Archives for January 2012

Flu Fact or Faction

Flu season is well upon us. (While we’ve already battled RSV and pneumonia in our household, we’ve averted the flu so far … thank goodness!) Fauquier Hospital in Virginia outlines some of the myths and truths about flu and the flu vaccine for you here.



You can get the flu from the flu vaccine.

You cannot get the flu from the vaccine. This myth stems from the presence of dead flu strains in the vaccine. They are there to give the immune system the information needed to develop antibodies for those strains. Side effects such as body aches or a low fever after receiving the vaccine can occur, but are not the flu. Those with asthma should get the shot, not the nasal-spray.

You can get flu from the nasal spray vaccine.

You cannot get flu from the nasal spray vaccine. Again, the misconception comes from the presence of weakened strains of the virus, also known as Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV). These strains, while not dead, are not strong enough to cause illness. There have been some reports of flu-like symptoms, mostly in children, after vaccination, but it is not the flu. Those with a history of asthma should not take the nasal-spray vaccine.

The flu vaccine doesn’t work.

In most years, the flu vaccine prevents flu for between 70 percent and 90 percent of vaccinated healthy people under the age of 65. There are other illnesses, such as the common cold, that have similar symptoms and can be mistaken for the flu.

If you get a flu vaccine you can’t get an influenza virus.

Flu vaccines are made to protect against the most likely strains of flu circulating in a given year. Researchers determine which strains to include in the vaccine based on the most common strains circulating, but it is possible to contract a strain that emerged after the vaccine was made. The vaccine may also not be 100 percent effective against the strains of the flu it contains, depending on a person’s age and overall health.

The flu isn’t serious enough to warrant vaccination.

While the seasonal flu is often mild, some can have complications that can be severe enough to require hospitalization. Pneumonia as a complication can be deadly. Annually, there are around 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths due to complications of the flu.

If I don’t get vaccinated in the fall, I shouldn’t bother because it will be too late.

While it is best to get vaccinated before the season starts — Oct. or Nov. — flu season can peak as late as May. There is no set window, and the Virginia Department of Health vaccinates from Oct. through April, or longer if necessary.

There is a limited supply of vaccine, so you should leave it for those who really need it.

Public health and government officials project there will be enough vaccine available for everyone who wants to be vaccinated.

Absolutely everybody should get the flu vaccine.


There is an extremely limited group of people who should not get either kind of flu vaccine. Specifically, people with a history of allergy to eggs and those who have had a rare illness called Guillaine-Barre Syndrome should not get the flu vaccine.

I’ve already had the flu, therefore I am immune.


“Flu” covers many different strains of the same virus, which is why the vaccine changes every year. Immunities you have built up to one strain of flu are unlikely to protect you from another strain.

I got vaccinated last year so I’m protected this year.

The vaccine is never the same because flu viruses can adapt and change. Also, immunity wears off, even if the viruses are similar from year to year.  It is important to get vaccinated each season.

I’m healthy lower age/my child is healthy. Therefore we don’t need the flu shot.

While healthy people are better able to defend against a virus, it is still possible for a healthy person to get the flu.

The flu vaccine can cause autism.

The Institute of Medicine, in a 2004 report, was unable to find a connection between the preservative thimerosal and the development of autism. However, if you have concerns, talk to your family physician. The nasal spray vaccine does not contain thimerosal.

The flu vaccine is not safe for young children or pregnant women.

The flu vaccine injection is safe and recommended for children over six months and for pregnant women.

You don’t need to get vaccinated because there are drugs now that keep you from getting the flu.

Antiviral medication may also lessen the symptoms of flu or make you less contagious after contracting the flu. There are medications on the market that may prevent flu in some healthy adults if taken every day the flu is present in the community. The CDC suggests being vaccinated, and to use those drugs only as a supplement. If an individual cannot be given the vaccine because of other health conditions, speak with a doctor.

If you get the nasal spray vaccine, you can get other people sick with the flu even though you are protected.

It is extremely rare, but it is possible to become infected with vaccine virus after close contact with a person who has received the nasal-spray vaccine. However, the person who contracts the virus is unlikely to have symptoms of flu because the vaccine contains viruses that are too weak.

 Did you get vaccinated this year?

“Dad, Will You Help Me?” by William Summey

17_Child_Laundry.jpgHas your child had a big project due at school and needed your help? How much should you step in? Do you find that the majority of school projects reflect Mom’s or Dad’s work more than the student’s? Ouch! The truth hurts.

Why is it that we sometimes step over the boundary line and do things on our child’s behalf? This tendency doesn’t happen overnight. Parents often are caught in a pattern of doing things for their kids, rather than stopping to teach or coach them how to do things for themselves. The following are three guidelines for fighting this trend.
  1. Step back. It is OK for kids to make mistakes. We sometimes forget that trial and error can be the best part of learning. We would rather step in and make things right. Or we are living vicariously through our children and take things personally when our children make mistakes.  
  2. Build in time for interruptions and teachable moments. Kids learn by asking questions, hands-on experimenting, and connecting new things with what they already know. We are sometimes too busy for our child’s questions or to stop and teach a life skill. We have to fight packing our schedules so full that there is no time left for life’s interruptions. Unfortunately, all too quickly the question "Dad, will you help me?" turns to "I can’t do this! You’ll have to do it." 
  3. Place the journey together higher than the finished product. Too many times, we focus on the end product. We want our child to make the perfect project or we must have the clothes folded a certain way or we are not happy. Resist the urge to refold those clothes or make the project the way you would have done it. Life is a journey together, so enjoy the time along the way!

Have you ever had trouble with this "doing too much" boundary? How do you discern where to draw the line?

Originally posted in June 2009.

Friday Links 1/27

Read anything great this week? Leave the link in the comments and you might see it in a future "Friday Links" post!

Added to Saturday Stumbles at Simply Staci.

A Little Motherly Advice by Becky Suggs

Becky's Journal


20 weeks pregnant

One thing I was told before I became pregnant was that everyone seems to have something to say to an expectant mother, whether you want to hear it or not. I haven’t experienced this too much just yet, but from early on, I decided to only have a few people to go to for pregnancy advice – my mom, my sister and my doctor. Luckily, I have a mom who raised three girls and an older sister who has three great boys. I also have a doctor I trust; I’m not afraid to ask him even my most embarrassing questions.

Even though I have these “go-to” people in my life, I thought it would be fun to ask moms of all ages in my life to give me their best words of wisdom for a first-time mom. Here are some of their replies:

  • It’s great to read parenting books, but don’t let those books take away from the most important Book – the Bible.  It has all the answers, and it’s authored by the One who created the life on loan to you!

  • Write things down! Take pictures! You think you’ll remember everything, but you don’t!

  • Keep in mind God gave you the ability to care for your child in the best way you know how. Trust your gut, and don’t doubt your ability to do what is best.

  • Enjoy each moment and milestone, because they will quickly pass that one and go to the next.

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • You won’t have all the answers, but you have earned the right to attempt life’s journey together because you bonded for nine months.

  • Even when you feel unworthy, undeserving and incapable of directing your child, remember He is there guiding you.


What about you? What one word of wisdom would you pass on to a new mom-to-be?


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Becky Suggs and her husband, Robert, live in the mountains of Glorieta, New Mexico, with their pug, Sadie. They are expecting their first child in April. In her spare time, you can find Becky reading, enjoying the great outdoors, filling in squares to the latest crossword puzzle, and spending time with family. She has a passion for both kids and camping ministries.

Read Becky’s other journal entries: Ask and You Shall Receive, Consider It Joy, Overwhelmed, and Pregnancy Perks.


Fun Tools for Behavior Modification

In the February issue, Dr. Marianne Neifert discusses "The Use and Misuse of Rewards" (pp. 38-39). Here are a few products you might consider as you think about behavior and how you will use rewards.

modify-child-behavior-store_award.jpgMake behavior modification fun with The Ticket Store Game®. Available in both online and board game versions, the game lets parents assign tasks to children. Children who respond favorably earn tickets that accumulate and may be exchanged for tangible rewards “bought” online or home-based rewards generated by parents. Visit for online pricing plans or to order the board game for $24.95.


marblejarappscreenshot.jpgHere’s an app version of the tried-and-true reward system used by parents and teachers for years: drop a marble into the jar each time a child demonstrates appropriate or requested behavior. When the jar is full, the child receives a predetermined reward. The Marble Jar app is appropropriate for kids ages 2-12 and is available for download to iPhone or iPad for $2.99. Try it to motivate your child to brush her teeth, get dressed, finish her dinner, or any other task that usually involves constant reminders.


portableparentingapp.jpgHelp your child make good choices and build good habits with the Portable Parenting App. Program up to four children and receive daily, weekly, and monthly reports on behavior. The app includes features for monitoring time out, providing “star stash” rewards, and a separate feature for keeping track of a child’s money. Available for iPhone and iPad, and coming soon for Android.

Do you use any tools for a rewards system?

Beat the Wicked Stepmother Myth

In our February issue, Chris Gonzalez writes about "The Wicked Stepmother: Three Ridiculous Myths" (pp. 30-31). Here, Chris expounds on what to do to beat those myths.



Become a contagious and irresistibly good stepmother in these ways.

  1. Understand that your relationship with your stepchildren is born of the loss, either by death or divorce, or their mother. You are a reality in their lives because someone else that really matters to the children is gone or has dramatically changed.
  2. Create realistic expectations for yourself as the stepmother. Be the loving and compassionate image of God you were created to be. Replacing the biological mother and fulfilling the stepchild’s every need is not likely to bring immediate success, if any success at all.
  3. Be consistent, patient, and trustworthy over time. This will earn you more points with the new stepchildren than any grand plans for being everything to them.
  4. Do not force, buy, or bribe your way into your stepchild’s life.

Create a new “normal” in your blended home.

Liberate yourself and recognize your success as a stepmother.

Your new husband loves you, but that love does not necessarily create any sense of obligation within his children to do the same. In fact, they may decide to hate you as a tactic to get their biological parents back together. Again, it is not necessarily you they hate, but the role you occupy. No child is born with the glorious dreams of having a stepmother. However, when reality crashes down the walls of the ideal, children often resist reality and fantasize about their idealized past.

Your sense of self and capacity for love will be challenged. In all likelihood, your investment of love for your new stepchildren will far outweigh the returns, at first. Most stepchildren grow to love their stepmothers in some way. The goal is not to replace the biological mother but rather to develop a loving relationship with clear and defined boundaries wherein all the parties know and agree to the expectations for each other. Respect for each other and allowing space for stepchildren to be stepchildren is the name of the stepmothering game.

Chris Gonzalez is a marriage and family therapist with the Better Life Counseling Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He writes a feature column for the Jonesboro Sun and gives seminars on the topics of marriage, family, and faith. Chris and his wife Gail have two children, Sierra and Canaan.

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?



In a recent survey of over 500 kindergarten teachers around the country, two-thirds of the teachers stated that the children in their classroom were unprepared for kindergarten. Two-thirds of the teachers said that the majority of students do not know their ABCs.

What can you do to prepare your child for kindergarten? Here are some suggestions from teachers.

  • Actively participate in your child’s education with pre-reading and reading activities, such as reading books together and practicing the alphabet.
  • Expose children to new experiences and talk with them about those experiences in order to improve their ability to speak and understand oral language and increase vocabulary.
  • Practice identifying numbers and counting with both verbal and written activities.
  • Work with children to identify shapes, colors, and objects in the world around them.
  • Place children in social settings with other young children so that they can learn together while they also develop manners and the ability to share and be respectful.

Age of Learning, Inc., which conducted the survey, has several online games to help your kids learn and be ready for kindergarten. Access is $7.95 per month.



For free games, you might try, or learn Bible verses and ABCs at the same time with the ABC Scripture Series at Impress Your Kids.

What do you think of this survey? Is it valid?

Friday Links 1/20

Read anything great this week? Leave the link in the comments and you might see it in a future "Friday Links" post!

Added to Saturday Stumbles at Simply Staci.

Check Out CentriKid Camps: Enter to Win The Official OMC Game!

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ParentLife Online is excited to announce a new partnership each month with LifeWay’s CentriKid Camps ( Each month we will feature a guest post from the CentriKid team filled with great insights about the older children and preteens they work with every summer. We hope you will be inspired and encouraged through this new partnership!


To kick off our new partnership, we are giving away 5 copies of Organized Mass Chaos: The Official OMC Game. If you have ever been to camp, you know how amazing this game is! OMC is an action packed, large group activity perfect for any occasion with a large group of kids. Designed for kids in grades 1-6, it can be played with up to 200 kids at one time. Comes with a complete instructional DVD and 300 task cards for your VBS, Discipleship times, Summer Children’s activities, or Backyard Bible Clubs.

Here’s how to enter: for a chance to win post on our site or on our FaceBook page about this new partnership with CentriKid. If you have been to CentriKID camps, tell us why you love the CentriKID experience! If you have not, tell us what you look for from a camp experience for your kids.

Want to win a free subscription to ParentLife? While you are online, check out the CentriKid blog today. They will tell you how to enter a giveaway today to win a free one year subcription to ParentLife!




You can find great info anytime about CentriKid by visiting their FaceBook page too!

So post today about camp and enter to win OMC!


January 2012: ParentLife Everyday

Each month ParentLife pulls together a one-page document for preschool and children’s leaders and teachers that highlights articles that might help families they work with. But this also is a great tool for parents!

The articles below are in our current January 2012 issue of ParentLife. Read the articles that minister to your family and pass along a copy to those who might benefit from it!



Like a Lamp Unto My Feet: Just like prayer and Bible study, Scripture memory is a critical Christian discipline. Unfortunately, it is becoming obsolete in many homes today. Teach the families three practical, everyday ways to memorize Scripture together as a family (pp. 31-33).

Sparrow Prayers: Teaching a child to pray can be as simple as learning to pray sparrow prayers—short "thank You" and "help me" prayers throughout the day. Provide parents with six simple ways to help teach their children to talk to God (p. 44).

Real Life Solutions: Tattling. Every parent or teacher has had to deal with a tattletale at some point in time. Check out these effective strategies for curbing tattletale behavior (p. 48).

Help! I’m in Debt! In today’s economy, there are bound to be families in your ministry who are struggling financially. Provide them with these practical tips for digging out of debt (pp. 38-39).

Aaron Shust: Encourage families struggling with life-changing illnesses with this story of hope and learning to trust God (pp. 20-23).

Honesty Is the Best Policy: Children are great at asking difficult questions, and sometimes teachers and parents may not know the answers. Equip them with ways to handle these questions with honesty (p. 19).

50: The number of words most 2-year-olds may say. Are the teachers and volunteers in your ministry nurturing language development? (See p. 13.)

Beating Cabin Fever: Are the kids in your ministry struggling with cabin fever this winter? Provide these creative winter-fun ideas to parent and teachers in your ministry (p. 24).

To download a full-color PDF of the flyer, click on the link below.