Better Parents, Better Families

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Posted 11/12/12 at 10:51 AM | Ann Dunagan

Freedom's Obligation for the Next Generation

Our country's freedom, like a relay race, is preserved and protected as each great generation passes the baton of duty on to the next.

In honor of Veteran's Day, United States veterans and current military families, I want to feature a patriotic essay, written by our eldest son, when he was in high school. This speech was presented for a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voice of Democracy competition, taking 1st place in Oregon and 12th place at Nationals, and also presented at various patriotic events including a statewide Memorial Day ceremony.

Now, nearly a decade later, these words touch my heart in a much deeper way. After graduating from university, our son worked hard, accepted a great challenge and became a United States Marine Corps officer. He honorably served our nation, specializing in ground intelligence and commanding snipers in Afghanistan. Recently, he completed his commission and is now in the USMC Reserves, while earning his MBA at Harvard. It's amazing to realize that my son is now a veteran.

I'm a proud mom, yet I am continually humbled by the lives and examples of others. I'm so grateful to God for bringing my son home and for giving our family His grace during his dangerous deployments. Yet my heart goes out to other military heroes -- along with their moms, and their wives, and their children -- who have made (and who are currently making) much greater sacrifices than I ever did.

My son's speech concludes, "Freedom is definitely not free. There is a duty, a responsibility, an obligation that comes with it. That obligation is to preserve and protect freedom for future generations." FULL POST

Posted 11/8/12 at 12:30 AM | Ann Dunagan

Legalized Marijuana? How Can Christian Families Prepare their Teenagers?

“It’s not for you, O Lemuel!”

Did you know that Colorado and Washington State just voted to legalize marijuana for personal and recreational use? As Christian families, we need to prepare our teenagers to think through the issues of our day. We need to equip our youth to resist temptation, by God's grace, and to live for His glory!

Our country is becoming an increasingly post-Christian society. Many actions may be legal, yet in God’s eyes they are wrong and sinful (such looking at pornography, “sleeping together” before marriage, or getting an abortion). Other actions may be illegal, yet in God’s eyes they are good (such as reading the Bible in a classroom or having a US military chaplain pray in Jesus’ name).

Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because everybody’s doing it, doesn’t mean we do it.

So let’s take a look at what just happened, regarding marijuana use, in the 2012 election.

In Colorado, Amendment 64 passed by an estimated 53% of the vote giving residents the freedom to possess marijuana for personal use and to give away. Just ponder that phrase, “to give away.” Colorado residents can now give “marijuana-gifts” to their friends and loved ones. Perhaps for Christmas? Or a unique college graduation present? Or maybe for a birthday? FULL POST

Posted 5/4/12 at 1:53 AM | Mark Gregston

Teens and Independence


In our country, grateful Americans set aside July 4th to celebrate a grand holiday. The festive fireworks, mouth-watering barbeques and fun with family and friends remind us about the value of our independence. But there’s another Independence Day that most parents dread. It’s the day your child walks out your door to begin life as an autonomous, responsible citizen.

As he crosses the threshold from the safety of your home into the dangers of the real world, you won’t be thinking about the petty battles you fought during the adolescent years. It won’t matter whether your teen’s room was clean, whether he watched too much television, or whether you liked his friends. What will matter most is whether you taught him what he needs to survive in the jungle that awaits him.

In this regard, independence is earned … not granted. It’s not enough that your teen has turned eighteen. He needs to mature and gain wisdom in order to enjoy an independent lifestyle. FULL POST

Posted 3/20/12 at 3:35 PM | Elisabeth Wilkins

ODD Kids and Behavior: 5 Things You Need to Know as a Parent

Do you often feel overwhelmed as the parent of an ODD child? Kimberly Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner have worked with parents of kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder for 20 years—and Kim is the parent of an adult child with ODD. Read on to find out the 5 things you need to know to be a more effective parent.


Posted 3/10/12 at 9:05 PM | Mark Gregston

Modeling Kindness in an Unkind World

Our world is confusing place for kids.  Nearly every day, our sons and daughters are confronted by some form of bullying, disrespect and a complete disregard for authority.  These conflicting elements create an environment that makes it tough for teens to be kind.  It’s hard to be gentle and meek when you’re constantly fighting against cultural trends and peer pressure.

If you’re like me, you can still remember bad stuff that happened from your teen years.  I was bullied by a group of guys, and whenever the projector of my memory rolls the film on those ugly encounters, I still get emotionally wrapped up with anger.

As a parent, you might be the only authority in your child’s life to model how to engage in kindness.

Good parenting requires weaning our kids away from their childish dependence on us.  It’s a long process of gradually taking away the creature comforts we once provided in order to force our teen to begin operating independently from us.  Whether it’s drawing boundaries for them or coming to their rescue when something goes wrong, as they grow older, we need to employ an intentional plan for creating autonomy. FULL POST

Posted 3/5/12 at 2:22 PM | Elisabeth Wilkins

Irresponsible Children: Why Nagging and Lecturing Don't Work

If you're like most parents, you probably spend enormous amounts of time and energy teaching about the importance of being responsible. You encourage it, you explain why it's important, and you remind your child again and again why he should do the things he's supposed to do. You complain, nag and lecture, but to no avail. It probably seems like you're talking to a brick wall, because your kid still won't clean his room, empty the dishwasher, complete his homework or apologize to his little brother unless you threaten and punish.


Posted 1/30/12 at 3:48 PM | Elisabeth Wilkins

Teenagers Talking Back: How to Manage This Annoying Behavior

You: "You need to stop playing video games and do your chores. Have you taken out the trash yet? You promised you'd do that yesterday."

Your child: "I'm in the middle of this game. Why do I have to take out the f----ng trash? Do it yourself!"

You: "That's it! I'm taking away the Xbox. I've had enough of your back talk."

Your child: "Get off my back! Alright, I'll take it out if it'll shut you up! (Mumbles under her breath and slams the door on her way out.

When your kids start to talk back, you might as well welcome them to adolescence. Back talk, however disrespectful and obnoxious it is in the moment, is your child's way of learning how to assert herself. As every parent of a teen knows, adolescents often aren't thinking things through; they're just beginning to learn how to stand up for themselves, and most of the time they're not going to do it very well. Your job is to help your child change rude behavior by teaching her how to state her viewpoint in a more respectful and appropriate way. This doesn't mean she'll always get her way—but she'll eventually learn to voice her opinions without being disrespectful.


Posted 1/17/12 at 2:45 PM | Elisabeth Wilkins

"Sometimes I Don't Like My Child."

It's a truth we don't often admit, even to ourselves: we don't always like our kids. I can hear the guilt in parents' voices when they say, "Sometimes I really don't like my child. He's a pain, he argues with me all the time and he's just not fun to be around." Or maybe your child just isn't the person you thought he would be: perhaps he's not academic or outgoing enough, or maybe he likes to complain and is very negative. It's important to accept the fact that you won't always like your kids—and they won't always like you. This is especially hard for parents of difficult, acting out kids to grapple with. But the fact is, you're on your way to less guilt and a better relationship with your child when you can acknowledge your feelings.


Posted 1/9/12 at 4:54 PM | Elisabeth Wilkins

How to Find the Behavioral Triggers That Set Your Kid Off

Why are your child's "triggers" so important to be aware of when it comes to losing your temper, or your kids acting out? Many parents I talk to on the Parental Support Line are mystified by their child's behavior. They feel like they're walking through a minefield at home—where something, anything, could set their child off at any moment. This is an incredibly tough feeling for parents to deal with, and many feel at a loss about how to stop it; as a result, they feel defeated and hopeless. However, it is possible to turn things around.


Posted 1/5/12 at 12:02 PM | Elisabeth Wilkins

Calm Parenting: Stop Letting Your Child's Behavior Make You Crazy

Does your child's behavior make you crazy? The truth is, there's no such thing as anxiety-free anything—let alone anxiety-free parenting. You worry about your child's behavior, health, attitude and relationships. You're anxious about how he's going to turn out and if he'll have success in life, and yet you're told over and over to "be calm." "Calm?!" you scream. "How am I supposed to be calm when my child doesn't do what I say, talks back and has a bad attitude?" You might also be thinking, "How else can I get her attention?" In saner moments, you might agree that it would be nice to have a calm home and peaceful relationships, but feel like it's an impossibility.


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