Should You Make Your Kids Go To Church?

Should you make your kids go to church? This is a question many parents and people who work with youth constantly ask. There are not easy answers and there can be fear with either answer of yes or no. This article offers some food for thought and some positive ways to frame this question.
Should You Make Your Older Kids Go To Church?

I recently read an article about a family who loved to hike. Actually, not all of them loved it. One son shared how every weekend, rain or shine, he was forced to put on his hiking shoes (yes, forced) and he was loaded into the family car for what he described as a boring, wasted day of tramping in the woods. He said the numerous pre-hike conversations with his mom went like this.

“I don’t feel good.”
“The sunshine will make you feel better.”

“I’m tired. Can’t I stay home?”
“Put your shoes on. Let’s go.”

He did put his shoes on, but not without griping about it. As he hiked, he dreamed of the day when he could make his own decisions and told himself he’d never hike again.

He went on to tell how he’s out on his own now, and guess what? He loves to hike. He says hiking is one of his favorite things he gets to do on the weekend and he goes as often as he can.

This story makes me wonder if the words I told you so ever pop into his mom’s mind. It also makes me stop and consider the somewhat nebulous power of my influence as a parent. As my kids got older (and more opinionated), I often wondered what we should insist on versus what they got to decide. Things like brushing their teeth and going to school were easy (okay, easier) to insist on out of a healthy respect for cavities and detention. But what about things like going to church or participating in youth group? What about even deeper subjects like what they believed about God and faith?

It gets messy.

When our kids were young, it was easy to herd them in the car for church. “Time for kids’ church! Let’s go!”

But then our daughter turned thirteen.

“I don’t want to go to youth group. None of my friends are there.”

Geoff and I had some serious discussions. If we make her go, will she end up hating church? We’d both been brought up in church and could relate to not always wanting to go. We also knew families where they had forced their kids and now as young adults, they didn’t want anything to do with it.

It was hard to know the right path to take. Looking back, we can’t say we handled it perfectly (I bet our kids would chime in on that), but we do feel like we made a few good choices:


Geoff and I love great worship music and great preaching, and thankfully we were at a church with both. We often talked with our kids about the teaching we heard at church and how it stirred our hearts. We talked about how worship connected us to God. We told stories about the fun and friendships in our small group, and we often hosted group at our house. We wanted our kids to see what church meant to us and how it formed our relationship with God.


What mattered most to us about church was that our kids were exposed to adults who loved and worshipped God. This wasn’t something we were willing to let go of for our daughter, but we let her choose where these relationships would be. Would she rather go to the large mid-week group or be part of a girls’ small group? We let her decide.


Brittainy’s decision to go to small group turned out to be a game changer. She had a leader who remembered what it felt like to be in middle school and didn’t shy away from talking honestly about it. She shared how she remembered sometimes feeling lonely in middle school, but how she woke up every day and reminded herself of God’s love for her. She talked about how reading her Bible and what it meant to pray and know that God heard her. I wish I could say that my kids’ faith and character were because they had great parents. But I think it was because they had great small group leaders.

If you’re reading this and your kids are rolling their eyes or balking at church or faith, you’re not alone. We can’t force our kids to love God, but maybe we can inspire them. Whatever it feels like today, don’t give up.

Whatever it feels like today, don’t give up. Lean into other leaders and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Show your kids that while their opinions may change, your love and support for them won’t.

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Device Free Meals

Check out this funny video with tips, tools, and activities for device free meals at home all from Common Sense Media

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Why More Us Teens Are Suffering From Severe Anxiety Than Ever Before and How Parents Can Help

Here is an important article from sharing about rises in teen anxiety and how parents can help

Nearly one-third of American adolescents and adults are affected by anxiety, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s the most common mental health disorder in the country.

And when it comes to teens, severe anxiety is becoming more crippling each year.

In fact, over the last decade, anxiety has surpassed depression as the most common reason college students seek counseling services, the New York Times reported.

The data comes from the American College Health Association’s 2016 survey of students about the previous year.

Sixty-two percent of undergraduate students in the survey reported “overwhelming anxiety,” a significant increase from 50 percent in 2011.

A separate survey from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, asks incoming college freshman whether they “felt overwhelmed by all I had to do” during the previous year.

In 1985, when the institute began surveying students on the issue, 18 percent said they felt overwhelmed.

By 2010, 29 percent said they did. And in 2016, the number jumped to 41 percent.

And since 2012, the Washington Post reported, the Boys Town National Hotline has seen a 12 percent spike in teens reaching out via calls, texts, chats and emails about their struggle with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

The rate of hospital admissions for suicidal teenagers has also doubled over the past decade.

Recent data from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mirrored a national trend in suicide rates across the board.

But the research found suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

That means for every 100,000 American girls in 2015, five committed suicide.

For teen boys, the rate rose by more than 30 percent.

Anxiety, along with depression, cuts across all demographics, including both privileged and disadvantaged teenagers.

But privileged teens are among the most emotionally distressed youth in America, Arizona State University psychology professor Suniya Luthar told the New York Times.

“These kids are incredibly anxious and perfectionistic,” she said, but there’s “contempt and scorn for the idea that kids who have it all might be hurting … there’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college. Kids have a sense that they’re not measuring up. The pressure is relentless and getting worse.”

But helicopter parents aren’t always to blame. Many students internalize the anxiety and put the pressure on themselves, Madeline Levine, co-founder of Challenge Success, a nonprofit aimed at improving student well-being, told the Times. 

Another expert, psychiatrist Stephanie Eken, said despite the cultural differences, there’s a lot of overlap among teens regarding what makes them anxious.

Eken mentions factors range from school, family conflicts, what food to eat, diseases, how they’re perceived by friends and notably in the last few years, Eken told the Times, to a rising fear about terrorism.

“They wonder about whether it’s safe to go to a movie theater,” she said.

A lack of close, meaningful relationships is also a major factor.

Experts have long said hormonal, mental and physical changes associated with puberty may leave teens especially vulnerable to anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders.

And social media doesn’t help, Eken said, adding that teens are always comparing themselves with their peers, which leaves them miserable.

When Times reporter Benoit Denizet-Lewis visited Mountain Valley, a nonprofit that offers teens need-based assistance for $910 a day, a college student at the facility said, “I don’t think we realize how much it’s affecting our moods and personalities,” he said. “Social media is a tool, but it’s become this thing that we can’t live without but that’s making us crazy.”

But social media can also be used to “help increase connections between people,” CDC suicide expert Thomas Simon told CNN in August. “It’s an opportunity to correct myths about suicide and to allow people to access prevention resources and materials.”

Still, Simon acknowledged that cyberbullying can greatly impact vulnerable youth.

How parents can help

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder are not getting treatment. And anxiety disorders are highly treatable.

While anxiety can be a normal reaction to stressful environments and situations, there are specific symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.

Generally, someone with anxiety disorder would have fear or anxiety that is out of proportion to the situation or inappropriate for his or her age.

The anxiety would also affect normal day-to-day function.

Two questions parents should ask themselves: Is my child more shy or anxious than others his or her age? Is my child more worried than other children his or her age?

According to Lynn Miller, an associate proessor at the University of British Columbia, those questions can help predict a child’s potential of developing an anxiety disorder.

If you notice overwhelming feelings of anxiety in your child, the ADAA suggests seeking help and talking to a professional.

While antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can offer relief from symptoms, they’re not treated as cures. Instead, talk therapy is often recommended.

Here are some additional tips to manage anxiety and stress from the ADAA:

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How to Talk To Children About Shootings: An Age-By-Age Guide

Our hearts our broken by the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas. Here is a helpful article that can help you as parents discern how best to process this tragedy with your children.

You can find the article online here. 

How to talk to children about shootings: An age-by-age guide:
Meghan Holohan

The sinking feeling is becoming all too familiar: When mass shootings occur, parents have to figure out how to talk to their children about violence.

There’s no one way to address tragedies with children, and how parents approach it depends both on the child’s age and temperament. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend avoiding the topic with children until they reach a certain age – around 8, but again, it depends on the child.

“If it doesn’t directly affect your family, kids under 8 do not need to hear about this,” says Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert. Before this age, children struggle to process it.

But parents should talk to their younger children about mass shootings if they are at risk of hearing it from others, she says.

While advice varies by age, Gilboa provides a general recommendation for all parents faced with telling their children about the latest mass shooting.

“First, you have to process your own emotional response. What you do will affect them more than what you say,” she says. “Have your first reaction away from your child.

She also provides the following recommendations for sharing bad news with children of all ages.

Preschool-kindergarten: One-sentence story

“You have to figure out before you talk to them what story you want them to tell themselves,” she says.

With young children, Gilboa recommends that parents keep their stories simple. These stories should reinforce parents’ beliefs. Perhaps, parents want their children to know that a bad man hurt people. Maybe parents want their children to know that someone with a serious illness felt angry and hurt people.

“You are going to give a one-sentence story to anyone under 6,” she says.

This might be a chance to change the conversation, too. Try to focus on the positives, such as the heroes of the story.

Elementary school children: Shield them

Again, parents need to decide on the takeaway message. Children in this age group will ask many more interrogative questions and parents need to decide how much they want to share.

Gilboa stresses that parents should prevent their children from seeing pictures or the news because the images will stick with children longer than words. If children do see pictures, she recommends that parents show their children positive photos to counteract the negative.

“Let’s see if we can replace those memories and balance it out by showing the positives and the amazing people who rushed to help,” she says.

Tweens: Listen to their feelings

Start the conversation by asking tweens if they heard about the latest shooting.

“If you are going to talk [about] a fraught or laden topic … you start with a pretest. You are going to ask how they feel about it,” Gilboa says.

If they have heard of it, listen to their feelings. If they haven’t heard of it, parents have an opportunity to share their beliefs while gaining better insight into their tweens.

“[This becomes] a great conversation of their values and your values that do not focus on the particular gore [but] more on the person you are raising,” she says.

Teens: Look for solutions

Again, Gilboa says parents should ask their teens if they have heard of the latest tragedy and allow them to share their feelings.

But teenagers will expect more.

“Teenagers are looking for hypocrisy and solutions and this generation believes in collaboration and social justice. And they are going to ask ‘What are you doing,’” she says. “You can answer and then ask ‘what are you doing? What would you like to do? What can we do together?”

Teaching teenagers to work toward change will help them be resilient, she says. She stresses that parents still need to listen to their teens’ feelings and display empathy.

“I think for anyone action makes us feel effective,” Gilboa says. “What we want our kids to do when [they] see something wrong is to try to fix it.”

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Teens Are Putting Off Traditional Markers of Adulthood

Here is an article from The Washington Post about teens putting off traditional markers of adulthood.

When 17-year-old Quattro Musser hangs out with friends, they don’t drink beer or cruise around in cars with their dates. Rather, they stick to G-rated activities such as
rock-climbing or talking about books.

They are in good company, according to a new study showing that teenagers are increasingly delaying activities that had long been seen as rites of passage into
adulthood. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Child Development, found that the percentage of adolescents in the U.S. who have a driver’s license, who have
tried alcohol, who date, and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade.

The declines appeared across race, geographic, and socioeconomic lines, and in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

To be sure, more than half of teens still engage in these activities, but the majorities have slimmed considerably. Between 1976 and 1979, 86 percent of high school
seniors had gone on a date; between 2010 and 2015 only 63 percent had, the study found.

During the same period, the portion who had ever earned money from working
plunged from 76 to 55 percent. And the portion who had tried alcohol plummeted from 93 percent between 1976 and 1979 to 67 percent between 2010 and 2016.

Teens have also reported a steady decline in sexual activity in recent decades, as the portion of high school students who have had sex fell from 54 percent in 1991 to 41
percent in 2015, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics.

“People say, ‘Oh, it’s because teenagers are more responsible, or more lazy, or more boring,’ but they’re missing the larger trend,” said Jean Twenge, lead author of the
study, which drew on seven large time-lag surveys of Americans. Rather, she said, kids may be less interested in activities such as dating, driving or getting jobs because
in today’s society, they no longer need to.

According to an evolutionary psychology theory that a person’s “life strategy” slows down or speeds up depending on his or her surroundings, exposure to a “harsh and
unpredictable” environment leads to faster development, while a more resource-rich and secure environment has the opposite effect, the study said.

In the first scenario, “You’d have a lot of kids and be in survival mode, start having kids young, expect your kids will have kids young, and expect that there will be more
diseases and fewer resources,” said Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who is the author of “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are
Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”

A century ago, when life expectancy was lower and college education less prevalent, “the goal back then was survival, not violin lessons by 5,” Twenge said.

In that model a teenage boy might be thinking more seriously about marriage, and driving a car and working for pay would be important for “establishing mate value
based on procurement of resources,” the study said.

But America is shifting more toward the slower model, and the change is apparent across the socioeconomic spectrum, Twenge said. “Even in families whose parents
didn’t have a college education…families are smaller, and the idea that children need to be carefully nurtured has really sunk in.”

The postponement of “adult activities” could not be attributed to more homework or extracurricular activities, the study said, noting that teens today spend fewer hours
on homework and the same amount of time on extracurriculars as they did in the 1990s (with the exception of community service, which has risen slightly). Nor could
the use of smartphones and the Internet be entirely the cause, the report said, since the decline began before they were widely available.

Musser, who lives in Portland, Ore., has had summer jobs but he has never drunk alcohol and says he is not curious to try. To him, the idea that earlier generations of
teens centered evening activities around procuring and drinking alcohol sounded mystifying.

“I haven’t heard of anyone who goes out and specifically drinks with their friends,” he said. “It’s not something you set out to do, like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to go out and
get drunk.’”

In a city where it is easy to bike, take buses, or rideshare, he doesn’t see much need to drive. And as for dating, “It seems sort of ridiculous to be seriously dating someone
in high school. I mean, what’s the plan there? Continuing to date through college and then eventually get married? That seems sort of unrealistic.”

Although the study did not look at people under 13, Twenge said she suspects the postponement of adult behavior begins in early childhood, starting with the decrease in
children walking to school alone or playing unsupervised. In recent decades parents have become more restrictive about independent activities, and laws in some states
have codified this, banning children from going out in public or staying home without adult accompaniment.

(Legislation has also delayed another adult activity: In the 1970s the legal drinking age was as young as 18 in some states; it is now 21 almost universally.)

To Daniel Siegel, an adolescent psychiatrist and author of “Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain,” it makes sense that adolescents would “remodel”
their brains to adapt to a society that has changed since the 19th century.

“In a culture that says, ‘Okay, you’re going to go to high school, go to college, go to graduate school, and then get an internship, and you’re not going to really be
responsible till your late 20s,’ well then the brain will respond accordingly,” he said.
Whether the changes are positive or negative depends on the reasons for delaying adult activities, Siegel said.

If the delay is to make room for creative exploration and forming better social and emotional connections, it is a good thing, he said. But “if it’s fear-based, obviously
that’s a concern.”

Among teenagers now, “there is a feeling you’re getting of, ‘Wow, the world is pretty serious, so why would I rush to immerse myself…Why don’t I stay with my friends
and away from anything that has heavy consequences, like pregnancy or sexually-transmitted diseases?’”

Teenagers are also more conscious now about the possible repercussions of their actions, said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary

“They’re starting to realize, wow, they really do have to worry about their resumes,” she said. “They come in without the kind of reckless disregard of consequence that a
more confident generation of kids had, who said, ‘I’ll drop out of school and join the peace movement, what the hell.’”

With fewer career paths available to those without a college degree, she said, young people can no longer afford that kind of non-chalance.

“They’re absorbing the same kind of anxiety about the future that their parents have for them.”

Chiara Power, 15, of San Juan Island, WA, has no interest in dating, driving, working for pay or drinking alcohol – and the rising costs of college keep her up at night.
“I’m already panicking and having nightmares about the student loans that I’ll never escape, and I’m worried that I’m going to end up homeless,” she said.

Her parents try to assuage her fears. “They’re just like, ‘Dude, that’s not happening for the next three years, so chill. I can’t chill, I have no chill…There’s just so many
people saying, ‘Oh, it’s going to be hard when you get out there.’”

Her mother, Penelope Haskew, 45, feels mixed about her daughter’s preference for spending free time at home with her family.

“On the one hand, I know she’s safe, she’s not out getting pregnant or smoking pot or drinking or doing all kinds of risky stuff that I can imagine would be age
appropriate,”she said. But Haskew wonders whether her daughter is missing out on life lessons those behaviors can teach. “Is that stuff necessary for human
development, do you have to be risk-taking as a teenager in order to succeed as an adult?”

Still, she agreed with her daughter that the world seems more treacherous now than when she was a teen. “Climate change is super real and it’s obviously happening as
we speak,” she said. “Maybe the scary things about being an adult are so much more concrete right now that it’s just safer to not become an adult.”

Tara Bahrampour, a staff writer based in Washington, D.C., writes about aging and generations.  Follow @TaraBahrampour

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Why We Make Our Kids Do Chores

Here is any article from Parent Cue


Why We Make Our Kids Do Chores

I’ve never been a big fan of January 1st. Too much pressure to set a goal or make a resolution, and then an impossibly long 12 months to keep it. But the start of the school year? I love it. Maybe it’s the smell and look and feel of new school supplies, maybe it’s the enthusiastic outfit choosing, and hair gelling and homework doing, that makes me giddy. Or maybe it’s the hope that if you set some optimistic goals in August and September, being able to keep them until Christmas break seems a lot more doable.

My kids recently started school, and the weekend before we pushed those little bottoms out the door, we did some life overhaul. We bought the school supplies—the tuck box crayons, the pencil top erasers, the Clorox wipes, the pencil grips. We cleaned out the closets, we straightened up rooms, and we stocked up on snacks and pulled our book bags and lunch boxes out from under a fine layer of dust. And then we got the chore chart back out. Because it wouldn’t be a fresh start if we didn’t include reinstating some child labor around the house.

The chore chart is an ever-evolving thing in our family, depending on the boys’ ages, and the season of life we are in. There are things that they are asked to do because they are a part of the family: like take their dirty plates to kitchen following each meal, bringing their book bags and lunches in from school and putting away the ice packs, taking stuff on the stairs up to their rooms and then put away, getting drinks and silverware for the family, making their own breakfast.)

And then there are the chores that earn the boys a star, and then a certain number of stars earns them a dollar. These include loading and unloading the dishwasher, making their own lunches and water bottles for school, folding and putting away their clothes, making their beds, cleaning their rooms, and getting the clothes off the bathroom floor—without being asked.

The good news is, my boys are obsessed with Legos. There is a strong incentive to do the chores to get the stars to earn the money to purchase the Legos. The bad news is, they’re five and seven, so motivation can still be hard to come by.

But there are a couple of reasons we keep pushing to make the chore chart a regular part of our lives anyway. For one, I am looking for any reason to get school lunch making OFF MY PLATE FOREVER. Sorry kids, but I’ve earned my right to pawn off unwanted responsibilities to you. I do it all in love, of course.

But the other reason is because of a big word that tends to get a bad rap these days, responsibility.

I want to teach my kids responsibility. And not because with it comes the appreciation of hard work, and small doses of the real world waiting for them outside our walls, or because I plan on raising self-sufficient and independent men. These are all great, but they are not the biggest objective I have.

I want to teach them responsibility because I want them to learn early and to learn often how capable they are of so much.

I want to be able to watch them push through a task and meet their surprised eyes at the end and tell them I knew they could do it and how impressed I am.

I want to watch their life skills develop so they grow up believing almost anything is achievable with some practice and persistence, even if it is unfamiliar and new.

I want to watch them do these things at home while they still have a cheerleader in me, encouraging them and pushing them, because no one else in the world besides their mother is going to cheer for them for folding their socks.

I want them to develop habits now because I want them to know they are more capable than they think they are, they are more skillful than they imagined themselves to be, that they are growing into men—and I see it, but appropriate responsibility now let’s them catch glimpses of the great wide expanse of a future before them—one that is theirs for the taking.

Yes, as parents, we just want our kids to lend a hand, because our lives are busy and if someone besides you could learn to load the plates facing the right direction in the dishwasher, the world would be better for it.

But when it comes to responsibility there is so much more on the line than our OCD for dishwasher loading. Who our kids believe they can be, who our kids see us believe them to be. Horizons are waiting to be explored. And telling our kids that responsibility is the key to reaching them may sound like a big sell, but believe me. Responsibility is so much more about them, than it is about us. About so much more than work. It’s about learning in our homes what their growing minds and bodies and spirits are capable of when we push them and challenge them and teach them.

I have a feeling we’ll start strong with the chore chart and then come late September it will be neglected a bit. Then maybe picked back up in spurts, or whenever there is a Lego set being eyed.

But the chart will stay hanging on the refrigerator door, warped from water drips missing the water bottles being filled, wrinkled from growing legs brushing past it in a rush to pack a snack, smudged from fingers opening and closing the freezer to get their ice packs. It will stay hanging up, because while they may not see it this way, I see that chart as being just as important and just as meaningful as the character awards hanging above it and the Bible verses stuck up beside it. They are the gateway to a future as big and expansive and inviting as my boys make it to be. That is theirs for the taking. That day in and day out, in the little jobs and the menial tasks, they are learning to believe is more attainable than they ever thought.

See the article online here

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Back To School – How To Avoid Over Scheduling Your Kid

Here is an article from Kelly-Jane Carter at USA Today on how to avoid over scheduling your kid as a new school year begins

So you’ve agreed to let your child play hockey, run cross-country, join the swim team, learn piano, star in the school play, take voice lessons, join robotics club, take SAT prep, volunteer at the food pantry, volunteer at the animal shelter, work part-time, keep up with National Honor Society and continue in Scouting.

Too much?

Yeah, probably.

Unless your family somehow manages to squeeze 100 hours into every day, there is a physical and mental limit to what you can do.

But where to draw the line? Always tricky.

As back-to-school season approaches, here are some other things parents should keep in mind:

Time and money

Nobody has unlimited time, and hardly anybody has an endless supply of money. You have to pick and choose.

“I’m not a big fan of travel teams because they’re often about getting parents to fork over a few thousand dollars and travel to other states every weekend,” said Al Lupiano, a longtime coach of youth soccer and baseball in Middlesex County. “The parents are miserable and the kids aren’t having fun.”

“It’s a good idea to start with low-stakes, low-pressure activities,” said Stephanie Rahill, a faculty member the graduate school psychology program at Georgian Court University in Lakewood.

In other words, if your child watches the Olympics and says she’d like to learn how to skate, hold off on that custom-made figure skating outfit. Try bringing her to the rink a few times to see if she likes being on the ice. Then see if she can still do all her homework and handle skating lessons.

Nanci Bergman, mom to 9-year-old Dalton and CEO of ACCENT, says prioritized to-do lists help her stay on task.


“You do get the parents who are living through their children, and they push their kids into time-consuming leagues in hopes of them being the next Derek Jeter,” said Lupiano.”

“It’s not about what the parents want,” Rahill said. “Don’t put them on a sports team in hopes of getting them into a certain school or getting a scholarship.”


“Is your kid saying, “Do I have to go?”” Rahill said. “That’s a clear sign the activity is not right for them. Certain kids need more downtime, or feel more pressure about activities. How much stress do they feel about competition?

“Not all kids are going to go for a team,” Rahill added. “You want to have them involved in something they have interest in, something that will teach them perseverance and give them a sense of accomplishment.

“If your child is more into solitary activities, like piano,” Rahill said, “then you want to make sure that their free play involves something social, so they get that balance. Either way, it’s still important to have free play, without adult supervision, because it increases creativity and social problem-solving.”

“There is so much emphasis on “you need to choose at 4 and know what you want to do,” said June Rizza, a coach and mother of two. “That’s great if you do know, but that’s not the norm. I found running in my late 30s. I mean, I always liked running, but I didn’t know until then that I would want to pursue it the way I do now.

“Kids know what they can handle,” Rizza said. “With my own kids, I take my cues from them, whether it’s physical cues like a sleeping issue, or if we’re at a point where something else is lacking or is being detrimental, then we stop. As a coach, we want to know if it’s too much. We don’t want to push them.”

“We are currently living through a time when being overscheduled and overcommitted is part of our culture,” said Monmouth University’s Tracy Mulvaney, by email.

Mulvaney, assistant dean of the School of Education, added that students in middle and high school should choose their own activities, to ensure enthusiasm and make it “less of a chore.”

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Why We Need To Talk About Race With Our Kids



  • Create a safe space at home to foster conversations about race with your children in a kid-friendly way.
  • Ensure your relationships model an appreciation for diversity.
  • Expose your children to various cultures through diverse toys, books, and environments.


Be the Bridge

Tasha’s organization aiming to build a community of people who share a common goal of creating healthy dialogue about race.



Each day, we’re faced with a sad, difficult-to-swallow truth: Our unity with one another is broken. We know the answer is Jesus, so why is it so for us to come together?

Eighty percent of what kids learn is from their parents, so that means there’s an increased likelihood they’ll inherit our fears, anxieties, biases, and prejudices. The media is filled with examples of a lack of awareness, acknowledgment, and forgiveness when it comes to racial diversity. Unfortunately, many of us have long taken a “Nothing is broken and everything is fine” approach to this growing tension.

That’s why conversations need to start right now with your children. Talk about race in an age-appropriate way. Remind your children that although God created us to look differently, He loves us all the same. And He wants us to love everyone like He loves them.

If we want to live authentically in the fullness of God’s love, we have to step over racial divides, acknowledge God’s creativity in all things, and seek to mend broken relationships. We can start working toward racial unity by having conversations and teaching our children about race and equality.


Kids inherently think in categories, so help them understand what ‘ethnicity’ is in the context of God’s creation of nations, tribes, and different races they notice each day. Teach your kids to acknowledge racial differences through positive, beautiful words.

If you don’t understand ethnicity enough to explain it to your children, start researching for yourself first. Also, take a look at your own friendships — do your relationships model the mosaic of God’s creation? If not, perhaps diversifying your friendships is the first step.

Be intentional about exposing your kids to various ethnicities and experiences. Buy toys of different ethnicities, read books that have characters that look different from them, and let them visit different churches that are diverse so they can interact with kids who look nothing like them.

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“I Don’t Believe In Anything Anymore”

“I don’t believe in anything anymore”: How to respond when young people doubt God

“I don’t believe in anything anymore”: How to respond when young people doubt God

Photo by Matt Cannon

“I don’t believe in anything anymore. Christians are all such fakes.”

These were the words her 17-year-old son yelled just before she walked out the door for our meeting. Even for a mom who can handle a fair amount of conflict and pushback from her kids, this was a heavy blow. It was meant to be.

Teenagers can be like that. They know just how to press on our sensitive spots and trigger our reactive emotions. What they don’t know is how much fear and uncertainty these moments evoke in us. They aren’t yet sophisticated enough to realize that our first responses, like theirs, can unhelpfully shut down the conversations we really need to have.

Adolescents and emerging adults need parents and trusted adults in their lives who will receive these moments perceptively. To see what may be under the harsh words, sarcastic questions, or searing critique about faith, Scripture, or the church. Because often what’s underneath those outbursts are really important questions.

Is God real?

Why are Christians so messed up?

Can I trust the Bible?

Is it wrong to doubt God?

Through our research at the Fuller Youth Institute, we’ve learned in our Sticky Faith and Growing Youngstudies that it’s not doubt that’s toxic to faith—it’s silence. Young people who have safe relationships in which to share their questions and struggles tend to have stronger faith, to carry that faith into young adulthood, and to share their faith with others more often. When articulated, young people’s questions open up exploration of both doubt and faith.

The problem tends to be that as parents and leaders, we typically get caught off guard by these questions. Like my friend, we’re on our way out the door to a meeting. We’re wrapping up an already-over-time small group session. We’re exhausted and have very little capacity to give a “Jesus-answer” worthy of a decent Christian, let alone one who is supposed to be a spiritual leader to their children or to others’. We feel outmatched and underprepared.

In these moments, we want to remind you—and ourselves—of a few powerful phrases. Our team has created a set of wallpapers for your computer and phone this month to help you remember, share, and use these two responses:

1. Yes, you can ask that

2. I don’t know, but…

First, every young person needs to know that all of their questions, complaints, doubts, and struggles have a hearing. They need to know that you—and God—are going to hear and hold the questions without pushing the young person away. They need to know that God is big enough to receive these questions and is not afraid of them (just read the psalms or Job for examples!) They need to know that they are not somehow deficient, unfaithful, or unworthy, and that their questions won’t cause God to love them any less.

Young people need to know that we—and God—are going to hear and hold their questions without pushing away. (tweet that)

Second, young people need to know that we don’t have the answer to every question. It isn’t the goal of mature Christian adulthood to be “answer-people” or to have everything figured out. In fact, the more we lean into faith, the more we realize it is marked at every turn by mystery, unseeing, complexity, and paradox. As most of the biblical witness portrays, these features deepen our awe, wonder, and humility before God; not our certainty, arrogance, or pride.

It may push against everything we’ve been conditioned to say, but often a helpful first response to a tough question can start with the words, “I don’t know, but …”

This isn’t just a stall tactic, but a way to both affirm the question and create a holding space for it. We might say, “I don’t know, but that’s an important question,” or “… I wonder that, too,” or “… let’s work on that together. Who could help us find out more?”

If you’re like me, you hear pithy, helpful phrases all the time but can never remember them at just the right time you need them. This month we are helping you out with these wallpaper reminders. Use them, and share them with parents, ministry leaders, and any adult who cares about young people.

Together we can become safe spaces—safe relationships—in which teenagers feel invited to bring their real selves, their hard questions, and their deep frustrations, and truly be heard.

Yes, it’s okay to ask that. Even if I don’t know the answer.

Free Downloadable Wallpapers (click to download)


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Is Social Media Causing Depression in Teens

Here is an important and meaningful video shared by ABC News addressing the relationship between social media, mental health and depression.

Watch Video Here

Image result for social media and mental health

Posted in Child Development, Difficult Conversations, Family, School, Social Media, Technology | Leave a comment