Planning to See “The BFG” This Weekend?

Movie Review of Disney’s The BFG

the bfg

Earlier this week Jody and I had the chance to attend a pre-screening of Disney’s new movie The BFG. The film opens tonight in theaters everywhere, and if you’re looking for a family movie this weekend, this might be a good option.

The BFG is the story of 10-year-old orphan Sophie and a 24-foot giant with enormous and expressive ears, a keen sense of smell and an oogly-googly vocabulary. The giant, known as BFG (for Big Friendly Giant) kidnaps the precocious Sophie from a London orphanage and brings her to Giant Country, inhabited by human-eating giants twice the size of the BFG. The two become fast friends, but threats from the other giants propel them on a journey that includes Buckingham Palace, the Queen of England and the Royal Army.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, the Disney film brings to life Roald Dahl’s book with breathtaking cinematography and animation. It’s a very sweet story about the unexpected friendship of two lonely souls. Kids are likely to be fascinated by the scenery and tickled by some of the humor, especially the scenes with explosive, phosphorescent flatulence.

Although we both enjoyed the tenderhearted film, Jody and I also thought it was a bit slow. However, its visual splendor still makes it theater worthy. Sophie and BFG’s magical visit to the gossamer and luminescent Dream Country alone makes it worth a trip to the big screen. So if you don’t have extraordinary plans for the Fourth of July weekend or if it happens to be raining in your neck of the woods at any point, pack up the family and head to the theatre to see Disney’s The BFG.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Multitasking Lowers GPA

multitasking

Moms may be known as the ultimate multitaskers, but the research agrees that multitasking is not an efficient way to get things done. In a nutshell, multitasking is doing two or more tasks at the same time, and in the world of constant connectivity and social media, our kids are multitasking more than ever, and that’s a good thing.

Throughout this month, we are talking about helping kids develop healthy habits, and this week our radio show and column are focused on developing healthy habits for the mind. So for today’s blog, we want to talk about helping our kids get into the habit of focusing by avoiding multitasking.

Did you know that FOCUS is an acronym? It stands for

Follow

One

Course

Until Successful

The argument we often hear is that multitasking makes us more efficient. But the truth is, there are limitations to how many tasks we can perform and how well they can be executed when being performed at the same time.  Instead, let’s teach our kids to focus and fully complete one task before doing anything else.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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This Week’s Episode of POP Parenting Radio

Why Raise Leaders?

This week on POP Parenting, we are asking parents, “Why raise leaders?” Leadership training is one of our core values and focal points of the POP Parenting message. In fact, one of our tag lines is “training leaders from cradle to college.” But often, we hear parents say that their child isn’t really leadership material. In this episode, we offer a new definition for leadership that should inspire every parent to want to focus on leadership training with every child.

By the way, we apologize that the show notes and podcasts are up so late this week. Sunday was my baby shower. Jody put the whole thing together, and she did an AWESOME job! It was an amazing shower for baby Rhema Joy, who is due in August. I’m going to write a blog post soon about some of the super cool things we did at the shower, so stay tuned. I had extended family in town this weekend and my college roomie — it was a BLAST! But between entertaining and all the work Jody had to do for the shower, we weren’t able to get the podcast up over the weekend.

raise leaders

Jody & Jenni at the shower for baby Rhema Joy

From left to right: (back row) Jenni's mom, Ellen; Jenni's grandma Rita; Jenni, Jenni's Aunt Andrea (front row) Jenni's daughter Eden (my oldest daughter Sky couldn't make it; she was finishing an online final exam for Western Civ)

From left to right:
(back row) Jenni’s mom, Ellen; Jenni’s grandma Rita; Jenni, Jenni’s Aunt Andrea
(front row) Jenni’s daughter Eden (my oldest daughter Sky couldn’t make it; she was finishing an online final exam for her college Western Civ class)

Jenni with her college roommate and dear friend Ilana

Jenni with her college roommate and dear friend Ilana

This Week’s Show Topic

During this episode, we talked about what it really means to be a leader, and why parents should groom this in every child. We also offered personal stories and practical tools for grooming leadership in kids.

  • Segment #1  is an introduction and some background information about leadership training
  • Segment #2 takes us into the traits that leadership education instills in kids
  • Segment #3 offers some practical things you can do groom leadership
  • Segment #4 is the “Caught in the Act” segment. We talk to a dad who was caught saying some very special things to his 2 1/2 year old son.

In the first segment, we reference the National Alliance for Education and Transition. We’ve linked to their website in case you want to check them out for yourself.

Caught in the Act

The last segment of each POP Parenting episode is dedicated to a parent or childcare giver who was “caught in the act” of doing something extra-ordinary. This week’s parent is dad Tim Murphy who was nominated by his wife Ashley.

Ashley wrote a blog post about something pretty amazing that she overheard Tim saying to their 2 1/2 year old son Caden. We share an excerpt of what Ashley wrote, and we talk to Tim about his inspiration and goals for the conversation.

Caught in the Act

Tim & Caden Murphy

If you’d like to check out Ashley’s blog, you can find her at Do Your Best Sanctuary.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Catch the Very First National Episode of POP Parenting Radio

What is POP Parenting?

POP Parenting Radio Show

Yesterday morning at 9:00AM ET POP Parenting radio show debuted to a national audience through the Genesis Communications Network. This has been a long time in the making. We first began conversations with GCN in November 2014. By the following November, we had an agreement in place, and we left local radio, but we had to build a home studio that could communicate with the GCN satellite system. It took some time to raise the money, order the equipment (this kind of stuff isn’t available on Amazon Prime), build the studio, choose and record bumper music and intros/outros, do testing and settle on an official launch date.

The new studio is in Jody’s house, and by an awesome turn of Providential events, we ended up moving six houses away from Jody just a week before the new show launched! So my husband Matt and I walked down the road for the first show (how stinkin’ cool is that?). Matt is our tech guy here in Florida, and he communicates with the engineers and mechanics who helped up us with our chevrolet lt4 engine as a favor and other electrical systems in the house.

The Sound of POP ParentingSo…you’ll notice there are no pictures of our first day. Well…I guess this is confession time. So, since it was a Saturday morning and my family is still knee-deep in boxes (unpacking a family of eight – soon to be nine – is no small feat), and since the studio is just down the block, I must confess that I showed up to our first show in my PJs! My husband works nights, so I brewed him some coffee, filled our Tervis Tumblers with hot drinks, woke him up, and we headed down the block. I must say the PJ broadcast was so nice, but next week I’ll have family in town for my baby shower, so I’ll get dressed for that show, and we will try to get some photos in the new studio.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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You May Not Want to Find Dory This Weekend

Earlier this week, Jody and I had the chance to pre-screen DisneyPixar’s Finding Dory, and I must say that this, for us, was THE most highly anticipated pre-screening we have attended to date. Our kids were green with envy (we only get two tickets to pre-screenings, so our kids have to wait for the theatrical release like everyone else). Even our husbands were bummed that they couldn’t make it to this one.

Finding Nemo is one of my all time favorite animated movies. In fact, I think it’s such a great example of top notch storytelling that I use it whenever I teach basic storytelling techniques to kids. I’m not alone in my opinion on this film. It won the 2003 Academy Award® for best animated feature. In 2008, the American Film Institute named it among the top 10 greatest animated films ever made. And at the time of its release, Finding Nemo was the highest grossing G-rated movie of all time. It is still the fifth highest grossing animated film worldwide. The film has more than 19 million Likes on Facebook, and Dory—with more than 25 million—is the most liked individual character from any Disney or Disney•Pixar film.

So with all those accolades in mind, we were pumped for a GREAT sequel. And Disney•Pixar knows how to do a sequel. I’m not sure which Toy Story is my favorite. They are all so good, and I think I might have liked Monsters University even a tad bit more than Monsters Inc.

Boy were we surprised by Finding Dory!

Finding Nemo instantly drew us into the plight of its main characters. In the opening scene, we were delighted for the young fish couple Marlin and Coral who just bought their first home and were expecting a clutch of baby clown fish. And then we were shocked and grieved when nearly everything was ripped away from Marlin in a tragic barracuda attack that took Coral and all but one egg. So naturally, we sympathized with Marlin’s helicopter parenting compulsions, and when the unthinkable happened, and Nemo was scooped up by the monstrous diver, we were fully invested in Marlin’s quest to find his son.

Along the way, we encountered surprising and endearing situations and characters like the AA-style shark meeting who chanted the mantra, “Fish are friends, not food,” and the thrill-seeking, surfer-dude sea turtle Crush and of course, Marlin’s adopted sidekick Dory. The journey had great momentum. With every new situation and encounter, we sensed we were getting closer to finding Nemo.

In the meantime, there was a captivating B story with Nemo in the fish tank at the dentist’s office that had its own set of interesting characters and an additional threat — Darla, the dentist’s fish-killing niece. Plus, all of it, from the fish tank to the ocean was visually spectacular.

Although both Nemo and Finding Dory were directed by Andrew Stanton, who also directed WALL•E, the sequel had none of the elements that made the original so great. Although it was endearing to meet a young Dory (albeit incredibly sad, as you learn more about her short-term memory loss disability and witness some of her nearly-too-painful-to-watch struggles), we weren’t quite as invested in her sudden plight to find her family. Perhaps it’s because it seemed to come out of left field. There wasn’t a distinct inciting incident. You could almost sense that the real reason for Dory’s quest was to give Disney’s most beloved character a vehicle for her own movie.

From the moment the journey started it just seemed to go in circles. We couldn’t feel a forward momentum toward the goal, and after a short while, we found ourselves wanting to get off the merry-go-round.

The visuals didn’t help. In stark contrast to the vibrant colors of Nemo, Dory felt drab and even dingy at times. There weren’t any truly memorable moments, and although this might sound strange since we’re talking about a flick of talking fish, many of the scenarios in Finding Dory felt contrived and unrealistic. At least in Nemo, the situations they encountered seemed plausible in the ocean world.

Jody and I were so sad and disappointed. The car ride home from Tampa felt almost depressing.

So although Finding Dory opens in theaters everywhere tonight, we’d suggest you skip this one, and wait for it for to come on video. Head to the beach, have a barbecue or go on a family hike instead. You’ll have a more memorable weekend.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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An Inspiring and Visually Spectacular Family Movie

Alice Through the Looking Glass Opens Tonight

Whatever your plans are for tonight, make sure they include a trip to the theater to see Alice Through the Looking Glass!

Apparently, most critics don’t agree with me, but I’m not one to care much about fitting in with the masses. Jody and I had a chance to attend a pre-screening earlier this week, and we both LOVED it. In fact, the whole theater loved it. I’ve been to about half a dozen Disney pre-screenings over the past year or so, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen the entire theater (and it was a large, very packed theater) burst into applause at the closing credits.

Tim Burton directed the first live action Alice in Wonderland back in 2010. I loved that one too, but James Bobin, the director on this year’s sequel, brings a new sense of visual splendor to the story. In true Burton form, the first film had a darkness about it — almost a steampunked feel to it. Bobbins depiction of Wonderland is vividly colorful. I want him to come decorate my house — at least part of it!

Jody and I thought the storyline was very creative. Here’s the gist. Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland (Wonderland was Alice’s mispronunciation of the place when she was a young girl) to save her friend the Mad Hatter. By the way, we were impressed that after six years, the film attracted nearly all of the original cast to return.  Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Matt Lucas and Helena Bonham Carter along with the voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall. Looking Glass also introduces us to several new characters: Zanik Hightopp (Rhys Ifans), the Mad Hatter’s father and Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen), a peculiar creature who is part human, part clock.

In this adventure, a self-confident and courageous Alice Kingsleigh has spent the past three years sailing the high seas aboard her father’s ship. Upon her return to London, she comes across a magical looking glass and returns to the fantastical realm of Underland. Reuniting with her friends the White Rabbit, Absolem, the White Queen and the Cheshire Cat, Alice goes on a time-bending quest to save the Hatter and Underland itself before it’s too late.

It’s a great family film that does a creative job of reinforcing the importance of courage, taking risks to help others, standing up for what we believe in, righting our wrongs and learning to embrace one another’s gifts and abilities in spite of our differences.

The characters are as loveable as ever, and Alice’s wardrobe is stunning!

Don’t miss this fun and inspiring family film. It opens tonight in theaters everywhere.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It

The Big Payoff of Reading Aloud to Kids of All Ages

Reading aloud to kids

Out of all the different ways that we can help our kids succeed in school, the number one thing that parents can do requires nothing more than a free library card and time. We can read to them.

In 1983, the U.S. Department of Education was concerned about low academic performance scores, so they funded a Commission on Reading who spent two years combing through thousands of research reports conducted over the previous twenty-five years, and in 1985 they published their findings in a report titled Becoming a Nation of Readers. Amidst all of their digging, they discovered that reading out loud to kids is the number one most important thing we can do to help our kids become successful learners.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” the report said. “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

I’ve Seen It First Hand

I homeschool all my kids, so I have had the privilege of watching them learn to read. (Well, the first five that is; the four year old is just starting.) And I’ve noticed reading happens in different ways for different kids. A few of my kids were early fluent readers, reading simple chapter books independently before Kindergarten. But a couple of them did not take to it so easily.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Surprised by Zootopia

Opens in theaters tomorrow, March 4th

zootopia

I have to admit that I didn’t expect much from Zootopia, but boy was I wrong! I had the chance to see it earlier this week with our resident YouTube reviewer (a.k.a Griffyn Stahlmann or “G to the S,” as he refers to himself), and we were both surprised at how good it turned out to be.

The newest feature film from Disney is set in the modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia, a city comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown. Zootopia is a melting pot where animals from every environment, whether or predator or prey live together harmoniously.

The story centers on a rookie police officer Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), who has overcome decidedly insurmountable odds to achieve her dream of becoming the first bunny cop. In spite of her success at the police academy, Officer Hopps has to work extra hard to prove herself, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman), in order to crack a seemingly cold case.

Beneath the typical “kid story” of believing in yourself and working hard to become anything you put your mind to, there were underlying stereotypes, prejudices and judgements that threatened the harmony of Zootopia and the hopes of the film’s heroes.

The plot takes some unexpected turns along the way, holding the attention of the kids and the adults in the audience. It’s a fun and meaningful story that the whole family can enjoy.

Zootopia opens in theaters tomorrow, March 4th. It’s a great pick for a family movie, but you can skip the 3-D if you’re on a budget this week. I happen to enjoy 3-D and would probably see every movie that way if I could, but I know that a lot of people do not share my enthusiasm for it. If that’s you, Zootopia would be just as exciting in the standard format. We got to see it in 3-D, and there was nothing particularly exceptional about it.

If you head out to the theaters this weekend, stop back and tell us what you thought of Zootopia! And if you’d like to see Griffyn’s review, click here.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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The Plans I Have For You Devotional

When Jody and I saw this devotional from ZonderKidz, we knew we had to check it out. The whole idea that God has a unique plan for every person and that kids should seek Him and dream about their future is music to our ears.

The Plans I Have For You includes a devotional and journal and seems to be geared toward kids ages 8 to 11-ish. I had my 9 year old daughter go through it, and she really enjoyed it. The devotional is beautifully illustrated and engaging. She had a hard time pacing herself and just wanted to keep reading the devotional. But she was slightly less enthusiastic about the journal. Not because it isn’t good, but because she’s not a big fan of writing. She liked copying in the Bible verses and she enjoyed the parts where they asked her to draw pictures, but when the journal asked her to think deeply and write about her thoughts, she seemed less than enthusiastic. I was a kid always loved to journal (still do), so I would have been thrilled with that part of it.

The devotional is an illustrated 90-day devotional written by bestselling children’s author Amy Parker and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, teaching and inspiring kids to dream about their future, to focus on faith, love and joy and to recognize that God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us.

The journal prompts creative thinking and exploration of the talents and personalities that make us special and then helps kids explore how God may use our unique traits to spread love and joy and make the world a better place.

Leave us a comment below or leave a comment on our Facebook page, and you could win a free set of The Plans I Have For You Devotional and Journal.


Disclosure

(In accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Don’t Judge a Kid By His Piercings

kid piercings, blue hair, teen

Last year, two of my teens wanted piercings for their birthdays. My 16 year old wanted her nose pierced, and my 13 year old wanted his lip pierced. It was the first time my husband and I had to figure out where we stand on this.

We are a Bible-believing, Christian family, and we make decisions based on what we believe the word of God and the Holy Spirit are saying. But the issue of piercing is not a clear one for us. We have read the Biblical arguments both for and against it, and we don’t believe there is a mandate against it, which is why many of us have our ears pierced.

So the next consideration was more practical than spiritual. Both of these teens live in an artistic world. Sky (the 16 year old) is a musician. She sings at the opera house, does musical theatre and writes, records and performs her own music. Although she would have to remove a nose piercing to perform in an opera or for a theatre performance, having the piercing is not going to limit her choices in the music industry.

Seth is an aspiring filmmaker. He interns at a creative complex where there are animators, web designers, videographers and all sorts of innovators and entrepreneurs who collaborate on diverse projects. The place is buzzing with young hipsters, zipping around on hover boards, none of whom would be the slightest bit tweaked by a lip piercing.

But we also knew that in the homeschool community and to some degree, in the church community, holes anywhere other than earlobes might not be so welcome. We suspected that they might face some judgement and that we might too.

So ultimately, my husband and I knew that we had to be entirely convinced of whatever decision we made. If we rejected piercings, we would need for our kids to understand why. And if we approved it, we would need to feel confident that we could defend our decision. We know a lot of parents believe that they should not have to justify their choices to their children. They believe that what they say goes, and that their kids to accept their authority without question or comment.

We do believe that parental authority is vital. Jody and I have done radio shows about it, written blogs and articles, taught workshops and given countless talks about establishing a solid foundation of authority. But we also firmly believe that rules without relationship breed rebellion.

Our kids have to know that we value them as individuals. Our children are not extensions of us. They are not ours. They are unique individuals who belong to their Creator. We are just stewards for a short period of time. And while it is absolutely our job to train them and guide them and mentor them to adulthood, we must respect them and value their ideas and interests and desires because they have all been hard wired differently, each for unique purposes that are different than our own.

So if we were going to tell our children that they could not get the piercings they wanted, we had to be fully convinced that it was for their best. Ultimately, we want our children to believe with all their hearts that we have their best in mind.

So here’s what we decided…

After thought and prayer and conversation, we decided that our kids could express themselves in clothing, hair and ornamentation in whatever way they wanted as long as

  1. It did not compromise their modesty or purity
  2. It was not permanent (more on that in a moment)
  3. It would not jeopardize important opportunities in the present or for their future

If either of these two teens had jobs (or wanted jobs) that would be compromised by their piercings, we would not have given our permission. But they’re both entrepreneurs. She has a henna business, and he does videography and video editing. One of my other kids is an aspiring lobbyist. He wants to excel at debate, work on political campaigns, page for the senate and ultimately be taken seriously in the realm of government. A nose or lip piercing would not be a good move for him (not that he would even want one). But for my two artists, it doesn’t present a professional stumbling block.

We also don’t believe it compromises their modesty or purity. And lip or nose or even eyebrow piercings are not permanent. Neither is blue hair, which the 13 year old also wanted to try.

Tattoos are permanent. Gauges in ear lobes can also cause permanent changes to the ears. And we have decided that for anything permanent, our kids must wait until marriage. 1 Corinthians 7:4 says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” So anything permanent must be approved by their future spouses. Once we explained this to our kids and demonstrated it in the Scriptures, they agreed.

Be Careful With Criticism

Jody and I have seen too many young adults turn away from their parents because they feel rejected by their criticism. When our kids believe that we are forcing them to live by our standards in order to make ourselves look good or to avoid potential judgement at church or in our own peer groups, they will eventually reject our standards and may even reject us when they have reached the age of independence.

We have to let our kids be their own people, and we have to deeply value the people they are, even if it is profoundly different from ourselves. Yes, we want them to be wise and pure, and if their choices could hurt themselves or others, we have to assert our authority but also come along side them and coach them toward better choices. Perhaps your family will have a different conviction about piercings than ours did. That’s okay too. Just be willing to sit with your children and discuss your beliefs. Let them know that you deeply value them and you want them to make right choices. Explain your convictions, and stand by your choice. But do it out of love and not fear.

And be careful not judge other families who have made different choices. Remember, every family and every individual has a different calling.

kid piercings, nose ring, teen

Sky

Sky knows that she is called reach the lost. She is not called to reach the church. So she is going to look different than a girl her age who is called to minister primarily to the church body. The apostle Paul said, “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:21, 22).

Let’s be careful not to make quick judgements about what is acceptable or unacceptable. Some have argued that our kids shouldn’t look like the world – they are set apart. Being set apart goes deeper than outward appearance. Our kids can be both relevant and pure. They can dress modestly and still be creative and relevant. The choices they make as ambassadors of God will set them apart.

When they choose peace and prayer during a crisis, they will be set apart, and their peers will notice. When they avoid profanity while the people around them don’t, they will be set apart. When they focus on growing their skills and becoming their own best at whatever gifts and passions they’ve been given, instead of focusing on growing their social life and winning favor with the opposite sex, they will be set apart.

One Pesky Problem

Our kids are to be IN the world but not OF the world. Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) Therein lies our challenge.

Last year when we were key note speakers in British Columbia, one of the conference coordinators gave an excellent talk, and in it he said that in many ways it seems the Amish got it right. We must protect our children from the evil one, so we are tempted to shelter them from the world and cause them to live in the safety of isolation. But there’s one pesky problem with this plan — the Great Commission.

God is going to use every one of our kids in a unique way to fulfill His plan. Some will be called the mountain of government, where piercings and blue hair will not make them effective witnesses. Others will be called to the mountain of arts and entertainment, where piercings and mohawks are not at all strange. Let’s be sensitive to the passions and purposes of each our kids and each other’s kids, and let the Holy Spirit (not biases or prejudices) do the leading.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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