Long Distances with Little Ones – MBFLP 216

Long Distances with Little Ones

The Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest time of year on America’s highways, and you may be driving long hours with little ones on board. How do you manage this so you all arrive at Grandma’s in good spirits? We hit the road in 2010 with seven children in the van and we’re crisscrossing the country for six months every year. This episode, we’ll share what we’ve learned about covering long distance with little ones!

You’re Not Alone

Last year, AAA estimated 51 million of us would be on the road for Thanksgiving. That’s like the whole population of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Minnesota on the highway at the same time! It’s hard to guess how many of those millions were riding in booster seats, but you can bet it was a bunch.

There are some practical ways to make this more manageable for everyone: 

Long Distances with Little Ones

Making It Work

    1. Remember kids are kids – you’ve got make allowance for them. When Jacob met his brother Esau on the way back to his home country, Esau urged him to come along – but Jacob reminded him, “the children are weak,” and told him to go ahead, “[and] I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock …, and the children, are able to endure.” (Genesis 33:12-14)
    2. Take it easy on the mileposts. The fact that Dad the Road Warrior can handle 700 miles a day may not be the best plan for Mom and the kids. We were much happier when we slowed down our itinerary.
    3. Be sure that kids who sleep all day will be alert and active when Mom and Dad are ready for bed! We’ve done a few trips overnight or in the wee hours, but it made the parents grumpy the next day – and no child needs that! It’s tempting to pile on the miles while the crew is napping, but you’ll all be happier if you get out and get some exercise during the day. Which leads to our discovery,
    4. We all need regular breaks. On doctor’s advice, we make a brief stop every couple of hours. You’re going to need gas and rest rooms eventually, why not just plan on it? Modern travel plazas aren’t like the seedy truck stops of old – we find they’re usually clean, well-lit, and have large rest rooms. Which reminds us,
    5. “Mandatory Bathroom Stops” make it efficient. We just require everybody to get out and use the rest room, even if they “don’t need to go.” (We found the teenager who insisted he didn’t need to get out was the one who would have an emergency thirty minutes down the road.)
    6. Don’t miss the field trips along the way. We’ve had some great stops at National Parks, state historical sites, or even just picnic areas with a view. Go ahead – you might learn something, and if nothing else, the kids can run around and use up some energy! (Keep a ball or Frisbee handy to encourage some activity). A little research beforehand can highlight neat stuff ahead.
    7. Do like the airlines – distract the passengers with changing activities. You can hand out a snack, then a little while later surprise them with some new crayons or a book, then sing or play a car game, then maybe start a DVD or pop in an audio book (we’ve got some suggestions below!) Older kids might be able to do some schoolwork along the way – but if it’s a short vacation, you might want to just take the days off from book work and let them learn what they can from the travel.

In the old days, an education wasn’t considered complete until the student had experienced some serious travel. Now, it’s so much easier to get around, we tend to rush through it and miss the good stuff along the way. Slow down a bit, let the kids out of their car seats some, and enjoy the journey together!

 



Looking for some entertaining audiobooks that help build character, too? Check out the growing line of classic stories at RaisingRealMen.com, and for a limited time, use the coupon code audioholiday15 to take 15% off! Brought to you by our publisher, Great Waters Press!


Date Night (even when you “can’t”) – MBFLP 215

How to have date night nevertheless

Once upon a time, when we were young parents a long way from home, we heard someone say, “Date night is absolutely necessary for a healthy marriage!” When you’re new in town and grandparents are a thousand miles away, that’s discouraging! But the important thing is not “dates” but connection – how to renew the face-to-face relationship in the midst of shoulder-to-shoulder life. This episode, we talk about practical ways to do just that, even if you can’t really manage a getaway right now!

How to have date night regardless

What’s the reason?

Actually the important thing is not “the event” but the time for re-connection. Don’t get frustrated and fretful over the inability to do a big formal celebration – it may be the best thing at this time of life is smaller and closer to home.

In fact, home is a good option. We travel so much with our speaking and teaching ministry, we really find a quiet evening at home is a change of pace! We’ve had some great anniversaries and Valentine’s dates watching old movies on Netflix and eating dinner we prepared ourselves.

What are some options when kids are in the mix?

A second thing that’s important to remember is that we need all sorts of intimacy – not just the kind that takes total privacy and all kids asleep or absent. It’s good to just talk together, whether over dinner or a grown-up dessert, and let the kids watch their own movie back in the family room. If you really want them to entertain themselves for a while, you can even invest in some snack foods and turn them loose for an hour or two.

If you haven’t noticed, people never stop growing and changing. You didn’t reach 18 or 25 or 40 and then stop, as if you’d arrived at a destination — life goes on, and you both will find new surprises in each other if you look for them. Why not ask some open ended questions – “What’s your favorite food? Do you like different things as an adult than you did as a child? What’s the earliest thing you can remember? What did you find surprising about being married?” If you need some suggestions, sign up for our free series, “LoveBirdSeed” and get fun and thought-provoking conversation starters every week.

Of course you can stay up later than the kids … or get up earlier. You can go for a walk together or take the kids to the park, where you can sit on a bench and watch them play while you have some grownup conversation. Grandparents are a lifesaver if they’re nearby (and remember, letting your kids eat a few extra cookies at Nana’s house probably won’t topple the organic or keto lifestyle you’re cultivating at home). We even know friends who traded babysitting with each other on a regular schedule, one Friday a month at each house – and as the kids got older, the couples were even able to sneak away for overnights sometimes.

Remember that a lot of advice people share is based on particular circumstances. Sometimes you’re so busy or kept apart by business travel or other responsibilities, you really need to jealously protect a few precious hours. In that case, a scheduled, carefully planned date on the calendar can be a lifesaver! But if you are blessed to have more free time together on a regular basis, the desperation isn’t the same, and maybe you can find good, satisfying “couple time” from day to day. Date night can be great fun, but don’t feel that it’s a mandatory formality if you’re building a strong relationship in the informal hours of life right now!

“Q: What do we do when we can’t get away for our anniversary – not even for dinner out?”

If you are looking for a great couples getaway, check out our Come Away Weekend retreats in the spring and fall. Details will be coming soon for our Spring 2019 event – for more info, visit our website!


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Change is in the Air Movie

This story embraces the imperfections that make us human, offers a way to set ourselves free and asks us all to take a good, long look at the wild birds in the sky.

Watch the trailer here!


 

Why Teaching Manners Matters – MBFLP 214

Why Teaching Manners Matters

Are Manners Important?

In the digital age, when informality and familiarity is the norm in so many places, is it too “old school” to teach manners to your kids? Have we moved past all the old social niceties? Is it unmanly for our boys to be schooled in etiquette? Or is there something important and lasting about manners and courtesy? Where’s the Biblical balance?

Recent events in the news suggest our country is having a breakdown in public manners – when even elected officials are publicly calling for their supporters to be uncivil to opponents, and politicians seem to win praise for how nasty they can be to the other side.

Studies are suggesting that the new generation just starting to graduate from college is so locked into online interaction – text messaging and social media – that they are losing the ability to interact face-to-face, and any awkwardness or difference of opinion is taken as a dangerous, personal attack.

CLICK HERE to read Hal’s review of the fascinating book iGen by Jean Twenge

Should we be concerned? Or is this just the new reality?

Why Teaching Manners Matters

What Do We Mean by “Manners”?

When we say the word “manners” or “etiquette” we might think of questions like, “Which fork do I use first at the banquet?” Actually, though, the concept of manners is much broader than those sorts of details.

Manners are the social conventions that promote peaceful, respectful interaction between people. They’re the way we show consideration toward others, and in many ways, an expression of personal modesty or humility. They’re diplomacy at the one-on-one level.

And we see all of these in the Scripture!

The Bible Says Quite A Lot About Manners

We’ve all heard the Golden Rule – Jesus said, Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise (Luke 6:31) It’s a call to put ourselves in another person’s place, and then act accordingly. Little children aren’t capable of it, but it’s something that we teach our kids as they grow – think about others!

In Romans 12:10 Paul says we should “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”(ESV) Our behavior toward others is how we show them honor – the way we speak to them, the way we treat them, the way we speak about them to others. Paul says we should be so concerned to show honor to others, we should make a point to be the best at it.

And Peter says in 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” That’s remarkable – Peter says this of the relationships within the church (and remember the church was a brand new thing where Jews and Gentiles were brought into close and equal fellowship – when they had previously seen each other with suspicion or even disgust). He says, “Take these people that you used to ignore or reject, and become united in mind, sensitive and compassionate in heart, and particularly, polite toward one another.”

We can go on and on with this, but the point is, as Christians, we are called to be polite people. It’s a matter of respect and self-control, as well as humility. Good manners are not unmanly or weak – in fact, you might point out to your sons (who may naturally push back at “sissy” rules about courtesy) that some of the greatest leaders of history – men like George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt, commanders whose men would willingly follow them into danger and death, were known for their refined manners in society. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about!

Points to Consider

It’s clear that Christians are supposed to be polite people, but what does that look like?

There are some things which are clearly described and still apply today – such as “You shall rise up before the grey headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God” (Leviticus 19:32) The rule to stand up when an elderly person comes in the room is still good manners! The Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” hasn’t changed since Moses came down from Sinai.

But it’s okay to recognize that many social guidelines are different from one culture to the next. What’s your belief about foot-washing, for instance? Jesus and Paul both made a point about washing the feet of guests as a sign of loving service and hospitality (look at Luke 7:44, John 13:5-14, 1 Timothy 5:10) – but that’s not the way we show hospitality in 21st century America.

The way you address people is a sign of manners or respect that differs from one place to the next. In the Southeast, where we live, it’s expected that children always address adults as Sir or Ma’am, unless they’re special family friends and might be allowed as “Aunt Sue” (not actually a relative), “Sister Sue,” or “Miss Sue” – we’ve heard all these! And yet in other regions, we’ve been politely scolded, “Don’t call me ‘ma’am,’ it makes me feel old!”

What you do with your shoes is a sign of respect in some places. When we visited China, we were told it was not polite to wear street shoes into the house – and it’s not a good practice in many American cities, either. In the Middle East, the bottom of the shoe is considered a filthy thing and an insult if you let yours be seen; you never cross your feet where an Arab might glimpse your soles!

That goes for strangers, too

Manners are not just reserved for friends and relative. Jesus warned us not to stoop to insult and name-calling; in Matthew 5:22, where He said we’re courting trouble (even judgment) if we call someone “Fool!” or “Empty-head!” Yet how often do we jump to heaping mocking insults at public figures on social media? Jude pointed out that even the archangel Michael restrained his words toward Satan, yet we’re quick ignore Paul’s admonition in Titus 3:2 “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”

Manners Aren’t Optional — They’re Helpful

Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.” Our kids, just like us, will be judged by those around them, and their manners will be one of the first things that people note. Let’s make a point to teach our kids to handle themselves with respect for others, respect for themselves, and the fear of God – as demonstrated by their courtesy in every situation! Consider than our gentleness and graciousness toward others – even when we feel like they really haven’t “earned” it – is a mark of our own Christian maturity. And that’s a challenge for us as well as our kids.


In Other News

Our book Love, Honor, and Virtue reached #1 in its category on the Amazon Best Seller Ranking this month! If you’re looking for a tool to help your son gain a Biblical attitude about sexuality, check it out at http://www.raisingrealmen.com/lhv/

If you’d like more discussion about teaching manners to boys in particular and pre-teens of both sexes, you might find our books Raising Real Men and No Longer Little helpful, too. You can get both at RaisingRealMen.com

Join us and two dozen other speakers and teachers at the online Homeschool Parenting Summit. It’s totally free from October 22 to 27 – click here for more information!


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Change is in the Air Movie

This story embraces the imperfections that make us human, offers a way to set ourselves free and asks us all to take a good, long look at the wild birds in the sky.

Watch the trailer here!


 

Stopping Sibling Squabbling – MBFLP 213


Stopping Sibling Squabbling

If your child has siblings it’s just about certain they’ll have squabbling. Sibling rivalry of one sort or another is unpleasant but normal – the question for us as parents is, “What can I do about it? How can I deal with the bickering and arguments, to make our home a place of peace and harmony?” In this episode we talk about what we’ve learned raising our family of eight strong-willed, opinionated, energetic, competitive kids!

Stopping Sibling Squabbling

Your Family is Meant to Be an Example

The Bible has many passages which suggest that our family relationships are an illustration of spiritual truths. When Paul talks about the relationship of husbands and wives, he concludes, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32) How can we understand the new relationship of fellow believers in the church? By comparing it to the fellowship of parents to children and siblings with one another (1 Timothy 5:1-2). When Jesus is called “a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (Proverbs 18:24) that makes no sense if brotherhood is all about fighting, arguments, and hostility!

Some Practical Guidelines

We’ve established some household rules that are meant to create or maintain a culture of peace and harmony!

  1. No Name Calling – Names are important in the Bible, and if our kids have a complaint with one another, theyr’e not allowed to sling nicknames or taunts at each other. Never – not even using a common nickname that the child doesn’t want. If you always go by Edward, you might consider Teddy an undesirable handle!
  2. No Bullying or Pestering – Bullying is using your greater strength, size, or another advantage, to intimidate and persecute other people. Pestering is using your lesser ability to lay traps for the stronger sibling, then running to Mama as a “victim.”
  3. Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice – And weep with those that weep (Romans 12:16). The Bible tells us to come alongside our brethren in the church and share in their feelings. We encourage the same standard with our children.
  4.  Remember We’re On The Same Team – We don’t let our children get a I-win-you-lose mentality toward their siblings, and we encourage them to see one sibling’s success as a victory for Team Family. Sure, they play games and compete that way, but in day to day life, we encourage them to think in terms of cooperation and collaboration, not trying to “beat” their brother or sister.

A Long Term Project

Just a few days ago, two of our teenagers were having a disagreement. Hal sat them down and gave them a simple challenge – that every day, moment by moment, they were making decisions about how to interact. Are they working to build unity, harmony, and love within the family? Or are their words and actions tearing that down?

It’s important to remember two things. First, that this is a life-long process. We still have to remind, rebuke, coach, and encourage our kids, long after they’re teenagers. It’s not a simple checklist on the fridge that fixes everybody’s attitude in an afternoon!

But secondly, we need to keep close in mind that we homeschoolers are the primary source of our children’s socialization. Sure, they may pick up undesirable words or attitudes from media, group meetings, or friends, but since they spend most of their time with their parents, we have to be honest. When we find a social behavior that we don’t like, they may very well be picking it up from us. If the children are disrespectful to Mom, are they following Dad’s example? If they have a sarcastic tone, are they imitating Mom? We need to live our own lives in our family to be a pattern for our kids. The family life they see around their dinner table every day is very likely to be the family life our grandchildren experience one day!

RESOURCES WE MENTIONED

No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope by Hal and Melanie Young

Interested in having Hal or Melanie speak at your event? CLICK HERE for information!

Come Away Weekend – our marriage retreat and giveaway – Flat Rock, NC – October 19-21

Special Needs Conference for Gifted and Struggling Learners – Orlando, FL – November 16-17

 


Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor, Kiwi Crate!

 

 

We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor, Kiwi Crate!

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Homeschooling with Babies and Toddlers – MBFLP 212

Homeschooling with Babies and Toddlers

We homeschooled from the very beginning, which meant that we’ve always had babies and toddlers in the mix. We’ve always had multiple ages to deal with!

What’s the number one thing we wish we’d known?  That it gets easier!

The struggle is real. When you have little children, the burden is mostly Mom’s. It takes two hours to get ready to go anywhere, as you fight through the necessary clothing changes, diaper changes, baby nursings, and so on before you depart. When you have three little ones and only two hands, that’s reality. Don’t be surprised that you’re overwhelmed – give yourself some grace!

We wish we’d known that having an eighth child at 45 would be less of a jolt than having a third child at 31. We didn’t realize that as new babies joined the family, the older children were growing more and more capable and helpful. With some training, even your six- or seven-year-old can take some of your load off! Don’t miss out on that help – make the investment to teach them household skills, and you’ll be training them for life as well as getting a hand up on your present-day stress.

Don’t Freak Out!

If you’re just starting homeschooling, you might be worried – can I really do this? What if I mess them up?

With the younger ones, you really can’t wreck their education. Preschoolers and toddlers need you to read them stories and let them play, pretend, and explore. Don’t try and push them into academics too early – if they’re not developmentally ready, it won’t work, and it will only convince them that school is unpleasant. Don’t destroy their natural curiosity and love of learning!

What about babies? We never centered school around the kitchen table or a row of desks. Rather, Melanie found a comfortable chair (she liked the recliner) so she could nurse the baby or cuddle them while they slept. A book case on one side held the school materials and a child-sized table and chair on the other kept everything within arm’s reach. Homeschooling isn’t like a classroom and doesn’t have to look like one. We found babies really weren’t disrupters at all.

Toddlers, now, are disrupters, and no mistake. Remember little ones have little attention spans. Don’t expect them to sit still for long at all. When they run up to you and interrupt the formal school, it’s best to let them – don’t try to say, “We’ll be done in 20 minutes, Sweety,” because the one thing they can concentrate on is whining. Instead, tell the older students what to do for a few minutes, then take the toddler in your lap, give them three or four minutes of eye contact and interaction, and then let them go play again. First attention is the fastest!

In fact, they’ll learn what they need at the early ages if you just keep them nearby and talk to them. You can teach colors, numbers, and other basic facts just in the course of family life. Keep some quiet toys in the school room, buy them some child size household tools (brooms and such), and let them help with tasks like folding towels or sorting the silverware.

And when you’re starting your primary students, don’t push them too hard either. Whatever you teach them at six years old, they’ll be seeing and practicing over and over for years to come. It won’t hurt if you need to skip a day or go back and repeat something. We’ve had four graduate homeschooling and go to college on scholarships; there’s a time to step up the academic game, but it’s not in primary school!

Be sure you adapt your household expectations. Your family is on a mission from God, and that mission probably isn’t “Be ready to welcome the camera crew from Architectural Digest.” If your home is occupied 24/7 instead of empty all day, and doubles as a school, laboratory, and business center as well as dormitory … then make the house work for you, and not you for the house!  Disposable products, simpler menus, and children’s help on the chores (i.e., not up to Grandma’s skill level) can give you the time and energy to do more important things in the lives of your family, church, and community. (And Dad – don’t expect angels to sing if you help out around the house. It’s just the right thing to do.)

Want to know more? Need more practical ideas? Then listen in!

RESOURCES WE MENTIONED

No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope by Hal and Melanie Young

Interested in having Hal or Melanie speak at your event? CLICK HERE for information!

Come Away Weekend – our marriage retreat and giveaway – Flat Rock, NC – October 19-21

Special Needs Conference for Gifted and Struggling Learners – Orlando, FL – November 16-17

iGen – Understanding the New Generation – MBFLP 211

iGen - understanding the new generation

Move over, Millennials – the new generation has arrived! Researcher Jean Twenge calls them iGen – the first generation that’s grown up with smart phone in hand. How has that shaped their thinking? What does that mean for the rest of us? How should we teach and prepare our children to interact with their generational peers? Are there things to watch out for – and opportunities to grasp? Join us for a discussion of Twenge’s book iGen and how this new culture impacts our family life, ministry, and society at large.


Discussion of Jean Twenge’s book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us

Researcher Jean Twenge noticed that numerous cultural trend lines took a sharp turn about 2012 – the year after the majority of Americans were carrying smart phones. She marks this as the sign of a new generational group some have called Generation Z (following the Millennial “Generation Y”). She’s called them iGen – the generation shaped by the iPhone – and she makes a powerful case that the handheld devices might be the largest influencer in their thinking, philosophy, and personality.

What’s distinctive about this generation?

They are growing up online. The average high school senior now spends six hours a day on new media, including two hours of Internet and two and a quarter of text messaging – every day. Time previous generations spent on homework, extracurricular activities, after-school jobs, and hanging out with friends, has been replaced by hanging out online. They are insecure and unhappy from their constant diet of social media, and 34% have been cyberbullied. Because they know how people manage and manipulate their image, they are cynical about what they see even while it impacts them emotionally.

They value individualism. Like Millennials, they seek authenticity. As a rule, they will not tolerate criticism of anybody, especially themselves (though they are prone to self-criticism). They have largely embraced the sexual revolution (widespread pornography, abortion on demand, same sex marriage, normalization of transgenderism) as nobody’s business “as long as nobody is hurt.”

They are maturing more slowly. Their parents have been protective and the children have embraced child status well into their twenties. The typical high school senior today is less likely to have earned a driver’s license, had an after-school or summer job, gone out on a date, or even spent much time outside parents’ direct supervision.

They value safety. iGen’ers are less likely to engage in risky behaviors like reckless driving, drug and alcohol experimentation, or sex as teenagers – not because these activities are immoral (iGen appears to continue the Millennial rejection of religion), but because they aren’t safe.

Their social lives and identity are text-based online, so words are weaponized. This is why campus culture is becoming hysterical over controversial speakers or even contrary opinions. iGen students demand protection from challenging viewpoints and consider offensive words as literal, physical assault. They are less likely to have had scuffles on the playground as children; instead, they’ve grown up savaging one another by text message.

iGen - what we need to know about the new generation

Why should we care, and what should we do about it?

Although we may be raising our own family by older standards, this is the generation of our children and the culture they will need to navigate as adults. How can we prepare them to succeed?

Move slowly on cell phone and social media. Social media is linked to depression, especially in younger students. Although older teens need to understand these tools, Twenge suggests younger teens shouldn’t get cell phones any sooner than necessary, and then start with “dumb” flip phones rather than Internet capable. Even then, monitor usage closely.

Push them forward to independence. Get their driver’s license early. Encourage them to get jobs and learn to manage their own money. Teach them how the world works, how to evaluate choices and make decisions.

Encourage real-life friendships. Don’t over-regulate time with friends and activities, especially as they reach older teen years. Get them off their phones and out of the house more.

Train your Christian children to stand on the Scripture without applause. This generation is growing more hostile toward Christianity, and its hysterical reaction to opposition will make it resistant to the Spirit’s conviction. We can’t be surprised when they react, but neither can we simply refuse to speak up; We need to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” and choose our words and opportunities with care.

 


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When Our Precocious Homeschooler Suddenly Went Flat

When Our Precocious Homeschooler Went Flat with Hal and Melanie Young from Making Biblical Family Life PracticalOur first son was a precocious learner—he was reading at four years old, and before long he was two years ahead of his age group in math. We just congratulated ourselves that our child was brilliant, homeschooling was awesome, and we were fantastic parents.

And then he hit the wall. At the age of ten, math was taking three hours to finish—and sometimes that was all he got done in a day. He lost his focus, he struggled in things that had been easy, and he convinced himself he was no good in school.

What happened? Simple – he was on the way to adolescence.

What we didn’t realize until later was that it is perfectly normal for kids to hit an academic slump when they start their pre-teen transition. In fact, it’s so common, school systems intentionally plan for fourth grade to be a catch-up year. It’s a developmental stage that they all go through.

The reason they struggle is two-fold. On the one hand, their brains are beginning a transition from childhood to an adult configuration. The part which handles executive functions—concentration, focus, judgement, priority-setting—literally unravels. It will come back together with some new functionality, like abstract reasoning and the ability to connect ideas across subject lines, but for several months, they truly lose some ability in school.

What’s more, the hormonal surge that starts the familiar changes of adolescence creates an emotional whirlwind. They become uncertain and overreact to difficulties, and when school becomes harder, they can lose confidence in themselves—even give up trying.

What can we do to help our kids through this challenge?

We find the most important things are to protect their love of learning and bolster their academic confidence. Set those as your two primary goals for these transitional months and you’ll lay a foundation for success in high school!

  • Recognize this for what it is—a time of transition. Don’t assume their sudden struggles are laziness or rebellion. When you see unexpected emotions, doubts, and academic floundering together, it’s time to adapt—not discipline. They all go through this.
  • Explain and encourage them through this time. Tell them why they are having trouble keeping their temper or remembering their vocabulary words—and explain that this is a temporary problem! It’s especially important with boys; their intellectual growth spurt happens in high school, and if they were already struggling before this time, they may give up before they ever hit their stride.
  • Don’t push them beyond their development. You wouldn’t expect your five-year-old to slam-dunk a regulation basketball goal, right?—you let him finish growing up. The same thing happens in academics. Even an early learner has to wait for some things to catch up. Abstract reasoning, for example, doesn’t appear until the end of this transition; you won’t be able to teach your 8-year-old to do algebra, no matter how smart she is. Give it time.
  • Go broad and deep, not further. If your child seems to hit a wall in a subject—math in particular—don’t keep pushing. Instead, explore other subjects on the same level. Dig deeper into things they are succeeding in, and let their brains mature a bit more before you take the next step up.
  • Embrace their interests. Kids this age typically have an obsessive interest in something. It may be dinosaurs, horses, warships, the Middle Ages, baseball—fill in the blank with your own child! They will naturally study the things which captured their imagination. If you need him to write a paragraph or do a research project, adapt the curriculum to leverage those interests. Instead of a lame prompt like “What I did last summer,” assign him, “What is the value of space exploration?” or “Explain the process for training falcons.”

We’ll say it again—this is commonplace and temporary, so when you see the signs, change your focus to protecting their love of learning and bolstering their academic confidence. It’s one of the important ways your relationship will change as your son or daughter becomes a young man or woman!

Want to know more about how to make the teen years great? Check out our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope. You’ll find out more about dealing with middle schoolers and pre-teens on everything from schoolwork to family relationships to media use and spirituality. It’s available from http://www.nolongerlittle.com/ or Amazon.com.


With humorous banter, laser beam insight, and lots of practical advice, Hal and Melanie Young address real world issues, current events, marriage, parenting, raising sons, and family life on Making Biblical Family Life Practical. They’ll encourage and inspire you to walk out the Word of God in your family — and work toward reforming our culture, too. Click here to check out their podcast!

Entrepreneurship and College – MBFLP 210

College can be useful for entrepreneurs too

Is your son or daughter an entrepreneur at heart? Are you or they, either one, debating whether college is even worthwhile for a young person aiming at their own business?  This episode, we talk with our son Samuel Adams Young, who’s enrolled in an innovative business program at his college – one that teaches the hands-on skills needed to succeed as an entrepreneur!


College can be useful to entrepreneurs too

Tech Giants Not Withstanding …

We have friends who are skeptical about the need for college experience to succeed in life. After all, they say, neither Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft), Steve Jobs (visionary CEO of Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook), nor Ted Turner (founder of CNN and other networks) finished college.

Fair enough. At the same time, the exceptions don’t prove a rule – and you can’t deny that billionaires in Silicon Valley or cable TV are not your average neighborhood business owner.

It’s also true that some career fields (particularly in technology) are changing so rapidly that a hands-on apprenticeship is nearly as useful as a four-year degree for starting a life-long career. (Listen to our interview with Ken Auer of Role Model Software, a prime example!)

Yet with all the exceptions and hedges and provisions in place, there are still good reasons a budding entrepreneur might consider going to a four-year degree program.  This episode, we’re talking with our son Samuel, who is a rising star in an innovative program to equip young business people with tools they can use to kick start their own companies.

This program was funded by the late Ralph Ketner, co-founder of one of the fastest-growing grocery chains in America, Food Lion. In establishing the Center for Entrepreneurship and Experiential Development, Ketner told the college that true entrepreneurship is hands-on, not just theoretical classroom work, and so the goal of the college is to help students actually create viable, money-making businesses from their ideas. Until his death in 2016 at the age of 95, Ketner maintained an office at the college and frequently counseled students from his long career of growing business from the ground up.

Resources We Mentioned

Center for Entrepreneurship and Experiential Development – Catawba College, Salisbury, N.C.

Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

Samuel’s business startup – DashFireMan

Some We Forgot to Mention

We have a whole section of resources about entrepreneurship on our website – CLICK HERE to find out more!

 

Middle Schoolers Online – MBFLP 209

Should your middle schooler be online?
When’s the right time to get your middle schoolers online? Researcher Jean Twenge (iGen) says that people born since 1995–that’s the class just starting to graduate from college, and their younger siblings–have basically grown up with round-the-clock Internet access. It’s not healthy, and it’s causing some specific, traceable problems … and yet, the world our kids are graduating into demands computer literacy … and expects to find a current social media footprint. How can we both protect our younger kids and prepare them for the real world just a few years ahead? This episode, we’ll start the conversation on middle schoolers and the online world …

 

Should your middle schooler be online?

Some Announcements … We are still celebrating the release of our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope … and we are getting some fantastic first-reader reviews! CLICK HERE to see a sample … or to order your own copy.  Background information: This week’s episode is in response to several of those reviews!

We’re scheduling upcoming events … We’ve recently finished agreements for events in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida … and we have plans to be in Maryland for a private event, soon, too. CLICK HERE to see our newest plans … and if you’d like to have us speak at your church, retreat, conference, or other event, VISIT OUR SPEAKING EVENT WEBSITE HERE.

Big HELLO to our new listeners on iHeartRadio! Be sure to come here to check out the show notes and links we mention on the air …


So what about middle schoolers and time online?

Dr. Twenge says that studies indicate the average high school senior now spends six hours per day online – including two and a quarter hours in text messaging, alone. Where is this time coming from? She shows that it comes from less time in homework, less time in extracurricular activities, less time working after-school jobs, and much less time just hanging out with friends “in real life.” This is undermining their social and emotional developments in many ways that explain the alarm and hysteria coming from college campuses these days!

There is also some correlation with the rise in teenage mental illness, including self-harming behaviors, and obsessive use of social media.

So it should be obvious that we don’t want to drop our pre-teens into that mix when they are in their most uprooted, emotional, hormonal, and generally unstable time of life. It wouldn’t be wise, it wouldn’t be prudent, and it simply wouldn’t be kind.

Instead, let’s hold off on social media for young people until they’re back on an even emotional keel – maybe 15 or 16. At that point, we recommend starting them off with lots of supervision and advice. Why? Because like it or not, social media has replaced the front porch and casual relationships in church, neighborhood, and community for establishing a basic public reputation. It’s expected. That means we need to coach our young people in appropriate online behavior, just like our parents or grandparents coached us–what’s appropriate and how we should act where the neighbors can hear or the community can see.

What about other uses of the net?

We need to recognize that the old “electronic babysitter,” the television of our youth, has been supplemented or replaced by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the rest. Screen time is still screen time, with all its differences and similarities. Is there a place for simple entertainment use? Yes, and sometimes you need that “babysitter” – to calm an anxious child quiet in the doctor’s waiting room, or maybe to keep fidgety kids in their seats on long car trips. But let’s be honest about it and recognize it for what it is–don’t just drift into habits we’ll regret.

Meanwhile, think about boundaries and limitations you need to establish, and put them in place early. You’ll get a lot less pushback and complaining if your pre-teens have grown up knowing these boundaries, like accountability software, supervision, and time limits. They’re good guardrails to have, no matter what age you start–just realize it’s easier the earlier you get them in place.

Want to know more about middle schoolers and wisdom in technology use? Check out chapter 7, “Media, Gaming, and Discernment,” in our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope.

Middle School Q & A – MBFLP 208

Real life Q and A from parents like you with middle schoolers

Nobody told us what to expect … babies and toddlers we read about, and people warned us in hushed tones about the dreadful teen years, but nobody told us, “Just wait till they’re in middle school!” This week on Facebook Live we took questions from parents of pre-teens, asking them “What are you having struggles with?” That’s the meat of this week’s podcast – real live Q&A about dealing with the challenges of tweens!

Real life Q and A from parents like you with middle schoolers

Whether you call them pre-teens, tweens, middle-schoolers, or something else, your child will go through a transitional period between “clearly a little kid” to “definitely a teenager.” That catches most of us by surprise. Why is that? Probably because we’re anticipating the physical changes – his voice cracks, she starts her cycle, he’s got a proud new whisker, she is starting to get a figure. Before those outward changes appear, there’s a tidal wave of hormones that start the body’s transformation, and those hormones cause all sorts of effects in their thinking, their emotions, and even their spiritual lives.

What’s more important, our families stumble into a relationship minefield at this point. If we don’t recognize what’s happening and handle it right, we can end up with strained, bent, or broken relationships with our pre-teens.

But it’s also an opportunity. If we can come alongside our sons and daughters during this time and give them understanding, guidance, and encouragement – as well as discipleship and discipline when needed – we can lay foundations for a great relationship during the exciting years ahead!

Questions we addressed … 

7:21 – They’re so addleheaded in school
11:21 – Highly emotional but lacking in perspective
13:03 – They make wild assertions with no basis in reality
14:16 – The personal challenge of discipleship
14:56 – How to manage a changing school situation
17:37 – What about transitioning to adulthood – even with special needs
20:32 – Suddenly, there’s social anxiety
23:36 – He’s struggling in school and hates it
26:35 – A normally friendly boy growing quiet and withdrawn
28:01 – Tips for overcoming shyness

Resources we recommended …

Our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope

Read reviews here

Dianne Craft’s Brain Integration Therapy Manual

Our growing selection of classic, character-building audiobooks