Talk, talk, talk!

Is that all we ever do is talk? Well, yes! I am a strong advocate for communicating with kids, and Bringing Jesus Home is all about communication. I ask my grandkids a lot of questions, because I want to know not only what is going on in their lives, with school and their friends, etc., but also I want to know what is going on in their heads. Jesus Himself was an advocate for kids when he told his disciples not to shoo the kids away from Him. I don’t believe that sitting around Jesus was all they did, either. The kids wouldn’t have wanted to hang around if Jesus wasn’t giving them attention. He probably taught and spoke to them just like he did the adults that gathered around Him.

Talk to your kids. Get off the electronics, drop the chores for awhile, and talk to them, then be willing to listen. I believe in the long run it will be a huge blessing to both you and them.

Mark 10:13-16, And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.

Can you identify “fake” news?

Have you ever had your child come home at the end of a day, make a statement to you that they believe is true, and you can’t help but respond, “Where did you hear that?”

Having been an English teacher, I have spent time trying to teach students how  to tell good information from bad information when doing research. But, because of the prevalence of highly biased information these days, I actually went to an expert I just happened to work with at El Cajon Valley High School (ECVHS), to find out how he teaches kids to identify false from real information.

Before Mr. Trump ran for President, I didn’t realize there was any such thing as “fake” news. Sounds rather naive, now, doesn’t it? But since he became President, I have found more and more information that wants you to believe it is real, when it is more often than not either partially or completely false.  (Doesn’t this sound rather biased? It is. I am blaming Trump for the increase in “fake” news, and he really can’t be blamed for it. I am also not showing other possible reasons for “fake” news.)

Anthony Devine is the librarian at ECVHS. He has also spent much time learning about how information can be presented to make people want to believe it.  I asked him to show me what he teaches students about how to tell a good source from a bad source (good information from bad).  It really comes down to a few die hard rules.

  • Read the information. Does it balance one side with the “other” side, or just give one side of the story?
  • Who wrote what you are reading? Could they be part of a political group? Does the writer have an “agenda?”  Is it written by a trained journalist?
  • Are the claims the article or post makes backed up with evidence?
  • All information has a bias, BUT…it must also be willing to discuss opposing views on the subject.

What you see above is just a small part of what kids are taught at ECV. Kids must be able to discern good from bad information, because they will make life decisions based on what they believe to be true!  As a parent and grandparent, we can help our schools teach this to our kids. I am sure Anthony, as well as hundreds of teachers and librarians, would be quite happy if we could reinforce what they try to teach at school.

Look at this link for an interesting and informative article on identifying good from bad information, and why we are drawn to certain information:

http://time.com/5362183/the-real-fake-news-crisis/.

Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

They will know we are Christians by our love??

(I posted this a few days ago, but I was having issues with FB. So I am reposting)

When I was a kid (16),  I joined the choir. We sang a song called “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” All I remember is the chorus, but it saddens me that today, to many Christians, our “love” only extends to other Christians, not to the world in general.

According to the Biblical definition, a “Christian” is a “follower of Christ.” Christ Himself stated in John 14:15 that “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” But in I John 2:4 and 6 it says, (4) “Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not do what He commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (6) Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.” In Matthew 22: 36-39, Jesus was asked which of the Commandments was the greatest. To this He replied, “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (My bolding)

Christ did not say to love certain people, and hate others. He did not tell us to judge people by their beliefs. We, as Christians are the role models for our kids, and we are buying into Satan’s lies. I have seen more “sharing” of ugly, hurtful, cynical, spiteful, “in your face,” political posts in the last year than I would like to see in a lifetime.  This is NOT what our faith is about. We are not to buy into this trash, but to see it for what it is. TRASH.  It is all about dividing Christians, and all Americans. It is about getting us to hate each other, and especially to hate anyone that disagrees with us.  Jesus stated, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That doesn’t mean only Christian neighbors. Wake up to Satan’s lies, Christian brothers and sisters!

This DOESN’T mean that I agree with what is going on in our country. I have some pretty passionate beliefs about our President, but I am praying for him. He needs Jesus just as much as anyone else. He is loved by Jesus, just as much as anyone else.

We need to love the sinner, hate the sin. Period. Sharing pictures of mobs of kids in a filthy room, and saying, “Another President did this, too.” is absolutely wrong.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t have passionate views, either. It means that unless you know without a shadow of a doubt that what you are posting is accurate and 100% true, because you have checked it out yourself, DON’T SHARE IT!  

Please be your children’s “Christ following” parent/grandparent.

More ways to bring Jesus home? Part 2

This is a continuation of the list I posted last time. It is a compilation of ways to “bring Jesus home.” Next time, I will have a list focused on parents/grandparents.

D. Work consistently to build up your kids’ faith

  1. Do devotions with them several times a week
    1. Find a time that works, and stick with it! (Morning, evening, right after dinner, right before bedtime)
  2.  Memorize, memorize, memorize! Besides prayer, this is an activity that will “arm” our kids with the necessary gospel that will help them when they are being challenged by their friends and circumstances. (Get “armed and dangerous” in God’s word!)
  3. Discuss biblical topics with your kids; salvation, God’s love, His intimate interest in them, control, anxiety, patience, honoring Mom and Dad, etc.
  4. Use Jesus as a positive role model for your kids, not a judgmental authoritarian figure ready to pounce on them when they mess up.
  5. Discuss the hard topics; why God lets bad things happen, why people do bad things, how God feels about sex, drugs, gay lifestyle, etc.
    1. (Obviously, this needs to be at the time when kids are ready for these topics, not before)
  6. Go to church!  This seems like it shouldn’t need to be stated, but I believe there are a lot of people who are so busy, they don’t have time for church.  I also believe that God will honor the time you spend with Him, and bless you for it.
  7. Guide your kids with their spare time: Use electronics wisely, set time limits and keep to them!
    1. Play board games as a family.
    2. Have a family night out and do something together.
    3. Play outdoors together, or at least have your kids play outside.
    4. Have your kids get involved in church clubs and groups (AWANA, Youth group, choir, drama), and/or school extracurricular activities like clubs or sports.
    5. Celebrate the Christian aspect of big holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.
      1. It’s ok to acknowledge the secular parts of these holidays, but they get so much of it at school that participating in Christ honoring traditions at home is not necessarily “leaving out” the secular aspect.
    6. Challenge your kids to accomplish something in keeping with God’s word.
      1. For example, can they demonstrate in real life an example of following the Golden Rule?
    7. Eat dinner together!!! If not every night, at least several times a week. Get off all the electronics and talk to one another. Get to know each other all over again!  If you need to, come up with a topic for discussion before dinner, so you know what you want to discuss.

 

Can you picture this?

Picture this: Mom and two kids in a car waiting to pick up their sibling from school. The kids are bored with waiting, and are constantly squabbling and doing things they shouldn’t be. Mom is on her smart phone, head down, and never lifts her head or even her eyes. Mom is constantly yelling and threatening the kids with punishment. This goes on for about 25 minutes. Sound ridiculous? I observed this while waiting to pick up my granddaughter at school. And, I have seen the same thing several times, in different settings, with parents and kids.

When did electronics become more important than our kids?

I love having discussions with my grandbabies. They love talking to me (for the most part). When they know we really care about what is going on in their world, they tend to be more comfortable opening up to us.

I am all about being able to talk to my kids, and I know most parents/grandparents want the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with their children. Yes, I know there are times when the electronics have to be taken care of, with texts sent, etc., and I have been as guilty as anyone else looking at my phone when I could have been talking to the kids. But I try to remind myself that they come first, not my smartphone.

Our electronics are definitely a blessing, but Satan also loves them, and works to use them against us and our families, if he can. Don’t let him.

There is a time and a place for everything. When you are “trapped” with your kids in a car, use at least some of the time to talk to them. Use the time wisely. They will only be kids for a few short years, then they will be gone.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Deuteronomy 11:19, Teach them (God’s word) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 

Colossians 3:20, Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

How is the family devotion time going?

One thing God has made clear to me over the past months of this blog is that I am good at being able to tell others what to do, but don’t necessarily apply the advise to myself. In other words, I need to do more to bring Jesus home when I am with my grandkids (which is almost everyday). The Holy Spirit  has been nudging me to start doing devotions with my grandbabies, and I thought I’d look for online devotions to see what was “out there.”

I found one I am going to use that includes a lot of resources to help parents/grandparents. The website is: www.truthforkids.com. Go to “kids devotions online”. The devotions are aimed at kids 8-12, but there is a link for preschool devotions as well.

The site has information on how to get kids into reading the Bible, tackling difficult subjects, a template for kids to journal their reading, ideas for crafts, activities and more, and most of it is available for FREE.

I know this sounds like an advertisement for this website, but I haven’t even contacted the author, so it really isn’t. I just thought this could be a very good place for parents to start on the journey to doing devotions with their kids.  I will let you know how it goes with my grandbabies (the oldest “baby” is 12, but I still call them grandbabies). Right now I am praying for a time to do devotions when the kids will be the most interested, and the least distracted by other things they are already doing (like electronics).

James 1:5, But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (NIV)

Psalm 32:8, I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go, I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (ESV)

Do you have a technology addicted child? Part 2

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Going back to the story about J from my last post (Dec. 13th)…

When J’s Junior year began, his attendance was very spotty. This was one of his problems in the 9th grade, so I automatically started wondering what was going on with him. When I would ask the kids he hung around with where he was, or if they knew why he wasn’t at school, they would reply that they “didn’t know,” and that “all he does is play computer games.”

J’s grades dropped back to D’s and F’s because, even though when he was at school he did his work, he had way too many absences to pass his classes.

When school staff met with J and his mom, we found out that about the only thing J did at home was play games on his computer. When I reminded him about all the work he did the previous year to get his grades up so he could get a diploma, he just mumbled, “Yeah, I know.” I asked him directly if he still wanted a diploma and he basicly said, “I don’t care.” His future came down to a choice between using technology 24/7, and school, and technology won.

Teachers tried very hard to keep J motivated to work hard and stay in school, but it was far easier for him to stay home and be on his computer all day. We tried to encourage and support mom to help J, but J pretty much dropped himself out of high school around the end of April of his Junior year.

J should be a Senior this year. If he went (or goes) back, he will have classes to make up, but will still be able to get a Diploma, if he decides he wants to.

This can happen in Christian, and non-Christian homes. Know what your kids are doing on their electronics. Give them a strict time limit! Experts on kids and technology use say no more than 2 hours a day for teens.

Pray for your kids. Be involved with them. Read my blog from November 7th for more suggestions. Help your kids NOT fall into this trap!!

What would you do, if you had a technology addicted child?

You may have noticed that I have posted three times about electronics. There is a reason for that. In the news this week we again heard about how teens can become depressed and anxious when they are on electronics and social media too much. But did you know they truly can become addicted? I have personal experience working with a student who, for all I know, is still playing video games on his computer, after having dropped himself out of high school so he could stay home and be on his electronics all day. (No, I’m not kidding).

As a teacher of kids with learning disabilities, I have a certain number of students that I advocate for while they are in high school. One student, “J”, I had advocated for since he was in 9th grade, and I asked for his mom’s permission to retest him, because he was either failing, or nearly failing most of his classes, and I wanted to determine if he was in the right Special Education program.

I was extremely surprised, to say the least, that J was actually much more capable than I thought he was. He simply lacked the motivation to successfully do the work. When I told him that the purpose was to determine if his program had to be changed, and that that meant he would be working toward a Certificate of Completion, instead of a Diploma, his whole attitude changed.

From almost all D’s and F’s, J started working like crazy to raise his grades, stating he wanted a Diploma, not a Certificate of Completion. By the end of that year, he had all A’s, B’s or C’s.

Sounds like a great success story, right? Well…during the summer between when all the above happened and his 11th grade year, J played computer games. A lot. When his mom would try to get him off the computer, he became belligerent toward her, (she is a single mom),  and Mom began to fear for her safety, so she stopped trying to get him off the electronics.

This is the end of Part I of this post. As a parent/grandparent, what would you do, at this point, if this was your child?  Talk to your kids about what they are doing on their electronics, and how much is too much. Email me back, please, with what they say!

What does the fact that kids are using electronics have to do with “bringing Jesus home?”

Much of what our kids are looking at, when using electronics, tends not to be of Christian origin. This isn’t bad in and of itself, but a lot of what they are doing on their smartphones and computers can be opportunities for dialogue between you, and them.

To my way of thinking (and maybe yours, too?), just hollering at kids to “get off your phone, computer, video game,” etc. is leaving them with no alternative to what they may be spending hours doing.  One of my grandsons used to have a crying fit when this happened, because he didn’t see anything else to do with his time. But there are alternatives, and your kids need to know them.

First, depending on their age, talk to your kids. Let them know your concerns about their electronics, and the information and games they can access. This is a fabulous opportunity to find out what their favorite games are, and why. Many teen boys really like games that are pretty violent. Whether or not you allow them to play these games is truly up to you, but it offers an opportunity to discuss violence with your kids, and perhaps find out what other kids at church play on their electronics. Discuss good games to play with their youth group leaders. They will most likely be the best at knowing what good and bad games might be, and it might also be a good time to ask whether or not leaders have had discussions about violent and inappropriate games and websites with the kids.

Next, you and your child can both come up with alternatives when they have “timed out” of their electronics. Make a list you can both use.

Set a time limit and stick to it! For young kids this might be 45 minutes, for older kids perhaps 1-2 hours.

When time is up, offer the alternatives on your list. It might be something horrible, like doing chores or helping with dinner, but even these options count!

Have a board game night (or afternoon). Kids sometimes balk at this idea at first, but they usually enjoy the game and time spent with family.

Encourage outdoor play with their friends. It’s HEALTHIER!

Encourage participation in Church activities and groups. Kids should be attending church more than once a week. They need to see church as an important part of their life, plus, they will grow as Christians.

Encourage participation in after school activities, such as clubs, groups, or sports.

Play group games on gaming systems (yes, gaming systems!). Many board games have been converted to Wii, Playstation, or other systems, and can be played by many players. One of the things my grandkids I enjoy most is playing Mario Party, or Family Game Night games like Life, and Clue

I would still very much appreciate your input. I want to know what works and doesn’t work when it comes to alternatives to electronics.  Please subscribe to this blog, so you get automatic updates!

Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV)

Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone have kids who seem “addicted” to smartphones?

I just put smartphones in the question, but this includes any type of electronic equipment that engages your child’s attention for hours at a time.

There have been several studies done on the emotional state of kids and teens today, and most of them conclude that teen depression and anxiety are very high in kids who spend a lot of time on their electronics.  According to A. Cornish, in a report titled, “How Smartphones are Making Kids Unhappy”(1), the issue is the importance that kids place on the information they get from their electronics.

For those of us brought up before smart phones and personal computers, it can be difficult to understand what is going on.  The key to their unhappiness is not necessarily the fact that kids have smartphones and electronics, it is the length of time kids are allowed to use them. According to the study, kids with more mental health issues are the ones not getting enough “face time”, or time spent in person- to-person contact, where they can read each other’s emotions and get social support.

We as parents/grandparents sometimes look at electronics as a way to keep kids busy, and also to educate them, and that is fine. But as with anything in life, moderation is the key. There are several ways to limit the amount of time spent on electronics, but I believe there is one important thing parents need to do, give kids alternatives to texting and computer games.

Add your comments to this blog. I will start a list of alternatives to electronics with my next blog, and I would very much like your input. Thanks so much, and God bless you and your kids/grandkids!

  1. www.npr.org. “How Smartphones are Making Kids Unhappy.” A. Cornish. August 7, 2017.

1 Corinthians 6:12     “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (Electronics)