Social Media: A Window to Our Teen’s World

The social landscape of today looks very different than when we were kids, largely because of social media.

Our kids are native to the digital world, and no matter how tech savvy you may be, if you’ve ever stuck your finger in a hole and swung it around a circle to dial a phone number, you are an immigrant to this land. As immigrant parents of native children, we have to work overtime to learn the language and understand the culture.

On one hand, technology offers our kids great opportunities, but the dark underbelly of cyberspace is subtle and unpredictable, and we have to wisely guard its borders as our children’s allies and mentors – not as prison guards.

Some parents take the ostrich approach – head in the sand means there’s nothing to worry about. Other parents go militant, banning what they don’t understand. Still others do the helicopter, hovering anxiously, hoping to remove any threats before they do damage.

But in spite of its challenges, social media offers a unique opportunity that parents of earlier generations didn’t have. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and all of their digital counterparts are a window into our teens’ social world. They allow us to see them as their friends see them, and as they want their friends to see them. Social media can help us discern what our kids value and what their friends’ value, and it can open discussions about how they (and their friends) are presenting themselves to the world.

It all starts by knowing how they are using social media and then carefully talking to them, remembering our goal is to mentor, not to criticize or condemn them or their friends.

Find opportunities to discuss friendship. Right before bed can be a good time (kids are often curiously chatty at the end of the day). Ask them to think about what qualities they want in a friend.

Friends should inspire each other to be better. Ask your child how his friends do that and how he inspires his friends to be smarter, stronger or more creative. Friends should be good listeners and offer wise advice. For a teen, sometimes the best advice a friend can give is to talk to your parents.

Friends should also offer strength — two are better than one and a three-corded strand is not easily broken. Discuss options for helping a friend who is being picked on.

If you spot any red flags, either on social media or through conversation, confront it with the sandwich technique (praise – critique – praise). Open with something genuinely praiseworthy. Then move gently into your concern. Whenever possible, use questions to help kids discover truth for themselves. End with something positive.

Helping our kids find healthy friendships now will pay enormous dividends in their future.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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7 Myths About Lying

Lying is a complex issue, but at the core, it is deception and manipulation. In this post, I will confront seven myths about lying and compare each one with an opposing truth. I will also pose a question for each one that you can ask yourself — a kind of lying litmus test.

Lying is our focus this week because in all of our travels and conversations with parents, we have found that it’s one of the biggest issues parents confront — and one that typically leaves them feeling exasperated and sometimes hopeless.

Earlier this week, I shared the Confessions of a Reformed Liar, and in it I talked about how when left unchecked, lying can become a habit and a hard one to break. Tomorrow, we will offer six steps for overcoming lying, and we will also talk about this issue on our weekly radio show (see below for details).

Myth #1 — Some levels of lying are okay

There are all different kinds of lying, and some are worse than others, we tell ourselves. There are (to name a few)

  • slight exaggerations
  • little white lies
  • tall tales
  • bold face lies
  • pathological lies

Is it really a big a deal if you tell your kids to say you’re not home because you don’t want to talk to someone? Is it okay to lie about a child’s age to get a cheaper price? Some would say these are just little white lies, and they are okay.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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How Do I Forgive When I Don’t Feel Like It?

A while back, we  posted The 6 A’s of Apology and The 4 Promises of Forgiveness, and someone posed a question on our Facebook page. She asked how you forgive someone who isn’t really sorry. It’s a great question, but it assumes that forgiveness is something that the other person somehow earns.

Forgiveness really has nothing to do with the other person. On the contrary, staying offended is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. If left unchecked, unforgiveness turns to bitterness, and there is a great body of scientific evidence showing that bitterness leads to illness — both physical and psychological. According to Dr. Charles Raison, “The data that negative mental states cause heart problems is just stupendous. The data is just as established as smoking, and the the size of the effect is the same.”

The word forgive is a verb. It’s something you do, not necessarily something you feel. It’s an act of will. You decide to forgive. You choose to forgive, regardless of what the other person says or does.

Forgiveness does NOT mean that what the other person did was okay. It does not mean they were somehow correct or justified in their actions. In fact, that’s why we tell parents not to let their kids say, “It’s okay” when someone apologizes to them. Instead, we encourage them to say, “I forgive you,” because it’s not okay, but we can still forgive them.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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5 Steps to Stock Gift Success

On Monday, we talked about the Stock Gift for this holiday season. Today, we want to sum it up briefly with 5 easy steps along with some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Five Steps to Stock Gift Success

  1. Idea — Pick your stock gift idea (see below for ideas)
  2. Recipient List — Make a list of everyone who will receive your stock gift. Be sure to add a few extras for spontaneous gift-giving.
  3. Shopping List — Make a shopping list for supplies. We like to dedicate a large plastic tote to hold all of the supplies, so we can easily take it out and put it away.
  4. Schedule It — Pick a time each week and make an appointment with your family to work on the Stock Gift. The appointment should be as non-negotiable as any doctor or business appointment. Once it’s on the calendar, everyone in the house should commit to be there.
  5. Make Memories — Put on festive holiday music. Make some holiday treats to enjoy during Stock Gift making time. And keep a camera handy. These are the days that childhood memories are made of!

Ideas…

Any Google or Pinterest search can net you more ideas than you can imagine, but here a few to get your creative juices flowing.

Click below to see ideas

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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The Stock Gift

Thanksgiving is this week, and for most of us, that also means the Christmas Season is officially upon us! The Hagaman and Stahlmann families spend our Thanksgiving day at Busch Gardens, which is totally decked out in full Christmas regalia, and we typically end the night with our first Christmas movie of the year.

We’re not the big Black Friday people, but this is certainly the time of year to start thinking about gift, which means we need to find some extra time and money.

Have you ever met a mom who isn’t busy? We haven’t. Now add the holidays to an already full plate, and wow! Things can get interesting.

But this year, we’ve got an idea that will make you feel like a holiday superhero while saving you money AND giving your family some quality, memory-making time together.

It’s called the Stock Gift, and now is the perfect time to start working on it.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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“Saving Christmas” Movie Review and Giveaway

Christmas is just six weeks away! But for many Christians, there’s an internal struggle with this celebration. For some it may just be a few fleeting thoughts that give them pause. But for others, it can be a raging conflict between their desire to honor and glorify God and the Western cultural expressions of Christmas.

Is it okay to participate in all the holiday hoopla? Should we be surrounding the Christmas tree with so many presents? Isn’t that a participation in the gross commercialization of Christmas that has stolen the meaning of this high holy day? Should we even have a tree? It’s just a throwback to an old pagan tradition, right? And what about Santa? A mythological character who makes a list and checks it twice, who is somehow aware whether every kid is naughty or nice — that sounds a whole lot like God Himself. Isn’t Santa somehow blasphemous? Even the very date of this celebration is suspect. No one knows when Jesus was born. Didn’t the church steal December 25th from the pagan rituals of the Winter Solstice?

It’s not that Christians are trying to be argumentative or disparaging. For the most part, even staunch anti-Christmas believers are ultimately motivated by a desire to honor Jesus. They want their worship to be pure, in spirit and in truth. But the real question is this: Do all the traditional Christmas celebration trappings pervert our worship? Or — could it be possible — that they actually enhance it?

Where is Christ in the modern Christmas? That is precisely what Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas intends to answer.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Our Phone Call With Kirk Cameron

We were so excited when we found out that we were going to be included on a conference call with Kirk Cameron.

I have to confess (Jenni speaking) that I was a HUGE fan back in the 80s when he played Mike Seaver on the TV sitcom Growing Pains. Like most girls my age, I adored his impish character and swooned over his fetching smile, but now, more than 20 years later, I am much more impressed with the man Kirk Cameron has become.

The polar opposite of on-screen ladies’ man Mike Seaver, Kirk Cameron has matured into a devoted husband and father and an outspoken Christian leader, who has devoted much of his adult career to speaking, teaching and making films that spread the gospel message.

He has a new movie coming out on November 14th, and we had the opportunity to hear his take on Christmas, child-rearing, homeschooling and of course, the new movie.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Start Your Day the Night Before

With all we do, time seems to fly by. It’s hard to believe it, but the holidays are almost here (where did the year go?), and that means trying to fit a massive holiday to do list into our already packed schedules.

But we’ve got a little tip that can make a big difference. Let’s call it “Start Your Day the Night Before.”

If you already do this, stick with us. We might have an idea or two to supercharge your nighttime routine. But if you’re not already doing this, we’re totally excited to share it with you because it is hands down, the very best tip for getting more done. And isn’t that what we’re always after? 

Give yourself (and your kids) a gift everyday — the gift of a clean slate! It stinks to have to wake up and still deal with yesterday. You know what we mean — you wake up to a sink full of yesterday’s dishes. Sitting on your dresser are the folded clothes from yesterday’s laundry. The dining room table is mounded with a heap of varied things from many yesterdays past.

No more of that. From now on, start your day the night before.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Are You Raising Kids Who Will Do Hard Things?

Ever have this happen in your house: your kid is beaming with excitement over their new activity/hobby/idea, only to throw in the towel once they figure out they aren’t rock stars at it and that they actually have to practice to be any good?

Why does this happen? Because it’s not in most people’s nature (especially kids) to want to do hard things. But that places us, the parents, in a pickle. Do we make them stick out or do we let them quit? We want to teach them that you have to practice to become good at something, but we don’t want to force a square peg into a round hole and make them stick it out when it’s not their “thing?” It’s quite the conundrum, isn’t it?

Every family has a different way of dealing with this, but in the Hagaman and Stahlmann houses, we have a one semester minimum for a new activity because kids need to spend some time with a thing to figure out whether or not it’s a good fit.

At the root of many of the cries to quit is an unwillingness to work hard, and we need to fight against it. But we, the parents, need to first change our own mindset.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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A College Prep Secret You’ve Probably Never Heard

Are SAT or ACT scores important for college admission?  Maybe.

Does my kid need to be in the top 10% of his class to get into a good school? Possibly.

What about extra curriculars and volunteer work; are they really important on a college resume?  It depends.

Ready for a juicy college prep secret? This is one that you might have never heard, but it could be the single most important thing you do to your child get accepted to the school of her choice.

First Make a List of Top Schools in Your Student’s Field of Interest

Okay, so before I divulge the secret, we have to back up a bit. You’ve got to start by knowing what your kid is passionate about. If you’re not quite sure, take a look at Monday’s post.

Once you know what they absolutely love and the general direction they’re headed in, do a Google search on potential careers in that field. Sit down with your child and talk about it. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few things, find people in those fields who love their work, and let your kid talk to them.

Then, when you’ve got a handle on a strong potential career path, do a search on “Top Schools for [your child’s potential career].” Look at the schools’ websites with your student and pick out the ones that are most appealing. While you’re on their sites, sign up to receive free information on the school. It’s great to be on their mailing lists.

When Should You Start This? The Answer Might Surprise You!

So what’s a good age to start this search? 11th Grade? 9th? Summer before high school?

Nope. The best time to start this search is right before your student starts middle school!

Why so early, you ask? Because the information you get when you do what I’m about to suggest will help you plan the middle school years to set your kid up for the best opportunities during high school, which will make her the ideal candidate for her school of choice.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading. There’s a testimony below that may surprise you.

The Big Secret Revealed

Once you have your list of top school choices, look up the phone numbers for their admissions departments. Then call them. Don’t email. You’ll only get a stock response if you email. You have to get a human being on the telephone for an actual conversation. I know this flies in the face of our culture’s impersonalized, convenient, texting comfort zone, but a live voice on the other end of a telephone is the key to this secret.

Call in the summer! I’m not sure if it’s because they’re bored in the summer or it’s because they’re just not knee deep in applications at that time of year, but I’ve found that college admissions officers are conveniently chatty in the summer months.

The Script

Here’s the gist of what to say when you call:

“My child is planning to pursue a career in [fill in the blank], and your school is one of her top choices. We’ve still got a lot of time to prepare, and we want to help her become an excellent candidate for your program. Can you tell me more about what kinds of things you look for in the ideal [insert school name] applicant?”

Have a pen and paper handy and write down everything they say.

Stay away from questions about SAT scores and GPA requirements. You can get that information easily with a quick online search. You’re looking for the juicy stuff that will cause your child’s application to bubble to the top.

Over the past few years, Jody and I have spoken with many college admissions officers at many different types of schools, and guess what we found out? Every school is looking for different things!

And you might be surprised to know that colleges are not at all reluctant to share this information. In fact, in our experiences (especially if you call in the summer months) they seem excited to talk about it. And why wouldn’t they be? Colleges are businesses. They have goals and ideals, and most of those hinge upon the kind of students they attract.  So why wouldn’t they want to help a student become the perfect candidate for their program?

What was VERY surprising to us was that even within the same major, different schools seem to be looking for very different things.

Example #1 — The Air Force Academy

I have a son who has dreamed of being in the military most of his life. Even as a toddler, he was always out in the yard fighting off pretend “bad guys.” It wasn’t ever our influence. We didn’t really have any close friends or family who were in the military when he was little, and certainly, as a protective momma hen, sending my kid into battle wasn’t my first choice.

But at the end of the day, we have follow the path that THEY were created for, not the one we create for them. I have a cousin who always wanted to fly jets in the Air Force. My aunt wanted no part of it and encouraged him to go to college and then to law school instead. He did, but that thing kept nagging inside him, and today he’s an FBI agent and is certainly NOT living the safe attorney’s life that his mom wanted for him.

So even though I wouldn’t pick the soldier’s life for my son, it’s the desire of his heart, and I am committed to do everything I can to help him reach his goals.

Just before entering 6th grade, we began looking into the military academies. We settled on Air Force because at the time, it had some of the science programs that interested him.

I called the admissions officer, who basically gave me a step-by-step plan to get Seth accepted. When the guy asked me how old my son was, I sheepishly said, “Oh, he’s still quite young.”

“How young?”

With a little nervous giggle I answered, “Well…he’s going into 6th grade.”

“Oh no mam. He’s not too young. He’s in the Class of 2020, and this is the right time to get him registered on our website.”

Since then, Seth has received packages from the Air Force Academy about twice a year with information to encourage him on his journey. Middle school is an important time of discovery and preparation. For example, the Air Force Academy requires at least pre-calculous, but prefers calculous. In order to achieve that level of math, we HAD to start pre-algebra in 6th grade.

Now, as we followed the Air Force Academy plan, Seth began to realize that his true love is film making. He’s even learned that there are filmmakers in the military, but none of the academies seem to have programs suited for this. So we’ve since switched gears. We did, however, find an excellent film school that also has an ROTC program. So that is where we are headed, but nothing that we’ve done to prepare for the Air Force Academy has gone to waste. It has all been a huge benefit academically and physically (they require a very high level of physical fitness).

The bottom line — preparing for your child’s top choice school is NEVER a waste, even if they switch gears in the process!

Example #2 — Music School

My older daughter wants to be vocal recording artist. She sings at the Sarasota Opera House and has appeared in seven operas and is cast in a lead role in this fall’s production of The Hobbit. She sings on our church worship team and at open mic nights around town. She studies music theory and plays three instruments. Music is clearly her passion.

Her first choice school is The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan. When I spoke with them last summer, I found out that their audition process is the single most important admissions factor. But, I also learned that they offer an annual audition workshop to help applicants prepare for the best audition possible, and they encourage applicants to come every year through high school.

Had I waited until later in high school to make that call, or not even called at all, I would have never known about the one thing that could mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.

Next summer, as a rising junior, she’ll also be able to attend a vocal intensive summer program at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia (one her top five schools), where she’ll meet faculty, work with successful artists and gain experience that will dramatically boost her admission prospects at almost any school. Again, had I not spoken with an admissions officer there, I wouldn’t have known about this important opportunity.

 

This Saturday at 10:00AM, we’re going to talk a lot more about this, particularly about some of the unusual things we’ve heard that could dramatically boost a college applicant’s chances of being accepted. Don’t miss it!

Sarasota folks, tune in live on 1220AM, 106.9FM or 98.9FM. Everyone else, head over to the WSRQ Radio website and listen live streaming or download their mobile app to listen on the go.

 

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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