Payh Blog
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Jan 20, 2016

The Balancing Act

“We are just so busy.  “We don’t have time.  “I just can’t balance it all.
Have you ever said anything that sounds like that?  Chances are we all have because we’re all trying to “do it all.  If you’re not there now, you probably have been or will be.  Our lives are busy.  It’s the culture we live in.  Whether you have kids or not, there is always something else to do and somewhere to be.  Let’s be honest: We are consumed with the idea that bigger is better, more is better, and faster is better.
As that lifestyle surrounds us, we adopt it and project it onto others.  This mindset is destroying us.  We are exhausted, spread too thin, yet the hamster wheel is still spinning, and we are gasping for breath.
There are many resources available that give us tips to find the balance.
(Get the visual here–you, in the middle of a see-saw, trying to keep it level, never allowing either side to dip lower than the other.  See it?)
The visual alone makes my heart rate increase, so of course, like many of you, I am willing to read every blog, book, or website that helps me keep up my balancing act.
All of this to say, you will not find that here.  Here we offer you transparency and honesty.
So here you go…

  1. The hamster wheel just keeps going unless you stop running and get off.
  2. There is no such thing as perfect balance in this life because we are not perfect.

Be still.  Stop trying to do everything you can to achieve perfection.  In Psalm 46, God tells us to be still.  He instructs us to rest in the fact that He is in control.  It is a simple instruction, clearly stated, yet every time I read it, I recall the anger I felt when Nike came out with the slogan “Just do it.  As humans, we have a difficult time imagining ourselves capable of being still, much less finding the time to do it.
Really, if it were so easy to “just do it wouldn’t everyone “do it?  But that’s the point—maybe a bad comparison, but same point.  One reason this slogan was so successful for Nike is because it was a simple, direct instruction yet required extreme self-discipline. Being still is against our natural grain.  It does not just happen, in fact, it is impossible if we are living in the flesh.
My encouragement for you and me is to get off the hamster wheel and stop trying to balance it all.  Let God lead and find peace in that.  Be still.  Just do it.


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Happy family of three people
Nov 17, 2015

Colder Weather Brings Outside Play Inside

A few tips on limiting the time children spend on tech devices


As the weather gets cooler, children and teens tend to spend more time inside, and that often results in time glued to a computer, iPad, and other tech devices.
A 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that youth ages 8 to 18 devote 7.5 hours a day to entertainment media. Less than half of the kids surveyed said their parents have rules about the shows and games they can watch or play.
Drew Read, director of the Paul Anderson Youth Home, offers the following advice on how parents can help their children understand and respect a healthy appreciation of electronics:

 

  1. Turn off the computer at night for at least one hour, and make sure all technology (including iPads and iPhones) is put away for at least one hour every night.
  2. Recognize that people often use technology to fill a relational void. The virtual world is appealing due to its unlimited capacity for friendship, attention, and a feeling of personal significance. It is a parent’s job to provide children with enough love and support that they do not go seeking those things elsewhere. Parents should try to schedule time each day to interact with their children–over a family dinner, a family game night, an evening walk, or any activity that provides an opportunity for interaction and two-way communication.
  3. As new sites are created, anticipate that they will gravitate towards the risqué and lewd.
  4. Be aware that early-formed computer habits often become behaviors that challenge parents as children grow older. Parents need to be aware and notice if children begin developing new behaviors, like becoming irrationally upset when they are not allowed on the computer.  A good way to assess such behaviors is to limit computer and tablet usage to a central location where children feel a sense of supervision.  If your child has a problem with this rule, it might be a sign that he or she is engaging in online activities that you might not allow.
  5. Install web filtering/tracking services on each computer.
  6. Learn how to interact online and use technology as another way to communicate with your child.  A lot of parents do not realize that technology is actually one of the easiest ways to communicate with their children, and it will make them seem more relevant in the eyes of their kids. Fighting technology is a losing battle. We will never again live in a technology-free world, so it is important to adapt and learn the technology that your children are using.  After all, how can you expect to monitor something you do not understand?
  7. Set boundaries and enforce those standards by monitoring what your children are doing.  Set time limits on technology use and stick to them.  You do not have to hover over your children’s shoulders every time they use technology, but make sure to instill a sense of supervision.
  8. Make sure you know all of your children’s passwords, and do not allow them to share these passwords with friends.
  9. Check up on their online history and communication. If history and/or cookies are deleted, then discover why.  This is a great way to establish a transparent relationship with your children, which is more important now than ever due to the innumerable risks of today’s world.
  10. Inform your children about real examples of predators on the web.

Be wise about what your children may think constitutes “their privacy and your responsibility as a parent to protect, nurture, admonish, and guide them.  You are not protecting them by not checking up on them. Every parent believes that their child would not do these things, yet the vast percentage of teenagers is interacting socially and virtually in ways that their parents are unaware of.


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Man Fustrated
Oct 28, 2015

Being a Man in the Middle

What can I tell you about my journey to becoming a middle-aged man?  Well, it has not been marked by the stereotypical crisis that leads to purchasing a new car, though I have been eyeing a new bike (the type you pedal) for a while now.  And sure, it can be a red bike.
From the moment of conception, we go through various stages of transition.  These physical changes are far more obvious in our younger and older years.  The emotional changes are more subtle, particularly as we become more socially adept and learn to mask our behaviors based on the social expectations and cultural norms. But the one universal marker of aging is change in all areas of our life.
I have always heard people say that change is hard.  But let me clarify what I think that really means.    Changing habits and patterns of behavior is hard; changing others is hard; but change, well, it is a natural part of life.  It is our responses to it that make it difficult.  The reality is that many of my middle-aged male brethren do not respond particularly well.  We are not simply losing our muscle tone, hearing, and hair.
Unfortunately, too many men between the ages of 35-64 respond to this stage of life by getting divorced, changing jobs, having an affair, abusing substances, going into debt, and increasingly, committing suicide.  In fact, 56% of the yearly 40,000 suicides in the United States are from this group.  So, every hour, over 61 middle-aged men take their lives.  As always, in tragic events such as these, the question is, “Why?
Initial studies are targeting where men are most comfortable: home, work, and online.  Researchers are also seeking to address the problems often associated with suicide: relationship, financial, and substance abuse problems, along with the attitudes men have towards seeking professional behavioral health services.
Midlife is a part of the process of aging.  This time of life is seen as an exit from our youth and early adulthood and an entrance into a time of contemplation and reflection.  The energy of youth is still there, though dissipating, and the wisdom and experience of those older is valued.  It is what I like to term, particularly because I am in it, “the sweet spot. For many of us men though, it is not seen as a sweet transition in life.  Questions of value and reflection on the meaning of our lives cause a great deal of uncertainty.  Have we made the right choices?  Did I choose the right job?  Who is this that I am married to, and why are they not the same person anymore?
Reflecting on where you have been and where you are going, coupled with ever-increasing responsibilities, worries, and concerns can create a crisis in our identity and worth.  It is fairly obvious, then, that all of this takes a toll on marriage, raising children, maintaining friendships, and our work performance.  As human beings, separating the issues and tensions within life is essentially impossible.  Anxiety is a natural response to our physical, emotional, and mental worries.
The solution for anxiety does not have to be radical.  Anxiety is rooted in where we find our identity and worth. Buying a car, quitting your job, using drugs, or taking your life does not solve any problem.  It simply digs us deeper into the holes we are in.  That is the nature of depression and angst.  When we are in the midst of struggling, we do not see clearly, and so we need an outside perspective.  We need people who will help.  We need voices that will help us center our identity on something that is permanent and real, not on any form of accomplishment we think is necessary or circumstances we think define us.
For none of us is our true identity and meaning found in our jobs; no job can adequately fill that need.  For none of us is it found in our marriage; no spouse can adequately fill that need.  For none of us is it found in our children; no child can adequately fill that need.  That is too much responsibility for any job or marriage or child to carry.
As a middle-aged man who is a follower of Christ, it can be easy to be weighed down by worries.  Am I good enough, do I measure up, does my life have value?  Those worries or points of anxiety, however, are only rooted in me.  That is not where my real identity truly comes from, and therefore, it cannot be the source of my value as a person.  Identity is found in relationship, which I find in Christ.  If you are struggling with your identity and value, seek counsel from someone who will help you anchor to something permanent and true.  Our responses to the points of crisis in our lives will always make an impact, for the good or the bad.
If you are seeking help or advice, please contact Paul Anderson Family Strong Center at 912-535-2128 or visit www.familystrongcenter.org.


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Oct 05, 2015

Moms! Here Are 8 Things Your Children Need to See You Doing

Rise to the challenge – It’s only eight things.  You can do it.

Whether you’re a mom with one or many, girls or boys, toddlers or teenagers, your children are watching you.  And that’s a good thing; you have a captive audience who are like sponges absorbing all they hear, touch, and see.  This is your time to fill those sponges with things that will help them develop into strong, confident, and loving people.  You have a profound responsibility, and you shouldn’t take it lightly.  Here are eight things your children need to see their mom doing:
#1  Loving them: “Hold me, hold me,” “mama, mama” – as moms, we lead very busy lives. Our list grows as the day goes on. It’s easy for us to hear those words and think “interruption” instead of “opportunity.” Our children are growing up in a culture that moves quickly and communicates with as little interaction as possible. Our children need to know we love them. Moms have the power to show their children how to express love. Children need to learn by example. Give them your time, attention, and physical affection.
#2  Being a person, not just a mom: We get caught up in “mommyhood” and often times let that dictate our schedules and priorities. Take a minute to think back: Who were you before you were a mom? I’m sure you found time for hobbies, friends, and relaxation. I did. Before we can take care of all the ones around us, we have to take care of ourselves. Besides, your kids would love to see what you’re “really” like.  
We have to keep our bodies strong spiritually, mentally, and physically. Let your children see you reading your Bible and praying so they know you are dependent on Christ. Make time for hobbies and friends. Children need to see what we like to do and who we choose to spend our time with. Let them watch you socialize outside of your “mommy environment.” They also need to see you prioritize time for rest (lose the guilt – it’s okay to sit for a minute). They’re watching…show them what a balanced diet looks like and the importance of taking care of your body.
#3  Asking for forgiveness: This is the hardest of all for anyone to do, and moms are no different.  We are not perfect.  We don’t do everything right.  We don’t know everything.  And we can’t be everywhere at one time.  We have to be okay with that. Once you come to terms with it, you should know that everyone around you already knows it. Now, show them how you handle your imperfections and your mistakes.  Own it.  Take responsibility for your actions; don’t blame anyone else.  Ask for forgiveness.  
I can’t count the times I have let life get too busy or over-committed myself.  Consequently, my family sees the frazzled, frustrated, impatient side of me (not a pretty side, I promise).  It is in those moments that I make mistakes.  I speak harshly or react too quickly.  Does that ever happen to you?  Tell them how sorry you are, and ask them to forgive you.  A co-worker of mine, Matthew Hendley, recently asked a question that I loved.  When speaking about things we could do within our homes and with our children, he said, “Why don’t we create a culture of confession?”  I challenge you to create this culture within your family.  Let it start with you.
#4 Being confident:  I was not created by mistake or by chance, and you weren’t either.  Embrace it. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  Let those words fill you with strength and confidence.  You are unique.  Your personality, appearance, thoughts, strengths, weaknesses…These are all things that are specific to you.  How many times have you spoken these or similar words to your child?  Don’t forget to say them to yourself.  You are like no other woman.  Don’t compare yourself to other moms.  Keep your eyes on the One who created you.  Confidence is not a bad thing.  Focus on your strengths while recognizing your weaknesses and work to improve those areas.
#5 Praying for them and with them: Bedtime prayers are a great way to help your kids wind down, and it certainly creates a nice bedtime routine. But don’t let prayer be just that – an item checked off the to-do list.  Say the one sentence prayers thanking God for a beautiful day or asking for His light to shine through your children while in the carpool line.  Teach them to pray out loud at any time.  Instruct them to praise God in the good times instead of only asking Him for help in times of struggle.  Let your guard down and allow your children to see how simple our conversations can be with our Creator.  You will be very surprised to see how this will transform your relationship with your children.  Praying with them will create a sense of intimacy and openness, not just with God, but with you.
#6 Doing what you say you will do: I can still hear my dad saying, “Do what you say you’re going to do.  Your word is the only thing you can give away and still keep.  Again, it’s in the little things.  If you say you will be there, be there.  If you say you will pick up their favorite snack from the grocery store, get it.  Those are the obvious things.  Staying true to your word also applies in the “You can’t or “I won’t statements.  Don’t apologize for losing it and snapping at them then say you will never do it again.  Can you really commit to that?  Don’t tell them they can’t go to the party, and then when they get loud enough or ask too many times, change your mind and let them go.  If you say it, stick to it and be consistent.  They will respect you for it and remember it.  I didn’t always like it when my dad stuck to it, but I certainly remember and am thankful for it today.
#7 Letting Loose: Being a mom is a HUGE responsibility.  Everywhere we look, there is something to clean, pick up, or cook.  We analyze every decision, punishment, and conversation.  We fear if we put little Johnny in time out too long, he will need therapy for a lifetime.  We say “yes, “no, and then “yes again because we are filled with so much self-doubt.  Come on, ladies, give the kids what they really want and really need sometimes…you letting loose.  Wahoo!  Get dirty, and get on their level.  Run, play, bake, and let flour and sprinkles fall on the floor.  Laugh, smile, and make a fool of yourself.  The dishes can wait, the laundry can pile up — so what?!  Be a mom!
#8 Being their biggest fan: Let it rip.  Don’t be timid.  Scream, shout, and let them know you are their #1 fan.  If it’s a spelling bee, ballet recital, baseball game, or whatever they love, you should love it too.  We don’t want to create clones of us.  We want to embrace their talents and individuality.  Be on the front row, smiling the biggest and clapping the loudest.  Assure them that mom’s got their back.
I say all of this knowing that we are all different, and therefore, we won’t look like the moms next to us.  Trust yourself and be confident knowing that God created you and gave you some amazing children.  Enjoy them.


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Sep 29, 2015

Atlanta Journal Constitution Features Drew Read, PAYH

Atlanta Journal Constitution
Atlanta Journal Constitution

How to limit time children spend on tech devices


As the weather gets cools, children and teens tend to spend more time indoors, and that often means for time glued to a computer, iPad and other tech devices.
A 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that youth ages 8 to 18 devote seven-and-a-half hours a day to entertainment media. Less than half of the kids surveyed said their parents have rules about the shows and games they can watch or play.
Drew Read, director of the Paul Anderson Youth Home, offers the following advice on how parents can help their children understand and respect a healthy appreciation of electronics:
1.      Turn off the computer at night for at least one hour as well as making sure all technology (including Ipads and iPhones are put away at least one hour every night)

2.      Recognize that people often use technology to fill a relational void. The virtual world is appealing due to its unlimited capacity for friendship, attention, and a feeling of personal significance. It is a parent’s job to provide children with enough love and support that they do not go seeking those things elsewhere. Parents should try to schedule time each day to interact with their children–over a family dinner, a family game night, an evening walk, or any activity that provides an opportunity for interaction and two-way communication.
3.      As new sites are created, anticipate that they will gravitate towards the risqué and lewd.
4.      Be aware that early-formed computer habits often become behaviors that challenge parents as children grow older. Parents need to be aware and notice if children begin developing new behaviors, like becoming irrationally upset when they are not allowed on the computer.  A good way to assess such behaviors is to limit computer and tablet usage to a central location where children feel a sense of supervision.  If your child has a problem with this rule, it might be a sign that he or she is engaging in online activities that you might not allow.
5.      Install web filtering/tracking services on each computer.
6.      Learn how to interact online and use technology as another way to communicate with your child.  A lot of parents do not realize that technology is actually one of the easiest ways to communicate with their children, and it will make them seem more relevant in the eyes of their kids. Fighting technology is a losing battle.  We will never again live in a technology-free world, so it is important to adapt and learn the technology that your children are using.  After all, how can you expect to monitor something you do not understand?
7.      Set boundaries and enforce those standards by monitoring what your children are doing.  Set time limits on technology use and stick to them.  You do not have to hover over your children’s shoulders every time they use technology, but make sure to instill a sense of supervision.
8.      Make sure you know all of your children’s passwords, and do not allow them to share these passwords with friends.
9.      Check up on their online history and communication.  If history and/or cookies are deleted, then discover why.  This is a great way to establish a transparent relationship with your children, which is more important now than ever due to the innumerable risks of today’s world.
10.   Inform your children about real examples of predators on the web.
Be wise about what your children may think constitutes “their privacy and your responsibility as a parent to protect, nurture, admonish, and guide them.  You are not protecting them by not checking up on them. Every parent believes that their child wouldn’t do these things, yet the vast percentage of teenagers is interacting socially and virtually in ways that their parents are unaware of.
Drew Read, COO of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Ga., frequently speaks and writes on the topics of identity, technology, culture and high-risk behaviors affecting today’s youth. Learn more about the services PAYH provides and its familySTRONG resources at http://payh.org

View original article here.


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Happy family together, parents with their little child at sunset
Aug 20, 2015

Allowing Them to Fail So They Can Win

It’s not always easy to talk about parenting.   It’s a lot like religion or politics—people prefer to avoid the topic in an effort not to offend someone.  We fear we will appear judgmental or too opinionated.  The common thought is that how you parent is a matter of personal preference.  Is it?
I am of the opinion that parenting “takes a village.  I have seen it in my life and the lives of those around me.  We should share our opinions, major wins, and epic failures with one another to help each other, not to judge.  That being said, I am no expert.  I’m learning as I go, epic fails and all.  The awesome part is that with every fail, I also win because I learn something.  The question is, however, am I giving my children the space to do the same?
Am I allowing them to fail so they can win?
When our children are young, it is our job to protect them.  There is a multibillion dollar industry built on a parent’s need to protect their child.  (Really, what did our parents use to cover up electrical sockets?)  Just as we should, we protect our toddlers from dangerous objects, falling, or running out in the road.  Their needs are great at young ages because they do not have the ability to protect themselves.
But what do we do once our children do have the ability to protect themselves?  Our little babies turn into little people who are very capable of doing things on their own, yet as parents we still desire to do for them and protect them.  However, my job as a parent is not only to protect, but to teach.  There comes a point when my child must learn on his own.
The best way to learn is to do.  One of the most important things I can teach my children is that they have the power of choice.  It is vital for them to understand that the choices they make every day have an immediate effect on them and their circumstances.
How do I teach my child that the choices they make now impact them both immediately and in the future?  Baby steps.  We must give our children the ability to make choices early in life so that they have a safe place to fail.
Whether we realize it or not, when we provide a massive safety net for our children, we often give them no room for error.  Their need to be rescued lessens as they get older, just as their choices get bigger and have larger impact.  Of course we have to cover the electrical outlet for a one-year-old, but at some point we have to teach them why the outlet is covered.  A preschooler needs to learn that when they hit a child and the child hits them back, they are experiencing an immediate result of their choice.
We tend to push the phrase, “Obey your parents!  It certainly makes a parent’s life easier if they can get a child to obey everything they say.  We make the consequences of disobedience very clear and ride that rule as long as we can.  But what happens when we are not there?   What happens when my child is given the opportunity to make fun of someone, go to the party, have just one drink, take a hit, or pop a pill?  Will he look to his dad and me (who are not there with him) to give him the answer and just obey?  Or will he know, because he learned at a young age, that he has the power to choose and that every choice he makes has an effect on not only him, but also those around him?
Parents, I urge you to think about what your child can handle at their current age.  As they get older, the number of choices they make and things they are responsible for will grow.  So while we are still standing beside them to pick them up when they fall, let’s give them space to fail.  We can be there to teach them and show them what they could have done differently.  Then, when they get the wins, we can be there too.  We can celebrate their right choices with them.
The best way to learn is to do.  Let them do.


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Do you have nomophobia
Jul 24, 2015

Do you have nomophobia?

read-more-on-technology
Nomophobia

Do you have nomophobia?  What in the world is nomophobia you might be asking, as I did, but I think I may have it.  We know a phobia is a fear and from the perspective of psychology, a type of anxiety.  The amount of stress that fear or anxiety causes never really corresponds to the amount of danger that actually exists and so it is ultimately, irrational. So a phobia is really an irrational fear.
But Nomo…what is nomo? Nomo is an abbreviation for “no mobile phone” and the term was created after a study 4 years ago found that 53% of mobile phone users in Britain tended to be anxious when they “lost their mobile phone, ran out of battery or no longer had network coverage.” So nomophobia is the fear of being out of contact with your mobile phone!  Stop now and look…do you have your phone?  Did that just cause you panic?
Four years later, a similar study conducted shows that now 66% of Britains feel this same irrational fear or panic you just experienced. Do you:

  • have an inability to turn off your phone?
  • take your phone to the bathroom (full disclosure – I do)?
  • obsessively check emails, texts, facebook, twitter, etc.?

Technological advances are certainly great but with studies showing that we check our phones on average 34 times a day, maybe we have gone a bit too far. Just Google nomophobia and see all the current news. A recent article in New York Daily News describes the issue, interviews a subject, and shows (here is a link to the article) a nomophobia assessment. What is most shocking however is a statement made by one of the people who has this fear:

“I feel like the virtual world is more real. That’s the world I want to engage in.  I can’t even imagine only checking my phone once an hour.  I just feel like that’s my whole universe.”

 If you are concerned that you or your child has become obsessive about checking their phone and that their whole virtual universe is more real than the actual universe, do a few things:

  • Check your self and limit your own time on the phone (that means set the example).
  • Be a proactive, diligent observer of your child and their habits.
  • Who is having the greater influence on your child?  Media devices or you?
  • Don’t let your child isolate themselves from you.

As a parent, you have to honestly ask these questions if you really want to determine who is having the greater influence on your child?  Media devices or you?  Do you have nomophobia?  Does your child?   Silly as it may seem, it is reality in today’s world.  To access other resources on technology, create a My Parenting Page today!  There you can customize exclusive content for articles, advice, tactics, and solutions for navigating today’s current culture.


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Jun 24, 2015

Fatherless Epidemic

Flying kites, throwing balls, a feeling of security, sometimes a strong word or a look; these are all memories that many of us have of our fathers.  Stop for a moment and think…What are yours?
Growing up as the son of a naval officer who was often gone for months on deployment, what I truly remember the most was him coming home.  When he returned from a long trip, I was no longer the only male at home, and I was no longer outnumbered by my mom and sister.  Dad did more than just even the male to female ratio in our house; he mattered to each of us for different reasons, but for all of us, he made our home complete.
We all have memories of our fathers.  Some are good while others are bad.  The examples they set, their presence, or absence, make an indelible impact on our lives.  In a culture that screams to every one of us that we are independent and don’t need anyone else, nature shouts in return that we are far stronger together than alone.  Corporations speak about the power of teams, and societies talk of building communities, so isn’t this fundamental reality the same within a home?  Moms, dads, and children – all matter because of the unique role that only they can play.
Unfortunately, what we see in society is many men no longer playing a critical part of that role.  “We make men without Chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise.  We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.  (C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man)  The reality of “men without chests plays a part of their absence from the home, and the results are devastating.  Whatever the reasons are for many men removing themselves from the home, the impact is undeniable.
As an organization that exists to build generations of stronger families, we start with young men who need a second chance.  It would be easy to speak to the statistic on crime since fatherlessness is the single greatest predictor of incarceration.  But of all these numbers, the two that jump out to me are how youth do in school and their emotional health.  Dads matter in how boys and girls do in school.  Dads matter in how boys and girls feel about themselves.
Every day, we strive to shape men of character.  We strive to provide a Godly example to each young man entrusted to us of how they should act as men and how they should treat their own father.  Why? Because men matter and can make an absolute difference in this generation.  But that requires us as men to not act like dogs who are simply looking for their next meal or place to rest or sexual conquest.  Being a man is so much more (see articles here).  Youth today are looking for relationship.  We are to be connected to our children, in relationship with them.  Dads, love your children.  They are a part of you, and you are a part of them.  They are a living “fingerprint of you.  Dads matter; I want to be remembered by my children that way.


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May 18, 2015

Teens: What is a Healthy Romance?

Photo credit: Morgan Sessions
View original Christian Media Magazine article here.


by Drew Read
We are designed to be in a relationship.  So there is no surprise the temptation can be strong to use a boyfriend or girlfriend to fill a void in your life.  You may think it will give you identity at school or help you feel accepted. But, dating is not something Christians should take lightly.  As you think about your current boyfriend or girlfriend, or before you start looking for a date, take a moment to stop and think about these five essentials to a healthy dating relationship.
1. Finding yourself in Christ
Finding your identity is a process. Trying to nail it down as a teenager can be like driving down a dirt road in the dark: gloomy and hopeless. But like anything, it takes time for success to build. If you are simply keeping pace with the culture by trying something else on for size, or putting on the clothes or labels of someone else, the process cannot take shape. As easy as it is to take on the identity of the culture around you, your identity is deeper, more complex and defined by someone you can always anchor to. Look what the King of Kings says about those who follow Jesus:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

Knowing what you’re not can help define who you are. You are not alone. You are not forgotten. You are forgiven. You are bought with a price. You also might not be good at science and that’s ok. You’re uniquely gifted in other ways. Being confident in Him first is foundational for a healthy relationship with others.
2. Be invested in the relationship–equally
By definition, relationships require two people sharing a mutual respect and a mutual interest in each other. Are you dating for the sake of dating, to not be lonely or to create an image for yourself? Or are you both dating to seek the best team to reflect God’s glory?
Relationships are hard enough. Don’t take on a project. You are not in a relationship to fix the other person or try to make them more like you. A healthy interest in one another comes with no agenda. So make sure before you start dating that you’re not getting involved for the wrong reasons. And on top of that, ensure you’re both following Jesus, and seeking to honor him in your relationship.
3. It doesn’t take a person to complete you
If you’re looking for someone to keep you company, find a friend. If you’re looking for true fulfilment, you will never find it in another person. In the movie Jerry McGuire, Tom Cruise’s character says the famous, dramatic line, You complete me. It’s a poetic line and great movie moment. It’s a horrible relationship perspective.
If you think a relationship is all you need to make you complete, it can’t and won’t succeed. As sinful people, none of us can fill what seems to be missing in others. Only God can give us the lasting fulfilment we need.
4. Physical fades
The first thing anyone notices is outward attractiveness. But a real, lasting relationship is based on unwavering character. How does your significant other’s character match up to yours? Is he or she honest, trustworthy and pursuing the Lord? What do they do when no one is watching? So what if someone is hot when they have no ability to connect mentally or emotionally.
This is not to say physical attraction is bad. It just can’t be the foundational basis of a healthy relationship as it won’t, and simply can’t, last.

“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right. Song of Solomon 8:4

God’s timing is perfect, and his advice to remain sexually pure until marriage is because He loves you and wants the very best for you.
5. Be you and find someone that’s ok with being them
Confidence is attractive. Confident people know who they are and don’t put on a show. They are unwilling to compromise for other’s expectations. When you’re confident in who you are and the plan God has set before you, you’ll be able to face any rocky waters a relationship—or lack of one—can bring.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

“Drew Read, COO of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Ga., is a passionate advocate for youth and strongly believes that the home is the foundation of society. Drew frequently speaks and writes on the topics of identity, technology, culture and high-risk behaviors affecting today’s youth. Learn more about the services PAYH provides and its familySTRONG resources at http://payh.org.


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May 11, 2015

Birmingham Mommy Talks About Teen Depression

Talking about Teen Depression is Depressing

FEATURED, TO LIVE — BY ON MAY 8, 2015 AT 8:52 AM

By: Drew Read, COO Paul Anderson Youth Home

We all feel sad, down, blue or discouraged at times.  That’s pretty normal.  Sadness, disappointment, and pessimism are natural reactions to the hassles of life.  I regularly feel a bit blue during football season as I watch my beloved Oakland Raiders lose each week.  The reality is that, in the scheme of things, the loss of a favorite team is not that meaningful when compared to an argument with a friend or loved one.
For teens, there are many things that can cause stress: a breakup, a best friend moving, doing poorly on a test, or not performing at an athletic event.  Such events may even make them feel pessimistic about the future.  We’ve all been there.  In most cases, we manage to overcome these feelings with a little time and care. Depression, however, is different.
Depression is a lingering mood of sadness and hopelessness.  It can last weeks or months and is fairly common among teenagers.  Statistics suggest that adolescent girls are twice as likely to experience a period of depression as compared to boys. At Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH), many of our young men come to us with a diagnosis of depression.
So why do teens get depressed?  Well, for the same reason we adults get depressed.  Internal and external pressures cause stress.  The difference is, as adults, we have learned to work through those feelings, emotions and stressful situations.  Maturity has made us better managers of our emotions and feelings.  But our children are still learning how to navigate their emotions and manage those pressures. Their skills are limited.  It is critical for us as parents to be able to recognize the signs of depression in our children, as depression often leads to thoughts of suicide.
AVOIDING TRAGEDY!
Approximately two million teens attempt suicide each year!  Girls are more likely to consider and attempt suicide, while boys are more likely to succeed.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among teens, behind unintentional accidents (largely car) and homicide.  This is tragic on multiple levels, not only for the teens suffering from feelings of hopelessness but also for the families who feel the aftershocks.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
A teen who is contemplating suicide will manifest warning signs.  It is these signs that we as parents must pay attention to, especially when we know our children are struggling through break-ups, arguments with friends, academic struggles, insecurity, being bullied, crisis at home, addiction, conflict, or major disappointment.
In most cases, a teen considering suicide progresses through 3 stages:
Stage 1 – Thinking seriously about suicide
Stage 2 – Talking about suicide and making a plan
Stage 3 – Implementing the plan
Parents must pay close attention.  As I have said before, don’t say, “that can’t happen with my child.  It is our tendency as parents to think this way, but the truth is it can happen to anyone.  Be on guard.  Listen to your teen.  Know what is going on and try your best to understand what they are experiencing.  When they express feelings of hopelessness, listen to them.  When they feel trapped in their emotions, gently show them a way out.  When they make statements about everyone being better off without them, confront this as un-truth!
Remember, we all go through times of sadness.  But when it is more than occasionally feeling blue, sad, or down in the dumps, it is a sign of something deeper.  Understand that it is normal for your teen to experience feelings of sadness and discouragement.  It is part of the process of growing up. However, it’s important that we are aware of the signs of depression and suicide so we can recognize when these feelings become a cause for concern.


“Drew Read, COO of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Ga., is a passionate advocate for youth and strongly believes that the home is the foundation of society. Drew frequently speaks and writes on the topics of identity, technology, culture and high-risk behaviors affecting today’s youth. Learn more about the services PAYH provides and its familySTRONG resources at http://payh.org.


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