May Time Magazine Cover: Right or Wrong

Is there such a thing as too much parenting? Yes. It’s called enmeshment and can keep a child from developing into a self-sufficient human being. A child should be close to his parent. A child should feel safe and loved. However, should a three, four, or even a six year old continue to breast feed? According to the latest Time magazine cover, yes. 

The things that a parent who practices attachment parenting wants to accomplish can be done at earlier ages such as infancy and don’t need to be prolonged for the desired benefits of closeness to take hold. Also, nourishment can be gleaned from regular food. I don’t treat my seven year old like I do my three year old. They have different needs. Attachment parenting keeps toddlers and young children in a overly dependent state for longer than necessary.

There has been lots of talk about how extended breastfeeding is natural and biological. Well, just because something can be done doesn’t mean that it should or that “society” will approve. I’m not always for doing what society wants, but society, by its general nature, strives to do what is ultimately best for all involved. I think that limiting the amount of time a child depends on his mother’s milk is one of those. A second would be getting the child in his own bed at an early age. 

I like what this article says:

I’m curious, though, whether [attachment parenting] has been validated in research studies. A quick Medline search of the term “attachment parenting” yielded many studies showing that kids who don’t form strong attachments to their parents are worse off than those who do, but none that I saw that actually tested the precepts of attachment parenting like co-sleeping and prolonged breastfeeding.

Also, what happens to a couple’s sex life when baby makes three in bed? And where’s the fine line between being an attached parent and becoming one of those nuisance helicopter parents that kids try to escape by heading across country to college?

Well said. Read the article in its entirety here.

CEU Credit on the topic of Self-Injury

New training offered by Renewed Vision Counseling Services, an NBCC approved training for 1 hour of clock credit with access to the material for 45 days. 

In this podcast, Dale discusses self-injury with Susan Bowman, counselor and co-author of titles such as 102 Creative Strategies for Working with Depressed Children/Adolescents and Breaking Free: A Memoir of A Teenage Runaway. 

Visit Renewed Vision Training and click on Podcasts.

Dale can speak to your parent group, school, or organization about this topic. Contact him for more information.

CEU Credit on the Topic of Eating Disorders

New training offered by Renewed Vision Counseling Services, an NBCC approved training for 1 hour of clock credit with access to the material for 45 days. 

In this podcast, Dale discusses eating disorders with Licensed Professional Counselor, Kay Arnold. Find out the cultural and psychological ramifications of food and how it affects children, teens, and adults. 

Visit Renewed Vision Training and click on Podcasts.

Dale can speak to your parent group, school, or organization about this topic. Contact him for more information.

CEU Credit on the Topic of ADHD in Children and Adults

New training offered by Renewed Vision Counseling Services, an NBCC approved training for 1 hour of clock credit with access to the material for 45 days. 

In this podcast, Dale discusses ADHD with Dr. Steve Johnson, of Tennessee Pediatrics in Hendersonville, TN. Listen as they discuss ADHD in children, adults and what can be done to ensure the success of both. 

Visit Renewed Vision Training and click on Podcasts.

Dale can speak to your parent group, school, or organization about this topic. Contact him for more information.

CEU Credit on the Topic of Bullying

New training offered by Renewed Vision Counseling Services, an NBCC approved training for 1 hour of clock credit with access to the material for 45 days. 

In this episode, Dale discusses bullying with Susan Bowman. Susan is a counselor and co-author of 102 Creative Strategies for Working with Depressed Children & Adolescents and Breaking Free: A Memoir of A Teenage Runaway
Visit Renewed Vision Training and click on Podcasts.

The Emotional Effects of Video Games on Boys

New training offered by Renewed Vision Counseling Services for parents who need help and counselors who need continuing education credits ( CEU .)

There is a link between boys who play video games all night, care little about their grades, and are content to live with their parents well into adulthood. In this session, Dale explains the deeply rooted emotional effects video games have on boys and why apathy is more than just a phase. He covers all sorts of games from the educational to the most violent. Video game addiction is also discussed. The session ends with ways you can help your son or client turn from the games and towards a more productive lifestyle. 

This training is good for parents since it contains practical advice. It is also good for counselors who need continuing education credits. It is an NBCC approved training for 2 hours of clock credit. Once purchased, you will have access to the material for 45 days. Visit Renewed Vision Training and click on Marriage and Family.

Dale can speak to your parent group, school, or organization about this issue. Contact him for more information.

Prayer In Schools?

A particularly hot topic that is dear to me is that of prayer in schools. For several years I served as a youth minister and now by working in the school system, I see how these two entities meet. Here are some thoughts I have for churches, as I am first and foremost a Christian.
A Different World

We no longer live in a world where your teacher goes to church with you like my kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and sixth grade teachers did. We no longer live in a world where all those you are friends with or work with believe as you do.
I wish our society were more like Mayberry and that cartoons still quoted scripture like Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. Unfortunately, our society has changed which is an indication of a general departure from Christ-centered values to worldly values, even among Christians. What can change this? Only the church reaching the lost, doing what it’s supposed to do, can change the direction of our world. Many Christians become upset when for one reason or another they are pushed out of a school system. However, do you think God cares about the decisions made by school systems and the ACLU? He’s going to get it done anyway. Christians must not lose sight of this and they must not be distracted by secular policies but focus on how they can change the world with what they are given. Think of the early church and how many were martyred for their beliefs. We actually have it pretty good in 21st century America.

What Do You Really Want in the Schools?
Without a doubt, God needs to be in schools. It is law that Christian students can pray and meet and this is a good thing. But what does “prayer in schools” look like to you? What would happen in a classroom of 25 where six different churches are represented along with atheists and even students who don’t know what they believe? What if something went on in a classroom, in the name of the Christian religion, that another Christian did not agree with? There are churches on almost every block in small town America. How are we going to agree on what should happen in schools when in many single congregations there is regular dissension on certain issues? Would we have Bible studies during homeroom? This sounds good, but have you seen some of the characters educating our students? I’m not sure this is a good idea.

At a middle school in Jefferson South Carolina Christian rapper B-SHOC, declared “324 kids at this school have made a decision for Jesus Christ.” As a member of the Church of Christ, I wonder what B-SHOC teaches about baptism. I wonder where he stands on the Lord’s Supper. What if at events like this things went on that you didn’t agree with? I believe Christ wants us to follow His word and too many “modern” churches don’t even encourage their members to bring their Bible to worship. They don’t talk about sin. They only talk about what makes them feel good. This is a departure from my deeply held beliefs about living a sacrificial life for Christ. Why would I want someone teaching my children differently than what I want to teach on these matters? Would you want someone teaching your child things you didn’t believe even with Bible in hand? I send my boy to school because I can’t teach him about math, science, etc as well as the school can, but no one can teach him better Bible than me. I’m sure you believe the same about your children.
What is the Church Doing?
We expect a lot out of our schools. They make sure students have their shots, they feed them, clothe them, and teach them about respect, responsibility, and other character traits. One thing that schools should not be doing is reaching those who are spiritually lost. How can it? Their hands are full already and according to Matthew 28 and Mark 16, this is the church’s job. Churches should stop worrying about things that probably weren’t happening in most schools anyway and begin worrying about how they are going to reach those families who struggle and are hurting in more ways than I can list here.
It is Upsetting.
What lawsuits against schools by the ACLU amount to is that someone said something in a group of people about what most people in that group accepted as normal. In other words, Christian employees were allowing Christian practices to go on in a place that the law says they shouldn’t. However, there were so many Christians involved, no one cared and so the practice continued. On October 20, my Alma Mater (Smith County High) had a prayer before the game by the preacher I grew up listening to, Edward Anderson, and on October 29, a prayer was led at a University of Tennessee game. How long before these entities are encroached upon? I hope not but it may very well happen.
It is upsetting that communities have changed to the point that there are people who don’t want us to do such things in schools. That what is held dear by the many can be changed by the few. It is a strength that many draw upon in a world that is dying for something with substance to believe in. However, according to the ACLJ (the non-profit on the Christian side) the ACLU is right about some of its accusations towards school districts. 
Here is where many school districts are with prayer in school: Employees can’t openly pray at a school event. Alright, but if Jonah can do it in a whale, I can do it sitting in my office chair or walking down the hall. I can pray before the school begins. I can pray before lunch and no one will ever know. I hate this side of it but I am still maintaining my relationship with Christ in a very real way. Besides, didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 6:6 “But you, when you pray, go into yourinner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret,and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Secrecy was a necessary part of prayer in the first century church. I question how often people actually do it openly anyway. 

What Should We Be Worried About?
How much employees can express themselves religiously should be a concern. We should be allowed to express ourselves to a degree and thankfully we still can. I think we should be able to do more (how about it ACLJ?), but after recent news reports on church and school, I have taken inventory of what I have been doing as a Christian in a public school. I very soon plan on exercising the rights I do have by wearing a ring with a cross on it. This isn’t much but I can do it and being a Christian man in a school doing all that I can is a plus. Jesus tells us to render to Caesar what is his (Matthew 22:21) and I’m fine with that, but Caesar is gonna know I’m a Christian. I will of course hold to my same values and express them when necessary on moral issues while being respectful to those who believe differently. 
What else should we be worried about? When the rules become so strict that Christian students can’t meet or express themselves. They still can, remember? We should worry when an atheistic point of view is taught and all others are considered inferior. 
We should worry when Christian values are attacked like it was this past September at a school in Fort Worth, TX when a 14 year old was sent to the principal’s office for saying that homosexuality is wrong. During a discussion in his German class they were talking about religions in Germany. The young man said, “I’m a Christian. I think being a homosexual is wrong.” Hetold Lari Barager of KDFW News, that his statement “wasn’t directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me. I guess [the teacher] heard me. He started yelling. He told me he was going to write me an infraction and send me to the office.” This should worry Christians. Schools should teach about different points of view when appropriate, but they shouldn’t chastise someone for their biblically held beliefs, particularly when they are not born out of hatred but a love for scripture and the souls of all man. Our views are valid as well.
What Can We Do?

First, thank God for David French and the ACLJ. Dr. French works with schools free of charge. He is a graduate of Harvard and of Lipscomb. I am thankful for him because if he didn’t fight for the rights of Christians, I don’t know who would.
Second, all parents, but especially Christian parents, should stay informed of what is being taught in school. Many schools have adopted Gay Pride Days and have taught on homosexuality in such a way that many Christians would not agree with. This steps out of the bounds of what a school should be doing. They should promote tolerance (a lesson some Christians could learn) otherwise, no one will get along in a school day. However, schools should not be indoctrinating our children to the point of telling them they should accept and approve of what all people do. Jesus accepted but didn’t approve of the sinners he associated with, and He is who Christians follow.
Third, if you are interested in a Christian world-view, subscribe to Think Magazine and Kaio rather than only secular publications. Join with other parents to make positive changes in the school system. Two books by Leonard Sax (Boys Adrift and Girls on the Edge) talk a lot about parents that work to make a difference in their schools. Parents can move to make this change; Christian parents. Why couldn’t the Bible be taught as literature if an appropriate textbook was selected? Why couldn’t more churches work to positively affect the lives of poor, hungry students instead of sending millions to India and Africa? This could be the church’s part in helping raise test scores because a child can’t learn if he’s hungry. Too many churches alienate themselves from the community. Contacts and a working relationship can still be made. The backpacks, school supplies, and benevolent money I’m given by churches each year are a testament to this. These churches expect nothing in return except for the knowledge that their money is doing some good.
Finally, make sure teens know that they have rights and they need to use them. They are the evangelists. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” I’m afraid that if we focus on the wrong issue with prayer in schools, we will lose sight of what we can do. Namely, our youth being the evangelists God has called them to be. I hope Christian parents have taken inventory of their child’s Christian faith and are working to strengthen them as Deuteronomy 6 instructs. I think our teens are the best ones to evangelize the schools. The Apostles turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Wouldn’t it be great if our youth turned their schools upside down, causing their friends to become Christians?

Are You Asking the Right Question?

Why are we taking God out of schools is the wrong question. It will cause us to think we are losing. Cause us to think that our only vein of influence has been eliminated. Cause us to think that Satan has won. Doubting Thomas had to touch Jesus’ wounds before He would believe. What’s it going to take for us to see that Christ can change the lives of students through the work of the church and the youth that infiltrate the school walls everyday?

What’s the right question? How can we get more of God into the students? Help our students as they are facing the world as Peter did in Matthew 26. They are scared and the world around them screams everything but Christianity. Peter denied Jesus three times. We must make sure our students are not denying Him because Christianity in many ways is being pushed out and I’m sure many are scared. Teach your teens and children what Hebrews 13:5, 6 says, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. 

I believe that every person in the world should know Christ, but it won’t happen because the schools allow it. It will happen because Christians are doing what they are supposed to do.

We are afraid God is going to be pushed out but God has always been in schools. He’s always been in the hearts and minds of students and teachers who took Him there. He is in the teachers who will speak up when things aren’t right. He is the leader on the football team who asks for safety from God before every game. She is the person in math class who asks her classmates to pray for her sick friend. However, God doesn’t belong only in a classroom no more than He belongs only in a church building. May our Christian lives never be simply the act of being somewhere but may they be the totality of how we live.

If God is pushed out, it won’t be because a school board or the ACLU stopped something that wasn’t even happening in most schools to begin with. It will be because students and teachers stopped taking Him and making Him active in their own lives.

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How to Argue with Your Teen & Win!

I’m proud to announce the release of my first book. It’s a short work that I have published to the Kindle market on Amazon, but I hope that it is a stepping stone to more extensive materials.
If you don’t have a Kindle, not to worry because neither do I. You do  however have a computer or maybe a smartphone and therefore can download the Kindle application for FREE! 
Basically, this is two chapters from a previous book I outlined and taught in an adult Sunday school class. I’ve been shopping it to agents and publishers but no luck yet. The parenting genre is a tough market so I decided to go at it in this direction. If all goes well, I may do a Kindle book on marriage, but until then, I hope you’ll check this one out. 
This book is dedicated to my mom and dad; the best of parents.

What has already been said about How to Argue . . . ?

“A much needed book for parents who are struggling with a challenging teen. I think every parent who has a teenager or child in the house should get this book to learn helpful techniques for relating to their son or daughter. It discusses the secret to eliminating power struggles. I wish I had this book when I was raising my teenage daughters, alone. I could have avoided many years of frustration and pain.”

-Susan Bowman, Ed.S., Author of many books including her memoir,

Breaking Free: A Memoir of a Teenage Runaway

“I loved it! I can use this material for dealing with my teenage clients and their parents, but also for dealing with my own 2 children (ages 15 and 11). The concepts are rock solid and are based on active parenting which is extremely effective. I know it works at my house and for those clients I teach it to who are struggling with their own teens. This book will fill a tremendous need, especially in a brief but powerful manner. Parents will have no problem reading through and getting started on it the very first day.”

-Jane Headrick, Licensed Professional Counselor, MHSP

Restore Counseling Services

Are Video Games Bad for Your Son?

In his book, Boys Adrift, Leonard Sax discusses the five factors that he believes are causing boys and young men to be unmotivated. These boys look for no success outside what pleases them directly and immediately. This article will give a synopsis of the second contributor to underachievement in capable boys, video games.

What is excessive video game play? The average boy spends more than thirteen hours a week playing video games. Some experts say that 30 minutes to an hour should be the max, but this can be left up to the parent of course. Video games can be a good diversion on long trips, and weekends are meant for more leisure time. Although, in my experience, forty minutes seems to be reasonable.

Here are some things to consider if you wonder whether or not your child is playing too much. Is he losing sleep? Are his grades dropping at school? Is he obsessed with playing? It has been proven that video games release dopamine (the pleasure chemical of the brain) in much the same way drugs release it. No reason kids want to play so much, they have addictive qualities. Therefore, game time must be seriously regulated, particularly since boys lose a sense of time when engrossed with a game.

Now, what is the correlation between boys who play and those who aren’t contributing much to society or their own future? These are boys who care little about their grades, are content to live with their parents well into adulthood, and aren’t interested in relationships that might lead to a family. In video games, boys are in control. They are tested at doing their best and are rewarded for their success. These are all things that typically drive boys to succeed in society but if they are getting these rewards from games, why should they seek them elsewhere? Sax interviewed girls who said that boys would rather play games than pursue them. What?! Video games fill a void for boys, causing them to get all the fulfillment they need, but to what end? A high score?

Some proponents argue that video games make kids smarter and they give the gamers faster hand/eye coordination. These are small payoffs for the amount of time squandered away at getting virtual points in a virtual world with virtual friends. Where is the real pay off? The Atlanta Braves aren’t calling because your son won the Virtual World Series. He may be quicker on the draw but Sax states that it is only by two-hundredths of a second (0.02) – when compared to kids who don’t play. It’s not worth it.

Is he smarter? Hardly. Smarter at the video game but the evidence does not support a cause and effect from games to school. In fact, “A series of studies over the past seven years has demonstrated clearly and unambiguously” that the more time your child spends playing video games, the less likely he is to do well in school at any level. Furthermore, as researchers account for variables, the evidence becomes stronger.

Don’t get me wrong. Some gaming is good. I play with my son. It’s a way to connect and I even use it to exercise. The main point to ponder is, “Are games taking the place of other, more enriching activities?” Also, is the subject matter appropriate? Researchers at Yale University have reported that playing violent video games leads directly to “aggressive behavior . . . and decreases in helping behavior.” Gamers also report fewer friends, depression, and heightened anxiety. Don’t get scared just yet because this does come from excessive play.

As a parent, you must ask yourself whether or not your child is playing too much. If he doesn’t care about school, wants to stay in all the time, and has few interests that can contribute to his future, it may be time to limit or completely take away the system. After all, will his life really be better if he continues playing?


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BOOK REVIEW: Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax, M.D, Ph.D.

I work with middle schoolers and a lack of motivation is definitely seen in many of my boys. For some, it’s a phase as they leave the sand box and discover girls. For other, large portions of our boys, they get into an apathetic rut and continue through high school and for a long time thereafter; possibly for the rest of their lives. They simply find new ways to live their lives as slugs. Why? I’ve had my theories but after reading Boys Adrift, I have research-based answers that are difficult to argue with.

Sax writes in an easy to understand way that does not seem to come from his own political or religious views. Instead, he quotes from his solid research and that of others. Sax does not come across as accusatory to parents but writes out of a sincere concern for the welfare of our boys and those adults who want the best for them. This is reflective of his desire for people to know the truth.

I believe Sax has many of the answers that parents and schools are looking for when they ask of a talented young man, “why won’t you do anything?” Sax analyzes five cultural factors that he believes keeps our boys from excelling, and in a larger sense, weaken our society.

The five factors are education, video games, ADHD meds, endocrine disruptors, and our culture’s views of manhood and of becoming a man. For education, I don’t believe his advice would bode well with any school system that is stuck in their same old ways. However, individual schools and parents could benefit from his view that how we educate our boys can actually make them hate school. From his home in Philadelphia, I am sure there are plenty of private schools that could implement his thinking tomorrow. However, based on my experience, the threat of nuclear war wouldn’t make some people change their view of how students should be taught.

For video games, he is quick to say that boys shouldn’t play them at all. However, he keeps a balanced view characteristic of the rest of the book and states that in moderation, they are OK. He gives clear reasons why they are bad for our boys and as a former game-head, I’m a believer. Games tend to take the place of other more fulfilling endeavors that can more positively shape the minds of our young men.

I have shared his view of ADHD meds for a long time. Here he lays out the ways they work, the ways they don’t work, and the risk factors involved. He leaves it up to the parent to decide whether or not they want their child on meds. Sax gives anecdotal evidence but also scientific evidence by quoting the DSM-IV’s criteria for ADHD and various studies. You can tell that he shares in the struggles of parents who want what’s best for their child in a world they may not totally fit in to.

The fourth factor Sax believes is contributing to underperforming boys is, “endocrine blockers.” Basically, these are chemicals found in plastics that have been shown to accelerate puberty in girls while at the same time feminizing boys. I was very skeptical of this chapter but convinced after he quoted a study done in Puerto Rico of very mature girls and of male alligators that produce eggs (both linked by plastics).  My pediatrician also expressed his concerns when I asked him.

I have written about the poor view of men and manhood for quite sometime, but Sax’s analysis of cultures that help boys become men really opened my eyes. He said, “We twenty-first-century Americans smile condescendingly at such traditions.  Our culture’s neglect of the transition to manhood is not producing an overabundance of young men who are . . . hardworking.” He’s exactly right.

In short, Dr. Sax believes that gender is important. He quotes his book, Why Gender Matters quite often and I look forward to reading that book and his others. He says that three decades of believing that boys and girls are the same except for their genitalia have not produced a paradise of gender equity where boys respect women. Instead, it has given us performers like Eminem . . . whose music degrades women. Well said.