Archives for February 2013

Intentional Parenting with David Thomas – Q&A and Giveaway!

Q&A with David Thomas, author of Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for Planes (Thomas Nelson, March 2013).

David wrote Intentional Parenting with Sissy Goff and Melissa Trevathan, who all three are on staff of Daystar Counseling Ministries in Nashville, TN. Daystar is a not-for-profit ministry offering both individual and group counseling for children, adolescents, families, and young adults.

Q: How would you define being an intentional parent?

First, let us tell you what intentional parenting is not. Reactive. It is essential to parent out of love instead of parenting out of fear. When we parent out of fear, our kids never get the best of us, the most of us, or even what they really need from us. Parenting out of fear is a reactive form of parenting.

We’d love to invite you into more proactive parenting—thoughtful, intentional, strategic, and wise parenting. Or more active parenting—responsive, engaged, invested, connected parenting. It’s difficult to parent out of love when we are simply reacting to everything going on around us. We are postured to react rather than respond.

We always have options. Sometimes we choose fear over love. Sometimes we choose love over fear. You will continue to hear us invite you to extend grace to yourself in the journey of parenting. You are going to make mistakes. God can redeem the mistakes we make in parenting. He extends grace to us so that we can then extend grace and mercy to our children. Receive the grace and mercy that is available to you. And then do that thing we teach our kids to do when they fall off their bikes while learning to ride: get back up, dust yourself off, and try again.

Being an intentional parent means I get back on the bike and learn from the mistake I made last time around.

 

Q: What does play have to do with parenting?

Play has purpose for you and your kids. When we speak to parents, we talk about the need for every child to feel enjoyed by their parents. Every child needs time with their mom and dad that is not spent instructing, coaching, teaching, or even exhorting … just plain play together. It helps build a child’s confidence and increases the bond between you.

As a side note, we’re not only talking about watching your children play, although that’s important too. Kids want an audience, and it’s easy to think (especially after a hard day’s work) that by watching them play, you are entering in. You can watch them play tennis and dive off diving boards, but they also want you to jump in and get a little wet right alongside them.

At camp, the kids will beg the adult counselors to get in the lake with them. I cannot even begin to count the number of kids who have said to me, “My mom won’t swim with us. She doesn’t like to get her hair wet. Or, my dad comes to the lake with us, but he spends a lot of time on his phone because it’s hard for him to get away from work.”

Dive in. Get your hair wet. Get on the floor and play a board game. Laugh. Enjoy your children by playing with them. And then save a little time to play without them, as well.

kid / vancouver, BC, CANADA
source: Ces’t June

Q: What role does hope play in parenting?

Your child will place his or her hope in a lot of things over the years—new friends, parts in plays, winning football teams, homecoming dates, SAT scores. And when those things fall through, discouragement will follow. Your encouragement, in those times, is invaluable. A middle school girl said that her mom puts a new Scripture on her mirror every day … just to encourage her. A high schooler said recently how much it means when she knows her mom is praying specifically for her and for what she’s facing that day. The encouragement of these moms is a genuine expression of their hope. When your encouragement rises out of that place, it has more impact than you can imagine.

In all of the complexities of growing up today, children and teens need hope. They need life and healing and relationship with you, as their parent. And they need you to offer these things out of the overflow of your heart. Encouragement is not just the words you say. It’s not just the truth and hope that you offer. It’s the way you live His truth and His hope out. Sensitivity to your child’s heart and confidence in God as your protector, provider, and redeemer is what truly encourages. You offer hope as you point your children toward Christ.

Want to win a copy of Intentional Parenting? We have 5 copies to give away to readers this week! Just enter using Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Getting Financially Fit by William Summey

My wife and I launched into the new year with a renewed effort to get organized and also updated technologically with our budget. We started searching for new apps and soon landed on the Crown Financial site. I had purchased their Money Map software several years ago and was pleased to see that they had a new online Mvelopes tool for online envelope budgeting. We began their free trial and knew this was for us. We entered in our account information, income, set up a budget, and funded envelopes according to that budget. We have access through the Mvelopes app to record every purchase wherever we are to keep track of our monthly spending. We love it!

It is easy to get started but comes with many tools to help. There are great videos about managing your money and a helpful debt center. There is even opportunity to sign up for personal coaching for advice and your personal questions. We wholeheartedly recommend Mvelopes to everyone!

Check out Crown’s site for their great financial information and resources from a Christian perspective and Mvelopes in particular for their great money management app.

What are some other apps you have found helpful to manage your money?

A Gift of Joy by Ellen Stumbo

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source: Tulane Publications

She claps her hands, smiles, and her eyes sparkle with excitement.

“Mom! Daddy!” she says, inviting us to clap along with her.

It doesn’t matter what we are doing, every time, every single time we find her joy irresistible. So we clap with her. In her excitement, she takes a bow and laughs. So we cheer for her and clap some more.

When her movies finish, as the credits roll and the fun music plays, we go through this routine. Sometimes I wonder if she thinks, “That was a great show, it was fun, I really enjoyed it. I feel so happy I cannot contain myself, I need to clap, cheer, and invite others to join me in this moment of joy.”

My daughter might face extra challenges because she has Down syndrome, but her ability to enjoy life and celebrate every day moments surpasses the ability I have to do the same. So she stands before me clapping, smiling, with joy radiating from her little body and I can feel that joy and excitement.

She gifts her enthusiasm about life, and it is contagious.

I sometimes hear people question if people with Down syndrome or other disabilities are contributing members to society. Maybe once I wondered the same thing. But I know better now. While their contributions might not include being doctors, scientist, or teachers, their contributions pierce through the very essence of what makes us human: love, joy, kindness, compassion, understanding, and complete acceptance. Contributions that have already touched my heart and changed my life.

So I clap and celebrate when the Barbie show is over. I delight in the little girl that takes a bow, and sometimes I bow with her too, a sign of thankfulness for the joy she brings into my life. The gratitude I have that God chose me to be her mother.

Ellen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

10 Tips for Bullying Prevention in Schools

Cary Woods Elementary School playgorund
source: VickyvS

Bullying is an issue that schools around the country are paying attention to. It’s one that is leaving many seats in the classrooms empty each day. In fact, it’s estimated that, around the country, roughly 160,000 students stay home each day because they fear bullying. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that schools can do in order to help successfully prevent and address the issue on their campus.

 

  • Focus on prevention. When you begin working on bullying as a school-wide issue, place the emphasis more on preventing it so that it is not as big of a problem to begin with.
  • Establish a committee. Create a task force at the school to focus on bullying. That committee should include members from staff, teachers, parents, and students. Together, they can work together and have their input considered.
  • Create a plan. Within the committee, work together to create a bully-prevention plan for the school. Include what the consequences will be if people are found to be bullying others.
  • Start early. It is never too early to start working with children about treating others with kindness, respect, and acceptance. Start at the earliest grade that the school has, leaving no children out of the plan.
  • Keep it going. As children work their way through the school, advancing to the next grade, reinforce the bully-prevention message. They need to hear the message every year, as opposed to it being given to them only once.
  • Think multiple methods. Children learn in different manners. Some learn by listening, others learn by hands-on projects, and still others learn by watching. Try to incorporate multiple ways to get the bully-prevention message across to students. Include things like books, plays, games, movies, and more.
  • Encourage peer advocacy. When students go from being bystanders to being “upstanders,” attempts to address bullying will be more successful. Students should be taught to stand up for other students.
  • Teach what to do. Even though the focus should mainly be on bullying prevention, students still need to know what to do if it happens to them. Teach them acceptable ways to handle bullying if they do encounter it.
  • Work with parents. Parents want a bully-free school as much as teachers, staff, and students do. Nobody wants their child to come home in tears after a day of being bullied. Get the parents involved in the bully prevention effort in order to make it more successful.
  • Evaluate and adjust. Once or twice per year, give the students an anonymous survey to fill out, where they can answer questions about bullying on the school campus. This will provide a look at how the students feel about the school atmosphere, and will give staff the chance to see if the bully-free plans need to be re-evaluated.

“Schools want those children in their seats every day, rather than avoiding school out of fear,” explains Karen Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with parents and families. “When schools make bullying a priority and take real steps to help prevent and address bullying, everyone is better off. It takes some dedication and focus, but a successful program can be created and implemented.”

See also: Linda Mintle’s response to parents of children who are being bullied.

Friday Links 2/22

 

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

MyGym Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Back in 1983, a Los Angeles couple and their close friends saw the need for a place where parents can bring their kids for a different kind of experience. A place where, instead of pinball machines and video games, they would be introduced to a world of fun – and fitness. Thirty years later, My Gym Children’s Fitness Centers are community cornerstones throughout North America and the world – and the millions of children who were early members are now parents with kids of their own discovering just how cool being active and healthy can be.

Featuring, a unique, innovative and ever-changing fitness program for kids, My Gym has been at the forefront of providing the best fun place for kids to remain active, while successfully combating statistics that estimate nearly 16% of children and adolescents aged 2-12 years are overweight – and even more are at risk of becoming overweight.

At My Gym, children keep fit, and families grow closer through introductory sports and gymnastics, games, original music and specially-crafted play and socialization activities led by caring and committed My Gym trainers. The result is good health, laughter and learning, and a lifelong love of fitness and activity.

Throughout 2013, My Gym locations across North America will celebrate thirty years of providing fitness and fun to families by offering money saving discounts on classes, conducting a search to crown My Gym’s Fit & Healthy Family, encouraging families committed to an active lifestyle to “show off’ and share their own fitness and health tips with the world and, in August, participating My Gym locations will be throwing themselves 30th Birthday Party Open House celebrations inviting all families to attend for free!

“This is an exciting year for My Gym, as we celebrate turning thirty years young. Thirty years have taught us how vital an active lifestyle truly is, and that there is no substitute for the rewards of keeping fit as a family. We look forward to expanding our message of fun and fitness to families throughout the world all year long, to sharing their great ideas on how to be healthy and active. Through our money saving offers and Birthday Party Open House Celebration, our goal is to introduce the magic of My Gym to new family members,” said Cory Bertisch, CEO of My Gym Children’s Fitness Center.

Have you ever been to a MyGym?

Early Autism Detection: What Do Parents Need to Know?

Most doctors believe that autism can’t be detected until around age two and a half or three when the obvious withdrawn or delayed symptoms are visible. However, researchers and experts are beginning to observe symptoms at an earlier age, and possibly even as early as six months of age. Autism expert and co-founder of the Brain Balance Achievement Centers, Dr. Robert Melillo, believes there is much that can be done to stop and correct the problem when spotted at an earlier age.

Researchers have found developmental milestones to be very critical to neurological disorders. “Milestones signal that the brain is developing normally. If an infant or toddler is having a problem with motor progression, then they most likely are developing other issues, including digestion problems and immune and hormone imbalances,” says Dr. Melillo. “The best and earliest way to spot if something might be amiss is by tracking your baby’s primitive reflexes.”

As the basic necessities a newborn needs for survival, primitive reflexes give babies the instinct to breathe, feed when hungry, and squirm and cry when uncomfortable. They pave the way for early development and milestones, including rolling over at three to five months. Primitive reflexes develop in the womb and if they are faulty may result in a difficult birth, in such cases, an early brain imbalance may be present.

In babies, muscle movement prompts genes to build the brain and grow the neurons and connections that advance a newborn from one milestone to the next. The new connections inhibit primitive reflexes and set the stage for more complex movements.

“If a child doesn’t stimulate genes to build the brain, primitive reflexes remain and the brain doesn’t develop in an orderly fashion,” continues Dr. Melillo. “Children cannot leapfrog milestones, it results in the missed construction of an important skill and you can’t activate it later on.” According to Dr. Melillo, depending on how the imbalance unfolds – if step after step is missed – it could result in autism or any other neurological condition.

In his newly available book Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders and What Parents Can Do Now, Dr. Melillo discusses ways for parents to test for primitive reflexes in babies and how to monitor to make sure development is on track.

Are You Ratings-Ready? Comic Book Edition by Mike Nappa

laptop_computer_0515-0909-2120-0444_SMU photo laptop_computer_0515-0909-2120-0444_SMU.jpg

Ever wonder how comic books are rated for content—or if they’re even rated at all? Wonder no more! Here’s what you need to know.

 

Are Comic Books Rated?

Well, yes and no.

With the demise of the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval (1954-2011) there is no longer any semi-independent body issuing ratings or approvals for comics. However, most individual comics companies offer parents some sort of rating system to help them find books appropriate for their kids. The ratings are generally featured on the cover, next to the UPC code.

 

How Does Marvel Comics Rate Their Books?

According to Marvel’s editor in chief, Axel Alonso, “Not all comics are intended for kids–which is why we label our comics for their intended audience. That said, most of our content is PG-rated material aimed at a multiplex audience.”

Here are the specific ratings you’ll find on a Marvel comic:

  • All Ages. These comics area rated by default, meaning they don’t have any rating at all on the cover. That signals the content has been judged appropriate for children, teens, and adults alike.
  • A Appropriate for age 9 and up. These are typically the flagship comics from Marvel, such as Fantastic Four or Amazing Spider-Man. Books with this rating will be typically absent of profanity or adult content, but will be full of action and might include words that many younger children won’t understand (i.e. “invulnerable”).
  • T+ Suggested for Teens and Up. Comics with this rating are comparable to a PG-13 movie rating. According to Bill Rosemann of Marvel Comics, “In these titles you can generally find the violence and language turned up a notch. Recommended for our teen and adult readers.” These are books like Punisher, Elektra, and Marvel Knights.
  • Parental Advisory. Comics with this rating are intended for adults only, and could contain profanity, partial nudity, and graphic violence. Consider this the “R” rating you’d see on a comparable movie.
  • Max: Explicit Content. Basically the NC-17 of comics.

 

How Are DC Comics Rated?

  • E – Everyone. Cartoon violence and comic mischief at best. Typically suitable for children (or for the young at heart!).
  • T – Teen. This is DC Comics’ version of a PG-13 rating, and will likely include action-style violence and mild profanity.
  • T+ – Teen Plus. A unique rating that falls somewhere in between “T” and “Mature.” Typically targeting readers ages 16 and up, these books will likely contain some profanity and suggestive themes, but no nudity.
  • Mature. Intended for readers 18 and older. May contain nudity, intense violence, extensive profanity, and sexual themes.

 

Where Can I Find More?

Diamond Comic Distributors website, Kidscomics.com, is a resource that offers a wealth of recommendations for parents.

Still, the best comic book rating system for your family is you, the parent. Don’t be afraid to take time to read the books your kids are interested in and then to decide whether or not they are appropriate for your household.

 

Mike Nappa is an author of more than 50 books. He is also the founder of Nappaland Literary Agency and a former book acquisitions editor. He is featured each month in ParentLife magazine and in Trends and Truth Online on the ParentLife blog.

5 Ways to Show Love to Your Kids Every Day by Jessie Weaver

With Valentine’s Day behind us, sometimes we can forget about showing love to our kids on a daily basis in tangible ways. Here are some easy ways to do that!

 

Foster Creativity

“Genuinely embrace their creativity – even if it doesn’t fit your definition of creativity. If it is drumming, give them the opportunity to play. If it is art or poetry, give them the tools they need to exercise that. Expressing their creativity is an expression of who they are. If we deny them that, we deny them the opportunity to grow into their own person.”12 Most

Go on “Dates” with Your Kids

10 ideas from Bella Thorne

“Going out for frozen yogurt at those popular FroYo bars is fun. Adding your toppings is so much fun. This is a perfect date night activity with your daughter. Going out for ice cream would be fun too. For some reason, you feel less guilty about eating frozen yogurt.”Long Wait for Isabella

“If there’s a splash park near your home, take her there often. She will be drawn to the water like a duck to a puddle.”From Dates to Diapers

Eat Dessert for Breakfast. Just Because You Can.

Send Fun/Funny/Seasonal Foods in Their Lunches.

Source: weheartit.com via Renée on Pinterest

 

 

Celebrate a Weird Holiday.

March 10 is “Middle Name Pride” Day. February 27 is “Polar Bear Day”! (Ideas for polar bear books and activities.)

“What could be better than Fairy Tale Day? Once upon a time there was Fairy Tale Day and we all lived happily ever after, the end. Great day to read some famous Fairy Tales to your kids.” – Squidoo, Weird February Holidays

What do you do to show your kids love every day?

Friday Links 2/15

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.