Creating a Media-Safe Home

Creating a Media-Safe Home

Jim Burns –President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University

For better or worse, media has a powerful influence in our kids’ lives! Today’s media sends nonstop communication, delivering its voice through television, movies, Internet, music, magazines, books, computers, smartphones, tablets, and more. Frankly, it is impossible for parents to have control over every message that is being sent to our kids.

Because parents can’t control all of their kids’ media consumption, some feel lost, hopeless, or paralyzed when facing today’s technology and media. We may complain, but it is time for us to quit whining, and do something. Don’t give up. Don’t bail out. There are things we can do and environments we can foster to create a media-safe home.

Watch, Listen, and Read. Creating a media-safe home requires that you become a student of the culture. The easiest way to get a handle on what media your kids are consuming is to watch what they watch, listen to what they listen to, and read what they read. Look for every opportunity to ask and learn from your kids.

Evaluate. Evaluate everything you see and hear with your kids. When you evaluate, don’t just play the bad-guy role. At times, this will likely be necessary, but also tell your kids what you like and why, and help them learn to discern what they are putting into their minds.

Examine Your Own Behavior. Too many parents want their kids to make good media choices but aren’t willing to discipline themselves. Remember the old adage: Children see, children do. Set the example you want your kids to follow.

Discuss and Listen; Don’t Lecture. Anytime we can truly dialog with our kids about media use and influence, it is better than any lecture or sermon we could ever deliver to them. Ultimately, you may choose to disagree with your kids’ opinions but they will at least feel you were willing to listen.

Develop Clear Expectations. Work together with your teens to come up with clearly expressed expectations about media consumption and use of the devices that deliver media. As technology changes rapidly, you’ll need to revisit the expectations from time to time to keep them relevant and current.


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Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers

Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers

Jim Burns (Review by Jake Kircher) –President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University

The teenage years can be some of the most stressful times in a child’s life as they try to figure out their identity and begin making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. It would be very easy to argue that although the time is stressful for the child, it is probably even more stressful and frustrating for parents.

Although there are a number of resources available for parents about raising teenagers, Jim Burn’s book Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers definitely rises to the top. From his years of working with and studying adolescents, coupled with the years he spent navigating his own children through their teenage years, Teenology provides some fantastic insights, wisdom and advice communicated in a straightforward, easy-to-apply format.

Tackling a wide variety of issues that arise during the teenage years, Burns covers issues such as the developmental stages of adolescence, correcting behavior and teaching healthy sexuality. Beyond the larger issues of teenage development and parenting advice, the second half of the book provides a fantastic and direct look into specific problems many teens face.


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Celebrate Your Family Identity

Celebrate Your Family Identity

Jim BurnsPresident of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University
On Monday nights when our girls were growing up, Cathy and I would take them to the Golden Spoon for frozen yogurt after dinner. The weekly yogurt run was part of our family identity — part of what made us who we were. Even the neighbors knew our routine and sometimes shouted to-go orders as we pulled out of our driveway. Our three daughters are now grown, but when our family gets together, we still make trips to the Golden Spoon. It’s one of those simple traditions that have kept our family bonds strong.
 
Not surprisingly, a strong family identity also helps children develop a strong and healthy self-identity. Knowing what makes their family unique — traditions, values, and ways of relating to one another — gives children a clear starting point for discovering their own place in the world. Studies have shown that kids who identify with their family’s values tend to be less promiscuous and face less risk of drug and alcohol abuse.
 
I’m a big fan of parents who make the effort to build a strong family identity. But how is it done? Here are three principles that I believe are critical to the process.
 
1. Be present. Children regard your presence in their lives as a sign of care and connectedness. Families who eat meals together, play together, and build traditions together thrive. Your presence matters! Does your family eat together at least four times a week? If so, there is a greater chance your kids will perform better in school and be less likely to exhibit negative behavior.
2. Celebrate everything! Don’t miss a single chance to celebrate your family. You can celebrate birthdays, graduations, and other rites of passage, but don’t miss out on celebrating life’s smaller occasions such as Little League victories, learned skills, and school achievements.
3. Talk about faith. For some families, spiritual discussions are easier said than done. But having faith conversations with your kids helps to build your family identity. They also help your kids build strong convictions, as they get older. When you regularly expose your kids to God’s truth, it can, as a friend of mine says, “help them develop a sweet tooth for Jesus.” And that’s something far better than buying your kids frozen yogurt at the Golden Spoon.

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Be A Jesus Coach For Your Kids

 

Be a Jesus Coach for Your Kids

Doug FieldsAuthor of Intentional Parenting

When I first began mountain biking, I quickly found it was not like the type of bike riding I did when I was a kid. It’s not “jump on the bike and ride all day.” It’s much different! There are so many moving parts like front and back sprockets, brake levers, and multiple shifting systems. Add to this the extreme terrain, and it gets very confusing. Today, I own most of the gear that is “required” for the sport. Basically, I have everything needed except for…the needed skills and the personal coaching. On a recent ride I began to think about how little I know about this sport. I really need a coach/mentor. I have so many technical questions. I’m not always sure when is the best time to shift on different slopes. I have front shocks that need to be adjusted based on the terrain and I don’t have the slightest idea what to do. My list of “how to” questions could fill pages. As I was riding and thinking about my need for a mountain bike coach/mentor, I began to think about the teenagers in our homes and the process of faith development. What are we doing with all their questions about following Christ? Do we even know the questions they’re asking (or not asking)? Or, do we assume they’ll catch everything about Jesus as they begin their “ride with him”? Much like I need a riding coach, teenagers need a “Jesus coach.” While mountain biking is much more complex than “jump on a bike”…so following Jesus is much more complex than a simple “go to church.” Could it be that we, as parents, have become good at getting kids involved at church…but we’re not so good at coaching them on how to walk with Jesus? I fear that if they don’t know how to walk with Jesus, when they graduate from high school and go on to college and their adult lives, they will also graduate away from church and perhaps even Jesus.

Some questions:
(1) Do your kids know that you want to coach them in the ways of Jesus?
(2) Do they know they can ask simple questions and have a confidence that you will care enough not to laugh at their questions?
(3) Do they know that in you, they have someone to “ride with” even though they struggle and occasionally fall?

 

Jesus spent most of his time with the few, pouring into their lives. I’d like to suggest that your “few” are living within the walls of your home. They don’t need to be told to “go to church,” they need you: a coaching, listening, loving, and caring you.

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Adolescent Research: Update on Teen Athletes and Concussions

Adolescent Research: Update on Teen Athletes and Concussions

Jim Liebelt for HomeWord.com –

In recent years there has been a considerable focus on the dangers and consequences of concussions, particularly those associated with athletics. While much of the spotlight has fallen on professional sports and athletes, plenty of information has also been revealed about teen sports and concussions. A recently released study by data examiners at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of over 900,000 medical claims found that concussion diagnoses for patients between the ages of 10 and 19 rose by 71% from 2010 to 2015.

Two new studies published in 2017 have revealed several new findings:
• A longitudinal study among men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957 found that on average, there was no statistical or clinical harmful association between playing high school football and cognitive impairment or depression in later life. As most high school football athletes do not go on to play college or professional football, these findings may serve to alleviate some parents’ concerns over whether they should allow their kids to play high school football.
• A Canadian study has reported that for college athletes participating in high contact and collision sports, participants did show altered brain structure and function (via brain scans), but that participants did not report impairment in day-to-day functioning. The researchers remained concerned about the cumulative effects of repeated head impacts over time.

From other recent research, here are some of the findings when it comes to teens and concussions:

  • Concussions are the most common injury among teen athletes.
    • Teenage brains are particularly vulnerable to concussions.
    • Teen athletes may hesitate to report concussion symptoms.
    • Teen concussions increase risk for depression.
    • Teenage concussions can produce negative effects on academic performance.
    • Teenage concussions can result in persistent attention and memory problems for up to a year.
    • Kids with a history of previous concussions take longer to recover.
    • Second concussions can be devastating to teens.

What Can Parents Do?
• Parents should become familiar with the signs and symptoms of concussions (Google these!).
• If your teenager has suffered a concussion, seek medical attention right away.
• If your teenager has had a recent concussion, take the initiative to ensure that he/she takes the needed time to heal. Consult with your health provider and follow instructions for your teen’s recovery. Limiting exercise and activities that require concentration is typically part of the recovery process.
• Consult school officials to develop an appropriate plan before your teenager returns to school.
• Consult with coaches to develop an appropriate timetable for your teen’s safe and healthy reentry back into the sport.
• If the sport in which your teenager suffered a concussion is particularly prone to multiple concussions, by all means, consider whether or not your teen should continue participating in the sport. Investigate the current state of available protective measures and the concussion protocols taken by coaches and team staff. Reevaluate the risks and rewards of participation. Be sure to include your teen in this process.
• Have a conversation with your teen about any previous concussion symptoms she or he may have had experienced in prior seasons or sports, and about the importance of reporting all concussion symptoms in the future.


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Be a AAA Parent

Be a AAA Parent

Doug FieldsAuthor of Intentional Parenting
When I’m asked about what parents can do everyday (besides praying) that can make a huge difference in their kids’ lives, I tell them three things that can make them “AAA Parents.”
  • Affection. Everyone needs affection to thrive, but kids want affection from their parents. I’m convinced that one of reasons teenagers are so sexually promiscuous (especially girls) is because they lack affection from the significant male figure in their life. My parents were great, but they weren’t overly affectionate, so I chose to change the script in how I parented. I pour affection on my kids through hugs, back rubs, and snuggling during TV time.
  • Affirmation. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on one good compliment.” Unfortunately, many kids go two months without any genuine affirmation from their parents. Through their words parents yield so much power to shape their kids. Imagine your child has a bank account and each encouragement, affirmation, positive comment, intentional and personal word of kindness is a deposit of a penny to their account. Each negative comment is like withdrawing a quarter. How is your child’s bank account doing?
  • Attention. Simply stated, this means parents need to focus and engage on what’s happening in their kids’ lives. Giving kids attention means more than popping by their bedroom and waving goodnight — it means tucking them in. It means more than asking how their day went — it means asking and really listening to the answer and then asking more questions. It means more than making sure they get homework done — it means helping and coaching in a way that they feel confident and empowered. Kids need to feel that they matter to their parents!
 
Parenting isn’t easy. Intentional parenting is even more difficult, but the rewards your child will reap through affection, affirmation and attention are worth the difficulty it takes for parents to make these into daily habits!

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Bad Fad: Fire Challenge

Bad Fad: Fire Challenge

HomeWord.com
This summer while many people have taken the “Ice-Bucket Challenge” to raise money for ALS research, another fad has been trending among teenagers, but this one is simply disturbing and dangerous. It’s called the Fire Challenge. A quick YouTube search for the phrase “fire challenge” turns up tens of thousands of videos. In the videos, teens apply flammable liquid (hand sanitizer, nail polish remover, and lighter fluid are popular choices) to their bare skin and then light themselves afire with a lighter or match. They try to quickly douse the flames before they can be hurt, but some teens have not been quick enough and have suffered burns. Some burns have been severe, and one New York teen died from his injuries.
 
The obvious question is, Why would teenagers want to light themselves on fire? A simple, common sense answer would seem to be, No one would be that stupid, on purpose. Yet, in the world of adolescence, not much is simple and common sense does not always carry the day. Science tells us that teen brains are wired for thrill seeking and risk-taking. To this, add the component of peer pressure plus teens’ desires for affirmation and fame delivered through viral social media, and the Fire Challenge trend was born. The Fire Challenge is one seriously bad fad. Setting oneself on fire is always a bad idea. A sixteen-year-old male performed the challenge and ended up burning his waist and neck. He posted new videos of his burns as a warning to others. “I can’t really say nothing else besides it was a dumb idea,” he said.
 
Talking Points for Discussion Between Parents and Teens:
– Ask your teens if they know any friends or peers who have taken the fire challenge.
– Ask your teens if they have seen any Fire Challenge videos online. If they have, ask them about what they think about what they’ve seen.
– Talk about the role peer pressure plays in tempting kids to take risks.
– Talk about the role that seeking validation from others plays when teens post videos like these to social media sites.
– Some have suggested that taking the Fire Challenge is a way for a generation of bored teens to experience thrills. Ask your kids if they agree or disagree and why.

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Backtalking to Mom Should Be Rewarded

Backtalking to Mom Should Be Rewarded

Jonathan McKeeTheSource4Parents.com
“I thought I told you to clean your room.” “You did tell me that, and here’s why I didn’t…” How many of you are already taking off your belt to teach this kid a thing or two? At first glance, this kind of talk from your kids might seem disrespectful, or as some of us call it, “backtalk.” But what if I told you, allowing this kind of talk can not only open doors for healthy conversations, but it can help your kids learn to say ‘no’ to drugs or alcohol.
 
Don’t worry, I’m not advocating letting our kids disrespect their parents. I’m advocating allowing our kids to respectfully speak their minds. Kids who can calm and confidently disagree with their parents are actually 40 percent more likely to say ‘no’ to drugs or alcohol than kids who didn’t argue.
 
Sound crazy? The study was done by the University of Virginia and they published their findings in the journal, Child Development. Dr. Joseph P. Allen studied 157 13-year-olds, opening conversations about conflict in the home and noting which parents actually wanted to talk with their kids about disagreements. The parents who allowed their kids to dialogue with them gave their kids practice handling disagreements.
 
When Allen interviewed the teens again at ages 15 and 16, he found “The teens who learned to be calm and confident and persuasive with their parents acted the same way when they were with their peers.” In fact, they were 40 percent more likely to say ‘no’ when offered alcohol or drugs than kids who didn’t argue with their parents.
 
One of the biggest complaints I hear from teenagers is that their parents don’t listen.
 
“I thought I told you to clean your room.” “You did tell me that, and here’s why I didn’t do it yet. You also told me to feed the dog and finish studying for my SAT test. Molly looked hungry, so I fed her first. Then I went straight to studying because I figured that was the most important. When I finish studying in about 15 minutes, I’ll get straight to cleaning my room. Is that okay?
 
Let’s be realistic. This probably doesn’t happen too often. Usually our kids come up with a lame excuse that has something to do with their phone and the need to talk with a friend. The temptation to overreact is strong here, and sometimes we probably convince ourselves that yelling just works better, but wouldn’t it be better to keep the channels of communication open? Besides, when we give our kids the gift of letting them be heard, we can do one better than just getting them to clean their room… we can teach them to articulate themselves and stand up for what they believe.
 
Who would have guessed that effective arguing with mom and dad provided kids with the experience needed to resist negative peer pressure. That probably makes a lot of us think twice about simply responding, “Just shut up and clean your room!”

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Social Media 101: Teens and Social Media Use

Social Media 101: Teens and Social Media Use

 

HomeWord.com

The broad reach of teen social networking According to Pew Internet & American Life Project’s “Report on Teens, Social Media, and Privacy,” released in May 2013, fully 95% of kids ages 12-17 use the Internet. Eighty-one percent of online teens use some form of social media. Sixty-seven percent of teen social media users visit social sites daily, and 42% visit several times a day.

 

Facebook is still the #1 social network for teens, but it’s fading While 94% of teen social media users say they have a Facebook profile, and 81% say that Facebook is social site they use most often, it appears that Facebook’s teen appeal is fading. According to the Pew report, “Many teens expressed a waning enthusiasm for Facebook.” Teens complain of too many adults on the site, advertising, and too much drama interacting with friends.

 

Teen Twitter use is increasing significantly Teens largely ignored Twitter when it first appeared and those who used it found it chiefly as a way to stay current with celebrities. In 2009, only 8% of teens used Twitter. Today, the number of teens using Twitter has increased to 24%.

 

Why teens are migrating to Twitter The reasoning starts with fewer adults on Twitter than Facebook. While 67% of online adults have Facebook profiles, only 16% are on Twitter. Further, Twitter’s platform and character limit (140 characters) allows kids to express their thoughts, feelings, and what they are doing without the drama that Facebook’s platform of longer posts, endless comments, and “likes” allows.

 

Advice for parents who allow kids to use Facebook and Twitter

1. Set the expectation that you will friend (Facebook) or Follow (Twitter) your teenager on their social media account. This requires you to establish your own Facebook and Twitter accounts.

2. Facebook: Use profile privacy settings to limit who can access your teen’s content.

3. Twitter: Set Tweet privacy setting to “Protect my Tweets.” This requires your teen to approve everyone who follows them, and then only displays tweets to those who have been approved. Without taking this step, anyone can follow your teen, and all tweets are available to the public. Make sure your teen approves you as a follower.


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ABC’s of Homework

ABC’s of Homework

Jim Burns -President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University

 

For many families, homework is the number one source of conflict between parents and their kids. When kids won’t do their homework or the quality of work is poor, the sparks begin to fly.

I interviewed the acclaimed parenting expert, author and columnist, John Rosemond, about what he believes parents should do regarding the issue of homework, and he outlined his ABC’s:

 

A. All By Myself. Children ought to do their homework in a private, personal area — not a high-traffic or family area like the kitchen. Insisting on a private area for homework tells your children that homework is their responsibility. As we help our kids move from dependence on us to becoming independent — a private area allows them to function and complete tasks by themselves.

 

B. Back Off. Backing off means refusing to give children help with homework unless absolutely necessary. Although this is often difficult for parents, they need to realize that when children say, “I need help,” it doesn’t actually mean they do. According to Rosemond, when kids ask for help, about 80% of the time they are looking for mom or dad to solve a problem or bail them out of a situation that has frustrated them. When parents jump in to fix or bail out, they confirm for their children that they indeed were unable to solve the problem themselves. Backing off while supporting and encouraging your kids is the way to go. Even if kids fail, they will learn important life lessons.

 

C. Call It Quits. Rosemond suggests that parents set a time deadline when homework must be completed for the day, whether or not all assignments have been finished. When deadlines are set and kept, kids will begin to learn to manage their time more effectively.

 

These ABC’s are nothing more than the approach to homework that most parents used 50 years ago. They might go against some popular thinking today, but they emphasize the development of self-discipline, responsibility, and the resourcefulness kids will need to become self-reliant and functioning adults.


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