What is More Important Than a Red Balloon?

I just watched the movie “Christopher Robin” in which we see Winnie the Pooh and friends rescue an older Christopher Robin from himself.  As a child, Christopher Robin played and spent long hours exploring the Hundred Acre Wood with his stuffed animal friends.  He used his imagination to create stories that most of us heard about as children in the Pooh books by A.A. Milne.   Some wise sayings from Pooh are heard again in the movie.  Specifically, there are a couple of observations Pooh has about doing nothing.  The first is “Doing nothing often leads to the very best
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Categories: Children, Family, Managing Media, Marriage, Parenting, Personal Growth, and Stress.

Why is bullying such a problem these days?

Given the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the importance of addressing bullying is at its peak.  Bullying is an issue that is related to several problems in our schools, from mild anxiety problems to truancy to incidents of deadly violence.  Did you know that social rejection and bullying are common factors among students who become school shooters?  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics victims of bullying are twice as likely to bring weapons to school.  Statistics reported by ABC News state that nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids (nationwide)
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Categories: Childhood Disorders, Children, Family, Mental Health, Parenting, Personal Growth, School, and Stress.

Traits of Healthy Families Cont’d

This is the final part of the series I have written about traits of healthy families.  As identified by Dolores Curran in her book, Traits of a Healthy Family, the 15 traits that healthy families show are listed below.  Based on her research, a healthy family is one that: Communicates and listens. Values table time and conversation. Affirms and supports one another. Teaches respect for others. Develops a sense of trust. Has a sense of play and humor. Has a balance of interaction among members. Shares leisure time. Strong sense of family in which rituals and traditions abound. Exhibits a
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Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, and Personal Growth.

Traits of a Healthy Family #1-2

What do healthy families look like?  There’s a saying; “Crazy comes in many forms but sanity just has one.”  Dolores Curran, author of “Traits of a Healthy Family,” surveyed professionals in education, ministry, health care, and family counseling, asking them to identify what they observed in families they deemed as “healthy.”  Based on this survey, 15 traits were identified as components of healthy families.   There is no single family that embodies all of these traits, so don’t feel pressure to master them all.  This issue will look at the first two in Curran’s list; communication, and valuing family time
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Categories: Family, Mental Health, Parenting, Personal Growth, and Relationships.

Help your Middle Schooler Thrive Socially

So many books and movies illustrate the struggle that adolescents go through in social relationships. The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Harry Potter illustrate the social dynamics at work in the middle-school aged social life: Belonging, power, status, identity, leadership, conformity, and intergroup conflict.  I really think that stories like The Hunger Games are wildly popular among “tweens” because they can relate to the struggle those adolescent characters are going through.  And, don’t you think the writers of those stories chose to make their characters adolescents for just this reason?  In The Hunger Games story, Katniss and Peeta are fighting
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Categories: Children, Personal Growth, Relationships, and School.

The Challenge of Difficult Emotions

Fear.  Shame.  Anger.  Boredom.  Sadness.  Disgust.  These are feelings we don’t enjoy, and we can often go to great lengths to avoid them.  This was documented centuries ago by Blaise Pascal, who is quoted to say “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”   We try to suppress these emotions, especially fear and shame.  However, as Brené Brown has noted, emotions are like the old string of Christmas lights: when we deny or turn off one light bulb (such as anger) the whole string goes out.  Essentially, we become emotionally disabled in
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Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, Mental Health, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

“Remember Who You Are”

Who our children become is important to parents, and the level of this importance is seen in how much time, money and effort parents devote to their kids.   I put “who” instead of “what” because “what” our kids become is limited to doing – what they do for a career, for a hobby, etc.  Who our children become is much broader than this, and includes how they think, act, and what they stand for in their lives.   Parents have a huge impact on this.  Thinking about your own child(ren), aren’t you more concerned with “who” they become than
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Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

Are you Willing and Able?

Happy New Year! What I’ve been thinking about lately is will and ability.  If you think about the word “responsibility” you can think of it as “response ability.”  It’s your ability to respond to life’s demands.  Its your capacity to act.   Another thing to consider besides ability is willingness.  As great American thinker William James describes it, its the “sense of the amount of effort we can put forth.”  We all have a power of will.  It is my hope and prayer that you have an immense power of will.  It is the engine with which you drive your
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Categories: Faith issues, Mental Health, and Personal Growth.

Resolutions: How about trying to make it a happy (and new) year?

Happy New Year!  Have you made any resolutions for the New Year?  Making New Year’s resolutions is a good idea, despite the bad press it gets sometimes.  This is because they really do work! Research by John C. Norcross has shown that compared to people who don’t make resolutions,  people who make New Year’s resolutions are actually twice as likely to successfully change something in their lives.  Whether you have resolved to get physically fit, quit some bad habit, or chosen not to make a resolution, let me suggest a resolution that will change your life. This is it: work
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Categories: Holidays, Mental Health, Personal Growth, and Stress.

Thank You for Your Time (Without Your Phone)

What happens to us when face-to-face interactions become less important? What happens to our marriages, families, and communities? Sherry Turkle says our smart phone devices “…not only change what we do, they change who we are.” We deny each other of our full attention and we end up hiding from each other. We prefer interaction through technology because it can be more controlled than face-to-face, which is happening in real-time and can’t be edited for better presentation. What is happening is that we are losing confidence in each other and looking more to our technological devices to really “be there” for us.
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Categories: Family, Holidays, Managing Media, and Personal Growth.