Parents, you need to read this book

I’ll let the author make the case for herself but as a father of six and a full-time education pastor who regularly interacts with other people’s kids, I have to say that I found this book compelling.

reset-your-childs-brainIn the introduction to her book, Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time, integrative psychiatrist Victoria Dunckley observes:

In a mere ten-year span from 1994 to 2003, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children increased forty-fold. Childhood psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and tic disorders are on the rise. Between 2002 and 2005, ADHD medication prescriptions rose by 40 percent. Mental illness is now the number one reason for disability filings for children, representing half of all claims filed in 2012, compared to just 5 to 6 percent of claims twenty years prior.

Now consider that this rise in childhood psychosocial and neurodevelopmental issues has increased in lockstep with the insidious growth of electronic-screen exposure in daily life . . . Children aged two to six now spend two to four hours a day screen-bound — during a period in their lives when sufficient healthy play is critical to normal development. Computer training in early-years education–including in preschool–has become commonplace, despite a lack of long-term data on learning and development. And according to a large-scale survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2010, children ages eight to eighteen now spend an average of nearly seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen–a 20 percent increase from just five years earlier. (2-3)

Even if you end up disagreeing with Dunckley that Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS) is contributing to (if not causing) an increasingly broad spectrum of behavioral and/or developmental disorders, you will certainly benefit from knowing the pitfalls that accompany unregulated screen-time for children. I’ll let the author make the case for herself but as a father of six and a full-time education pastor who regularly interacts with other people’s kids, I have to say that I found this book compelling.

Although not a major focus of the book, parents would also benefit from the counsel that Dunckley provides concerning communication and discipline. A good bit of content is universally applicable. For example:

It’s very easy to get caught up arguing and debating whether there’s a problem and whether this is the right solution–which is exactly what you don’t want. Children will always have more energy than you, so it’s to their advantage to keep you engaged. It’s to yours to keep it short! (164-165; emphasis added)

And my personal favorite:

Who knows, but considering the current trend is wearable computing, the next wave of devices might make today’s screen-time problems seem laughable . . . So be wary when the next new technology comes out and steer clear of adding new devices to the home. It’s harder to have and give up than never to have at all. (240-241; emphasis added)

It may not be a fun read but it’s necessary. So take a look but be prepared: the diagnosis and prescription are not for the faint of heart.

Why Christians aren’t ‘nice’

‘Nice’ is the new ‘love.’

Near the end of a 2012 discussion of his book Coming Apart, Charles Murray touched on the difference between raising kids to be nice versus raising kids to be good. You can take a look and reflect for yourself (watch 39:06-40:12) but I wanted to draw attention to this statement in particular:

Being nice is a way of moment to moment not creating trouble. It is not a way of inculcating standards and behavior that will get you through tough times.

Now this was in the context of child-rearing but  Murray’s point is one that I have groped for when discussing the pseudo-Christian response to today’s sexual revolution. To wit, nice is the new love.

What the social engineers demand is that Christians be nice–that we acquiesce; go along to get along. Protests notwithstanding, the last thing they want from us is love unless they get to define it. In the new moral order love isn’t so much “patient” as it is “permissive.”

Yes, “love is kind” (1Cor 13:4). But keep reading. “Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth” (1Cor 13:6). And that’s why love isn’t always “nice”–because it rejoices in the truth. Love asserts that some things are right and some things are wrong. Love insists there is a fixed moral order that has been transgressed. Love says what we would rather not hear and rejects what we would rather accept.

And so the Christian who truly loves becomes a troublemaker. And troublemakers will never be considered nice.

Advice for a new mother

In the hope of offering something worthwhile to the hardest working people on the planet, I’ve concluded the best thing I could do is . . . shut-up and let someone speak who actually knows what they’re talking about.

Another Mother’s Day is behind us and millions of moms across the land find themselves back at the grind. Then again, for some moms (i.e. new, single, and/or military) the grind didn’t abate at all on Mother’s Day–or Sunday as they call it. But I digress.

In the hope of offering something worthwhile to the hardest working people on the planet, I’ve concluded the best thing I could do is . . . shut-up and let someone speak who actually knows what they’re talking about. Therefore, I eagerly give the platform to a squad leader who is already on her way to a highly decorated career. Currently in her fifteenth year of active duty, my wife had this to share with two of her sisters-in-law who have recently been assigned their own commission.

Time is strange.  According to Einstein, the closer a body moves to the speed of light, the slower time moves, which theoretically allows for time travel into the future.  As a mother I have experienced the miraculous way that days (and minutes and hours) seem to last an eternity while the years fly by.  I think that is because as a mom, you are moving near light speed all day, everyday, so time sometimes sssslllllloooooowwwwwssss to a crawl; but because you are moving so fast, you look back and years are gone. I am still in the thick of child rearing but our baby years are over and since I have  some time to think again, here are some things that I have learned along the way.

  1. God’s power has already granted to you everything pertaining to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3).  I cling to His power because as much as I want to live a holy life before my husband and children, it is impossible without this.  The sanctification process that God ushers in through his gift of children requires a desperate and humble dependence upon God’s power-which you already have.  That means in Christ you have the power to be patient, generous with your time, kind, gentle, selfless even when the demands of motherhood seem endless.
  2. The relationship between parent and child mirrors the relationship between you and God.  I am thankful for all of my “mirrors” who have revealed and even magnified so many flaws.  As I continue to teach and train my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so the Lord uses this same teaching in my own life to train me.  Christ-likeness is a goal for everyone, not just the children (II Peter 1:3-11).
  3. Something’s gotta give!  In spite of what you see on…you name it–Pinterest, Facebook , your neighborhood–no one has it all together.  I have found that something always has to give.  So the house is super clean but we are all a tense mess because I have been barking at the kids all day, or the yard is looking spotless but the laundry is piled to the ceiling, or we completed a lot of school work and had a good home cooked meal, but I have no energy for my husband.  Since something has to give, make sure it is something with no spiritual or emotional significance.  A messy space is ok; expect it and learn to accept it. Use your time to build and maintain relationships with the Lord and your family (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
  4. Put down the parenting books.  You have real life references in all of us!  No one corners the market on wisdom in child-rearing.  Find someone who is doing well the thing you need help with  and seek advice from that person.  Your mom is a great example of how to give someone your attention.  It always amazes me when she stops whatever she is doing and turns to face the billion grubby, grabby, begging grandchildren and calmly and cheerfully listens to all of their stories and answers all of their questions. Very instructive.  We are always glad to help however we can (Titus 2:3-5).
  5. PRAY!! PRAY!! PRAY!!  Do not believe the hype that you wont have time to pray. Everyone has time to pray–you must obey and do it.  Pray for your husband, yourself, your children, your church, church leadership, country, country leadership, Christians around the world, the future–then rest in God (James 5:16, Eph 6:18).
  6. Make time and save energy for your husband.  Children need and demand so much of both!!  It can be depressing for a husband (and a marriage) when the focus is too much on the children. Love him. Cherish him. Encourage him.  As you both grow in Christ-likeness, it will be impossible for you to get too far apart (Song of Sol 6:3a).
  7. Learn to love your children.  That seems like a given and with some children it is really very easy.  But with others, and in very difficult times it’s not so simple.  You have to learn to love as Christ loves-knowing our flaws and working to fix them but loving us because we are His image bearers and because He has a covenant with us.  Accept that some children will be like you, easy for you to understand and relate to, some will be very different and more of a challenge to get along with.  Each one is a gift, each one is a mirror, each one is a new soul to train for Christ (John 13:34).

This is not an exhaustive list, of course; just a few of the things that God has taught me along the way.  Remember that while you and your husband are just beginning a new path, you are not alone.  God is with you always and WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU!   -Chris


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