Tuesday Tome Week 45 – Bringing Up Boys

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Bringing Up Boys came out first, before Bringing Up Girls. Dr. Dobson considered that boys were in danger, much more so than the girls, so he focused on them first. Many factors were at play during the 70s and 80s, with the rise of feminism. The book picks up twenty years later, to show the results of secular progressive movements and the pro-homosexual agenda.

Bringing Up Boys

I’m all for women’s lib, but when moms go to work and sons get placed in classrooms which cater to girls, we have a problem. Homeschooling would solve it, but I understand that some people simply cannot afford to homeschool and live on one income.  Continue reading »

I bought this book when I was pregnant with my son but never read it until now. He is nine. The urgency of his physical needs as a baby and toddler steered me toward books like “What to Expect…” and “The Fussy Baby Book.” Then, he became of school age and homeschooling books arrested my attention.

Now that parenting switches slightly for me as we enter the next phase, I remembered I had this book on my shelf and decided to give it a go. Of course, I did not find new principles in it. If you have already done your fair share of reading on parenting issues from magazines and other books, you will not be discovering anything new in this book.

Of course, Dr. Dobson is a conservative Christian man and he writes from that perspective. I’m conservative and I like his writings, but I know people who would be offended by some of the things in this book.

The subtitle is “practical advice and encouragement.” Personally, I think we all could use some encouragement on a regular basis. Parenting is not a sprint. It’s a grueling marathon and sometimes our gear needs an update or at least a thorough cleaning.

Definitely a good read if you have a son and not that hard to finish, as the book is around 250 pages. If you read 9 pages a day, you should be able to get it done in a month, which is not bad. Of course, you could also finish it over a weekend while daddy takes the kids and gives you a break.


Tuesday Tome Week 43 – Dare to Discipline

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Dr. James Dobson has written several books on discipline and how to raise children. The New Dare to Discipline is a must-read but they all are. If you are a Christian parent, you should read Dobson books. Period.

Dare to Discipline

Now and then, there are voices in the educational realm who throw mud on discipline of any kind. Dr. Dobson documents such books and magazine articles all the way back to the end of the Second World War. The result of these approaches in education have been – among other things – an increase in lawlessness, a decreased reading fluency and comprehension among high school graduates, and the sexual revolution of the 60s.  Continue reading »

James Dobson also shows common problems in families and schools when discipline is lacking. So many parents, turned off by the strict rules imposed on them as children, now take the opposite approach – a laissez-faire attitude which harms children just as much as too much control and strict discipline measures.

For instance, Dobson details some of the problems he used to see in schools when he worked as a school counselor and teacher – before going to graduate school. He writes about the IQ ranges of the school population and how only 2% of children can be labeled as “retarded.” But then there are about 23% in the 70-90 IQ range for whom there is no help in school. They don’t fit the category of kids who need special education, but they really cannot perform at the regular speed of an average classroom. As such, they get lost in the shuffle. Their needs are ignored due to the limitations on the teacher’s attention and time and the school structure, and they become the high school dropouts of the next decade.

Dobson also addresses the needs of the underachievers and the late bloomers. He offers solutions for parents and schools as to what to do with these youngsters, homeschooling being one of the solutions. I’m glad he reaches that conclusion.

Dr. Dobson mentions homeschooling in a positive light and recounts how Dr. Raymond Moore had a big impact on him in the early 80s. Dobson goes as far as to say that he and his wife would probably have homeschooled their children in the first years of the elementary years, if they had known about it back then.

This book (the New Dare to Discipline) is a great read and makes the case for discipline of the right kind and intensity, the discipline that rewards small children right away for their accomplishments while doling out appropriate consequences for their wrong choices.


Tuesday Tome Week 42 – Parenting Isn’t For Cowards

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When I got desperate about one of my children’s attitude recently, I reached out to a friend who told me about Parenting Isn’t For Cowards by Dr. James Dobson. Most things coming out of Dr. Dobson’s mind are 100% pure gold for the family and this book is no exception.

Parenting Isn't For Cowards

Maybe it hit me right because I felt my need for a better way to handle my children. I was ready for its message. This book may not have the same impact on you, because you may already know how to apply its principles or you may not agree with his discipline methods etc. To me, this book was the right thing at the right time. Continue reading »

In a couple of days, I had a different child on my hands. That’s because I changed by acquiring some parenting skills I did not have before. The whole experience inspired me to write a newspaper column about reaching for help instead of resorting to unhealthy behavior to deal with crises in our lives.

This book also sparked interest in other books by Dr. Dobson and Dr. Kevin Leman, which I should have read a long time ago. I will review them all in here if I have not done so already.

Dr. Dobson points out what to do with disrespectful, disobedient children. He also gives an overall view of the entire parenting experience. His chapters on teenagers will raise the hair on your back. My problems with my six-year-old seemed like small potatoes compared to what lies ahead in the teenage years. Yikes!

Perspective helps though. It’s good to be reminded this is a journey and nothing is final. It’s not over till it’s over.


Homeschooling Is Parenting

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I know, I know. Blanket statements do not stand the test of real life. Let me explain my title. “Homeschooling is parenting” means one cannot homeschool without being really good at parenting. You don’t have to be a certified teacher to teach your own children at home, but you do need to be a good parent to homeschool. Academics, believe it or not, are not as important in homeschooling as parenting skills.

Girl with lion statue in Gatlinburg

My daughter in The Village, downtown Gatlinburg

That does not mean your child will suffer academically if they are homeschooled. On the contrary, most homeschoolers score higher on standardized tests than their peers who attend public or private schools. But it does mean that unless you have some parenting skills, you will never even get to the table to teach junior how to read.  Continue reading »

I have had several moms tell me, “I would have liked to have homeschooled my children, but I know my daughter and I would have killed each other if I had gone that route.” Hmmm… Yes, mother-daughter relationships can be tricky, but you just told me you never really got the hang of it. I have a daughter and want to get the hang of it. Not just for homeschooling, but for life in general.

The good news is that parenting skills can be learned. None of us were raised by perfect parents and some of us have some serious learning to do in that department. I know I do.

Which is why, besides praying for wisdom, I have been reading parenting books. Since I started homeschooling though, it has been so easy to focus on how-to-homeschool books, that I have neglected parenting books altogether. The result was that I allowed some bad habits in my parenting and, over time, this affected our homeschool. You see how the two are connected?

Recently, I reached a point where I was desperate to have a better grip on my children’s attitude and behavior. I finally opened up to a good friend who homeschooled two children successfully. She gave me wonderful advice and then the title of a book by James Dobson: Parenting Isn’t For Cowards. I will be forever grateful to my friend for steering me in the right direction.

I will be blogging about this book in a future Tuesday Tome post, but I can tell you right now it is exactly what I needed to understand parenting as a whole, to have a big picture of what to expect, how to cope, and to learn how some Bible passages about child-rearing can be misinterpreted even by pastors. This book is an answer to my prayer for wisdom.

It also reminded me to check out other resources from Focus on the Family. How could anybody go wrong with these books and seminars? If you are feeling tired or discouraged as a parent, you should definitely reach out for help to a friend or a website or a support group. Don’t wait until it is too late and your burnout will cause you physical distress or worse.

Leave your pride aside and open up to somebody you trust, a spiritual leader in your life, a book somebody once mentioned, or a Google search at the very least. Take care of yourself so that you can take good care of your children.


Thoughtful Thursday Week 34 – Consequences

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My children do not always have a perfect attitude. Please tell me that you knew and expected that, given the fact that we are human beings and I never made any announcement that we have reached perfection. So, we have “those days” when they moan and groan about chores or learning or practicing violin and piano. What do I do?

Thoughtful Thursday - Consequences

Well, I am not perfect either. Some days I make mistakes in the way I handle their bad attitude. Then we make up and apologize to each other and we are the stronger for it. Other days I manage to keep my cool, say a prayer for wisdom, and find a way to motivate them. It is going to be a long life in the homeschooling lifestyle if my children have attitude problems every day, right? Good thing they don’t.

I expect they will have less and less of those days as we consistently show them there will be no videos until they finish their chores, learning, and practicing their instruments. Or other consequences. Continue reading »

The key, of course, is consistency. And keeping calm. And making sure that I have been filled with good, positive thoughts during my morning devotional. Unfortunately, even on some days when I have received power “from on high” I fail to keep calm with them. Disobedience angers me.

I was a good child. I was an obedient child. I grew up expecting to be told the rules and obeying the rules, never questioning the rules, and always looking over my shoulder to double check that I was following the rules. Did I misbehave here and there? Yes, but my overall tendency was always to do what was right. I feared my parents, especially my dad.

I think most people today would de-cry the lack of respect in today’s children. It is our fault, as parents, because we chose, as GenX-ers, to be a bit more democratic about family decisions than our Baby Boomer parents. So we involve children in some decision-making processes, which gives them the idea that they have power.

The other day, I announced that we will go hiking and biking on the Gatlinburg Trail on Saturday afternoon. My son said, “But I scheduled a hike for Sunday.” I replied, “I make the schedule around here.” I am surprised that he even came up with that. Seriously? “I scheduled a hike…”

All this to say, I hope you don’t have the impression that we don’t have real children. Our children can be argumentative and poky and downright hostile at times. On those days, we pray to stay calm and apply consequences. The first thing they lose is the 30-minute video privilege, which they get every day if they do their chores, learning and practicing. The second thing that goes is the star from the Accountable Kids program. They can earn a star every day for overall completion of their tasks. When they gather 10 stars, they go on a date with either me or daddy or both.

Research shows that only consequences work. If you allow a certain behavior to go unchecked, children will repeat it again and again because they know they can get away with it. It’s that simple. It is not easy to apply consequences, especially when their cute little faces crumple up into tears, but nobody said parenting was a walk in the park.


Mom Monday Week 50 – The A-Bear

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Recently, I came across a great blog on gentle parenting or, as the blogger herself puts it, on how to yell less and love more: The Orange Rhino. Many of you may already be familiar with her work. I had never heard of her experiment to live yell-free for a whole year.

Her blog provides lots of tools for calming down. Her book, which I am in the process of reading, will walk you through 30 days of learning why we yell and how to replace yelling with successful parenting techniques.

As parents, we should all take the responsibility of calming our own nerves and temper down. Only we can do that for ourselves. The world around us will never be peaceful enough, quiet enough, or perfect enough to soothe our psyche.

mom monday wk50

I applaud anybody who takes the time to share what has worked for her in that department. Showing some vulnerability in the parenting blogosphere helps, too. How many of us have read a blog and felt completely intimidated by the perfection exemplified there?  Continue reading »

Like Sheila of Orange Rhino fame, I have also learned that yelling does not help my parenting goals. I have never been a yeller per se, but I have lost my patience with my children more than I care to admit. So, over time, I started picking up parenting tools here and there, from books, websites, seminars and workshops – ideas on how to stay cool, besides prayer and personal devotions.

I really like the Orange Rhino products and will probably invest in some because I believe in reminders. I have already experimented with my own reminder, A-Bear, and I know it works.

An adorable plush teddy bear with an A on its tummy, A-Bear goes with me everywhere I go. It’s a long (and rather personal) story how I came to own it, but my A-Bear reminds me to tread softly around my precious children; to speak quietly and in love; to say please and thank you to them; to remain polite and respectful even when they are not.

I can use it as a pet or a stress ball. I can use it as a visual reminder. On bad hair days, A-Bear accompanies me from room to room. Desperate situations require desperate solutions, but this is one cute desperate solution. What are you doing to stay calm with your children?


Media Talk 101 Review

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As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, I recently had the opportunity to watch Captivated, a documentary about the plugged-in world we are living in, produced by Media Talk 101, a small company dedicated to informing the public about the dangers of a lifestyle that takes a bit too much advantage of the digital age.

From the very beginning, I was impressed with how professionally the documentary was put together. The script is well written, too. The producers brought in a series of leaders in modern Christianity, as well as medical doctors and family therapists, to analyze the proliferation of screens in our lives and its effect on relationships.

This DVD costs $16.95.  The shipping is free. If you wanted to order a second one for sharing, it’s only $5. If you have teens, they should definitely watch it with you. I have small children and I did not show it to them. If you have middle school age children, it’s your decision. The movie has been approved for all ages.

I liked the images of the film’s creator in Times Square – the epitome of our fast lifestyle – in the beginning and at the end of the documentary and how they tie the message together.

Another telling image is that of a man on his cell phone in the middle of a corn field. “Where can I go to flee from your presence?” exclaimed David toward God. That might as well be our cry towards screens, which surround us no matter where we go.

The documentary begins with a bit of history and it zooms in on the advent of the telegraph. It was a significant moment in human history because, for the first time, the message could travel faster than the messenger. For the first time, people could be connected remotely without needing to walk, ride a horse, a car, or a train.

I met my husband online, so I was delighted to hear that people met vicariously as early as 1890. “Wired Love,” a love novel from that era, was inspired by a true story. Two people who met via Morse code finally met in person. Since they could not really communicate with each other and it all seemed awkward, they walked in two separate rooms and he proposed via the telegraph. How romantic, right?

The documentary is divided in five parts: Media Consumption, Content, Captivity, Battleground, and Freedom.

Want some startling stats? Today, we have more TVs than children in our homes. In some homes, there are more TVs than people in the home. American children spend over 53 hours per week in front of a screen.

Captivated Movie Review

We wonder why our youth seems so passive and unmotivated. All that screen time tricks the brain into thinking you have done something, when, in fact, you have just wasted your time and accomplished nothing.

The youth seem to think they can multi-task. That they can study while watching TV and monitoring their cell phones which, besides text messages, alerts them instantly of any social media updates. Experts agree that nobody can multi-task.

This life spent plugged into some sort of virtual reality is slowly but surely changing the definition of what it means to be a human.

The documentary recommends a series of books for further study: “Distracted” by Maggie Jackson, “The Dumbest Generation” by Mark Bauerlein, “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman – among others. I thought the word “amuse” spoke volumes: amuse = a + muse, where a = not and muse = think. So next time you go to an amusement park, think again. I have never liked amusement parks and now I know why.

The documentary introduces the idea of a media fast. You know how Jesus mentioned there are some type of demons that can only leave us alone with praying and fasting? I believe that is true for the mind, as well. You try to go on a day media fast and you will see how hard it is not to reach for the cell phone or the iPad. Try a week or a month. Are you already coming up with excuses describing how legitimate your need is to log into your Facebook or email account? There’s your answer.

“Captivated” lists the physical downsides of technology: obesity, sleep interruption, hearing problems, eye strain, carpal-tunnel syndrome, just to name a few. What is alarming though is the reality that media addiction is worse than a drug addiction.

The documentary also shows a case study from a school where the parents complained their children had ADD. The principal said, “It is your decision as parents to put your children on medication. But, before you do, please take a month and do the following:

  • give your children three nutritious meals a day
  • put them in bed by 9pm
  • limit their screen time to 30 minutes per week
  • have them play outside one hour per day
  • have them play outside three hours on weekends

Then come back and tell me what you have found out.”

The parents agreed and, at the end of the experiment, came back to the principal to report that their children did not have ADD symptoms anymore.

Captivated Movie Review

The documentary also shows Shepherd’s Hill Academy, a residential facility where teens go to overcome their media addiction, which has made them out of control. Their testimonies were touching. I used to work in a similar place and it brought back memories.

Parents need help discerning what kind of content to put in front of their children, if they decide on allowing screen time at all. We are so bent these days on not censoring anything, that we have forgotten the Bible teaches we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

Let me paraphrase another great quote from the documentary. They said television was a vast wasteland in 1961. Well, if that is true, television now is a toxic dump. These are words from television executives and people involved in the Parents Television Council.

Ever wondered who is behind the uber-useful website PluggedIn.com (run by Focus on the Family), where you can read reviews on pop culture products from a biblical perspective? I did. Well, his name is Bob Waliszewski and he appears on “Captivated.” He encourages parents to remember that it is OK to deny ourselves and our children. We are called to take up our crosses and follow Him.

The documentary manages to present our challenge as Christians and parents today without being too preachy. I thoroughly agree with the message of this documentary. We limit our children’s screen time to 30 minutes per day. But here are some things they could do better:

  • the documentary should be heavily edited for length; do we really need to spend 107 minutes in front of a screen which tells us about the evils of sitting in front of screens? That’s an irony which will not escape those who oppose the message. My husband gave up on it after about 45 minutes. We did not show it to our young children.
  • the families portrayed in the documentary have six or more children; that’s unusual to those of us who are not of the “quiverful” persuasion; it can be a turn-off to the mainstream American family.
  • the ladies on the documentary wear very long skirts; I understand conservative circles will watch this DVD and may have paid for the making of this DVD, but mainstream Americans do not dress that way. They might feel as if they have stepped into some kind of back country compound bordering a cult sub-culture.
  • if you propose we turn off the screens, please give us more ideas about what to do with ourselves, besides reading the Bible, foraging, playing an instrument and learning new skills. Not everybody is excited about foraging and the documentary spends a good ten minutes presenting this family’s new found passion. Not everybody is musically inclined. Not everybody can read the Bible for an hour at a time. As for new skills, when one has small children, online courses are the golden ticket but oops, that’s more screen time.

For sure, as parents, we need discernment in every aspect of our parenting ministry to our children. Media is a huge one and “Captivated” will help you focus and find some solutions for your particular situation.

For all their bashing of social media, the producers have accounts there:

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/CaptivatedTheMovie
Twitter @CaptivatedMovie

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