first of all, identify what’s important to your family value set. And then, you’ve got to do the leg work of figuring out how to protect your child and talk to your child about these things. So, for my family, so we started a conversation on tricky people, and PII, which stands for personally identifiable information, we stressed over, and over, and over again, do not use your real name. Do not tell your age. Do not tell where you go to school. Do not talk about what sports you play or where you play them. It’s just so easy for somebody to stumble upon your identity if you do that, and we’re not going to do that.
As my son got older, I purchased a book called Good Pictures Bad Pictures. I got the book on Amazon, and it’s a great way to start the conversation surrounding pornography with younger children. It’s definitely not something I thought I would need to talk to my 9-year-old at the time about, but given the fact that he rode a school bus where other kids had a smartphone that maybe didn’t have parental controls, he was going to be exposed to it. And so, I needed to be able to talk to him about it and what it is, and how it could affect your brain and your heart, and what people who are in that industry are experiencing as well. And sometimes, they might not be in it of their own volition.
And so, once he got old enough, for me, for our family dynamic, I did allow him to have a smartphone, and we went over a tech contract. We have a parent tech contract available on our Bark blog, but you can also just Google, “Family tech contract,” and tailor it towards your family dynamic. And some of the things that we went over were that when you’re away from home and you’re not in school, your phone needs to be off silent because if I call you, you need to pick up. If you need to download an app, we have to approve it, and we actually use Google Family Link as the parental control system on his android phone that will give us permission, him permission to download apps.
One thing I love too about Google Family Link is that it allows me to track his location. And so, if I want to be able to give him the freedom like I had as a kid to go ride his bike to a friends house without being completely terrified that he would not return home, I can open the app and see where his location is. And that’s very, very helpful. And then, for older children, when they start to drive or ride with friends who can drive, there’s the Life360 app that can not only tell you about their whereabouts, but even report on the speed at which they’re traveling. So, that was a very long winded answer.
Ray: No, it was fantastic. And you just kind of added to my anxiety of all these things I need to learn.
Titania: I know, it’s a lot.
Ray: I’m an old guy. Well, and so I think, okay, I’m going to speak on behalf of the parent right now, who has maybe that 14, 15, 16, 17-year-old, and they’re thinking, “Okay, this is great. The toothpaste is out of the tube. They’ve been on their smartphones forever, they’ve probably got all this exposure, and it’s too late.” What would you say if that’s what they’re thinking to themselves right now? How would you respond to that?
Titania: Yeah. So, first of all, completely understand. It’s very hard once you’ve let the water out of the dam to get it back in. So, it’s probably not logical or feasible to think that you can backtrack a whole lot. However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. It’s never too late to try. And so, I would start with a conversations. See what’s happening in the news, bring it up with them. “Hey, I hear TikTok is the coolest app. Are you on it? Are your friends on it? Can we look at it together? Show me what’s fun about it. Show me what’s cool about it.” Just having those conversations will help you be able to relate to your older children more easily.
Again, for me, when Fortnite was all the rage, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down and play it with him. But I needed to know what he could encounter on the platform, so I had to sit down and have him explain it to me. And it was painful but it was also enlightening, and it was a way for us to bond because that was what was important to him.
Also, just knowing that mental health is a big issue for our teens and tweens that also has a large stigma attached to it. Being open to having those conversations with your children about, “How does it make you feel?” “When you’re on Instagram and you see that everybody else is at that concert and you’re not, does that hurt? It would hurt me if I were you.” “If you have a crush on this boy or girl, and all of a sudden, they just go dark. They go silent on you, that’s got to really hurt.”
Ray: Or you see them in an Instagram photo with someone else, right?
Titania: Else. Yeah. It just letting them know that you understand the pain that is present in their world even though you’re not directly experiencing it or directly experienced it as a teen, is a good way to lay that groundwork for future conversations.
Also, letting them know that you know they’re going to make mistakes. They are good kids that make bad choices. And letting them know that you’ll be there for them when they do make mistakes, not to judge, not to take away the device necessarily because that is their lifeline to the world, but to talk with them through the ramifications of their actions. Letting them know that you realize their frontal lobe that makes the decisions, is not fully formed until they’re in their early 20s, so you don’t expect them to be perfect all the time. But you do expect them to come to you and talk to you, so that you can help them, that’s key. And I know it’s easier said than done, and I know the second my son comes home after making a bad choice, I might not be so calm, but that’s what I plan to do. And I hope that he will be open with me in that process.
Ray: That is fantastic, so thank you. What is a question or an issue that you wish more people that you’re talking with would ask you about all this? What’s something that, “I just wish they would bring this up,” or, “I wish that they would take this into account”? What would that be?
Titania: Thank you for asking. I wish parents knew just how prevalent online predators were online. And I don’t just mean the really creepy, scary dudes that you hear about in the news, but less egregious ones. And I say that with caution because every instance is pretty egregious, but as a 15-year-old girl, not putting out any sort of seductive content on the internet. Let’s just say you’re a 15-year-old girl, you have a Reddit account and an Instagram account, and it’s private. You’re only connecting with your friends on there, you’d be surprised how many solicitations she might receive from men over the age of 18 that know that she is 15, and are sending her inappropriate photos to her other DM, direct message inbox, that are asking her to meet up, that are grooming her, that are trying to gain her attention and her affection. There are a lot of lonely children online. A lot of children they’re just looking for love and acceptance, and that’s who these predators are targeting.
And so, I just want parents to know that there are so much more of that going on than you can possibly realize. We’ve seen it first hand. And chances are because it’s such an uncomfortable topic, your children are probably not going to come to you about it and let them know that they’re engaging in a conversation with this person, or that they’ve received inappropriate images or video or requests for such.
Ray: It is scary. It is very scary, and it’s very real as these … I mentioned to you earlier, I’ve got a soon to be 16-year-old daughter, right? So, what should I say to her tonight? And I’m using … obviously, it’s a general question for all of us, but where do we start? Where do we start?
Titania: Well, I would say, and honestly, I’m terrified. I’m really scared for you and your friends, and girls and boys just like you that maybe don’t have parents who are as engaged or as aware. And so, first of all, I just want you to know that if anything like this ever does come into your life, I’m here for you. I am here for you. I don’t want you to ever be too scared to talk to me, or worry that I’m going to kick you out of the house, worry that I’m going to judge you. I am here for you. I am your parent. My job is to protect you and love you on this planet, so I am here for you.
Second, I want you to know that I care. And I may not understand about the platform, and I may not get what the latest meme is, but you’re living in a world that is exponentially harder than any of us had to deal with. If I was bullied on the playground, that was it. Now, you’re followed. You can be bullied at any time of the day or night. Somebody can take a screenshot of a mistake that you made and share it with the entire school. I feel for you, and I have a great deal of empathy for you, and I’m just here for you in this process.
I don’t know where your child’s interests are, but if she is a performer, or an artist, or that sort of thing, and she’s putting content online, I’d have this conversations about making sure she’s protected and that people who contact her aren’t doing so for nefarious purposes. If she may or may not have some issues with depression or anxiety, having those conversations around your mental health and how just being on a screen too much can impact you. That that hit of dopamine and serotonin that you get from likes and followers is not necessarily the best way to get dopamine and serotonin. And so, making sure that you’re disconnecting as a family, and then connecting with people in real life is also key.
Ray: That’s fantastic, thank you. And the last section, just a couple of questions that I always love to kind of engage with with our guest here at Bottom Line Faith. It’s kind of like I call advice and insights. So, if you had a chance to go back and sit across the table from the 20-year-old version of you, what advice would you today’s Titania give the 20-year-old Titania?
Titania: Oh my gosh!
Ray: Ain’t that a fun one? Huh? Isn’t that a fun one?
Titania: Oh my gosh. Well, it’s funny that you said 20, because at 20, I was making a lot of bad choices. So …
Ray: Okay, 21. Whatever is the best age for you to answer this. I’ll give you grace.
Titania: 20’s good. 20’s good. That’s when I needed 39-year-old me. Yeah. So, I would say get back in school, go to class every day,
Ray: Oh, we’re learning a lot here, aren’t we?
Titania: Yep, yep. Stop doing drugs. Stop drinking alcohol as much as you are. Call your mother back. Start going back to church. Be a good older sister to your sister who is in high school and needs you as a role model. Don’t place all of your value in your boyfriend at the time, who does not have your best interest in mind, and is not worthy of your time. Know that you have an innate gift and talents to offer this planet, and pour into them. Use this time that you have, use this health that you have, use your youth to take advantage of every single opportunity that you can because the world is your oyster, and you really can do anything. You can do anything. The doors will open. You can do all things, strengthens you. So, get out of your funk, wake up, life is short.
Ray: That’s a message. We need to take an offering, that’ll preach.
Ray: That is fantastic. And at what age did some of that start coming around for you?
Titania: I’d say around 22, 23.
Ray: See, that frontal lobe just had to develop, that’s all.
Titania: Really did. It really did.
Titania: Yeah. I, thankfully, took some time off from school and started. And it was that experience of watching these precious little six month old babies, and how pure they were, and how the love of life that they had, a love of learning that they had, just watching them, I realized, man, life is so much more than just this college campus, and this stupid boyfriend, and these stupid parties. There’s a whole world out there that I need to get focused on and get my act in gear and start tackling it.
So it was a gift to be able to take that time off, and get healthier both in mind and in body, and then go back, finish school with a vengeance, and then just kick butt.
Ray: Yeah. Yeah. Well, my 18-year-old daughter’s a freshman, and she’s at a secular school. And I, as a Christian father, I had great concerns about what she would be exposed to in those environments. So, maybe you could give me a piece of advice. So, she texted me, actually it was yesterday, and she says, “Dad,” and she gave me a screen capture of this thing, and she says, “Here’s what I want to do on spring break.” Now, she’s a freshman in college, so think back to your freshman. She says, “I want to go on a missions trip to Nicaragua.” What do you think I should tell her?
Titania: Oh my gosh.
Ray: And then, she asked me today if I’d go with her.
Titania: Okay. So, yes, get your vaccines. Yes, I’m coming with you because you know what I was doing spring break freshman year of college?
Ray: Do I want to know?
Titania: No. I was in Panama City Beach, and I’ll leave it at that. So yeah. Okay?
Titania: And say “yes” and you go with her.
Ray: That’s what I needed. See, God had this whole conversation arranged for both of us today, so. Well, Titania, I am so grateful for the conversation today. And for those who listen to our program regularly, they know there’s one question I ask every single guest, and I would be remiss if I didn’t ask this of you as my last question. It’s what I call my 4:23 question. It’s based out of Proverbs 4:23 where Solomon writes, “Above all else, guard your heart for it determines the course of your life.” So I’d like you to fill in the blank as your last kind of piece of advice for our audience today. Titania, what would you say to our listeners above all else?
Titania: I mean, it’s hard to top the “guard your heart” line. I mean, that’s … like, you can’t beat that. Right?
Ray: Solomon was the wisest guy ever, right?
Titania: Saying, so … But if I had to have a close second, above all else, have ongoing dialogue with your children about the tough, awkward, uncomfortable issues because it’s in the long-term journey that they will know that you can be a place to talk to them about that sort of thing. You can’t just throw it out there once and be like, “Hey, do you know what sexting is? Cool. Okay, I’m glad we had this talk. The end.” It’s a long-term thing. It starts when they’re young, and all the way up through adulthood. I mean, one of my favorite pastors, Stanley, and his wife talk about how later is longer. So, zero through 20, you’re not their friend, you’re their parent. But hopefully, 20 through forever, you can be their friend based on what you’ve done zero through 20. So, don’t be afraid to have those tough conversations, and remember that later is longer.
Ray: That is fantastic. I can’t thank you enough for being our guest today. Your son, Jackson, is a blessed man to have you as mom. Our country, this world, is blessed that God has called you, and gifted you, and positioned you to do what you’re doing. And I just want to affirm you, and I want to say thank you for not only the conversation today, but all that you’re doing to live out God’s calling on your life. Thank you.
Titania: Thank you. Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate this time and this opportunity.
Ray: Well, folks, I think you’ll agree with me what an amazing conversation. And what we’ve just learned from Titania about parenting in a digital world, that the challenges that we have as leaders at home and in the marketplace, and how important it is to have meaningful conversations with our kids and with those that God’s calling us to live. I really believe that if you’re like me, you’ve been challenged and encouraged today. You’ve got some great information, perhaps, some of it new, but I want to just encourage it, take the next step, go to Titania’s website that she talked about, bark.us. Join their Facebook page, which is called Parenting in a Tech World. It’s a private page there on Facebook. Get engaged in the conversation so that together we can protect our kids and help them succeed as God’s calling them forward.
So until next time, I am your host at Bottom Line Faith, Ray Hilbert, encouraging you to live out your faith every day in the marketplace. God bless. And we’ll see you next time.