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!

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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!”

Read more...

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.


Read more...

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.


Read more...

3 Simple Parenting Tips You Don’t Typically Hear

3 Simple Parenting Tips You Don’t Typically Hear

 

Jonathan McKee -at TheSource4Parents.com

As a parenting author, I’ve seen hundreds of parenting books and read countless articles. Often, they are echoing the same principles. I’m not knocking it… I’ve written numerous articles about the biggies that parents often neglect, like spending more time with your kids. But here are 3 tips you don’t typically hear:

 

1. Wanna be a good dad? Then be a good husband first.

Want your kids to feel safe, loved and valued? Then work on your marriage. We’re seeing more research emerging about one of the best predictors of cognitive success being emotional stability of the home environment. Bioengineering expert Dr. John Medina said it like this, “Do you want to know how to get your kid into Harvard? Go home and love your wife.”

It’s this simple. When our kids are young, they are searching for clues in their home to see if they are safe. “Children look to their parents and the relationship they have with each other to assess whether that’s true or not,” Medina says.

 

2. No Rules by 17 1/2

Most people would agree toddlers need a lot of guidance. If your 2-year-old starts heading for the road when a semi-truck is coming… not many dads would say, “Leave him be. He’ll learn!” At the opposite end of the spectrum, everyone knows when our teens turn 18, they can legally move out and do whatever they want. The tricky part for parents is that time in between. How much guidance and control do we assert, especially in those teenage years?

The answer is “a segue.” Start with heavy guidance and slowly segue towards less control, with a goal of “no rules by 17 1/2.” Sure, you could wait until 18… but why? Why not have them totally free while still under the safety of your shadow?

I tried this principle with my oldest daughter, starting with realistic guardrails, then giving more trust over the years, and eventually parenting our 17-year-old like an 18-year-old. She is 18-years-old and on her own now… and it’s really no big deal. She’s been making decisions for a while now.

 

3. Real Life Reality Shows

Parents are always looking for teaching moments. When real life hardships appear, don’t be scared to talk about what you experienced. If your sister is getting a divorce, ask your teenagers what they think. What can they learn from the situation?

Real life isn’t always a huge crisis. Yesterday I was driving down the road and came upon a lady trying to back her boat into a driveway… and it became quickly and painfully obvious she didn’t know how to back a trailer. Cars began lining up and honking. I pulled over, walked over to her with a smile and asked, “Would you like some help?” She happily got out of the car and let me take a crack at it. Moments like these are fun to dialogue about with your kids. Don’t lecture, just ask questions: “Why do you think people were so upset with her?” “How should people respond when they see someone struggling like that?” “What are ways we can show love to people in stressful situations?” “How could you help someone in need?”

Look for these real life discussion moments, or even watch entertainment together that springboards discussion about real life.


Read more...

Discipline Demonstrates Love

Discipline Demonstrates Love

Doug Fields -Author 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!


Read more...

5 Memorable Family Christmas Traditions

5 Memorable Family Christmas Traditions

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

 

From the silly to the sentimental, traditions create meaningful memories for your family. They provide opportunities to build your family legacy as your children grow up. But sometimes, families get in a rut with traditions, never experimenting to see if new traditions might add some new spice to your family life.

 

Christmas is a great time to try some new ideas. You just may create a new traditions that will continue for generations! Consider the following:

 

1. Start traditions with Christmas Eve/Christmas Day meals. For example, at the Burns’ home, it’s always Chinese food on Christmas Eve.

2. Try a family version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. First, decide on a friend, relative, or neighbor who will receive all of the “gifts.” Then, create a unique gift for each day of the carol, (example: five golden rings could be five glazed donuts) and place the gifts each day on the recipient’s front porch.

3. Visit a Nursing Home. There are typically a lot of lonely people living in nursing homes. These people can be especially lonely during the Christmas season. Prepare some Christmas cookies and take your family to visit nursing home residents — spreading the love of Jesus to sick or elderly people. (Be sure to check with the nursing home in advance to make sure it is okay to drop by and deliver Christmas cookies.)

4. Celebrate your family’s ethnic heritage(s). During the Christmas season, prepare a family meal(s) that celebrate your family’s ethnic heritage. This is a great way to expose your kids to your family roots — especially if you don’t regularly focus on this throughout the year.

5. Letters to Jesus. Before opening your Christmas presents, write thank-you letters to Jesus. Collect them and make them available every Christmas. Keep adding new letters annually. Here’s one rule to make this tradition work well: family members can only read the thank-you letters they have written.


Read more...

Family Ideas for Serving Others at Christmas

Family Ideas for Serving Others at Christmas

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

 

It’s recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, (Matthew 10:8) that Jesus said, “Freely you have received; freely give.” Though our lives may not always be everything we hope for them to be, God has richly blessed each one of us. One of the ways we can demonstrate that we are grateful to God for his many blessings is to help others.

Christmastime provides an opportunity for your family to roll up your sleeves and get involved in helping to meet the needs of others in your community — showing them the light and love of Christ. Here are some family ideas for reaching out and helping others during the Christmas season:

1. Donate your family’s time to help out at a food kitchen or a food bank.

2. Take your family to visit someone you know who lives at a nursing home, who lives alone, or is confined at home because of poor health.

3. Invite neighbors who don’t have plans to join your family for Christmas dinner.

4. Provide some (or all) of the Christmas dinner groceries for a needy family in your community. Take the family along to make the delivery.

5. Have your family gather winter clothes and coats that don’t fit any longer, or are no longer wanted or needed — and distribute them to homeless people in your area — or deliver them to a local shelter.

6. Make some bag lunches and take your family into the community to distribute them to homeless people in your area. (Make sure ahead of time that your local authorities allow this type of distribution.)

7. Make more Christmas treats than you need for your holiday meals. As a family, deliver extras to the neighbors or to a needy family in your area.

8. Find an elderly person in your area that could use some help at the grocery store. Better yet, invite them to your home for a special holiday meal.

9. Find a family in your area that could use some help to take care of fall yard cleanup, basic repair or weatherization around their home. Buy the needed materials and get to work as a family!

10. Invite a neighbor’s family over to your home for a simple, fun family game night.


Read more...

Adolescence: A Season of Pressure

Adolescence: A Season of pressure

Doug Fields -Author of Intentional Parenting

 

On the outside, most young people seem happy-go-lucky, but inside each adolescent is a complex network of potentially explosive pressures. Adolescents with a strong parental and social support system are the least likely to experience the painful effects of the pressures they face. When parents become aware of the typical sources of pressure that kids face, they are better able to provide their kids encouragement and support. Here are five common pressures adolescents face:

 

1. The Pressure to be Perfect. Teens repeatedly talk about their parents wanting them to be perfect, particularly in in the areas of behavior and school. No kid is perfect and when they fall short of their parents’ expectations, they feel more pressure.

2. The Pressure to Succeed. The pressure to succeed elicits the attitude that life is a perpetual performance. To fail is to feel stupid. When kids fail, they fear that others will reject them.

3. The Pressure to Conform. Kids find it extremely uncomfortable to be different from their peers; so, they work hard to fit in and be accepted by one of the subcultures on their school campus.

4. The Pressure from Body Changes. Since consistent change is part of the developing adolescent body, teenagers are in a continual state of stress over what’s happening or what’s not happening.

5. The Pressure from Emotions. Adolescence is a time of emotional development. For many teens, the strength and frequency of their emotions is much like having new emotions altogether. They are often not sure where the emotions have come from, and they are equally unsure what to do with them.

 

Pressure is simply going to be part of the adolescent experience. Learning to process pressure and stress is actually an important part of preparing kids to face the pressures and stresses of adulthood. Rather than trying to eradicate all pressure, the wise course for parents is to help kids manage and moderate the pressures they face so that they do not become overwhelmed as they journey toward adulthood.


Read more...
^