This is a common question amongst parents of young children. Take a look at what the statistics are telling us and some tips to consider before handing over your iPhone to a preschooler.Read More
Teenagers are always up for an adventure. In fact, being a teenager is all about adventure . . . risk-taking, thrill-seeking, pushing the edges of the envelope. At least it is, in their minds . . . and maybe even literally in the wiring of their brains. But, we’ll come back to idea that a little later.
It’s the adventure first . . . or it’s what they think of as adventure. One teenager told me that she struggled with her life because it wasn’t what high school was “supposed” to look like. According to today’s media, teenagers are “supposed” to be sitting in hotel bars, drinking underage, trying to find out which friend murdered another and deciding which zombie or vampire is…Read More
Vaping and Juuling are some of the more trendy practices in adolescent culture today. The acceleration of vaping was highlighted in a 2016 report from the US surgeon general, citing a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011-2015. Another survey revealed that 1.7 million high school students reported having used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
A teenaged boy recently reported to me “my dad knows teenagers are going to drink and smoke, he just wants me to do it responsibly.” I was grieved to hear this boy’s father had set the bar so low for him...Read More
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” If you’ve seen the movie or read the book The Help, you know these words. You also know the moving scene when they’re spoken. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Kathryn Stockett’s heartwarming characters, let me introduce you. The scene takes place in adorable two-year-old Mae Mobley’s bedroom with Aibileen, her beloved housekeeper. Aibileen walks into the room, smile wide and arms outstretched. She takes Mae Mobley into her arms, holds her close, and repeats these words with her: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” They’re words that are foundational. They speak the truth into Mae Mobley’s life of who she is, how God made her, and how…Read More
For several years now, Sissy Goff has been teaching a class called "Taming the Technology Monster." She’s been passing along important information to parents about raising digital natives. Daily we sit with parents who comment that managing, overseeing and safeguarding technology is one of the biggest hurdles they face on a daily basis.
Sissy has put the valuable information from this class into a booklet highlighting 8 important principles for parents to circle around. You can get this book…Read More
On this next Monday and Tuesday, Sissy and David are honored to be guests on Focus on the Family’s broadcast. They’ll be talking about the 4 emotional milestones that are highlighted in Are My Kids on Track:
You can check it…Read More
We interrupt this regularly scheduled chapter on spiritual milestones to bring you chapter 11 on Mercy—the chapter most directed toward early adolescence. Because everything about adolescence is, in fact, topsy turvy, this chapter will be, too.
Teenagers live in the here and now. In fact, their normal development mimics many characteristics of AD/HD. A friend of mine whose daughter has AD/HD described her as having two time frames in her mind: now and not now. The same is true for teenagers. Now and not now. And so we’re going to step inside their brains and see life and faith a little more from their perspective in this chapter. No waiting around for building blocks after all the stumbling blocks are over. It’s not that straightforward…Read More
Really. It’s called Doki Doki Literature Club. It took me three times to get the name right when a girl I was counseling mentioned it to me. And, even though you might not be familiar with it, either, you want to pay attention if you’re a parent. Kids watch videos of it on YouTube. It was nominated for “trending game of the year” at the 2018 SXSW Gaming Awards (which are evidently a big deal in the gaming world). But, what you really need to know is that, in its first three months of release, it was downloaded over one million times, and exceeded two million downloads about a month later (according to Wikipedia). And that kids are talking about it.
At first glance, Doki Doki Literature Club appears to be a lighthearted dating simulator, but is actually a psychological horror game. The game opens with a warning: “This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed,” and then has an intro similar to your kids’ favorite cartoon. The girl characters talk about “valuing happiness”, “finding comfort in the world of books,” and being “deceivingly cute girl with an assertive punch.” Sounds harmless enough. It’s about a male high school student who joins the literature club, which is made up of these four female students.
As a player, you interact with the other characters, with the feeling that you’re controlling the action. But, in reality, you aren’t. And things turn very dark fairly quickly. There are themes of depression, rape, abuse, and suicide. A website called kotaku.com, discusses the plotline and the evolution of a character named Sayori. “By the time Sayori tells the player character that she’s severely depressed, she’s clearly teetering on the edge of a breakdown, tearfully confessing her love for the player character. Even if you say that you love her back, her mood doesn’t improve. In fact, her inability to be happy that her crush is reciprocated makes her even sadder.”
The game contains optional endings. In one ending, one of the members stabs herself to death, and another finishes the game sitting beside her dead body. In another ending, another member takes her life. And, even adult game reviewers talk about how frightening and disturbing the game is. On Polygon.com, a reviewers says, “As I crawled into this “second run,” I wasn’t just horrified; I was mentally trapped in the game's world and its antics. But I still wanted to dive back in, and I spent time with myself to understand what I had to overcome in order to continue the game. In the process, I realized how Doki Doki Literature Club utilizes an underrated aspect of the horror experience: control, or the lack thereof.”
And this is a game the kids we love are playing. As always, we want to safeguard our kids online. We want to play the games they’re downloading first. Make sure we have parental controls set up, so we know what they’re watching. And we want to have conversations about the dangers of even seemingly innocent content.
I read one website that said that The First Rule of Doki Doki Literature Club is not to talk about Doki Doki Literature Club. We don’t want the kids we love to have that rule about this game, or any other trend that catches their technologically hungry eyes. For more information on how to help, you can grab a copy of Taming the Technology Monster. And follow along with us for more information on Technology Tuesday’s about what kids are watching (and playing and posting) and what we can do to help.
More and more girls come into our counseling offices worried about the start of school. As the summer winds down and conversations come up about lunchboxes and lockers, they get a little teary. They have more frequent stomach aches or headaches. Each August, we see an onslaught of elementary aged children who have anxiety around school starting back. Sometimes, it’s that they’re afraid of throwing up. Sometimes, it’s performing poorly on tests. Sometimes, it’s making friends or having a strict teacher. Regardless of what they attach their fears to…Read More
Suicide has become an increasingly popular topic in our counseling offices. More kids than ever are talking about it, in one way or another. Tragically, exponentially more kids are talking about ending their lives. Many of these kids are genuinely contemplating suicide as an option. And, as always, if you ever hear your child mention it or seen any reference your child has written about suicide, in person or on social media, our recommendation is always the same: take them directly to the hospital…Read More
Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. -Matthew 5:13, MSG
We skip over salt sometimes. We read that verse and talk so much about light (You know…you are the light of the world kind of stuff). But we miss the salt…and Jesus was saying something very important when he talked about salt. Because, you see, salt itself was very important in Biblical times. It was valuable. People were even paid in salt, sometimes, instead of wages. And we all know salt still has many important purposes. It preserves. It disinfects. And it especially helps…Read More
Every time we speak on technology, we’re asked about YouTube. Kids of all ages are investing significant amounts of time and energy on this platform, watching everything from cartoons to comedy sketches to vlogs to other kids playing video games. It’s hard to know how to protect kids…and sometimes hard to know what you might be protecting them from.
Thankfully, there is a version of YouTube called YouTube kids, with built in protections. But we wanted to give you a little more information on some additional ways you can safeguard your little ones. And, in a couple of weeks, we’ll be posting some important information regarding YouTube and the teenagers you love…Read More
“How many of you have fallen down before? You understand, then. We try so hard to do something right, and we still fall down. Your parents encourage you and build you up, and you still fall flat on your face. That’s the thing about trying to have confidence. It just doesn’t work for very long. The Bible says it like this:
We are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naïve and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else…Read More
In Matthew 18, the disciples were arguing about who the best among them was. And then Jesus looked out, pointed to a child and called him over. The child walked up and Jesus said, “Be like a child.”
In other words, Jesus is saying, “Be like you.” Be you. You don’t have to be anything else. You don’t have to be funny or cool or silly or anything different than exactly who God made you to be. He made you different than anybody else…Read More
We started out our 9th-10th grade camp with a boy named Eustace. Eustace wasn’t actually at camp with us…except that he was. Eustace was a character in the movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that we watched the first night of camp. And Eustace, basically, is every one of us.
Eustace started out as quite a grumpy young fellow. Nothing quite suited him…no situation, no environment, and certainly, no one. He grumbled his way, much like a little monster, through the beginning of the movie until a certain scene when Eustace was transformed…Read More
Let’s have our eyes open to what God may want to show us…
“The next day John SAW Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘LOOK, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’ Then John gave this testimony: I SAW the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know…Read More
In Steven Spielberg’s beloved 1989 adventure classic Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade a character asks the hero, “Why do you seek the cup of Christ? Is it for his glory or for yours?” For the few days that encompassed all-boys camp a daring group of middle school boys sought to answer this question for themselves.
Treasure hunting became the theme of this all-boys camp, drawing initially from the boys viewing of Indiana Jones, Melissa introduced the concept not of tangible earthly wealth but of the treasures of heaven and the wealth that is placed by God within us…Read More
“Let me check my map to see where she is.”
Last night, I sat with a group of high school girls while we were waiting for others to show up. One of the girls pulled out her phone, touched her “Find My Friends” app, and all of a sudden, the photos of several of her closest people showed up, all around town…Read More
(This is something you could share in a family devotional or with the kids in your life. We’d highly suggest you watch the movie Wonder together first!)
In the movie Wonder, the mom says to Auggie, “Your face shows where you’ve been and your heart shows where you’re going.” This week at camp, we talked about the same kind of idea…but with hands, rather than faces…Read More