Internet Safety’s 5 Tips for Creating a Cybersafe Home™

This generation of parents is the first to face the challenge of helping our children make the most of their virtual space while keeping them safe in it. If you’re still getting your footing in virtual parenting, don’t worry. New Life has partnered with InternetSafety.com who has the following tips to help ensure that your child’s online experience remains positive.

Support New Life when you buy Safe Eyes software

1. Become a net-savvy parent
The best safeguard against online dangers is being informed. Jump in and learn the basics of the Internet—read articles, take a class, and talk to other parents. A good place to start with some basics is www.LearnTheNet.com. A good place to stay current with the latest in online technology is www.Mashable.com. You don’t have to be an expert to have a handle on your child’s online world.

2. “Chat” with your kids
Develop an open dialogue so that you can talk with your kids about the benefits and dangers of the Internet. Cultivate an interest in their online activities—their favorite Web sites, online games, and interests. And don’t be afraid to ask your children who they are talking to online and what they are talking about.

3. Agree on a game plan
Use the InternetSafety.com Gameplan™ to formally agree on your family’s guidelines for using the Internet. Post them near the family computer as a reminder. Ensure that your kids know to never share personal information on the Internet and that they should tell you about any online activity or contact that makes them uncomfortable.

4. Protect your computer
Take advantage of the software that exists to help parents manage their children’s computer experience. In only a few minutes, parental control software like Safe Eyes can block inappropriate websites, restrict the amount of time that your kids use the Internet and monitor their Instant Messenger chats to protect against predators.

5. Explore the Internet as a family
With a game plan and a protected computer, you can now encourage your family to take advantage of all that the Internet has to offer. Take a genuine interest in what your kids are doing and stay engaged with them online.

Credit Internet Safety’s 5 Tips for Creating a Cybersafe Home™

20% off on Safe Eyes Parental Control Software

Add One More To The Fatherless Generation

The high and the mighty have an amazing way of crashing and burning that always impacts others. Perhaps their indiscretion begins with an urge combined with the lie that “I am not going to hurt anyone.” Add to that some arrogant entitlement and you wind up with a future governor married to one of the most beautiful and powerful women in the world having an affair with a live-in house keeper. The sex drive is not all that is at work here. There surely must be an addiction to drive this kind of destruction.

While the affair is shocking and the pain tremendous for Maria and the children, I don’t think it compares to what a 13 year old boy must feel like being raised without a father. It is the kind of pain that many young men never get over. It often leads down the same characterless path that the birth father followed.

Psychologist Frank Pitman writes: “A mother can give a boy a sense of what it means to be a man, but only a dad can convey manhood upon a man.” It is a fairly accepted belief that men become men in the presence of men. A home without a father will usually lead to a detached male with little sense of male person hood. That boy may get stuck involved in a never ending quest to find and feel his manhood.

In the absence of healthy male role models, the male often turns to the female to prove or experience manhood. It never works. The pornographic image of a woman, the touch of a prostitute that intensity of an affair is just never quite enough for the searching male to finally feel like a man. That takes a relationship with a real man like a father, big brother, involved uncle or competent therapist.

You can see how easy it is for the young boy to pick up the sins of the father and repeat the cycle of unfaithfulness and missing character. Arnold has a son and I hope that all of this will lead to him coming alongside this little boy in ways other than money. And if not, I hope someone takes a genuine interest in mentoring him so that it will never be said, “Like father, like son.”

Not everyone is contributing to the fatherless generation. I have a friend who was shocked to discover his wife had been having an affair with someone in their organization. He was even more shocked when his wife admitted 30 days later that she was pregnant with this other man’s baby. His sorrow was intense and he sought out the advice of his friends. They suggested giving the boy up for adoption so he would not be reminded of the betrayal everyday for the rest of his life.

But one advisor said something different. He told him he could add to the fatherless generation or he could become the father to a little boy who really needed him. He made a bold and courageous move. He adopted the little boy and not only gave him his last name, but he gave him his first also. He said he did not ever want the boy to question who is real dad was and that was what my friend intended on becoming.

I hope Arnold can make a similar move to not be the financial backer of a fatherless boy but instead be a father to the son he sired.

You go first, dad!

Excerpted from the book Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle by Steve Arterburn

Your son is becoming a young man, and he aches for you to count him as one. But, there are natural obstacles, and it’s unlikely that he’ll bring up ‘the’ question himself. We must make it easy for our sons to share, and there is only one way to ensure that. We must go first. We must be the ones to initiate the conversation.

Thankfully, swapping stories is right up our alley, and it shouldn’t be scary in the least. In light of this, our call to teach our children isn’t really something to fear anymore either:

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hand and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)

I used to wonder how I could accomplish all this. Like most families, my kids and I lead busy lives, and we don’t sit around home, nor do we walk or work together very much. Our culture is vastly different from that of the Hebrews. And that’s perfectly fine. God understands the fast-paced society we live in, but He still wants us to teach our kids how we apply Scripture to our day-to-day lives. Since our kids aren’t with us much during the day to see how we apply Scripture, filling this call won’t look the same today as it did back then.

Therefore, we need to do the next best thing…we need to tell them what happened during our day and our weeks and our years.

To go deep with our sons, we need to do two things.

  • Spend time talking with them.
  • Be open and transparently share our lives and our walk with God.

Life’s hectic. Obstacles keep popping up like gopher heads in those arcade games. More often than not, we’ll beat those gopher heads down in the areas where it really counts.

Fortunately, we men have a secret weapon, a special category male communication that connects us every time it’s tried’ we can swap stories, tell tales, and regale listeners. Storytelling is right up our alley, and nobody does it better.

Do you swap stories with your son? How many of your stories could help your son if you took a chance and shared them? You shouldn’t just wait for such moments to arise. So what can you do to trigger the process? Spend the last moments of your kids’ day with them, talking with them in their bedrooms before they go to sleep. Read a book with them. Often the author’s stories will trigger memories of your own stories, providing a push to dive into deeper waters.

Regardless of how old your son is, it’s not too late. Your son still longs for a relationship with you. We all need that connection with our fathers and will seek it to the very end if given half a chance.

Two or three nights a week read six to eight pages of a book in silence separately in a room that can be considered your place. Of course the book is not the end game here; while your reading, you’re also looking for opportunities to talk later on, ask leading questions, and regale your son with stories. Underline thoughts that you want to come back to. Sitting across from one another will provide good eye contact and encourage honest sharing. Talk about girls, peer pressure, temptation, bullies, whatever’s on your mind and seems to flow naturally.

How do I choose which books to go through? Whatever makes sense at the time! Choosing the right book is part of being proactive and intentional. I always begin with a broad-based book on puberty and adolescence, such as Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle. Such books are foundational to everything that comes later in building your ‘swapping place’ with your kids. Believe me, after you’ve given them a taste for what the teen years will be like and shared your experiences from the past, you and your children will be tighter than you have ever been.

For some help on ‘swapping stories’ and connecting with your son read Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle.

What Hurts Our Kids and What Helps Them

What type of parent are you? As hard as we try to be the “right” kind of parent, we usually find ourselves being something else. We over-function and overprotect. We fix our kids mistakes, cover their tracks with excuses, and worry endlessly about things they should be worrying about instead. Or, on the other hand, we make demands, bark orders and issue threats of punishment. We tell our children how to handle things, how to feel. We take over their problems by telling them what to do and what will happen if they don’t do it our way.

We do this all out of our best intent for our kids and, generally, because we were parented this way. But here’s the rub: Neither the over-functioning approach nor the demanding one will achieve what we truly want from our children.

The product we’re hoping to produce after 18 years of parenting is a young adult who has the courage to stand for his convictions and the responsibility to make good decisions and accept the consequences for them. But here’s what happens:

The Over-functioning Parent:

This parent rescues, makes excuses and overprotects. We use guilt to manipulate, and we use too many words. We give them few responsibilities and we whine, complain and act the victim when they don’t cooperate with us. We ignore the warning of Proverbs 19:19 which says, “…if you rescue him you will have to do it again.” The result of this type of parenting is that our children learn they are fragile, unable to think for themselves or take care of themselves. They learn they are weak and need to lean on us in order to handle the difficulties of life. They haven’t learned how to make good decisions because we’ve been making the decisions for them. And they haven’t learned how to accept consequences for poor choices because we’ve been covering their tracks for them.

The Demanding Parent:

This parent threatens punishment for not toeing the mark. We are controlling, critical and inflexible; we’re sometimes harsh, loud and almost always angry. We get in our kids’ faces with our fingers pointed at their chest and demand they do things our way. We offer no choices, only “you’d better…” or “you should…” We ignore the exhortation of Colossians 3:21 which says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged.” The result of this type of parenting is either a child who becomes discouraged and gives up, or a child who rebels. We’ve taught them that they’re too stupid to figure things out for themselves; that they will only make bad choices and mess things up. These children haven’t learned how to make good choices; their only choice has been to do what we tell them to do. And the only consequence they have ever dealt with is our anger, not a logical consequence coming from their own decision.

How can we do it differently? Here’s another category of parent:

The Authoritative Parent:

This parent understands that, from the earliest stages of childhood, giving a child choices and allowing him to struggle with the logical consequences of those choices is the way to teach responsibility. Discussing alternatives, sharing personal stories of success and failure, modeling responsibility are the most valuable tools an authoritative parent has. Authoritative parents are not unduly challenged by a child who professes a different system of faith or belief than his parents because these parents know a child must “try on” beliefs to see if they fit him. We support and empower our children in their decision-making, even when they make a choice we would not make (with loads of prayer!). We do this because we know that they will learn the best lessons when they make mistakes (age-appropriate mistakes, but mistakes, nonetheless). When a child is young, this may mean letting him choose what to wear to school on a cold day and then not rescuing him when he calls at recess asking you to drive to school with his jacket. When your child is older, you might give her an annual clothing allowance and allow her to spend it however she wishes, but not rescue her when she absolutely HAS to have a new dress for prom but no money left to buy one. (Yes, this will be hard for you to do. But oh, the lesson to be learned about planning and budgeting!) The authoritative parent remembers that “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8) We remember that our compassionate empathy with the painful consequences of a poor choice will teach our children that we are FOR them, and believe they are strong enough to get through this hard thing. An authoritative parent’s style says, “I trust that you are smart enough to make good decisions, so I’ll give you the freedom to do so. You are important to me and I will love you no matter what – even if you make mistakes.”

Funny. Doesn’t this sound just like a Savior we know?

How to Prepare for the Empty Nest

The week after my 25 year old daughter, “Claire” moved away from home into her new condo she gave me a call. After a brief chat she said, “So, what did you do today?” I did a good job in hiding my astonishment as I recounted the events of my active Saturday. Afterwards I told my husband, “You know, that is the first time Claire has ever asked me that question!” After graduating from college three years before, Claire’s journey as a member of the “boomerang generation” —those adult children who move from home to apartment and home again several times, had taken its toll on our relationship. To others, Claire was cheerful and respectful. However, to her father and me, she was sullen and “snarky.” Claire had her own little apartment downstairs where she could come and go as she pleased. Although we gave her as much space as we could, we were saddened at her resentment of our mere presence. She just did not want to live any longer under the parental roof and she was getting more and more unhappy. When her new job enabled her to purchase a small condo of her own, she leapt at the chance!

The Odyssey Years

Claire is typical of many who discover that leaving home is more of a circular process than a direct move from home to autonomy. Many young adults find work in minimum wage or non-profit organizations, or go to graduate school, and have difficulty saving money or getting health insurance. Many live with 3 or 4 roommates or continue to live at home. Paul (2003) reports that 18 million 20-34 year olds are currently living with Mom and Dad. With many having college debt of $50,000-$100,000, financial independence is a long way off. When college students are polled, 50% say they plan to live with parents for some period after graduation (Paul, 2003).

Many parents are not too troubled by a temporary move back home. Encouraging their children to pursue their passions and not just settle for a job is worth the delay in achieving the empty nest. To maintain harmony, it is important to establish home rules that maximize the young adult’s independence without inconveniencing the rest of the family. It is helpful to establish expectations about rent, chores, and a timeline for moving out prior to the child coming back home.

The Empty Nest Marriage

The empty-nest marriage is a time for new beginnings. It is a time when couples enjoy a greater freedom in their schedules, an opportunity to reconnect with their spouse, deepen other friendships and have time to pursue delayed goals and interests.

While some marriages can deepen and flourish without the pressure and demands of growing children, other marriages do not survive the reality of too much togetherness. According to the Census (2002), there is a peak in the divorce rate after 18 years of marriage. Many couples at this point report suffering from marital burnout where there has been an accumulation of too much pain and too much unresolved conflict has built up over the years. Christian authors David and Claudia Arp (2002) cite the top ten challenges facing the empty nest marriage: conflict, communication, sex, health, fun, recreation, money, aging parents, retirement planning and children. Arp & Arp (2004) recommend ways that couples can intentionally reenergize and reinvent their empty nest marriage:

  • Let go of past marital disappointments. Letting go of resentments and forgiving old hurts enables the couple to go forward with new energy.
  • Create a partner-focused vs. child-focused marriage. If a couple has not made time for romance and the marriage while the children were growing up, it is all too common to view one another as parents, rather than as partners. Real effort needs to be invested in developing a new intimate bond.
  • Maintain an effective communication system allowing expression of deep feelings, joys and concerns.

Biblical Reflection

At this, and other transition times of life it is good to evaluate where you are on your spiritual pilgrimage and grow closer to each other and God and be willing to serve others together (Arp & Arp 2002). Those who are widowed or divorced can also find a deepening satisfaction in life during this phase as they deepen friendships, and evaluate their career and lifestyle.

The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that life has its fullness and its emptying out. (Ecc. 3:1-8). At significant life transitions, it is important to spend time in the silences and empty spaces to prayerfully consider what God wants to fill that empty space. In Christ we have the model and example of living a life of service and humility: “Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. An in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross” (Phil. 1: 5-8). This passage describes “kenosis”, the Greek word meaning “self-emptying” which illustrates God’s self-limiting of his divine nature to give genuine freedom to his creatures. As Christians, it is important to hear and heed God’s call upon our life above that of our children, our spouse, and our own desires. We are stewards of our time and talents in every phase of life.

A month after Claire moved out, she invited her married sister and me to her new home for a Mother’s Day lunch to honor her “two most favorite mother’s.” I am encouraged that my letting go of my “little girl” is allowing us to create a new, more mature relationship.

References
Arp C. &Arp, D. (2004). The new empty nest marriage crisis. Christian Counseling Today 12(1), 73-74.
Arp, D.& Arp, C. (2002). Empty-nest communication: can we talk? LifeWise, (April/May).
Census Bureau: Number, Timing and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2001. http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs./p70-97.pdf
Paul, P. (2003). The permaparent. Psychology Today, 36 (5), 40-53.

Is Your Child a Victim of Cyberbullying?

Excerpted from the book Internet Protect Your Kids by Steve Arterburn and Roger Marsh

By the time he reached middle school, Ryan though he’d faced his fears and defeated them. Ever since a bully started picking on him with a couple of buddies in the fifth grade, Ryan had lived on an emotional roller coaster. Now it appeared that things were finally beginning to even out or at least that’s what his parents thought.

School was always somewhat of a challenge for Ryan. He wasn’t exactly the smartest or most athletic kid in his class. He always gave his best effort, but preadolescence kids aren’t big on awarding ‘A’s for effort’ in the classroom or on the playground. A couple of aspiring young goons made Ryan for an easy mark, and the bullying was on.

Over the next two years, their taunting and teasing was relentless. So, in an effort to help his son develop better physical coordination and a healthier self-image, Ryan’s dad enrolled both he and his son in a kickboxing program. It seemed to work. Ryan loved working out with his dad, and his physical coordination steadily improved. John Halligan stressed with his son that he should never use these techniques to start and altercation, but finishing one was a completely different story.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, then, when John received a call from Ryan’s school one day that his son had been involved in a fight. The bully had started it, but Ryan hung in there right with him. Afterward, he seemed to have gained a new measure of self-respect, which made his parents proud.

That pride soon turned to concern when Ryan announced shortly after the fight that his former nemesis was now his good friend. Against their better judgment, the Halligan’s chose not to intervene a decision they would soon come to regret.

Burned by Flame Mail

Ryan had been active online for a couple of years at that point, and he seemed to relish his Internet communication with the former bully and other friends. But Ryan’s attitude became more sullen again over time, even more withdrawn than he’d ever been during the worst of the bullying he’d received in elementary school. Still, his parents kept their distance, hoping their son would be able to work through the issues on his own.

The middle schooler did all he could to convince his parents that nothing was wrong, that his former tormentor was now his friend. But in reality, that simply wasn’t true. Turns out the bullying did not end after the fight that day; it merely shifted to the Internet and grew even more intense. The bully who befriended Ryan convinced the shy boy to share some of his deepest personal secrets’ and then spread them around by posting them on his online profile.

Sometimes the bully would utilize ‘flame mail’ (an email blast designed to agitate or embarrass the recipient). ‘Flaming’ typically involves copying the flame mail to as many people as possible in this case, several hundred kids from Ryan’s middle school. The pain and humiliation of this constant online torment proved to be too much for Ryan.

Ryan Halligan was just thirteen years old when he took his own life. It was only after his death that his father began to understand the depth of the terror Ryan lived through every day online. He started reading through his son’s instant messages and discovered how cruel kids can be to each other. At the height of the harassment, even kids who didn’t know Ryan were getting in on the bullying.

Is Your Child Being Bullied Online?

At this point you may be asking yourself, Is one of my children the victim of cyberbullying right now? That’s a fair question, especially if you’ve never had this kind of conversation with your kids.

When we were growing up, most of the boys could quickly figure out who the ‘tough guys’ were. We had to decide either to stand and fight or find creative ways to avoid these guys. The same held true on the other side of the playground, as the ‘mean girls’ would rule their part of the school with cunning, conniving, and catty behavior.

Today, the cyberbully strikes in many of the same ways that the traditional school thug used to, with one major difference. The cyberbully can attack you even when you’re not around. In fact, you may not even know whether or not you’re being attacked. All it takes is one text message insinuating an embarrassing revelation about someone (for example, ‘Dude, Jeff told me he’s gay!), and that message will be posted and pushed to literally thousands of Internet and cell phone users in a matter of seconds.

How to Protect Your Kids from Cyberbullies

1. Caution them not to engage with or retaliate against a cyberbully.

2. Have them save any email or instant message communication they’ve had with the bully. Should the bullying lead to a criminal action, your records will prove most helpful to the law enforcement officials assigned to your child’s case.

3. Teach them to recognize flame mail when they see it. (Some bullies will try to bait their victims into trying to defend themselves against false accusations. Let your kids know they don’t need to take the bait. Do not respond but save and file. )

4. Encourage them to become observers of bullying tactics. The passive aggressive behavior of cyberbullying makes it a challenge to patrol. Sometimes it involves something as seemingly harmless as a child’s away message on instant message that makes a veiled derogatory reference to a fellow classmate or a former friend. Oftentimes, these exchanges go back and forth for a couple of hours or days, and then blow over. But when they don’t, your child may be dealing with a cyberbully.

5. Believe them when they say they’re being bullied online. Assure them that you’ll walk through each step of the process with them to end the attacks. Most adolescent kids usually fall into two categories when it comes to how they think their parents view them: they either think their parents don’t care about them, or they figure that their parents can’t possibly relate to what their going through. But even mature adults find it difficult when they’re bullied and harassed themselves. Showing your kids your own vulnerability in this area will give them a deeper sense of connection with you as you walk through this situation together.

These are just a few examples of how you can begin to Internet Protect Your Kids. If you found this information helpful, please see explore the full content of the book Internet Protect Your Kids.

5 Positive Parenting Principles

Excerpted from the book Top Ten Dangers Teens Face by Steve Arterburn and Jim Burns

Parenting isn’t easy.Life is difficult at times.But through the years we have found the five
following principles essential for a safe family environment.

Take
Time to Relax and Enjoy Each Other
.
Rest soothes, heals, and gives perspective.Why is it that, in a world of instant everything and more
timesaving gadgets than all of us can possibly use, we’re usually stressed for
time?

Overcommitment
and fatigue are two of the greatest distractions from positive parenting.Our children need our time and
attention.What kids often remember
most is those times mom and dad took time to play with them.Here’s our advice:Parents, quit working so hard.
Save energy for yourselves and your family.If it means moving to a smaller house or making a smaller car
payment, then do it.Life’s too short
to settle for fatigue, lack of intimacy, and busyness in the place of
meaningful relationships with your spouse and children.

What are you
doing this week that will be an absolutely enjoyable experience for you and
your children?If you don’t have a plan
stop what you’re doing and create one.
Time is too short not to celebrate with your family.The yard can wait.The dishes can wait.Turn
off the TV.Grab a few moments of joy
and laughter.

Discipline
With Consistency
.Discipline is a
training process.The primary purpose
of parental discipline is to teach responsibility rather than to evoke
obedience.This means consistently
helping your children understand that most of life involves choices and
consequences.Discipline in the home
should consist of setting clearly defined limits with your children.The vast majority of kids we meet in crisis
claim not to clearly understand family limits.
Most of those kids come from homes where discipline isn’t consistent.

Parents need
to emphasize consequences.From the
earliest ages through adulthood, we all live with consequences’some good and
some bad.When it comes to family
issues, the consequences almost always are the results of our actions.If a child runs through the house and breaks
a vase, the best discipline is having to clean up the mess and help pay for a
new vase.When the act is outright
defiance, parents should not be afraid to use a stronger form of
discipline.The consequences for attitudinal
rebellion should be quick, clear, and felt.
If parents fail and allow rebellion to go uncorrected, when the child
becomes a teenager, he or she will have difficulty understanding that rebellion
will result in not-too-pleasant consequences.

Express
Affection
.Every household is
different when it comes to showing affection.
Many parents unconsciously withhold hugs, touches, and embraces simply
because ‘it wasn’t done that way when I was growing up.’Even in some of the most caring homes, many
parents stop touching their children once the children reach grade school.When they stop touching an important part of
showing God’s love also stops.

As parents and
significant adults in the lives of children, all of us should constantly model
the love of Jesus Christ.Every day
you should tell you kids, ‘I love you.’

This positive reinforcement and reminder of unconditional love will give
them the ability to go on during tough times and say no to temptation.Every day you should show physical
affection
.It’s incredible what a
meaningful and appropriate touch, hug, embrace, kiss, or even a ‘high five’
will do to a young person’s self image.
Touching brings a real sense of meaningfulness and security.Every day you should listen to your kids
and pray with them.

4. Build
up a Shaky Self Image
.Building a
positive, healthy Christ-centered self-image in your children is one of the
primary tasks of all parents.Children
who grow up in an environment full of put-downs, negative nicknames, and
criticism often become critical adults whose self-esteem is less than
adequate.Time is valuable.And the only quality time is quantity
time’you need to spend time with your kids.
Set family time and stick to it.
In addition, you need to encourage your kids.Your kids need you to believe in them, praise them, and be
available to them.We’ve got to catch
them doing something right and tell them in order to build up their
self-esteem.Also, help your kids
practice thankfulness.Happy people are
thankful people.Get your kids focus
outside themselves.Kids with low
self-image are extremely self-absorbed.
Yet when kids are challenged to serve and become other centered, their
self-image will improve.Use every
opportunity to get your children involved in missions and service projects.

5. Love
Each Other.
This principle seem
obvious, but at the same time, half the people reading this are single parents
or have been remarried.Children are
much more secure in their lives when they know their parents love each other. If you’re marriage is suffering, please seek
counseling.A relationship in which
there is love, time, and energy is one of the major factors in keeping a family
together.We challenge you to stop
investing your energy elsewhere and to put it back into your marriage.With the proper amount of work, most
marriages can succeed.


For additional help please see: Raising Great Kids, How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs, and Internet Protect Your Kids.

Ode To My Dad

My dad was probably the hardest-working man I’ve ever known. He worked for twenty years at a large university in Texas while also running drive-in restaurants and selling real estate. He was simply an outstanding provider for our family.

One of the reasons my dad worked so hard was because he got a late career start. His father owned a successful machine shop during the days of the Texas oil boom. Somehow my dad was chosen to help his father manage the business while his four brothers went off to college. Then the oil boom ended and the family business floundered. My dad was left without either a career or a college education.

Men’s careers often take unplanned and unwanted turns, don’t they? It’s easy to incur mishaps, expenses, and responsibilities, and then feel stuck. I imagine more men today feel like they have jobs rather than careers. That can be a debilitating feeling, especially if you’ve got one of those ‘change the world’ types of dispositions.

I know my dad quietly struggled with those feelings. He sacrificed to serve his father, and played catch-up for the rest of his life. Yet he succeeded at honorably providing for his family despite his late start. For that I hold him in the highest esteem.

Men, sometime you have no choice but to grow where you’re planted. When that’s the case, don’t lose heart. There’s always something to be, even if you’re not crazy about what you do.

Are You a Worn Down Parent?

Excerpted from the book Boundaries With Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

It’s scary how our kids can sense when we are weak and ready
to give in to them. Many a parent can identify with the smart adolescent who
begs, pleads, argues, and rationalizes for hours in order to get out of some
responsibility. Friends of mine said their son regularly argued for forty-five
minutes about taking out the trash’a ten-minute job! He didn’t mind losing the
time so long as he didn’t have to do the task.

Kids work us and work us and work us. They don’t give up
easily. And the later you start serious boundary training, the more
energetically your children will resist. It’s hard to give up playing God when
you’ve been doing it a long time. We empathize with parents who figure, ‘Oh
well, I’ll give in this time and give them the toy (money, night out, treat).
It’s not worth the fight.’ And that may be true on some occasions. But each
time you let them neglect responsibilities, the child’s ability to be a
self-controlled person is eroded.

If you notice your child wearing you down, it might mean a
couple of things.

First, you may be in a state of deprivation, either because
you are isolated from supportive relationships or your lack time to yourself.
We can’t keep boundaries in a vacuum. Get into regular, helpful relationships,
or arrange for some time for yourself to fill up your tank. Remember that
parenting is a temporary job, not an identity. Kids with parents who have a
life learn both that they aren’t the center of the universe and that they can
be free to pursue their own dreams.

Second, you may have trained your child to go just so far
and you’ll give in. As a good friend told me, ‘The trick to parenting is to
hold onto your limit one more time than your children hold onto the demand.
That’s all you need’one more.’ You need cheerleader friends who will help you
hold that line a couple thousand times. The good news is, as you do, children
understand that Mom and/or Dad really means it this time, and they begin to
deescalate their efforts.

Remember, you can’t use what you don’t have. Don’t just say
boundaries to your child. Implement boundaries. Without boundaries,
your child will grow up out of control and will try to control others. In fact,
an accurate description of children is that they are little people who lack
control of themselves while attempting to control everyone around them. They do
not want to take control of themselves to adapt to the requirements of Mom and
Dad; they want Mom and Dad to change the requirements!

If you’re feeling like a worn down parent,
you’re not alone. For more on this subject see Boundaries With Kids by
Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

How to Help Your Kids Develop Character

Excerpted from the book Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Allison was by nature a ‘helper,’ and she gladly helped her
fourteen-year-old son. She loved helping Cameron. She made his beds, put away his
clothes, cleaned his room, and more.
When I (Dr. Cloud) caught her in the act I asked,

‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m cleaning Cameron’s room,’ she said. ‘What does it look
like I’m doing?’

‘You are what?’

‘I told you. I’m cleaning up his room. Why are you looking
at me like that?’

All I could do was share with her the vision in my head.

‘I just feel sorry for Cameron’s future wife.’

Allison straightened up, froze for a moment, and then
hurried from the room. I walked into the hall to see her standing there
motionless. Not knowing what to say, I said nothing. After a few moments, she
looked at me and said, ‘I’ve never thought about it that way.’

When Allison looked into the future and saw a time when
Cameron would be leaving responsibilities for others to do, she became
concerned. What a mother doesn’t mind doing, others deplore. She glimpsed the
reality of a character destiny. And she changed how she interacted with Cameron
to help him develop a sense of responsibility, to help him think about how his
behavior affected others and whether or not others would want to be a part of
his future.

The real issue of parenting is this: Is what you’re doing
being done on purpose?
Or are you doing it from reasons that you do
not think about, such as your own personality, childhood, need of the moment or
fears?

Parenting has to do with more than the present. You are
preparing your child for the future. A person’s character is one’s destiny.

A person’s character largely determines how he will function
in life. Whether he does well in love and in work depends on the abilities he
possesses inside. In a world that has begun to explain away people’s behavior
with a variety of excuses, people are left wondering why their lives do not
work. Most of our problems result from our own character weakness. Where
we possess inner strength, we succeed, often in spite of tough circumstances.
But where we do not possess inner strength, we either get stuck or fail. If a
relationship requires understanding and forgiveness and we do not have that
character ability, the relationship will not make it. If a difficult time
period in work requires patience and delay of gratification and we do not
possess those traits, we will fail. Character is almost everything.

The word character means different things to
different people. Some people use character to mean moral functioning or
integrity. We use the word to describe a person’s entire makeup, who he is.
Character refers to a person’s ability and inability, his moral makeup, his
functioning in relationships, and how he does tasks.

What does he do in certain situations, and how does he do
it?

When he needs to perform, how will he meet those demands?

Can he love?

Can he be responsible?

Can he have empathy for others?

Can he develop his talents?

Can he solve problems?

Can he deal with failure?

How does he reflect the image of God?

These are a few of the issues that define character. If a
person’s character makeup determines his future, then child rearing is
primarily about helping children to develop character that will take them
through life safely, securely, productively, and joyfully. Parents’and those
who work with children’would do well to keep this in mind. A major goal of
raising children is to help them develop character that will make their future
go well.

It is in this sense that we say the future is now. When you
are a parent, you help create a child’s future. The patterns children establish
early in life (their character) they will live out later. And character is
always formed in relationship. We can’t overestimate your role in developing
this character. As Proverbs says, ‘Train a child in the way he should go, and
when he is old he will not turn from it’ (Proverbs 22:6).

Developing character in your kids is a tough job. For some
great advice and practical help, see Boundaries or Raising Great Kids by Dr. Henry
Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.