The Grunt and the Gurgle: with jeanniecunnion.com

Our friend and author of the book Parenting The Whole Hearted Child,  Jeannie Cunnion welcomed us onto her blog this week and we were able to share about communication with boys and girls. Read some of it here and head on over to her blog for the full article! 

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Understanding Tweens - Fast or Slow, Nobody Knows (Part 2)

Last week in Part 1, we talked about tweens and what they need from us as parents.

Here are some of the ways we talked about supporting our tweens:

  1. Study development.  We serve our kids well when we have a working understanding of what’s normal and what’s not....
  2. Tell stories.  One of my sons appears to be a late bloomer as well.  This isn’t surprising, as he carries my genetic ingredients...
  3. Create opportunity.  It’s vital that these developing young beings have a context to experience value, purpose and meaning...
  4. Keep talking.  Kids need us to begin and continue an ongoing dialogue about their growth...

Here are some resources for PARENTS to help with these suggestions: READ MORE

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Failure to Launch/Boomerang Kids: Part 3

“Welcome Home.  When are you leaving?”

A Parent’s Guide to Boomerang Kids - Part 3

Here are some guidelines for parents who find they are moving from empty nesters to landlords.

How to Respond to a Child that Comes Home

  1. Go to the scriptures.  I recommend any parent with a child coming home reread the story of the Prodigal Son.  There is so much wisdom within the father’s response that can prepare you well for that moment.  
  2. Respond with mercy, understanding and empathy.  The father of the Prodigal Son didn’t greet his son with an “I told you so” lecture.  He greeted him with mercy.  We are told the son in that story came to his senses while dining with pigs, not when his father was lecturing him about blowing it.  Read More...
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Technology Tuesday: Alarm System

The Triple Threat:  Positive Peer Pressure, Faith and Fear (with an alarm system kicked in)

This week’s Technology Tuesday is a shout out to good old ADT, or any other alarm system that comes equipped with chimes and loud noises. 

For years, we’ve been saying there are really primary three reasons that teenagers stay away from bad choices:

  1.  Positive Peer Pressure.  They have a group of friends who are making better choices and encouraging them to do the same.  This is why peer groups whose voices you trust become increasingly important as your child moves toward adolescence.  Find a youth group—if your child is older, they can even have a choice in which youth group, but they need to have the voices of other kids speaking truth into their lives…not just yours. READ MORE...
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One to Watch This Year's Open…a Hero for Our Girls

Taylor Townsend is the youngest U.S. Woman to advance to the third round at the French Open since 2003.  It’s an impressive feat for an 18 year-old.  And, especially so, given that the U.S. Tennis Association tried to keep her out of the U.S. Open just two years ago until she lost weight.

What we—what our culture does to girls (and to boys) is tragic.  I am astounded to hear girls in my counseling office talk about coaches and teachers who make comments about their weight and weight restrictions still in place for a variety of sports.  We are living in a weight-obsessed society.  And we are living in a society where up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders).

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Camp Hopetown for 2nd-4th Graders: Give me your lantern and compass, give me a map...

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?

Why are you crying the blues?

Fix my eyes on God—

Soon I’ll be praising again. 

He puts a smile on my face.

He’s my God. 

Psalm 42, The Mesasge

If you had been anywhere near Camp Hopetown this week, you would have heard these words shouted out by 28 2nd-4th graders (and a few counselors)…over and over again.  We shouted them with angry voices, pretending we were mad because we wanted to ride the tube first.  We shouted them with sad voices worried we would be left out from our friends.  We shouted them with fearful voices that it would rain and keep us from the lake.  But however we cried the blues, other voices always shouted back, “FIX MY EYES ON GOD—SOON I’LL BE PRAISING AGAIN.”  READ MORE

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He Comes To Find US! Camp Hopetown 9th & 10th Grade

This week at camp, we talked about Zacchaeus and Luke 19.  You remember him…the little guy who climbed up the sycamore tree to see Jesus.  The backstory of Zacchaeus—in case you’ve forgotten from Sunday school—is that he was a tax collector.  He was Jewish but taxed the Jewish people to pay money to the Roman government.  And, in those days, tax collectors were known for skimming off the top.  Suffice it to say that Zacchaeus didn’t have a lot of friends.

So, here he was, in Jerusalem, having just heard that Jesus was on his way to town.  It’s hard to see with the crowds and Zacchaeus’ height, so he climbs up in a nearby sycamore tree to have a better view.

Jesus, walking underneath the tree, shouts up, “Zacchaeus, hurry down.  Today is my day to be a guest in your home.”  The Message goes on to say, “Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him.”  Zacchaeus was excited to see Jesus, but Jesus was even more excited to Zacchaeus.  He stopped on purpose, just for Zacchaeus.

Jesus goes on to say, “Today is salvation day in this home!  Here he is:  Zacchaeus, son of Abraham!  For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”  The NIV says “to seek and save the lost.”

He comes to find usREAD MORE

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Wake Up! He's Coming Back! Hopetown: Girl's Week

The all girls’ camp started off with a bang…actually, with a high-speed chase through Clarksville.  We weren’t actually in the chase but it went by us…four times actually before the truck in pursuit jumped a curb and headed out of sight.

In the midst of the chase, Hannah, one of our staff members caught Cheryl, our bus driver on video.  Cheryl was excitedly yelling over and over, as the driver sped past us and past us again, “He’s coming back!!!”

Melissa heard the video being played before she heard the story behind it, and was prompted to remind the girls of a passage from 1 Thessalonians that talks about a much more important return than the one we watched from the bus window... READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: The Perils of Summer and Social Media

 “I took myself off instagram when I was on my family vacation.  I just had to take a break from seeing how much fun everyone else was having.”

A freshman in high school said these words to me this week.  She follows a long line of other girls who have realized the potential impact of social media.  For girls who compare themselves to others (aka all girls), it can become very discouraging.  As we say often in parenting seminars, loneliness doesn’t show up on instagram.  I don’t know that anyone (let’s be honest, adults) looks at social media and thinks, “I really love my life.”  Instead, we look at others’ more fun vacations, happier children and more perfect lives.  What we’re seeing is not reality.  Neither is what your son or daughter sees.  But, he doesn’t have the emotional maturity to know that.  She believes that every friend is having a better summer and getting with friends more than she is.  And, the problem with summer is that there is simply so much time.  They have more hours in the day to look at Instagram and read Tumblr and follow what their friends are doing on pinterest.  It can consume hours of their day and can easily become a lonely substitute for a social life. READ MORE

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Camp Hopetown: Week 1

MONSTERS…we talked a lot about monsters this first week of camp at Hopetown.  Not the one-eyed, scary, scaly kind of monsters but the kind of monsters we hear in our heads every day. 

You know…you hear them, too.  It’s not just the high school kids we had at camp last week.  It’s the voice in your head that says “You blew it.”  You can internalize it as the voices of those in relationship to you or even God’s voice.  Rather than “I love you and am for you,” it’s more like “You fell flat on your face.”  “You are such a mess.”  “Try harder.”  “I’m frustrated.”  “You’re in trouble.”  “You deserve this.”  “I’m not going to love you anymore.”  Henri Nouwen said, “One of the reasons we don’t trust God is the negative, persistent voices we have inside of us.”  The VOICE OF TRUTH gets lost in the wake of these lying, powerful monsters that do their best to defeat us. READ MORE

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The Fault In Our Stars...and Frappucinos

by Sissy Goff & David Thomas

Every year, there is a YA book that takes the girl world by storm.  You can name the last few:  Twillight, Divergent…and now, The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is a lovely, well-written, beautiful book—and now movie— that speaks to everything that young (and sometimes old) girls love:  drama, love, drama, beauty, and more drama.  It nails it, in fact.  And every girl between the ages of 13 and 18 I’ve (Sissy) seen in my counseling office this summer has been talking about it.  One even made me sit down and watch the trailer she was so passionate about it.

A mom of an eighth grader I met with yesterday talked about how her daughter and all of her friends were “obsessed with it.”  Here’s something you may or may not know.  And, SPOILER ALERT, by the way.  But, I believe, concerned and intentional parent important spoiler.  They have sex... READ MORE

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A Father’s Love for His Girl

Your role is profound in the life of your daughter.   As a man, you have a unique ability to draw out her beauty—deeper beauty—than possibly anyone else in her life.  Tell her that she is beautiful, inside and out.  Encourage her and tell her when you see her kindness toward a friend of her tenderness toward an animal.  Speak to her strengths and love her through her weaknesses.  As you do these things, you touch on the femininity that is growing inside her.

You can also be affectionate with her, even when she gets older and starts to pull away.  She will be embarrassed by this, but that is all part of the adolescent ruse.  It’s embarrassing for your dad to do these things.  But she still enjoys them—even when she act like she doesn’t.  Put your arm around her at church.  Offer her your arm when you are walking into an event.  This kind of affection helps her feel cared for and valued... READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: Yik Yak

App Alert:  Anonymity Apps…and the danger of being anonymous

Yik Yak…maybe the name comes from the Coaster’s song of the 50’s (Remember…  “Yackety yak, don’t talk back”).  Whatever the origin, those of us who care about kids are wishing we could “talk back” to these anonymity apps and their creators. 

Just in Williamson County in Tennessee alone this spring, a host of hurtful statements spread throughout our community on various anonymous twitter accounts.  And, as these tech folks do, they saw the trend and answered what they felt like was a need.  It wasn’t.  Now, there are dozens of anonymity apps popping up all over the social media landscape.  “Promising a place where you can be more honest,” these apps allow people to post whatever they would like to online-anonymously.  You can imagine where this is going.  Not only are these apps a hotbed for online bullying, but there have even been reports of bomb and shooting threats taking place. READ MORE

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Summer Camp

In a few weeks, we will kick off another summer at Daystar.  We host a series of overnight camps at Melissa’s Lakehouse in Kentucky, and a series of Day Camp experiences out of the Daystar house in Nashville. 

We believe camps offer kids and adolescents a range of rich social, emotional, spiritual and physical opportunities.  As you are exploring summer opportunities for your children, consider this article on kids and camping... READ MORE

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I'm Worried My Child May Have An Eating Disorder...PART 2

We’re glad you joined us as we talk through eating disorders among kids today.  This is an issue we feel passionate about.  It is one of the most addictive struggles a child (or adult) can ever face and there is much you can do as a parent to help:

  1. What you model in your home in regard to food and body image is of the utmost importance.  We tell parents often that your issues are often going to show up in the life of your child.  If you struggle with your own body image or some type of eating disorder, get help—for your sake and theirs. 
  2. Don’t make food an issue around your home.  It is unhealthy to use food as a reward.  But it is also unhealthy to focus on the fact that you are eating healthy all of the time.  Eating disorders manifest themselves in a preoccupation with food and eating.  Don’t further this by being preoccupied by food as a family.  It is important to teach your child healthy eating, but not obsessive healthy eating... READ MORE
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I'm Worried My Child May Have An Eating Disorder...PART 1

 “I think the problem is that food and I just don’t get along.”

Her struggles with food started right around the age of 11.  As a young girl, she was petite.  She had the body of a little athlete…long legs, flat stomach and teeny muscles.  But, then, as it does in the life of every girl, puberty reared its hormonal head.  At 12, she felt like a different person.  She worried about what other people thought.  She felt insecure.  And, much to her dismay, she believed that she looked “round”.  Her stomach had taken on a new shape, her breasts, her bottom and even her legs were more curvy.  And she hated it.

At 15, she sat in our counseling offices and pointed back to the age of 12 as the onset of a struggle with food that continued to plague her.  “I used to hear all of the time how cute I was.  And then it just stopped.  No one said I was attractive…or little.  No one said anything.”  So, I thought, I must be fat... READ MORE

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The Role of Birth Order (Part 2)

In part 2 of this entry on birth order, we’ll take a look at some ideas for parenting with birth order in mind.  

Last time, we took a look at the role of birth order in our parenting journey.  Here are a few ideas for parenting with birth order in mind:

  1. Watch your wording.  When disciplining the firstborn child, be aware of not reinforcing perfectionism.  A life-long objective with firstborns is to help them differentiate between the hopeless pursuit of perfection and the satisfying seeking of excellence. 
  2. Avoid making comparisons. Though research suggests that firstborn’s score higher on IQ tests, generally obtain more education, and out earn their siblings, kids never benefit from being compared to a high achieving sibling or elevating a particular strength or ability.  Personality tests reveal that while firstborns outscore in terms of being conscientious, responsible and having strong follow through, laterborns score higher on what’s identified as agreeableness or the ability to get along in the world.
  3. Set aside time... READ MORE
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How Can I Help My Child With Anxiety?

What do I do when she’s afraid and I can tell the thoughts have become looping? 

That she won’t go upstairs to take a shower if I’m not upstairs with her? 

That she won’t go to school for fear of throwing up? 

That she won’t spend the night at a friend’s house? 

If you were to bring your son or daughter to Daystar, these are a few of the places we’d start:

1) Make a worry list.  Here’s an example.  When he’s afraid, the blood in his brain is literally rushing to his amygdala, which controls a fight or flight response.  This also means its not circulating as well in his pre-frontal cortex, which enables executive functioning.  In other words, he is not thinking with the part of his brain that helps him organize his thoughts, differentiate between good and bad, think through consequences, set goals, and control his impulse.  He is thinking in survival mode.  His heart rate elevates.  His autonomic system is on alert.  Basically, he is not reasonable.  (You probably know this much better than we do.)  In order to help him reason, we need to help slow down his nervous system….to come down from a 10 to a 2 or even a 4.

With many of the kids I counsel, I’ll help them come up with a “Worry List”-a list of things they can do to help calm themselves down when they start to get anxious.  Basically, they’re coping skills.  Make one of these lists with your child.  Have them tell you what makes them feel better and more peaceful...

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The Role of Birth Order (Part 1)

Like many first time parents, the news of our pregnancy jumpstarted a desperate attempt at preparation.  We began researching strollers, infant carriers, cribs, car seats, pediatricians, and frantically reading books on all things baby.  One of the books noted that reading to the baby in the womb could boost intelligence, so I started reading Charlotte’s Web aloud at night, while my wife chuckled aloud at my efforts. When our daughter came on the scene, we piped classical music in to her nursery (something else we’d read boosted intelligence), became hyper-focused on her sleeping, eating and pooping patterns, and generally consumed with her development as only first time parents can be. 

A year later, we celebrated being pregnant for the second time.  With absolutely no indicators of a different kind of pregnancy, it wasn’t until our ultrasound that we discovered we were having twins.  And not just twins, but twin BOYS.  We are still recovering from that news a decade later.  READ MORE

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If you are, or know someone in great pain...

Just a few weeks ago a fifteen year-old girl told me she was thinking about ending her life.  She wasn’t only thinking about it.  She knew how.  She got the idea from youtube.  And she told a group of ten other fourteen and fifteen year-old girls and me.

“It wouldn’t matter to anyone.  My mom and dad would probably be relieved.  My friends wouldn’t miss me.  And it would open up another slot for someone to be in counseling at Daystar.”

As I looked around the room, all I could see was pain registering on every other girl’s face.  Their concern—no, their fear was palpable.  She, however, didn’t see it.  She didn’t want to.  They fell under the category of “My friends wouldn’t miss me.”

After the girl left with her very strong and kind mother, I went back to the group to talk and pray for this sad young girl.  Another girl’s comment was “This is everyone’s go to these days.”  And every girl with the exception of one said she had at least one friend who had considered ending her life. READ MORE

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