New Year’s Advice for Christian Parents

As we get ready to kick off a new year, here’s a question for you:  do you want your kids to grow up with a strong, vibrant, Christian faith?

If so, you’ll need to be intentional about building healthy, lasting relationships with other Christian families.

When I was growing up, we knew our neighbors.  My parents watched out for the other kids in the neighborhood and the other parents on the block watched out for us.

If my brother and I were doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing and someone spotted us, my parents would get a call from one of those neighbors.

I believe my brother referred to them as “snitches” or “narcs.”  ;-]

But today, the sad truth is that in most suburban neighborhoods we DON’T know our neighbors—or at least we don’t know many of them.

Neighbors come home at the end of the day and the garage door goes up, the car pulls in, and the garage door goes down.

In our disconnected world we need to be deliberate about building solid relationships with other Christian parents who share our values regarding things like entertainment, internet use, drug and alcohol use and sexual purity.

By the way, new research has found that if teenagers have other Christian adults in their life who care about them—in addition to their mom and dad—they are much LESS likely to abandon their faith when they go off to college.

Drs. Chap Clark and Kara Powell at the Fuller Youth Institute recommend that in addition to their parents, every Christian teen should have 5 other adults in their life who will commit to building relationships with them.

These adults can pray for that young person, be a listening ear during times of conflict, and reinforce the values held by the teen’s own parents.

To learn more about this research, go to  I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Good News Story: Girl’s Dream Comes True

High school sweethearts Leslie Rivera and Daniel Mendez tied the knot last week in California, but the ceremony was filled with many emotions. Discover Leslie’s story here:

Good News Story: Girl’s Dream Comes True

Good News Story: The Burrito Boyz

A group of teens known as the “Burrito Boyz” has made and delivered more than 33,000 breakfast burritos to San Diego’s homeless. But it took a mentor to inspire them. Listen here to find out who inspired these teens:

Good News Story: The Burrito Boyz

Good News Story: Awesome Homecoming

Students at a Florida High School do something for two students that make for a heartwarming and special good news story. Listen here:

Good News Story: Awesome Homecoming

*Photo from Shine.Yahoo.Com

Shine Mornings: Lisa’s Home School

Hear how one family has made Facebook a learning experience for their teenager daughter on Lisa’s Home School

Lisa’s Home School: Facebook Contract

The Impact of “Harsh Verbal Discipline” on Teenagers

Are you experiencing conflict with your teenager?  If so, here are some things NOT to do.

USA today is reporting on a a new study that looks at “harsh verbal discipline,” which includes such things as shouting at teens, yelling, screaming, swearing, insulting or calling them names.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say such tactics backfire, actually increasing the risk that teens will misbehave.  In fact, in some cases harsh verbal discipline may even lead teens to experience symptoms of depression.

The study’s author, Dr. Ming-Te Wang says “This may explain why so many parents say that no matter how loud they shout, their teenagers don’t listen.”

Wang and his colleagues found that thirteen-year-olds who received a lot of harsh verbal discipline from their parents were more likely to have symptoms of depression at age 14.  They were also more likely to exhibit problem behaviors such as anger, aggression, vandalism and misconduct.

Psychologists who work with teens and their families say parents should carefully consider the implications of these findings.

Neil Bernstein, an adolescent psychologist in Washington, D.C., is the author of How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do if You Can’t.

He says “Extremes of parenting don’t work. The put-down parent is no more effective than the laissez-faire parent who is totally chill and sets no limits on their children’s behavior.”

Bernstein says, when it comes to rearing teens, the keys are good communication, love and limits.”

By the way, of my favorite books on raising teens from a Christian perspective is “Boundaries with Teens,” by Dr. John Townsend.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Did You Know the Music Your Teen Listens to Could be Dripping with BOOZE?


Did you know the music your teen listens to could be dripping with BOOZE?

Researchers from Boston University and Johns Hopkins’ have analyzed the lyrics from 720 hit songs from the past few years. Of those tunes, one out of four contained alcohol references, and some even called out brands by name.

Brand references were most frequent in hip-hop, rap and R&B, followed by country and pop music.  Rappers were more likely to name-drop tequila, cognac and vodka brands, while country crooners and pop stars were more likely to mention beer or whiskey.

Study co-author David Jernigan says “Given the heavy exposure of youth to popular music, these results suggest popular music may serve as a major source of promotion of alcohol use.”

On a different topic, an expert on youth culture says that parents shouldn’t be surprised by the recent outlandish performances at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, says “There was nothing at all surprising about the awards.  Not one thing.”

“If you’ve been watching culture for any length of time it should come as no surprise that what you saw is not only all around us, but it’s reflective of who we are. It is the soup that our kids swim in every day. It shapes their values, their attitudes, and their behaviors.”

Mueller cautions that we are reaping what we’ve sown and that our culture is not only on a step-by-step progression downward, but it’s quote “moving faster and faster as time passes.”

As we seek to guide our kids through the landmines of today’s youth culture, remember Paul’s words from Philippians chapter 4:  whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Teen Texting Risks

Here’s another reason to put the brakes on teens texting while driving. It’s well known that texting behind the wheel greatly increases the risk of accidents, but what else may be happening?

Research links teens who regularly text while driving to other risky behaviors behind the wheel, including not using seatbelts and drinking and driving. One risk often leads to another.

This is nothing to “lol” about. Talk to your teen about texting while driving, strive to build a strong, close relationship, and lead by example. If you drive and text, don’t obey speed limits or practice other risky behaviors, why shouldn’t they?

If you have a comment or question for the New Shine.FM wellness expert Dr. Walt Larimore, visit the wellness expert page at Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Help–I Think My Daughter Is Depressed!

Dear Dr. Bill,

Over the past year, our 9-year-old daughter has been going through periods of crying and sadness.  We’ve always given her a little more attention because she lives with that “middle child syndrome.”  But this school year, her grades really dropped and she told me she felt so bad that she could kill herself.  She lay in my arms, crying and begging me to help her feel better because she feels very sad at times.

My husband thinks that she’s doing all of this for attention.  I disagree, because I’m currently on medication for depression and my own father committed suicide because of his depression problems.  What do you think?


Dear Nikki,

Based on what you’ve told me, you should have your daughter evaluated by a child psychologist or child psychiatrist.  Depression often has a genetic component.  Since you suffer from it and your father suffered from it, it’s likely that your daughter has inherited a pre-disposition toward depression, and she may require professional treatment.

It’s important for your husband to understand that rather than simply trying to get attention, your daughter may actually have an imbalance in the brain chemicals that affect her mood.  That’s why a thorough evaluation by a licensed professional is critical.

You didn’t mention your family’s faith background or whether you attend church.  If you’re not involved in a healthy, spiritually sound church community, I would encourage you to find one.  Your daughter needs to develop Christian friendships, and to learn about how much God loves her.

Part of her treatment for depression will involve changing the way she views herself.  She needs to learn to see herself as God sees her…a beautiful child that he cherishes.  God loves her regardless of her grades or her looks or her popularity.  If she doesn’t have a children’s bible, buy her one and read the gospel of Mark together.

Thanks for writing, Nikki.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Are Digital Devices Contributing To The Rise In ADHD?

Could ADHD be linked to smartphones?

About 6 million children in the United States—or about one out of every 10—have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.   Now, experts wonder whether the mobile devices we carry around might have something to do with that number.

According to a story on, research done by the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that ADHD numbers began to surge just as smartphones hit the market.

And because kids engage with digital screens so much differently than they do with real-life activities, some experts believe all that screen time may negatively impact their ability to focus.

By the way, the amount of time people spend engaged in all forms of media has now risen to 11 hours, 52 minutes per day.  Clark Fredricksen, vice president of eMarketer says “It’s clear that time spent with media is still increasing as a result of multitasking.”

In other youth culture news, some disturbing new stats are out on dating violence. A nationwide survey on the issue was presented at a recent American Psychological Association conference.

The survey included more than 1,000 teens, and it found that 41% of girls and 37% of boys say they’ve been physically, emotionally or sexually abused on a date.

Here’s one surprising fact that reflects how our culture has been pushing girls to be more aggressive: more girls than boys said they had abused a dating partner.  35% of girls said they’d been abusive―compared to 29% of boys.

By the way, if your son or daughter has experienced this kind of abuse,  I’d encourage you to contact my friends at Focus on the Family.  They operate a free telephone counseling service and can refer your family to a licensed Christian therapist in your area.  The number is 1-800-A-FAMILY.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.