Discipline Demonstrates Love

Discipline Demonstrates Love

Doug FieldsAuthor of Intentional Parenting

At some level, most parents fear the possibility that using discipline with their kids might drive them away. Yet the reality is that discipline is needed, and (for most kids) it works.

Many kids aren’t mature enough to realize that if their parents don’t ground them; if they don’t attach consequences to actions that are outside the established boundaries, their parents are not acting in love toward them.

Healthy discipline is a sign that parents love their children. Let’s think about God for a moment. The Scriptures tell us that He disciplines us because He loves us: “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” —Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT) This passage in Proverbs ties God’s discipline to the human discipline a parent provides to his or her child, and this is how we know that discipline (provided in a healthy way) is a demonstration of love.

I believe the healthiest and most effective way to discipline teenagers is to set up consequences for violating boundaries ahead of time. When consequences are set ahead of time, you set up the dynamic where it’s not you versus your child, but rather you and your child versus the consequences. For example, if my daughter comes home late, missing her curfew, and I meet her at the door, I can tell her, “I’m so bummed that you missed your curfew and now you have to spend the next three weeks with Mom and me.”

I don’t have to get angry. I don’t have to yell. I don’t even have to raise my voice. I can actually be empathetic toward my daughter, because the reality is that we agreed to the consequence ahead of time. It’s my daughter and me against the consequence.

No teenager is ever going to go up to a parent and say, “Thank you. Thank you. I love it when you ground me!” But, loving guidelines and strong parental boundaries are a sign of love. Beyond applying consequences, your kids need you to help them process bad decisions and help guide them toward learning from the mistakes they’ve made. They need your coaching and encouragement to build confidence that they are capable of making good decisions.

Your kids are not going to ask you to ground them or bring more discipline into their lives, but they need it! Discipline is a sign of love! Just make sure you discipline in a reasonable and loving ways!


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Danger: Keep Away From Insidious Porn

Danger: Keep Away From Insidious Porn

Doug FieldsAuthor of Intentional Parenting

I was walking through the Beatitudes with my 9th grade small group, and we came across the dreaded passage from Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” After we talked about it a bit, I made what I thought was a bold statement. I said, “I’m just going to assume that all of you guys are struggling with pornography. If you’re not, that’s great! But, I’m going to start with the assumption that it’s a struggle for everyone. Let me know if it’s not a struggle.”

Every one of those guys admitted that pornography is a struggle in some way. Several made commitments to have an accountability program (XXXchurch.com) installed on their computer. A few even listed me as their accountability partner.

Pornography is insidious. Its lure is powerful and its addictive capacity is a bottomless pit. These days, with porn just a mouse click away, there’s never been greater access to this destructive evil. Everyone is vulnerable, from teens to parents to Christian leaders. One survey found that 87% of men admit to using porn in the past month. Another study set out to research the affects of porn on young men compared to those who had never viewed it. When researchers couldn’t find any young men who had not viewed porn, the study was abandoned!

When I assumed all the guys were struggling, I had hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t. Everyone is just one mouse click away. This issue isn’t going away. If we’re not talking about it with our teenagers, we’re missing great opportunities to help them. I believe the tormented boys in my small group really want to talk, they want help, they want freedom!

The Scriptures warn us (with good reason!) to flee immorality. No good thing will ever come to your life—or your kids’ lives—relationships, marriage, family, or ministry from exposure to pornography.

If you or your kids haven’t been caught in porn’s snare, wonderful! Keep doing what you are doing but know that everyone in your family is vulnerable. If you or your kids have been ensnared, let me encourage (and challenge) you: it isn’t the unpardonable sin. Do your best to flee or help your kids flee. God wants to help. Use accountability tools. Help is available. Get help. And let me tell you, as I told the guys in my small group, I know you (and your family) can win this battle. I believe in you!


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Dad, Can I Download This Song?

Dad, Can I Download This Song?

Jonathan McKee –at TheSource4Parents.com

Without a doubt, whenever someone purchases my book, Candid Confessions of An Imperfect Parent at one of my parent workshops, I always see them turn straight to Chapter 6: Dad, Can I Download This Song? Parents are looking for ways to help their kids make good media decisions, and open dialogue is the answer.

I think it’s a good sign when kids feel safe to talk with their parents freely about music. Today’s “poets” share a lot of heart and feelings in their music, and kids often resonate with the messages shared. Whether we like it or not, our kids are inundated with these messages daily. Parents are smart to respond the same way the Apostle Paul did in Acts 17, and use these messages as “springboards” for discussion.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying let your 12-year-old download all of Lil Wayne’s music as long as you talk about it. It’s okay for a parent to say, “Sorry, no.” What I’m encouraging parents to do is have the conversation. Many parents just set a weak guideline like “Don’t download anything explicit.” This legalistic morality teaches our kids, “Cuss words are the only unacceptable element in music.” Is cussing all you are worried about? What kind of content is in today’s top songs? (Take a peek for yourself—Google some of the lyrics of the non-explicit songs in the top of the Billboard Hot 100 right now.) We need to have the conversation.

Consider these 3 tips to open the doors to conversations about music:

– Make it a dialogue, not a monologue. No kid wants to hear us pontificate about all our wisdom and experience with music and entertainment media. Ask questions. Asking questions transforms our lecturing into listening. And more importantly, asking questions puts the burden of thinking on them. Ask them to explain what they hear from the song and what they think it means. Ask them how they think most young people will respond to that message.

– Don’t go on a witch-hunt looking for dirt. Approach music with an open mind. What is this song really communicating? What are young people truly taking away from this song? At the same time, realize our kids probably don’t think the lyrics affect them. Experts would disagree. The Journal PEDIATRICS spells the research out clearly, the lyrics affect young people. So approach this conversation innocently and shrewdly (here’s an example with Nicki Minaj).

– Give age appropriate trust. If your 12-year-old daughter wants to download Katy Perry’s song, This is How We Do, then have her print out the lyrics so you can look at them together and you decide. If your 15-year-old wants to download it, maybe you don’t require her to bring the lyrics to you, but ask her about the lyrics, ask her what she recommends and then you make the final decision. If your 17-year-old, however, wants to download it, talk about the song, tell her to make the choice and then tell you what she thinks of her choice a week later. This practice is often referred to as incremental independence.
 

Is the door open for these kinds of conversations in your house?


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Culture Snapshot: Teens Don’t Want to Work and don’t gain important life lessons and experience as a result

Culture Snapshot: Teens Don’t Want to Work and don’t gain important life lessons and experience as a result

HomeWord.com –HomeWord.com 

In recent years, the state of the economy has made the prospect of teens holding part-time jobs much more difficult.

Competition for jobs traditionally held by teenagers from older, more experienced workers have squeezed them out of the workforce. The numbers of working teenagers has plunged over the past decade from 44 percent in 2000 to 24 percent in 2011. And teen unemployment remains strikingly high at more than 20% (over 3 times the general unemployment rate of 6.3%).

But that’s not the entire story. A growing number of American teens don’t want to work. A report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas that analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding teen summer jobs, found that teens dropping out of the workforce represents only a small portion of those not working. Most teens are simply not choosing to work and the number of kids in this group has steadily increased.

Why? While there is little hard evidence to draw from regarding the reasons teens don’t want to work, it’s likely that some teens live overly busy lives already. Adding a part-time job only adds to the problem. Some teens, discouraged by the scarcity of jobs give up the desire to work. For others, a growing trend of parents who don’t want kids to work is likely a factor.

Whatever the reasons, teens that work formal part-time jobs reap real life lessons and experience that prepare them for adulthood. And kids who don’t work miss out on these benefits:

– Learning the dignity of work and of earning a paycheck
– Learning the value of contributing to the success of an organization
– Discovering the value of receiving a regular paycheck
– Learning discipline, responsibility, and time management
– Learning that their time and effort are valuable
– Learning important social and work skills
– Mastering skills and contributing builds confidence
– Learning how to manage money
– Those who work receive higher earnings in adult life
– Gaining experience in the real world of work

As kids journey through the adolescent years, parents should give adequate thought to how part-time teen employment can fit into an overall strategy for helping them become independent and responsible adults.


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Culture Snapshot: Benefits of Teen Drinking Don’t Outweigh the Dangers

Culture Snapshot: Benefits of Teen Drinking Don’t Outweigh the Dangers

HomeWord.com –HomeWord.com

A Purdue University study found that teen girls might benefit from having a few beers with friends. Really. Before we dismiss the notion as crazy, it’s important to note that research does not often deal with morals and values, but with behaviors their effects, and their causes.

In this case, the researchers reached their conclusion noting that teen girls who occasionally had a few beers with friends were less depressed because of their ability to “blow off steam, get together, have fun, and joke around with their peers.”

On face value, teen drinking is largely a social behavior. Not many occasional teen drinkers are pounding beers by themselves.

But the study was unclear as to the role the beer drinking played. Could it be that the social interaction itself — the blowing off steam, getting together, having fun, and joking around with peers –was the cause of the benefits? Frankly, it is likely that the beer drinking only provided the context for the social interaction to take place between teens. Perhaps the important (but lost) finding was that social interaction among teens reduces depression.

Let’s be clear: teen drinking –whatever the context — is far more dangerous than any perceived benefits might imply.

Studies have shown that teen drinking can lead to dangerous consequences, such as driving while drinking, alcohol poisoning, and sexual abuses. Occasional drinking for teens can also lead to heavier drinking, drunkenness, alcoholism, and other at-risk behaviors.

Yes, there’s a good possibility that your teenager will experiment with alcohol before he or she graduates from high school, but hang in there. Stay the course in setting clear expectations and consequences for drinking. Helping your kids make wise choices regarding alcohol is the best course of action.

And when it comes to social interaction among teens, yes, there are some great benefits in providing kids with opportunities to be kids: to blow off steam, have fun, and joke around with peers. But surely you can help them to identify and choose better options than drinking beer.


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Culture Snapshot: E-Cigarette Use by Teens on the Rise

Culture Snapshot: E-Cigarette Use by Teens on the Rise

HomeWord.comHomeWord.com

While teen cigarette use has declined by half since 2000, parents should be aware that three studies released in the fall of 2014 point to a significant rise in e-cigarette use by teenagers.

An e-cigarette is a device that turns nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals into an inhalable vapor. Many e-cigarettes are designed to resemble tobacco cigarettes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 12% of high school students and 3% of middle school students have tried e-cigarettes at least once, and 4.5% of high school students use them regularly. The 2014 Monitoring the Future survey raises more red flags, finding that 8.7% of eighth grade students had used an e-cigarette in the previous month. The numbers for previous month use by 10th graders was 16.2%, and for 12th graders, it was 17.1%. Finally, a study of 1,900 ninth and tenth grade teens in Hawaii found that 29% of these had used e-cigarettes.

 

Why it matters:
– Adolescence is a season of experimentation for teenagers. With the rise of popularity in e-cigarette use by teens, it’s likely that teens will face increasing temptation to experiment with them. A teen’s closest friends are extremely influential during these years of experimentation. Parents should be proactive to know their child’s friends, as these provide a window of understanding into your teen’s values, behaviors, and temptations.

– Nicotine is an extremely addictive drug, and one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States. It activates brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure and provides the body with a “reward” sensation. Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes are nicotine delivery devices.

– Currently e-cigarette manufacturers are unregulated in the U.S., and many e-cigarette products are made outside of the country. Because of the variety of manufacturers and products, it has been very difficult to determine what chemicals other than nicotine are contained in e-cigarette vapor. These chemicals may or may not be harmful to the human body.

– E-cigarette use may or may not be a better alternative than smoking tobacco. Science is clear on the dangers of cigarette smoking to health but has not yet determined the scope of risks found in e-cigarette use. Research has not yet determined whether e-cigarette use is a gateway to smoking tobacco.


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Culture Snapshot

Culture Snapshot: Today’s Marijuana 3X More Potent Than When You Were a Teen

HomeWord.com –HomeWord.com

Today’s marijuana is not the same weed that was available when your generation was growing up as teenagers. These days, marijuana carries a much bigger punch.

A new study released in March 2015 found that marijuana today is up to three times more powerful than back in the 1980s.

The research was conducted in Colorado using more than 600 legal marijuana samples provided by recreational retail merchants. Results of the study found that the test samples contained quantities of the chemical that makes people “high” – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) –of between 20% and 30%. By contrast, the THC levels from marijuana samples tested during the 1980s were all under 10%.

Why the big uptick in the levels of THC in marijuana? The researchers pointed to pot growers crossbreeding different marijuana strains – as users have demanded stronger marijuana — for the cause of the increase.

Why it matters:

– Cultural acceptance of recreational marijuana use (and specifically within youth culture) is on the rise. Parents should assume that their teenagers will be exposed to marijuana use.

– Teens might be aware of the increase of marijuana potency, but likely do not have any realistic perspective of what more powerful pot means, especially for those teens who have never experimented with marijuana before.

– Parents should take the initiative to discuss marijuana use with their teenagers, to gain insight into the prevailing attitudes and behaviors concerning marijuana among their teen’s peers and friends, and to set clear expectations and consequences regarding experimentation and use by their kids.


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Culture Snapshot: Parents Influence Teen Sleep Habits

Culture Snapshot: Parents Influence Teen Sleep Habits

HomeWord.com

A recent study by researchers at UCLA and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that teenagers’ sleeping habits are highly influenced by their parents. Although teens and parents often went to bed and got up at different times, the duration of sleep, general bedtimes and wake up times for both were eerily similar — with teens only averaging 17 minutes more of sleep than their parents on weekdays.

The study followed over 300 pairs of teens and parents for nearly two years, with researchers tracking the daily activities and sleep habits of the participants.

With the results of the study in mind, parents should evaluate their own sleeping habits, and make changes where necessary in order to role model behaviors that may result in improved sleeping habits by their teens.

 

Why it matters:
– Today’s teens are notorious for not getting adequate sleep. A recent study found that in 2012, just 63% of 15-year-olds reported getting seven or more hours of sleep a night, a figure that is down from 72% in 1991.

– Researchers have linked the lack of adequate sleep for teens to a multitude of substantial adolescent problems including decreased level of overall health, poorer school performance, an increase in depression, and an increase in the likelihood of involvement in at-risk behaviors.

– In February of 2015, the National Sleep Foundation released updated recommendations on the amount of sleep teens and adult should get nightly. The updated recommendations were based on a review of published scientific studies and consensus from a panel of sleep, medical and psychological experts. The new recommendation for teens is 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, and 7 to 9 hours for adults.


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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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