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Dr. Bill Helps A Mom Deal With The Fallout Of “Generational Sin”

Dear Dr. Bill,

I have a 14-year-old daughter who hates me — and maybe I deserve it.  For many years we’ve established a pattern where I end up yelling at her whenever we get into conflict.  Although I apologize later for losing my temper — my daughter no longer receives it.  Growing up, my parents hit me, yelled at me or ignored me, and now I don’t know how to reach my own daughter.  I’ve tried to make amends, but the damage is done.  My daughter often asks what I want — what I want is for her to love me, but I feel like I’ve ruined that.  What should I do?

–Nicole

Dear Nicole,

My heart breaks for you.  What you’re experiencing is called “generational sin.”  The abuse that you suffered as a child wounded you deeply.  Unfortunately it has also negatively impacted your parenting, and you’ve done serious damage to your relationship with your daughter.

If you truly want to restore that relationship, you have some hard work to do.  Your daughter no longer trusts you, and it’s going to take time to rebuild that trust.  She will need to see real repentance on your part, expressed in your actions, not just your words.  The bible describes true repentance as “turning away” from one’s sinful actions…a deliberate, purposeful change in our heart and our behavior.

Deep-seated hurt and anger with roots in childhood can’t be overcome overnight.  It also can’t be overcome on your own.  I suggest that you find a licensed Christian counselor who can help work through how your childhood experiences have impacted you and help you to make lasting changes in your behavior.

By the way, Focus on the Family has a telephone counseling service that can help.  They offer a free crisis counseling session and can also refer you to a Christian therapist in your area.  The number is 1-800-A-FAMILY.

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

Listen to today’s audio here.

The New Face Of Heroin Use In The US

Heroin is illegal drug that is typically associated with desperate junkies on the street.  But according to a story on PluggedIn.com, the death of 31-year-old Glee star Cory Monteith from an accidental overdose of heroin and alcohol is shining a new spotlight on the type of person who actually uses the drug.

Dr. Richard Clark, the director of toxicology at the University of California San Diego Medical Center says this:  “I deal with drug users every day.  The stereotypical user on the street?  That’s the past as far as heroin use in the U.S. is concerned.  Lots of people are using it these days—kids, teenagers, white-collar workers.”

In 2012, the government reported an 80% increase in first-time usage of herion use among teens.  Heroin is now cheaper and more plentiful than it’s ever been.

And as the government has begun to crack down on prescription drug abuse more forcefully, heroin has become an alternative.

On a more positive note, teens who are connected with their parents on social networks feel closer to them in real life. That’s according to a new study out of Brigham Young University.

Researchers found that half of teens have “friended” their parents online, with 20% saying they interact with them online every day.  BYU professor Sarah Coyne says “It’s bidirectional…as we have experiences in new media, it strengthens bonds that are already there.

Dr. Coyne cautions, “You don’t want these results to get overblown to say, ‘If you friend your kid on Facebook, you’re suddenly going to have a great relationship.’ It’s just one tool in an arsenal that parents have to connect with their teens.”

For more great tips on connecting with your teens, go to focusonthefamily.com and click on “Parenting”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

Should Your Child Participate In An Overnight Outing Organized By His Public School?

Dear Dr. Bill,

What is your opinion on overnight group activities for grade-school children, especially those organized by a public school?  We want our children to have fun and participate with their friends, but we’re concerned about exposing them to inappropriate influences.  We worry that they could be exposed to things like inappropriate movies or music or even drugs or alcohol.  Are we overreacting?

–Dale

Dear Dale,

In today’s culture every parent should be mindful about what their kids are exposed to when they’re in someone else’s care.  The sad fact is that we live in a world that is increasingly dangerous and unhealthy for kids.

By the same token, we can’t keep our children in a safe little cocoon forever.  Eventually they are going to have to deal with the dangers and temptations that exist outside the four walls of our home.

I would suggest you meet with your child’s teacher and principal and find out exactly what is planned for the overnight event.  Where will it be held, what sort of activities are planned, and who will be supervising the kids?

If you know your child’s teacher well, and trust his or her judgment, you probably have little to worry about.  On the other hand, if this event is being held in someone’s private home and other parents are providing the supervision, it’s a different story.  If you don’t feel comfortable with the situation, volunteer to be a chaperone for the event.

Most teachers welcome parental involvement, and they often have difficulty getting enough parents to volunteer.

There’s another important aspect to your question.  In addition to protecting our children from the dangers they may face in the world, we also need to teach them about making responsible choices.

Our kids need to understand that the decisions they make have consequences, and that there are times when they may need to say “no” when offered things that may not be good for them.

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

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

Setting A Good Example When It Comes To Texting & Driving

Do you have teenage drivers at home?  If so, do you ask them to live by different rules than you do?

Telling your kid about the danger of texting and driving won’t do any good if you pick up your smartphone while cruising down the freeway.

Research shows that starting at about age 11 or 12, your child begins paying attention to your driving habits and noting consciously or subconsciously all the things you do.

According to research by Liberty Mutual Insurance, 91% of kids have seen their parents talking on a cellphone while driving,

88 percent have observed their parents speeding.  And 59 percent said their parents have sent text messages while driving!

If you’re part of that 59 percent, could I encourage you to prayerfully consider the message you are sending to your kids?

How do you like that photo of yourself on Facebook?  Would you believe more than FOUR OUT OF TEN women have enhanced pictures of themselves before posting them online?

Researchers say digital photos are making women more camera-shy than ever, with mounting pressures to look good when the images are shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Eight in ten women say having their photo taken and then uploaded on to a social network makes them more anxious about their looks than speaking in public, going on a first date or going to a job interview!

As you consider that story, remember these words from 1 Samuel 16:7: The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

An Update On The Epidemic Of “Cutting” In America & The Bottom Line On R-Rated Movies

New research shows that more and more people are harming themselves by way of cutting.  In fact, the number of girls and women seeking help for cutting has doubled in the last three years.

According to a story from Plugged In.com, some wonder whether increased exposure in the media is making it worse. Clips of people committing acts of self-harm can easily be found on YouTube, and celebrities like Demi Lovato and Angelina Jolie have talked publicly about their struggles with cutting.

Often, these stars go public to help people. But Nancy Gordan, a therapist who specializes in these issues, says when people start talking about triggers and wanting to harm themselves, it can become contagious.

A self-professed cutter named Mary adds, “Subconsciously, every time you look at something, it’s a trigger that makes you want to do it more and more.”

Why does Hollywood continue to make R-rated movies when they tend to do so poorly at the box office?

According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, many Hollywood studios aren’t doing themselves any favors.

They keep making R-rated films when movies with any other rating generally make more money.

Last year, R-rated films averaged $16.8 million per film at the box office.

By contrast, PG-13 rated movies averaged $47.3 million and movies rated PG averaged $43 million.

Even the few G-rated films made last year made an average of $23 million per movie.

Even so, Hollywood continues to crank out R-rated movies—they produced 117 of them last year.  Do you suppose they might have—I don’t know—an agenda???

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

Is Taking A Year Off Before College A Bad Idea For A High School Grad?

Dear Dr. Bill,

Our son just graduated from high school and he’s asked us how we feel about him taking off school for a year.  He is very responsible in a variety of ways — he works part time to pay for his cell phone, car insurance, gas, entertainment and his “garage band.”  He’s earned college credits for the last few years of high school and he had a full semester’s worth of credit when he graduated.  What do you think about him taking a year off?  We’re afraid he might lose momentum.

–Becky

Dear Becky,

It sounds like you and your husband have done a great job raising your son.  In this day and age when so many kids are selfish, spoiled, and irresponsible, you should be proud to have a child who studies hard, succeeds academically, works part time and acts responsibly.

I wouldn’t be concerned about his desire to take a year off from school before he starts college.  From everything you’ve told me, he is one thoughtful, goal-oriented kid.  If he wants to take a year off to work, travel, or simply figure out what he wants to study, I don’t see a problem with that.

Besides, your son is ahead of the game, having earned a semester of college credit while still in high school.

After a one year break, chances are he’ll be even more motivated to start college, particularly when he realizes that without a college degree, there are many careers that won’t be open to him.

But given your son’s excellent track record to this point, I wouldn’t be concerned about the year off.  Some of the most successful people I know didn’t go immediately into college out of high school.

The most important thing is that you continue to offer your son your love and emotional support, as well as gentle guidance when he requests it.

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

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

Does Your Child Get Enough SLEEP? If Not, Could It Negatively Affect Their BRAIN?

Do your kids get enough sleep?  According to research, late nights and inconsistent bedtimes may negatively affect a child’s brain.

The BBC is reporting on a new study of more than 11,000 kids in Great Britain.

Children who had no regular bedtime or who went to bed later than 9PM had lower scores for reading and math

It’s believed that lack of sleep may disrupt natural body rhythms and impair how well the brain learns new information.

The researchers gathered sleep data children at the ages of three, five and then seven to find out how well they were doing with their learning and whether this might be related to their sleeping habits.

Erratic bedtimes were most common at the age of three, when around one in five of the children went to bed at varying times.

Overall, children who had never had regular bedtimes tended to fare worse than their peers in terms of test scores for reading, math and spatial awareness.

The impact appeared to be cumulative, and interestingly, it was more obvious in girls than in boys.

Lead researcher Amanda Sacker from University College in London, says it’s possible that inconsistent bedtimes were a reflection of chaotic family settings and it was that–rather than disrupted sleep–that had an impact on learning.

However, after controlling for family environment, the link between poorer mental performance and lax bedtimes remained.

Prof Sacker says: “The take-home message is really that routines really do seem to be important for children.  Establishing a good bedtime routine early in childhood is probably best, but it’s never too late.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

How NOT To Talk To Your Teenager About Weight Loss Or Dieting

Is your child overweight?  A new study provides some guidance on what NOT to do about it.

The LA Times is reporting on research that has found that talking to an overweight teenager about diets or weight loss can actually backfire.

In the study, which appeared in the journal Pediatrics, parents of over 2,000 teens were asked how they talked to their kids the issues of food and weight loss.  About half of the kids were either overweight or obese.

About 60 percent of the parents of overweight teens said they regularly had conversations with their child about dieting and weight loss.  15%  of the parents kept the focus on healthful eating and about 20% of the parents kept their mouths closed on the subject.

The overweight kids whose parents stressed healthy eating were less likely to engage in unhealthy forms of weight loss like fasting or using laxatives.

Fathers’ voices on the diets versus healthful eating issue seemed to carry particular weight.  Teens whose dads talked about weight loss and diets showed an even greater likelihood of engaging in unhealthy forms of weight-loss.

The researchers say that the findings suggest that parents should avoid conversations that focus on weight or losing weight and instead focus on healthy eating, without reference to weight issues

The researchers say that dads need to be particularly careful what they say about weight, regardless of whether their kids are overweight or not.  They say “It may be important to educate fathers to avoid any form of weight-related conversation with their adolescents.”

One more reminder to us dads that our words have a powerful influence on our kids.

To learn more about helping a child who is overweight or obese, go to aap.org and enter “obesity” in the search engine.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

Culture Update: Student’s Faith Lands Him In Hot Water

A student’s faith lands him in hot water with his principal and some good news about teen pregnancy.  Those are two of the faith and culture related stories in the news this week.

A Texas school district has apologized to a high-school valedictorian whose microphone was switched off during a graduation ceremony when tried to talk about his faith.

Joshua School District Superintendent Fran Marek apologized to Remington Reimer after meeting with him and his attorney.

In a statement, the superintendent says she wishes Remington “success for all future endeavors.”

The valedictorian’s microphone was switched off during the June 6 ceremony after he began talking about his religious beliefs.

Remington has been accepted at the US Naval Academy, and he says his principal threatened to contact the Academy to complain about his “bad character.”

In their apology, the school district says it will not take any punitive action against Remington.  He says he is thankful for that and knew the school district would support him.

In other faith and culture related news, teen pregnancy rates continue to decline. And experts say at least some of that dip can be attributed to religious beliefs.

According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the top reason teens say for remaining abstinent is because it goes against their religion or morals. And teens who are involved with a religious community are less likely to get pregnant.

Research also indicates that many adults are unaware of these positive teen pregnancy trends. Though teen pregnancy has gone down 42% in the last 20 years, half of adults believe that rates are actually increasing.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

“Help—My Son Is Failing In School And He Doesn’t Want My Help!”

Dear Dr. Bill,

I’m a single mom and my 14-year-old son has been falling behind in school.  He recently brought home 2 “Ds.”  I used to tutor him when he was younger, but for the last two years he has refused my help.

Right now the only thing that seems to interest him is basketball.  I don’t want to threaten taking that away, as it is the only extra activity he has.  If I do, I’m afraid he’ll withdraw.  How do I help my son turn his grades around when he doesn’t see the need for getting help from me or others?

–Debbie

Dear Debbie,

During the early teen years most kids go through a normal time of “individuation,” or becoming more independent from their parents.  This is the beginning of their journey into adulthood.

This process is very difficult for some parents to understand or accept.  They may have had a very close relationship with their child when they were younger, and now the child seems to be pulling away.  It can be particularly challenging for single moms.

This separation process may be why your son is so resistant to you tutoring him at age 14.  I would suggest you work with his school to find a tutor in the subjects he’s struggling in.  You should also keep in close contact with your son’s teachers, preferably on a weekly basis.

You mentioned you didn’t want to threaten to take away basketball, but it may be the one thing that will motivate him to work harder academically.  I would suggest you have a private conversation with his basketball coach.

Express your concerns and ask him if he will make participation on the team dependent on your son bringing up his grades.  Most good coaches want their players to succeed academically as well as athletically.

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

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert