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May 08, 2015

Are you a Super Mom?


Do you believe in Spiderman or Superman?  If you do, maybe you should disregard this post and video.  Supermom falls under the same category.
The expectations are high.  We are expected to have:

  • Meals prepared to perfection, warm, and table set
  • Kids up, dressed, fed, and family devotion and prayer said together before dropping the kids at school (first car in line, NEVER tardy)
  • Everyone picked up after school with a smile on our face while asking well-prepared questions that provoke our children to spill out all the wonderful details about their day
  • Healthy after school snacks, always
  • Playtime
  • Homework time
  • The whole family around the dinner table, eating a home cooked meal and sharing stories about our day
  • Nightly devotions and prayer, every child tucked in with plenty of time to spare for laundry, dishes, cleaning out book bags, and preparing lunches

Who sets these expectations?  We do.  That’s right, we do.  We do it to ourselves.  We set expectations only a super mom with super powers could meet.
Why? We expect ourselves to be perfect and never fail.  This will never be achieved.  No one is perfect, and God gives us much grace in our imperfect moments.
Who created this picture of Super Mom?  The world has.  Super Mom is a make-believe character.
Take the advice of this real mom in this video, Let Supermom go (psst…she doesn’t exist anyway).  Be a real mom— a mom that your kids can relate to, have conversations with, and see Christ in.  Be real and enjoy every moment.


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May 08, 2015

Christian Home & School Magazine

Follow the attached link to read the article “Good Decisions Start with Healthy Identities”.
 


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May 07, 2015

Lifting Up the Cup of Salvation for Your Mother

“How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:12-13


Our number 13 grandchild was welcomed into the sight of the world this last Saturday; our sight of him and his of us. Birth never ceases to amaze! It is a most incredible miracle. To a mother, it is a mystery to have a living being growing and developing inside her own body; strange feelings of another separate life moving within; an experience of which we men know nothing. Even with increasingly clear ultrasounds, we do not know the complete picture of this new eternal being until his or her birth. God sees the unformed substance even before a baby grows to the extent of its nine months or less young life. God designed and created Eve and her daughters with the capacity to perform this life-producing purpose of which no man is capable, other than providing the necessary seed.
However, the work of pregnancy is but a beginning. The vital performance of early life nurturing and molding is a time-consuming, all-encompassing task which sets a new life on a journey very dependent on those first five to seven years; a critical time which often sets the direction of an entire life. As Augustine has said, “Give me a child for seven years, and he is mine for life.” Divine intervention can redirect a more mature life, but even in the case of the Apostle Paul, his early life training became very foundational to his powerful post-Damascus road ministry. In her commitment to godly mothering, a mother performs the most transformational impact on a sinful world in producing sons and daughters who in Christ exert a redemptive influence, redirecting the world’s destructive course in many arenas. Bless the mothers who have borne and especially edified and molded those godly servants who have sought righteousness in the myriad trenches of sin warfare. In the fullness of God’s providence, mothers have been powerful instruments as “craftsmen” at God’s side.
Holding a days-old infant again, I am freshly reminded of their complete vulnerability and dependency on mother and father for everything. At two, three, five, they are not quite so vulnerable physically and can do things for themselves, but they are still just as vulnerable in their spirit, their feelings and emotions, and their heart as they were physically in the first days of life. This is too often forgotten in the continuing requirement of necessary nurture and consistent discipline in those beginning years. In these years, the most consuming weight in time and immediate responsibility is on mother.
We are familiar with famous lives of history which, for diverse and not necessarily worthy reasons, gain notoriety; but God knows every life and the full picture of history surrounding these lives where many unknowns influenced the world for good of which we know nothing. In these lives, there was the valiant life of a mother working in obscurity to do what God asked of her in molding sons and daughters to be followers of the Lamb. In the new heavens and new earth, a thorough and true human history will be made known, not dependent on the inaccurate histories of fallible men and women, and the good deeds of the saints will be brought to light and rewarded; in these situations, the work of mothers will be manifest, worthy of reward. The honor of such mothers is seen throughout the Scripture, not the least at the foot of the cross where Mary’s heart was pierced viewing her son’s crucifixion.
Why raise the cup of salvation for your mother? Because the gesture of this “toast” is the expression of thanksgiving to God for the goodness He has bestowed on us in placing in our lives those we call our mother(s). So raise this cup of salvation to the Lord in your hearts and in your verbal expression of thanksgiving in the ears of the one who nurtured and molded you from your first days until her task ended. It was the Lord’s grace that saved you, and His grace to you was delivered by a woman known as “Mama, “Mom, “Mother.
There are some women blessed with children who did not live up to the honor God made possible. In the cases of those who are snatched from the fire of parental evil and irresponsibility by God’s pure grace and mercy, this heavenly Father can be both mother and father to the “orphan.” Then lift the cup of salvation to Him and to those He sent into your path who played this part in your life. No matter the treacherous path you have trod, there is great healing and salvation in giving thanks in all things. The one who learns this in the crucible of life knows joy that truly goes beyond understanding. In turn, you should be the mother or father you may not have had to your children, or the grandparent who draws them to the Shepherd of their souls. There is always a medicine available from Him who is able to heal all ills. I am always saddened by those who remain imprisoned in a joyless life because of the sin of others. In essence, they have only themselves to blame, for Christ offers them the antidote to any such situation. To miss it is the greater tragedy in your life than enduring the bad choices of others which place a truly false claim on your heart.
So lift up the cup of salvation to your mother and call on His name with thanksgiving, for God has bestowed goodness on you through her.


“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; and you will be comforted.” Isaiah 66:13


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May 05, 2015

Kids and Eye Contact

What’s up with kids and eye contact today? Are kids becoming interpersonally 1. less comfortable and 2. less adept  as a result of the computer age? Bruce Feiler (New York Times) raises some worrisome concerns in this recent piece. It should make all parents of growing children (and adolescents) sit up and take notice.
He starts out with the importance of eye contact, and how it seems to be harder for kids than it used to be. I will never forget an experience I had maybe ten years ago at the Verizon store getting a new cell phone. The twenty-something clerks barely looked at me during our transaction. It was weird and actually disturbing for me, but seemed like business-as-usual for them.

Eye Contact and Attachment

Children come into the world wired to look at human faces. We know this from research on the infant gaze:  babies stare longer at drawings with eyes, nose and mouth in the expected places than at drawings in which the features are scrambled or upside down. They like to look at faces, and interaction begins very early. The cumulation of experience then determines whether involvement with people becomes familiar, rewarding, and sought-after. Or unfamiliar, unrewarding, and avoided.
This set of experiences, which begins very early and continues as humans develop, is of profound significance to the child’s life, health, and happiness. It forms the basis for relationships of all kinds—with parents, with siblings, with friends, with schoolmates and teammates—not to mention with romantic and work relationships. Virtually all relationships depend on it. We decide whether people are a source of satisfaction in life. And we develop an ability to read others—and ourselves—through our interactions with fellow human beings.
A clue that all is not well is a lack of animation in a young person coupled with a lack of interest in people around him. When a computer game interests a child more than people do, something is amiss. One of the most troubling signs in children today is a kind of blankness of expression and an unwillingness to communicate. And it is not uncommon.
We develop a capacity for enjoyment. For humor. For understanding. For empathy. Or we don’t. We all meet people in whom something is missing. The ability to attach to others can be severely impaired, or impaired in part. I always think of the saying, “The lights are on, but there’s nobody home as deeply descriptive of this problem.
And even people who seem quite normal can have it upon closer examination. Ron Reagan Jr. once said very tellingly of his father that, while his dad was always glad to see him and spend time with him, he wasn’t sure if his dad thought about him when they were apart. Ronald Reagan could read people well, or he could never have achieved the level of career and marital success that he had. He seemed to have limitations with attachment.

Eye Contact and Interpersonal IQ

Some people have serious trouble reading people. This can result from the way the brain is wired from the beginning. Those on the autistic spectrum show impairment with this from a young age, and need help to develop some capacity to notice and translate what they see on people’s faces. Others are lucky to be born with this capacity intact, but it withers from lack of use. We are seeing youngsters who have impairment with both the understanding of social cues and with attachment.
As a psychologist and as a family therapist, I am not alone in my alarm about the effects of ubiquitous use of computers. It is bad enough with adults, but it is disastrous with kids. These are critical periods for children and adolescent to develop these capacities, and there is no do-over.
While thinking about this topic for today’s post, I came across an interesting piece on eye contact by dogs! It turns out that dogs can have a pretty amazing ability to seek and maintain eye contact with their owners, and that this is a powerful source of well-being for both. (They are not called man’s best friend for nothing.) And this is not just common knowledge. Oxytocin, a bonding neurochemical, has been found at increased levels with such dog and owner pairs. And this doesn’t happen with every dog. By our own actions, we actually train our dogs (as well as our kids) to want to look at us, or not!

Parent As Guides and Gatekeepers

I’ve always thought that a big risk factor for child well-being is lack of parent availability. Parents need to be on-site, at home, spending at least some time with their kids. And I’m not sure going to all their school and team events qualifies. Or enrolling them in so many lessons, sports, and activities.
In fact, maybe less time running around with and for kids might just restore busy parents with the energy to be more involved at home. There are lots of things parents think are required (ex. elaborate birthday parties) that are actually quite expendable. And other things that seem inconsequential that are not inconsequential at all.
One irony of this inverse finding between screen time and social adjustment is that children from more affluent families may be at higher risk. I bet that the larger the family income, the more likely kids are to have personal computers, games, and smart phones, and at younger ages.
The acquisition, use (and overuse) of these accoutrements may actually be impoverishing a child’s life and development! Such children are in reality poor little rich kids. Here’s the irony: they have parents who stop at nothing to give their child every advantage in life. We know that poor kids benefit from Head Start. Maybe rich kids also need the head start that comes from parents firmly saying No or Later to personal computers.
My hairdresser is an anomaly among her peers who are mothers. She will not let her children have cell phones of any kind until they are 14. That’s right: 14. And she has stuck to it. It has saved her both money and worry about her kids. It helps her know more about what they are doing and with whom.  Now she has an unusual amount of backbone, and is not unnerved when her kids complain. Some parents compromise and get their kids basic cell phones but draw the line at smart phones. But parents who are unafraid of their kids are becoming more and more rare today—any therapist will tell you this.
There are people who are not concerned that much about this issue. They don’t see what the fuss is all about. Some of them say we can’t put the genie of technology back in the bottle, and of course they are right. It has benefitted us in untold ways. It is limiting screen time and the use of technology that I am advocating. While there may be a few kids who will curtail it themselves, in most situations it is up to the parents.
There are also those who will point out that some computer use by kids, like texting, is social in nature. And therefore just fine. The problem with texting is that many youngsters are relying on it as a primary vehicle for social communication. The far richer face-to-face contact, and also voice-to-voice, has sadly become secondary.
In my work as a therapist, I have always preferred voicemail for messages from current and potential patients to a message taken by a secretary or an email. Hearing a person’s voice gives me way more information. Ditto with face-to-face rather than screen; therapy by Skype has its limitations. But mark my word, in our fast-paced world, it will become more common. It already has.
Texting lends itself to short, factual communication and staying in touch. But it does a poor and sometimes confusing job of transmitting that which is important or emotional. So does email. Both can be opaque and subject to misunderstanding. They can leave people not quite knowing what is going on and where things stand. (Come to think of it, they may be the first choice of people with attachment problems!)
Kids need to get outside and out of their houses and with their own cohort, playing when they are young and horsing around or doing things together when they are older. They need to do their own thing without adults around all the time. They have to figure out the laws of the jungle and how people tick, and this is not something computers can teach them. It is face-to-face that they develop real social competence and facility. And the payoff is immeasurable, in their childhoods and in their later lives.


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May 01, 2015

Be a better parent – It’s never too late

Do you want to be a better parent? If you see where your problems lie, please do not be discouraged. I know the tendency is to think, “I see where I have been a terrible parent. My teenager is a mess, and the situation is hopeless.” No, it is not hopeless. That, if anything, is the underlying message of the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH): hope! At the PAYH, we take troubled young men in whom wrong seeds have been planted. By applying God’s principles to them even at this seemingly “late stage,” we see miracles every day. We see “miraculous transformations! We see first-hand God’s grace, His forgiveness, and His way of healing wounds and restoring parents to their child and child to their parents. As promised in Joel 2:25a, “God will restore the years the locusts have stolen.
*Devon’s father was at the end of his rope when he called and begged us to take his son, who was in deep trouble. A wealthy West Coast businessman, he was monetarily able to give his son anything he needed. Two years earlier, Devon was kicked out of public high school for dealing drugs, after which time his father placed him in a well-known drug rehabilitation program. He came back home and soon returned to his old friends and his old behavior. He ended up in a military school and another boarding school before coming to us…each time either expelled or dismissed because of his anger and his refusal to obey the rules.
He did not want to come to the PAYH, but he had no choice. It was either here or jail. Devon was like a lot of our young men. He was angry, manipulative, and mouthy, and he had never been given consistent discipline. He had grown up without clear-cut, set boundaries. He learned, therefore, how to manipulate his mother and father to get what he wanted. He thought he had it made, but he was filled with anger. It is my belief that a child’s internal need for direction and boundaries is all tied up with his understanding of “love.” When the parent says “No!” something inside that child feels secure and loved. When discipline is missing, and a child is empowered to do whatever he wants an inner rage begins to form.
This rage was certainly true in Devon’s case. Of course, the fact that his father left his mother for another woman did not help the situation. There was an unconscious barometer inside Devon that longed for someone to always be there for him. Here at the PAYH, he would have temper tantrums, and we would deal with them each time. His behavior is not acceptable! He was made to pay the consequences of his behavior and we were consistently tougher on him than anyone had ever been in his life.
I will never forget the day I was sitting in my den and heard shouting outside. I opened the door to see what was going on and out in the yard stood Devon and Eddie Burris. Eddie’s stature is rather intimidating, though at heart, he is a gentle giant. Well over 300 pounds, his voice is as large as he is. I could hear him sternly say, “Devon, come here!” Devon kept backing away, knowing all too well his behavior had gotten him in trouble. However, he resisted Eddie, “No! I’m not coming over there.” Eddie replied, “Devon, come here!” This went on and on. Devon resisted, but Eddie stood his ground. Finally, Devon weakened and made his way toward Eddie. Suddenly, his anger melted, and he fell into Eddie’s strong arms… and Eddie held him for a long time while he cried.
A young man like Devon desperately needs a strong father who will love him, affirm his worth, and hold him accountable whenever he falls. Devon soon began to flourish here at the PAYH and became a real leader among the guys. His father saw such positive change in his son that he began to examine his own life. I will always treasure seeing them truly embrace each other for the first time in their lives with sincere love and genuine forgiveness.

*Name has been changed

Have you found yourself in the same place as Devon’s family? We are here to help! Contact our admissions team today if you need help for your family.


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Family Playing Board Game At Home
May 01, 2015

Hands on or hands off parent? Does it matter?

Protecting your child from harm is the most important duty you will face during the teenage years. Research from Columbia University reveals that parents who exert their parental authority by taking a “hands-on approach to raising their children not only have a better relationship with their children, but also reduce their child’s risk of harming themselves with drugs and alcohol.
The following twelve parental characteristics are associated with decreased risk for substance abuse among teens:

  1. Parents who expect to be told where their teenager is going in the evenings and on the weekends
  2. Parents who make it clear that they would be very upset if their teen tried marijuana
  3. Parents who always know where their child is after school, evenings, and weekends
  4. Parents who monitor what the teen is watching on TV
  5. Parents who restrict the kind of music their teen can purchase
  6. Parents who are very aware of how their teenager is doing in school
  7. Parents who monitor internet usage
  8. Families who have dinner together 6-7 times per week
  9. Teenagers who have a weekend curfew
  10. Adults who are home when a teenager returns from school
  11. Teens who are responsible for regular chores
  12. Families whose TV is not on during dinner

Hands on Parents are those who consistently achieve at least 10 of the 12 actions described above. Unfortunately, only about one quarter of teens live with “hands-on” parents.
“Hands-off parents consistently fail to set rules and monitor their teen’s behavior. Of the 12 actions described above, these type of parents routinely achieve five or less. Consequently, their children are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. In truth, teenagers need their parents to establish rules and expectations. It’s one of the ways they feel loved and protected. In sharp contrast to contemporary thinking about child-rearing, children with hands on parents seldom rebel or pull away. On the contrary, the research confirms that “hands-on” parents are much more likely to have an excellent relationship with their teens than permissive parents.
It’s never too late to become a “Hands on Parent.


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