drip drip drip… the power of persistence

Parents, are you tempted to throw in the towel with your tween?

I know… it’s overwhelmingly difficult sometimes to parent a hormone-soaked-storm like the typical teen or tween. They know how to push each exasperation button we have… and somehow avoid being responsible for “ANYTHING” from their school grades to the family shared, mobile, data-plan last month ūüôā

wallpaper-1441638

They disdain our “ancient” wisdom of 40 something as outright stupidity and live comfortable in the smug knowledge they are in fact… the geniuses. Cerebral giants who can barely tolerate our presence in their ‘homes’. ¬†We call these crazies our kids and if you’re not careful… they can wear you down to the nub…

Or even worse, they might make you so exhausted… you give up!¬†

DO NOT GIVE UP ON THEM !

DO NOT STOP PARENTING

DO NOT STOP CAREFULLY KEEPING THE BOUNDARIES OF LIFE, LOVE, AND YOUR FAMILY INTACT !

Don’t stop praying, don’t stop sharing, don’t stop daring to believe in their hearts catching fire for Christ ! We underestimate our value, our power as parents ! Our kids get over 70 hours week of mainstream media ingested into their noggin and less than 3 hours of parent & pastor combined…

Poll after poll tells us that tweens (kids 7-13) and teens admit the opinions and ideas of their parents are THE SINGLE MOST INFLUENTIAL VOICE IN THEIR LIVES ! 

Be persistent !Untitled-111-980x613

It’s not up to us to convince… only God can change a heart or an attitude. But we as parents can be intentional about never – ever giving up on our kids. Of living out our faith values with honesty and persistence, day-in and day-out… like water on rock, over time… the water wins !

Pastor B.

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in the silence

As parents we all search for ‘just-the-right-words‘.

We want to be GREAT parents, not mediocre РC+ parents. We work hard to get our kids the best. We pray for God to grant us the wisdom and the insight to really truly see our tweens and reach deep down to their hearts with our love. But somewhere along the path from good intentions to real life we get sidetracked. bethany 2010, pensive bw

Sometimes it feels like we get “bushwhacked” ūüôā

Our best efforts can become fumbled attempts at connecting, and their resistance frustrates and we back away discouraged, hurt and confused by the whole strange metamorphosis. What was planned out to be so ‘perfect’ becomes oddly strangled by circumstances, hormones and misunderstandings until our special moment de-evolves into a mess of strained silence and awkward pauses.

As I get older, (45 as I write) I can reflect more accurately about what my three tweens taught me. Each of them with their own special gifts and challenges, but each were bound together by one common denominator as kids…they loved being with me.

Time alone with dad…

If you were to ask them now, they would tell you; it wasn’t the gush of advice I shared. (those ‘wise teaching talks from dad…cornering them in the car on the way to school to instill them with my wisdom :)…. they would tell you; it wasn’t my insightful recommendations for their college educations or who would be wiser to date. No, I believe it wasn’t really the words that made the big difference, it was my personal time… ¬†“the silent moments”¬†spent only¬†with¬†them that¬†made the biggest impact on their lives.

Crescent Lake - Olympic NP - seabrookwa.com

Crescent Lake – Olympic NP – seabrookwa.com

The comfortable quiet of life; 

Sitting with my girls on the old leather couch while they worked on homework, watched the Gilmore Girls and text-ed their fellows.

Driving on a Sunday afternoon across the winding hills of central Tennessee, Switchfoot on the car stereo as we hummed along to the words, wind in our hair and sonic milkshakes on our lips.

The time spent in loving companionship is so underrated.

It’s in those moments of total luxurious isolation, no mobile calls or connections… no next appointment rush, just an afternoon or day to spend with my kids. Listening, watching… loving. No big talk, no serious conversation.

Just the effort of will to push aside those “other’ things for them was key.¬†I think it was in “the silence” of our time together, that’s when we really effectively ‘speak ‘love’ to our kids.¬†

Road Trips are my passion, they can be an hour or a month, from your house to the mall and back or across a continent. I don’t know what your passion is… but share it with your kids. It will be so much better than finally finding those, ‘just-the-right-words’.

Pastor B.

PS – here is a great and inspiring line from a classic song by Switchfoot,

Adding to the Noise”

“What’s it gonna take
to slow us down
to let the silence spin us around?
What’s it gonna take
to drop this town?
We’ve been spinning at the speed of sound.”

What goes in…

The old saying… “What Goes In… Must Come Out” is especially true for our kids. Media consumption for the average pre-teen is WAY UP, while parents available free time is WAY DOWN. ¬†The net result… our kids are absorbing thousands of hours of television, video and music each year without a parents protective presence to monitor what they watch and hear!

thechart.blogs.cnn.com

thechart.blogs.cnn.com

“We often note that children and teens spend more time with media than they do in any other activity except‚ÄĒpossibly sleeping.In fact, the average time spent with screen media among 8- to 18-year-olds is more than twice the average amount of time spent in school each year (Sources;¬†Common Sense Media.org 2012, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010; National Center for Education Statistics, 2008).

Recent studies with Pediatric Psychologists and US Medical Universities, suggest the amount of pre-teen media consumption is up to 7.5 hours each day and trending higher! Such behaviors pose significant problems for pre-adolescent educators, pediatric health (Obesity) and attention deficit disorders !

For families of faith, we have an additional issue to consider… the development of a moral compass for our pre-teens. It’s a major problem confronting modern families who recognize we can’t just ‘ban” all electronic devices from our lives, in a futile attempt to avoid the dangers of media!

So what can concerned parents do?

1- Set some healthy boundaries;¬†¬†It’s your home, protect it as a ‘safe’ place for your family. Keep TV’s and wireless devices with unfettered access to the web and video in the common areas of your home. Family room, kitchen etc…. remove the opportunity for pre-teens to have ‘private’ viewing or gaming areas in your home. Be clear with the rules you have on what’s acceptable content for them. PG-13 / TV 14 – language – sexuality – violence… etc.

2- Watch and listen; Be familiar with what your child is reading, watching and listening to. Keep a running conversation with them about their favorite artists, TV shows and books. Make a point to watch movies with them, understand the ideas and themes that capture their attention.

3- Construct a Media Filter; Sit down regularly to watch popular movies, TV shows and videos with your pre-teen. As you do, take the time to gently point out where the false realities of video production edits exist; point out where directors create unrealistic life scenarios that seem to be ‘true. Comment on ‘half-truths’ and total fantasy, ask your pre-teen to start to notice the seemingly ‘perfect families, with ‘perfect complexions, hair and the latest in designer outfits all while living socially popular lives without the limitations of finances etc.

interhomeopathy.org

interhomeopathy.org

As tweens get better at ‘noticing’ the fake superficial stuff, dig a little deeper. Note the morality being portrayed as ‘normal”, point out the rationalization of sin and the subtle vilification of anyone who suggests a moral code of conduct in the story-line. In time, they will begin to catch on for themselves, and start to “FILTER” the lies and half-truths from the real.¬†

The long-term goal of every parent is to help our kids navigate the transition from child to adult safely. As Christians, we also hope to transfer our faith and the basic truths behind our biblical heritage.

Helping our kids learn to sort through the mass of media they consume is an ESSENTIAL issue for modern parents to wrestle with and adapt to.

May God give us all extra wisdom and strength as we parent this generation into a new digital age!

Pastor B.

 

 

The “Giver” is a “Gift” for parents!

Just watched ‚ÄúThe Giver‚ÄĚ ¬†– if you‚Äôre out of the loop, this is the latest of the tween-teen best-selling books to make it to the big screen and features a fantastic cast. (Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift)

It‚Äôs a teen story about personal discovery and the way in which we choose to engage our world, it opens up so much discussion. I would recommend parents taking their 13 and up kids to see this, it‚Äôs cinematic beauty and style is amazing for the metaphor it supports and although a bit ‚Äėslow‚Äô in the pace, it kept my interest.

thefandomnews.net

thefandomnews.net

It’s a film appropriate for further discussion, as it raises some big-picture¬†concepts about life, society and God that pre-teens and teens are wrestling with already.

Remember, media can be an amazing tool for us as parents to use in assessing and shaping our kids values and perceptions of morality. Pre-teens are constantly absorbing information and ideas, and making the effort to participate in that dialogue is an essential role we should play in assisting in their maturation emotionally and socially.

A few great ideas/concepts to consider after watching; 

What¬†is so significant¬†about our Free Will ? Why would God allow us to keep it , when we so obviously consistently make ‘bad choices’ ?

Can mankind choose to change itself or are we as a species….doomed to repeat our mistakes?

Are emotions safe ? Why or why not ?

Can we experience life without emotion or is it a dangerous distraction for a Christian?

Parents, I am so grateful for movies and media that can open the doors to our kid’s hearts. Recognize it as a rare and wonderful moment in time when we can push “pause” on our crazy busy lives to just enjoy being together as a family. ¬†It’s important to let our children share freely what they think afterwards… and for us to practice “listening”, instead of us always being the ‘talker or teacher.

Pre-teens need to process ideas… to learn to form their own ‘filter’ for truth. To begin to think critically and to internally separate the good from the bad. Media is especially adept at combining awesome themes like redemption and love with moral crud. Often it will interweave senseless violence, inappropriate language and sexuality with beautiful life concepts, fulfillment and gorgeous people, suggesting to our kids, they can’t be truly happy¬†without sinning. Our kids need to grow in their understanding of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong and why.

I rate the “The Giver” a 3.5 out of 5 stars for entertainment appeal and a solid 5 out of 5 for being a rich discussion starter!¬†

Pastor B.

For more movie and media reviews, check out¬†Plugged In ‚Äď MOVIE REVIEW from Focus on the Family!

Parenting through that awkward pause…

I hate awkward pauses… I change the channel sometimes in a romantic comedy – right when the good guy or lady get caught doing something totally innocent that appears to be totally awful. AAArrghh. I HATE that feeling.

The moment when the elephant in the room is overtly discussed…

That sick pit in your stomach –¬†pause in conversation – moment of time, when we realize… I¬†just completely missed a critical¬†social cue from¬†my spouse… and put my entire foot in my mouth.

Life is full of those awkward pauses, when we realize if we continue forward… we will¬†undoubtedly reduce our credibility and an escape of going backward isn’t an option. The option to wait… to pause, it’s all we have.

Awkward.

Parenting is a lot like that with pre-teens.

You can’t go backward, not an option. Moving forward “as is” isn’t really a good idea, so we have to pause. To wait for something vital inside of them to change. To grow.

And for many parents, that pause is too difficult to endure. We feel the need to do “something”, anything to catalyze their transformation from child to adult.

My encouragement to you dear pre-teen parent, let the awkwardness be.

Yes, let the pause grow in tension and wait. Our kids need to have the space to be awkward. Their personalities, values and beliefs will grow and expand and condense as they age, just like those size 11 shoes and braces they endure. School – peers and society all pressures us to move, to keep ourselves in action. Don’t stop, don’t rest… don’t wait, just act.

But what if we didn’t give in to that pressure to keep our pre-teens in motion.

What if we let them take some time to consider, to reflect and to grow. What if we didn’t push for them to be on the sixth grade soccer team, or travelling cheer squad ? What if we let them transition from the old to the new and in doing so, we gave them permission to explore – to discover.

brianvsmovies.blogspot.com

brianvsmovies.blogspot.com

What if we allowed them an awkward pause before they jumped into the frenzy of organized clubs and junior high academic awards.

I think it would be awesome.

I hope you will give it a try, pre-teens are being crushed by an average of eighty hours of media¬†a week. They live juggled between intense school work and evolving peer pressure, adapting often at school (but not at home) to assume an identity that’s premature and forced.

Sometimes, being awkward and unsure is a good thing, it gives time for the “real” us to emerge and grow and strengthen. Parents can be an amazing support to an awkward pre-teen if we show the patience and foresight to help gently nudge them into the areas of life that truly interest them. But if we blow right through these years, checking off our lists and making sure “our” kids set the bar for others to follow… we may deeply regret the decision to push through instead of “backing off”.

Just¬†a few thoughts¬†to consider. My hope is to help, and every reader should…know that I didn’t get this issue right very often. So God taught me to pause. Learn from my mistakes ūüôā

Peace and Grace, Pastor B.

PS – if you have a pre-teen, get yourself over to ishinelive.com

 

Parents, how old… is old enough ?

Smartphones, cell-phones… ipods-pads-tablets and snap-chat, common currency in today’s pre-teen cultural exchange. From the school bus to the family sofa, kids are using technology younger and younger every year. The tsunami of media has fully¬†crashed into the pre-teen world with a vengeance and we parents are left trying to learn how to sink or swim in the backwash. As a media executive (Bema Media – Franklin TN) I work with video, music and online assets every day. I live this stuff and I’m all too aware of how much I don’t know.

How do we navigate this rushing wall of water we call media ?

Netflix, Hulu… snapchat, twitter, vine, instagram, YouTube¬†and megashare all providing instant and mature content for anyone with a wi-fi signal to download, stream or snap. Kids today are not only being bombarded with millions of new home videos, selfies and R to XXX rated images…more often than not, an average ten-year old will¬†get to “decide” for themselves today¬†what is or isn’t appropriate to ingest with just a smart phone and five minutes un-supervised.

As parents, we are often left confused and disoriented by the almost infinite variety of online options being marketed to our pre-teens and teens. The viral marketing of ideas, brands and values is becoming the daily hot topic of every kids conversation. From the latest music video to the funniest pet or baby post on twitter, kids are combing through the very best and the very worst of mankind’s creative extrusions.

It’s a frightening landscape for parents to traverse safely and for most of us, no matter how aware we think we are of our kids online activities… we’re woefully out of touch and way behind their learning curve.

Knowing the patterns of an average pre-teen and their use of technology might be a good thing to consider before you go and sit down with your sixth grader to ask some basic questions.

Basic Facts:

Media activities make up more than a quarter of a 6-12 year-old‚Äôs waking day. (*source DIS magazine – tween tech article) It’s clear that our pre-teens are now entering a virtual world that we may not even realize exists.

Other sources suggest that tweens are now consuming an average of 80 hours of media a week, and doing so with three separate media forms simultaneously. (Mobile phone- iPod Рlaptop РTV РPlayStation/Xbox etc..)

birmingham.myscoop.us

birmingham.myscoop.us

Pre-teens are consuming media faster than we ever have… they are experimenting and learning how to visualize, create and share their lives, ideas and passions with technology. The smart-phone is not going away, and the use and abuse of these amazing micro-wonders must be at the top of any parents awareness at all times.

Setting some Ground rules:

Parents we will need to consider carefully at what age we “allow” our kids to have access to these mind-bending portals of poetry, art, history…culture and stranger danger. How amazing will be the world our kids inherit, and how deep and dark it may become.

As long as they live with us, we’ll need to help them understand the dangers and avoid the pitfalls of an online mine field. Keeping a close eye on their browser histories, online “friends” and file sharing… is a MUST. To develop your own ground-rules is an important step in raising pre-teens and teens in the digital age.

A clear sign of responsibility, privilege and independence… granting a pre-teen or teen the right to have their own smart phone is a huge rite of passage today and for parents not a decision to be made lightly or from a consumer “peer” pressured perspective ūüôā

Take the time to understand your child’s world, listen to what they listen to… watch what they watch and pay close attention to their social patterns of communication. Everything from sexting to homework cheats and dangerous bullies are in those lives… it’s our job to discover those “good” and “bad” influences¬†and enforce some clear-cut boundaries appropriate for their age.

iShine For Tweens ishineministries.com/

iShine For Tweens ishineministries.com/

Having “the TALK”

This blog is a reminder to re-engage and have the “talk” – no not the sex talk, the “tech” talk. Helping our kids learn and grow is always a parents priority – but in our world, teaching them safety and protection online is a first step in developing their own “thinking process” for filtering out the bad and allowing the good.

What an amazing opportunity we have to help our kids discover truth and faith and values… don’t hate technology, embrace it… WITH them.

FYI – I didn’t get my girls smartphones until they went to college. My son, a¬†junior in High School… still uses a flip phone cell. You can slow this down…but it’s very hard. In the end, instant communication can be a bit¬†too much drama for the average parent to endure, but you know your kids¬†the best. We¬†can’t police their every action…but¬†we can be clear on what’s right and wrong and work with them to “filter” out the crud and protect their hearts and minds for adulthood.

May God provide you with deep reservoirs of wisdom and insight as you seek to keep your kids on the path of life !

Peace and Grace,

Pastor B.

Teaching them to “filter”

Carly Rose reminds the world what a 13 year old CAN do…

Working in the music world of Nashville with pre-teen and teen artists I’m used to coming across amazing talent with iShine (www.ishinelive.com), young men and women who are vocally talented and gifted. But this¬†13 year old¬†(Carly Rose Sonenclar)¬†was not what I was expecting…¬†after watching her X Factor performance, I was a fan… A Facebook post by my niece piqued my curiosity and then I¬†starting typing out this blog.

gossipcop.com

http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/The-X-Factor/169661/2279104729/Meet-Carly-Rose-Sonenclar/videos

I watched the video and reposted it… and when the goosebumps started to fade I realized part of what I was feeling was the pure joy of hearing a voice that was meant to be heard! A gift from God that stirred the heart and refreshed the soul, from the lips of an emerging adolescent girl who at 13 was tearing IT UP!!!

It reminded me of the amazing¬†potential our next generation has to shape¬†our world, to refresh and reorient us from our adult cynicism, heartache and bitter pain. Our kids hold the keys to the future, literally. As in Carly Rose’s case, she can hit all the “keys” on her way up and on¬†the way¬†down the vocal scale ūüôā

As parents… let’s use this wonderful musical interlude to remind ourselves of the vitality and strength that is retained in¬†the lives of our pre-teens and teens. Their dreams and hearts are just big enough to become reality, let’s be extra careful to NOT put their hopes in a box made out of our own shortcomings, failures and pain.

After all, Jesus was in the temple at 12¬†wow-ing his world as he¬†shared¬†with the scribes and teachers of the law¬†from a depth of¬†divine¬†insight that was unprecedented. Josiah was running an entire empire by his 13th b-day and Mary the mother of Christ¬†had to be in her “early” teen years when called upon by the Holy Spirit to play a lead role in the eternal story of redemption.

Jesus in the Temple – truthworks.org

It’s clear that pre-teens and teens¬†were and are meant to¬†share a lot of valuable stuff for us “adults” to learn from and they carry in them…¬†hope and heart and optimism for us all!

WoooHoooo!!! ¬†You Go Carly Rose ! and we’ll be rooting for you in Nashville every step of the way, and praying for God to protect you and your precious family from the rigors of your emerging fame and success.

Before any one out there gets too¬†upset, I’m NOT comparing this young talented singer to the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Virgin Mary, but I am pointing out the potential she has at¬†tender age¬†to impact the world as noteworthy and encouraging for parents of Faith. What a great and timely reminder for us¬†to nurture the dreams of our own children as they¬† may well have a significant gift like Carly’s to share with us all!

Blessings to you RTP families!

Brad.