Monday, November 26, 2007

Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid - Free Book!

"Who are you and what have you done with my child?" I have to honestly say that I have thought this about each of my children as they entered the teen years. At some point in their teens (usually during junior high), I've often wondered 'who' would be walking through the door after school. From day to day, and often hour to hour, their attitudes, actions, and preferences would swing from one extreme to another. Luckily, teens eventually discover who they are and what they want from the world and life settles down.

I just finished reading a book called For Parents Only -- Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice. I hope the things I've learned in this book will change the relationship I have with my teens (and improve the relationship I'll have with my boys when they become teens).

This is an easy-to-read book that is based on the input of hundreds of kids across the country. Some of the findings seem a little shocking at first until you think back to the time when you were a teen (regardless of how long ago that was), then you wonder if the authors had peeked at your diary! Other findings helped me realize that there are some things we are doing right.

At each stage of our lives we seek to stretch and grow. As babies we want to walk and communicate. As teens we want to learn who we are and how to function on our own in the world. More than anything, this book shows that teens crave freedom and they want to establish their own identity. Often our attempts to control our worlds as parents stifle the very things our teenagers need. Even though our teens may do stupid things with their freedom, they will do almost anything to gain more of it. Our job as parents during this time is to help the kids achieve independence and build responsibility without making reckless choices.

Many of the findings in the book helped me understand some of the attitudes and actions of my teens and their friends. While the information doesn't always make me comfortable, hearing the 'behind-the-scenes' thoughts and feelings that play out in everyday activities helps me gain perspective on what my teens are dealing with. The authors include a chapter that shows how boys and girls react differently to the difficulties of their teen years that really helps a parent deal with gender-unique interpretations of events.

Shaunti and Lisa provide an opportunity to look inside the heads of today's teenagers and give tangible actions parents can take to help their children grow into responsible adults. This would be a great gift for anyone who has a child entering or fully entrenched in the teen years!

Shaunti Feldhahn is known for unlocking the mysteries of relationships for men and women. Now she turns to a parent’s relationship with a child, particularly a child of the opposite sex. Drawing on the results of a nationwide survey of kids and teenagers, she explores questions such as:
What do moms need to understand about the “tough and tender” boy who values respect over love?
What do dads need to understand about their daughter’s need for affirmation?
What are the six biggest pet peeves teens have about their parents?
Understanding the answers to these and other important questions can help parents make the holidays a time of celebration and unity, not strife and friction.

For Parents Only offers a unique look into a child’s mind and frees readers to communicate in healthier ways as they discover that understanding their kids may not be as complicated as they think.

Author Bio:
Shaunti Feldhahn is the author of For Women Only and numerous other books, with sales totaling nearly one million copies. A nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and public speaker, Feldhahn earned her master’s degree at Harvard University . She and her husband, Jeff, have two young children. Lisa A. Rice is the associate editor of Christian Living magazine, the mother of two teenage girls, and a screenwriter and producer.

You can find out more about the book and purchase it here, or you can go directly to the website for additional details about the book and some actual survey responses from teens. You can also get a workbook to go with it...this would make a great study for a small group of parents.

Leave a comment about this blog and I'll enter you into a drawing for a free copy of the book! Please be sure to leave an e-mail address or some other way for me to contact you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Quick -- Give Thanks and Move On

I read an article that talked about the increased number of stores that were opening on Thanksgiving. One quote was particularly disturbing to me:
"Some people just can't wait until Friday," said Kirsten Whipple, a Sears spokeswoman. "Thanksgiving dinner is done and they have moved on."

Has our society lost the ability to connect with family and friends on a holiday? I remember many Thanksgivings where we spent most of the day playing games, talking, and watching football games with our extended family. We ate a large lunchtime meal together, and we stayed long enough to have turkey sandwiches and another round of desserts at dinnertime. I've always had a large portion of my family living locally, and we looked forward to any opportunity to play with cousins and reconnect even if it had only been a few weeks since we had been together.

This quote makes it seem like we should treat our holiday like a business interruption -- eat quickly and move on to the real work. We can't even take one day to relax and focus on our blessings. And, as a result, many of our friends and neighbors have to work on the holiday just so we can 'move on'.

It's a sad statement.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Prayer for a Friend

My very good friend Maryn just received one of those calls we never want...the test results are back and it is cancer. This is her second round with the dreaded disease. She is a strong Christian woman, and I know her faith and her family will get her through this tough time.

I sent her this prayer, and I plan to pray it at least once each day. If you are reading this, would you take a moment to pray for her too?

Lord, I pray that you will heal Maryn completely and miraculously. Rid her body of all cancer cells and protect those cells that are healthy. If she must go through medical treatments, surround her with doctors who are caring and gentle to their patients and who are like warriors on a rampage toward the cancer. Guide their hands and minds as they develop the strategy that will result in total healing. Please provide Maryn the strength she needs to get through this tough situation. Minimize any pain or side effects while those bad cells are erradicated. Surround her and her family with tangible love and peace. Let them draw even closer to you and to each other in this time. Provide wonderful distractions to keep their minds away from negative thoughts. Fill their hearts with laughter and wonder, and bless this family beyond their wildest dreams. I pray in Jesus name, Amen

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

God Allows Suffering for a Reason

I have frequently heard Christian speakers talk about how God doesn't want us to live in pain or with depression. If we turn it all over to Him, he will heal us and make us whole. As if some of these illnesses are our own doing and we should just try harder to get closer to God. We must be doing something wrong if we aren't healed. Many people get more discouraged by this kind of talk, and some may even fall away because they believe the lie that they, themselves, are the true cause of the problem.

That is such a hurtful message to so many people. God often puts us in difficult situations, emotional and physical, so we can cling to him and help others. Yes, we often bring depression and stress-related illnesses on ourselves, but not always.

When Jesus was walking to the temple one day, he passed by the Pool of Bethesda. People believed that this pool was touched occasionally by the wings of angels, and that whomever could get into it first when the water was disturbed would be healed. John 5:3 says "Here a great number of disabled people used to lie -- the blind, the lame, the paralyzed." Jesus saw one man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years, and he asked the man if he wanted to be healed. The man said yes, and Jesus told him to pick up his mat and go home. The man was cured at once.

Could you imagine being the person who was lying next to this man? Why had Jesus selected him and not someone else? Why did he not speak the words and heal every person at the pool? It's easy for us to give reasons such as 'they didn't believe enough' or 'they didn't deserve it'. But we weren't there, and John didn't give any explanation. Jesus healed this one to make a point, but that doesn't mean he didn't love or care about the others.

There are many great saints in God's kingdom who deal with physical and emotional disabilities. God doesn't heal their bodies, but he has healed their hearts and he's put them into situations where many can learn from their examples. They existed even in Biblical times; look at the injuries of Jacob, the thorn in Paul's side, the suffering of Job, and the depression of Jeremiah.

While God could heal them in a second, sometimes he choses not to. They will have whole and perfect bodies when they get to heaven.

If you don't have any physical or emotional ailments, or if you have been healed from them, please be thankful and praise God. But don't look down on others who suffer. They may be blessed with this 'gift' in order to be an example of faithfulness through adversity, and they may be just the example or help that someone else might need. Don't insult them by suggesting that they should just pray will be a clanging cymbal, just as Job's friends were.