Archives for December 2012

Friday Links

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.


We also wanted to share a product that got left out of our print magazine!

Dads to be can attend baby showers or visit the hospital nursery in style with Daddy Gear. Each piece of apparel features the phrase “I’m the Daddy.” The soon-to-be dad at your house will love a baseball cap, T-shirt, hoodie, or even a pair of DaddyScrubs, the company’s signature gift. Check out the entire line at

ParentLife Online will be on Christmas vacation next week. Have a wonderful holiday!

Signs That You Need a Breaking from Caregiving by Dr. Linda Mintle

source: ollie_g

Caregiving for an elderly parent puts strain on your family and your personal well-being. It is easy to burn out because of all the demands. So take note of your behavior and feelings and look for these signs of burn-out:

  • Your energy levels are so low you feel constantly depleted.
  • Your immune system is compromised, and you find yourself catching everything the kids expose you to—colds, viruses, etc.
  • Despite regular sleep, you feel exhausted most of the day.
  • You stop taking care of yourself because there is simply no time.
  • You find yourself feeling resentful toward your daily responsibilities and the person who needs care.
  • You can’t relax because your mind is in overdrive and there is too much to do.
  • You are irritable and snapping at people.

If you find yourself checking off most of this list, it is time to take action and stop trying to do everything by yourself. You probably need help and support.

To begin, explore caregiving services in your community. There may be day programs, meal preparation, “baby sitting,” and transportation help that could give you breaks.

If your loved one is a Veteran, there are multiple services available that are free or require a small co-pay. Check the Veterans’ home health care services.

Most communities also have an Area Agency on Aging that provides information and services. In addition, fraternal organizations like the Elks and Moose Lodges often offer phone check-ins, home visits, and transportation in exchange for a small donation. Finally, churches and local senior citizen groups can also offer occasional relief.

You are too important to all your family members to become a victim of burnout, so watch for the signs and get needed support.


Dr. Linda Mintle is a licensed marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, professor, author, & national speaker. She answers questions in the print version of ParentLife and on ParentLife Online each month in “Real Life Solutions.”

Keep It Going: Service After Christmas by Tobin Perry

Hands of Love
source: jeffsmallwood

Service shouldn’t just be one month of your family’s year. Make it a lifestyle. Here are few tips to help you “keep your serve on” all year long.

  • Put it on your calendar. Whether it’s an established ministry you’ll be helping or a something informal you’ll do as a family, put it on your calendar—weekly, monthly, or whatever you can do.
  • Tap into your family’s interests. Your family will keep doing what they enjoy doing. Make what you’re doing a family decision.
  • Get involved in ongoing missions education. Southern Baptist missions education resources are designed to help your family become missions-minded believers. Servanthood is a big part of that. Visit or for more information.
  • Debrief each service experience. Being intentional about discussing what your family did will help keep everyone on the same page. Sometimes children and adults see the same project very differently.

Tobin Perry serves as the online editor for On Mission magazine at the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga.

The Doggie in the Window by Kristen White

Little One (17/366)
source: _tar0_

Have your kids been begging for a pet? Christmas is an exciting time to bless our children, and you may be thinking about finally giving in to their request. Here are some things to consider before adopting a new pet:

  • Timing. If you want to travel during the holidays—or if you travel frequently—think about the expense and complication of boarding a pet. Do you have a reliable pet care center in town? Are your children old and responsible enough to help with day-to-day pet-care chores? Are you considering another baby, a move, or a decision that would affect the long-term care of your pet? It is better not to get a pet and give him up later than to have one for just a little while.
  • Type. If your kids long for a pet, and a dog or cat is out of the question due to allergies, lifestyle, or other reasons, consider some kind of small, inexpensive friend, such as a hamster, guinea pig, or fish. If a dog or cat is on your horizon, consider not only the cost of the pet, but also the cost of shots, food, tick and flea medication, hygiene items, and other incidentals. Be aware that specialty pets, such as ferrets, rabbits, and de-scented skunks, can require a higher level of care and expense than cats and dogs. Read, ask questions, and be informed before you choose your pet.
  • Training. If you’ve narrowed down a special breed of dog or cat, ask for references of breeders, shelters, trainers, and vets.

Pets are one of the greatest sources of companionship and joy in life, but it is important to be informed before making a decision.


Kristen White enjoys writing, being in the kitchen, and teaching sixth graders at First Baptist Church Shelbyville, Kentucky.


Along with the rest of the country, we grieve with the families of all the children and adults killed in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.

We pass along these links in hope that they might help with grief.



Friday Links 12/14

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.

Trends & Truth Online with Mika Nappa: Talking The Hobbit with Dr. Timothy Paul Jones


Dr. Timothy Paul Jones is a distinguished theologian, a professor at The Southern Baptist Seminary, and editor of the Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry. Oh, he’s also a pop culture savant and expert on J.R.R. Tolkien. We recently got him talking about The Hobbit movie―care to listen in?

T&TO: What should every parent know about The Hobbit?

Jones: The Hobbit will span three films: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and There and Back Again (2014). The films are based on a book from J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien wrote the book for children, although the book’s readership has long since transcended any age limitation.

Even though The Hobbit will hit theaters a decade after The Lord of the Rings films, this reversed order wasn’t the case when it comes to the books. The first version of The Hobbit book was published in 1937, several years prior to the first installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

If The Hobbit films follow Tolkien’s text, there will be a lot of wizardry and a bit of burglary, a couple of quite violent conflicts, and plenty of puffing on pipe-weed. The Hobbit films are likely to provide foundations for fruitful family discussions about magic and morals, wealth and war, and more.


T&TO: The Hobbit is overwhelmingly favored by Christian groups, but some parents warn that kind of blanket endorsement is potentially harmful. Your thoughts?

Jones: Part of this favor in the Christian community stems from the fact that J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings originated within a Christian worldview. In fact, Tolkien took the very term “Middle-earth” from an Old English poem about Christ’s ascension! Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, and God used Tolkien to bring C.S. Lewis to faith in Jesus Christ.

When asked about the religious perspective of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien described the trilogy as “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion,’ to cults or practices, in the Imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”

I would suggest that this is no less true of The Hobbit. Although the work is certainly no allegory—Tolkien despised allegories—the characters are deeply symbolic, representing humanity’s deep sense of exile as well as our struggle not to center our lives on the pursuit of earthly wealth or power.

Despite the origins of The Hobbit in a Christian worldview, I would agree that a blanket endorsement is undeserved—and I’d say the same about any other work of popular art and culture. Here’s why: Such endorsements can unintentionally provide parents with a false comfort, the idea that they can place this book or movie or digital download in front of their children without having to engage in critique or conversation about it.

Visit Dr. Jones online at:

Will you and/or your kids go see The Hobbit movie? It releases December 14th, this Friday.

Merry Christmas! by William Summey

The Christmas season is upon us with all that entails: decorating, exams, church programs, holiday parties, shopping, family time, travel, delicious meals, and most importantly celebrating the birth of Jesus. I always lament how quickly the holidays pass each year because of how busy we are.

Join me in being intentional this year. Don’t be afraid to prioritize, cut back, say no, and plan wisely so that you can do the most important things as a family and not just those things that seem urgent at the moment. The time with our children truly flies by.

We hope you enjoy the December issue of ParentLife and all the content we’re able to share here on the blog. Above all, the team at ParentLife wants to wish you and your family a merry Christmas!

Christmas Break Training 101: Making Yours a Success by Erin MacPherson

sequoia and rachel, sittin' by the tree... - _MG_6719
source: seandereilinger

We love the idea of using Christmas break as a time to “train” your kids. I wrote about sleep training my daughter during Christmas break in December‘s article “Sleep Tight.” Whether you’re sleep training, potty training, moving your kid to a big-boy bed, or training your kids to eat something other than chicken nuggets, setting aside a dedicated time to do it is a great way to make sure you end up with a fully-trained (or at least mostly trained) kid.

Here are six tips to make sure your Christmas break training is a success.

  • Read up on the strategies. Before you even think about training your kid to do anything, check out a couple books from the library or ask good ole’ Mr. Google what other parents have done right … and wrong.
  • Know your kid. You know what makes your kid tick, and you know how he is going to respond to the training, so trust your instincts and come up with a plan that works for you and your family.
  • Write down your plan. If you’re sleep training, write down who is going to get up when and under what circumstances. If you’re potty training, plan how you’re going to do it and decide who is on “potty” duty when.
  • Get your supplies. Make sure you’ve stocked up on everything you need—stickers, books, caffeinated beverages for you—before the break starts.
  • Talk it up. Start talking about how excited you are about training early on. Trust us: If you’re excited about it, your kid will be excited about it.
  • Don’t let setbacks get you down. There are always accidents. You will have setbacks, and that’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day.

Erin MacPherson is an author, blogger, and mom to three preschoolers. She blogs at

Strategies for Reducing Stress During the Holidays by Marianne Neifert

Remember that your own stress level and emotional state are readily transferred to your child. Lower your expectations for the “perfect” Christmas holiday and be prepared to “go with the flow” when your child’s needs call for flexibility. Keep her emotional tank full during the holiday season by scheduling daily one-on-one time to play, read, or do an activity together.

Shorten the Countdown

An extended period of anticipation can feel overwhelming to a young child. Consider waiting until mid-December to begin your holiday decorating or to use an Advent Calendar to track the days until Christmas. To defuse children’s mounting excitement about presents, let them open a few smaller gifts during the countdown to Christmas.

Don’t Make Santa Your December Disciplinarian

The anticipation, bustle of activity, and excessive stimulation during the weeks preceding Christmas already create stress and anxiety for children. Threatening that Santa will bring fewer presents if your child misbehaves only adds to the pressure and worry she feels, and ultimately proves to be an empty threat. Don’t abdicate your essential parenting role of consistently enforcing your rules and limits for appropriate behavior year-round.

Allow Children to Let off Steam

Arrange opportunities for your child to be physically active each day by playing outdoors or visiting an indoor children’s play center.

Schedule Some Quiet Time

Periodically allow your child to retreat and unwind from the excitement of holiday festivities by watching a favorite DVD or playing quietly with arts and crafts or Play-Doh.

Don’t Force Children to Sit on Santa’s Lap

While parents relish the time-honored photo of their youngster happily smiling on Santa’s lap, young children often perceive Santa as strange and scary and may violently recoil at the idea of being held by him. While waiting in line at the mall, show your child exactly what will happen if she chooses to greet Santa. If she is terrorized by the sight of a big stranger in a red suit, respect her emotional distress and show your support by not forcing her to sit on Santa’s lap.

Do you find your children to be a little stressed during the holidays? How do you schedule downtime while still participating in traditions?
Marianne Neifert, M.D., M.T.S., also known as Dr. Mom, is a well-known pediatrician, professional speaker, and author. Visit her web site,