The Importance Of Reality And The Dreams That Fuel A Child’s Heart

The gymnasium was full of high school students. They filled both sides of the bleachers from the first row to the last and all the way from one end of the gym to the other. There were also hundreds of students in chairs on the floor in front of me.

I was as ready as I could be with a message to encourage them. As I shared, I included Scripture relevant to God creating us on purpose with purpose for purpose:

“O Lord, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.”

(Isaiah 64:8)

“For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

(Psalm 139:13-14)

“For we are God’s handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

(Ephesians 2:10)

I was impressed from the very beginning with the students’ attention and quick responses. They were eager to be encouraged and challenged.

When sharing elements of my story and how I believe God created me to glorify Him, I kept asking them about their dreams. “What’s your story?”

I wanted students to think about who they were designed to be and what they were created to do. I challenged them to be realistic and to persevere and be diligent to achieve the dreams they could.

I then heard myself say something that until that day I had only said when speaking to parents and teachers:

Grieve what isn’t, accept what is, and work on what you can.

It’s absolutely appropriate and even essential that children dream about their future. It becomes a problem when their dreams aren’t realistic. To keep trying for something that can never be will only lead to frustration, deep depression, and possibly despair.

Although dreams have many positive facets, I believe they’re relevant to suicide in at least three ways. That’s why I’m including the topic in my programs more and more:

  • If teens’ dreams aren’t realistic and they don’t have a “plan B” discouragement defeats them.
  • If teens’ dreams are realistic, but they don’t have the skills and/or character qualities necessary to accomplish them, anger creates danger (As we say at Celebrate Kids, “wishing it so won’t make it so.”)
  • If parents have dreams that teens don’t have for themselves or that teens don’t believe they can reach, pressure persuades them to give up and give in.

Walt Disney was right about a lot of things, but not everything.

  • He said, “Dreams are forever.” I believe, “We should dream forever.”
  • He said, “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.” I believe, “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing in yourself, you’ll think of new dreams.”
  • He said, “If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” I believe, “If you can dream it, you may be able to do it. Many great things start with dreams.”

At the conclusion of my chapel, many students hung out with me. I loved chatting with them and hearing about some of their dreams. After a while, I noticed a girl on my left approach me with a notebook and a pen. She waited and then took advantage of silence: “You said something about grieving our dreams and accepting what’s going on. I needed that. I loved the way you said it. Do you remember?” Before I could give her the three statements, many in the crowd agreed with her that it was valuable to them, too.

Grieve what isn’t, accept what is, and work on what you can.

Our teens need parents and others who dream realistic dreams for them and explain how they can fulfill them. Teens need people to teach them how to make the dreams come true.

Teens need parents and others who help them realize when dreams aren’t realistic. Teens need people to walk with them through the disappointment and to give them permission to grieve the loss of dreams. Teens need people who help them move on.

Our teens need healthy role models – people who adjust their dreams and keep dreaming. People who don’t give up, but alter their course of action.

Who will you be? What will you do?

Dr. Kathy continues the current video series about lies young people learn from technology with lie #4 – I am my own authority. Some teens are tired of authority figures failing them and their communities. Learn about other reasons they’re trying to depend on themselves, the role of technology, and what we can do to help them. You’ll appreciate Dr. Kathy’s practical ideas.

To learn more about Dr. Kathy’s book “Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World” and the wide selection of resources provided by Celebrate Kids, please visit shop.celebratekids.com

Diana Waring Interviews “Self Smart”

Two weeks ago, I wrote about people smart and I shared Diana Waring’s important video explaining this smart. When we’re being people smart, we think with other people.  We know what we know when we hear ourselves say it to someone else and hear their response.

Children who have people-smart strengths prefer group work and are excellent brainstormers. They can also understand others well as they read and respond to body language and facial feedback. Therefore, as I wrote in that blog, it’s a very important smart for school and life.

Today’s blog and Diana’s video are about self smart – the smart that’s the opposite of people smart. When we’re being self smart, we think deeply inside of ourselves. We reflect on our ideas and experiences. As a result, we can be quiet in learning situations and sometimes appear to be slow. Deep thinking can’t be rushed. We may choose to have fewer friends than others.

Because children with self-smart strengths are comfortable with their own thoughts, they can be quite independent. Diana does a great job, as always, of summarizing other strengths of this smart. It’s good to keep in mind that too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. This is a core teaching of Celebrate Kids and it’s worth mentioning now.

Also, it’s important to awaken this smart early and strengthen it because it’s the smart we use for understanding ourselves. If you think of times when you don’t understand yourself and how you feel, you’ll be face-to-face with how important this smart is. I’m concerned it’s being awakened later because of technology use. Children aren’t used to being quiet and they don’t prioritize knowing themselves. Rather, they want others to know and affirm them.

As with the other videos, enjoy it and benefit from it. Watch it with children so they have a new way of understanding themselves. You’ll have plenty to talk about. I’m so glad you care!

Diana’s Biographical Sketch

Diana Waring is one of the pioneers of homeschooling. For nearly three decades she has been an author and speaker to the international homeschool movement. Diana is the author and publisher of the History Revealed curriculum, the Experience History Through Music series (William T. Anderson authored one of the titles in this series), Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest, and numerous world history and homeschool encouragement audio CDs. She is a video blogger, blogger, columnist for The Homeschool Minute, guest writer at The Old Schoolhouse magazine, curriculum writer, singer/composer, actress/playwright, wife, and homeschool mom. To learn more, please visit www.DianaWaring.com

Teen Suicide Prevention Takes Engagement

Teen suicides have been on my mind again. They’re far too prevalent. Young people choose, for a variety of reasons, to end their lives. It’s a permanent decision they think is a solution. If they’re thinking at all.

If you’ve heard me speak, you probably know I’m also concerned for what I call:

  • Intellectual suicide – they give up thinking and studying because so much feels irrelevant and overwhelming. Trying and failing is too painful.
  • Social suicide – they give up on people and relationships because people can’t be trusted and can be mean. They’ve been rejected and hurt too often.
  • Emotional suicide – they give up feeling because there’s so much suffering and pain in the world and their world. Their heart hurts too often and too deep.
  • Spiritual suicide – they give up on God because Christians and the church have disappointed them. They may not have a proper biblical view of the God of the Bible. Having faith and hope doesn’t seem possible any more.
  • Physical suicide – death that may begin with self-harm and other unhealthy decisions.

Parents, teachers, pastors, friends, and community leaders who know teenagers can prevent suicide. How? We can help them process pain well. We can guard their hearts and minds to prevent pain. We can ask better questions. We can answer their questions. We can share our feelings. We can accept their feelings. We can guide them toward truth. We can invest. We can.

Preventing suicide starts with knowing teenagers.

  • What do they believe? Why?
  • How do they feel? Why?
  • What are their dreams? Why?
  • What concerns them? Why?
  • What are they passionate about? Why?
  • What problems would they like to help solve? Why?
  • What talents and gifts do they have that will help them meet other people’s needs?
  • What needs do they have that they wish someone would help them with?
  • Who would they love to be friends with?
  • Who do they think is supportive?
  • Do they know how to ask for help?

Every type of suicide is preventable. We must invest.

Knowing teens starts with knowing children. We must pay attention to our children. What ticks them off and turns them on? What are their dreams? Who do they wish they could become? Do they know what’s realistic? How to change what frustrates them? How to change their attitudes toward the things they can’t change? How to find support? How to ask for help?

If we don’t care about our children, but think we can wait until they’re preteens and teens, we can’t. If we don’t start asking questions until they’re older, they’ll resent our apathy and absence and not help us parent them well. They may not let us know them.

Beliefs that drive young people to suicide often creep up. They start as small issues for small children. They look like minor frustrations. If not dealt with, these small issues grow as children grow. Pay attention to the intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual areas. What do they need?

Teens will have fewer problems when we parent well when they’re children and they’ll have more confidence solving the problems they do have. We can be available to answer their questions. We can be available to help them process their feelings. We can model wisdom before them. We can.

Let’s parent and teach to prevent intellectual suicide, social suicide, emotional suicide, and spiritual suicide. This can prevent physical suicide. What will you do today?

In this video, Dr. Kathy continues talking about a lie young people may believe because of technology’s influence on them. Have you noticed they think they must always be offered a choice? Today, Kathy mentions three types of decisions we make all the time. When sharing about these categories with our kids and guiding them to healthy decision making, they benefit greatly.

To learn more about Dr. Kathy’s book “Screens and Teens: Connecting with our kids in a wireless world” and the wide selection of resources provided by Celebrate Kids, please visit shop.celebratekids.com

Diana Waring Interviews “Music Smart”

I’m so glad you’re interested in multiple intelligences. Diana Waring is glad, too. If you’ve read the last several blogs and watched her videos, what do you and your children most appreciate? We pray you remember that. I don’t write blogs and she doesn’t produce videos because we have nothing else to do. We want to influence you!

Did you benefit from learning that children, teens, and adults who are good with color and design are picture smart? They’re not just creative? Many find this encouraging. There are similarities in the emphasis of today’s intelligence – music smart.

People good at keeping a rhythm, singing in tune, playing an instrument, and recognizing musical selections are music smart. These people aren’t just musical or talented. They’re music smart.

Although you may think that being music smart can’t help with academics, that’s not true. Kids who enjoy music can use it to motivate them to study other topics. For all children, the experience will be richer. For instance, check out Diana’s “Experience History Through Music” CDs.

When I taught second graders, I loved using songs like she includes on her “Westward Ho” CD. And, now, I’d use the songs on her “Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Some would enjoy the songs more than others, but no one would be hurt by my choice to use them.

If I asked you how to spell Mississippi, I’m sure you’d spell it with the rhythm. And, what about the ABCs? Entire auditoriums full of high schoolers have sung them to me? They laugh after a few letters. I didn’t have to tell them to sing the ABCs. They just naturally did. Music is remembered a long time. What if we suggested that children put multiplication tables to music? Bible verses? More? Music helps academics in these ways.

And, there’s more. Let me suggest that some children may stay in school because of their love of music. If it wasn’t for band, orchestra, or choir, they may drop out or give up and disengage entirely. That would be tragic. When these children discover they’re smart and that’s why music is important to them or comes naturally to them, they’ll be encouraged even more.

Beyond school, being music smart can enhance life. It influences what some of us do with our spare time. Worshiping with music may be a very important part of church for you. Music can also strengthen friendships and families as you go to concerts together, perform together, and enjoy talking about your favorite groups or songs.

What if you took time to talk with your children about being more music smart tomorrow than they are today? Watch Diana’s video first, though, because she’ll give you great content to discuss. I love the variety of music she mentions and her list of careers. Enjoy!

Diana’s Biographical Sketch

Diana Waring is one of the pioneers of homeschooling. For nearly three decades she has been an author and speaker to the international homeschool movement. Diana is the author and publisher of the History Revealed curriculum, the Experience History Through Music series (William T. Anderson authored one of the titles in this series), Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest, and numerous world history and homeschool encouragement audio CDs. She is a video blogger, blogger, columnist for The Homeschool Minute, guest writer at The Old Schoolhouse magazine, curriculum writer, singer/composer, actress/playwright, wife, and homeschool mom. To learn more, please visit www.DianaWaring.com

Simply, Jesus

Recently a friend of mine lost her job. I’ve called and texted to encourage her. To do something different, I decided to color a picture for her. You may know that I color as a way of relaxing and I typically use what I color like a greeting card.

On Saturday I looked through the books I have to find a picture that I believed would be appropriate for my friend. Several had Bible verses that were relevant, but I kept coming back to the one that simply said, Jesus.

That’s the one I ultimately colored and gave her. I prayed as I colored, that she’d keep her eyes on Jesus during these days and weeks as she has the rest of her life. I prayed He proves Himself faithful as He has on so many other occasions. She didn’t need a reminder of a verse or a character quality of God’s she knows.

Just Jesus. Yesterday I worshiped with hundreds of others, singing about His name being above all of other names. There’s power in His name. Love. Authority. Healing. Deliverance. So much more.

Many children, teens, and young adults believe they must have choices. Do your kids argue more than you thought yours would? This may be a reason. Dr. Kathy explains we can help them choose wisely and be less overwhelmed by teaching about moral decisions and wisdom decisions. As always, thanks for your trust and let us know if this is helpful.

To learn more about Dr. Kathy’s book “Screens and Teens: Connecting with our kids in a wireless world” and the wide selection of resources provided by Celebrate Kids, please visit shop.celebratekids.com

Diana Waring Interviews “People Smart”

Teaching people about their eight great smarts is always fun and meaningful. Why? People are encouraged and surprised as they learn valuable truths about themselves and others.

One of the biggest surprises occurs when I teach about the smart we’re focusing on today – people smart. Most people don’t realize it’s an intelligence. I think it might be the most important one. Does that surprise you?

I refer to two of the smarts as “school smarts” because they’re so associated with the way we teach and learn – word and logic. Because of their relevance to lots of learning, these are certainly important.

But, think about it. As you’ll hear Diana Waring explain in her video, when we’re being people smart, we understand people, we listen well, and we can lead, persuade, and influence others. We’re also able to understand how others see the world. If more children and adults had strengths in this smart, wouldn’t we all be better off? Certainly.

Let’s prioritize raising children who are people smart. Diana will help you. Enjoy her video and watch it with your children.

Diana’s Biographical Sketch

Diana Waring is one of the pioneers of homeschooling. For nearly three decades she has been an author and speaker to the international homeschool movement. Diana is the author and publisher of the History Revealed curriculum, the Experience History Through Music series (William T. Anderson authored one of the titles in this series), Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest, and numerous world history and homeschool encouragement audio CDs. She is a video blogger, blogger, columnist for The Homeschool Minute, guest writer at The Old Schoolhouse magazine, curriculum writer, singer/composer, actress/playwright, wife, and homeschool mom. To learn more, please visit www.DianaWaring.com

“Helping Your Five-Year-Old Not Binge Drink” By Marianne Miller

Today, I am posting a brilliant blog by my friend, Marianne Miller. The title may cause you to do a double take. Does it motivate you to read the blog? I hope so. She and I agree on so much! I love the way she communicates these truths with great passion. Enjoy!

“Helping Your Five-Year-Old Not Binge Drink” By Marianne Miller

“Are you guys hammered?” That was the comment my 14-year-old received on a social media site after he posted a short video of himself and three friends laughing and sumo-wrestling. Just a few months ago I reminded him that 7th and 8th grade is usually when some of the kids start drinking alcohol. Usually boys first. Usually hard alcohol stolen from parents’ liquor cabinets when the house is empty. Most often the “cool kids” looking for a thrill or the lonely kids looking for an escape. My son had assured me that “no one” was drinking in his grade. But he has since changed his mind.

“I guess you were right about the drinking,” he responded. (One of my favorite responses a child can have.)

We talked about WHY other kids thought they were drunk and decided that it was because they were having so much fun. We both realized that we live in a culture where fewer and fewer teens are able to be comfortable with their sober selves. We live in a culture where four boys, bare-chested and laughing hysterically, must be drunk.

So why do I share this story knowing that most people who read my blogs have preschoolers or elementary age kids? Because THAT is exactly when you have the most impact to prevent your kids from binge drinking or using drugs as teenagers. Locking up the liquor cabinet or monitoring their every move might help a little, but our real power in this area begins well before they understand what alcohol even is.

What can parents do?

  •  Welcome boredom. This starts when your two-year-old wants to play with you literally all day long. Rather than becoming their favorite toy, you can provide them ample time to play alone. As they grow, minimize screens as a way to fill their time. What would happen if you never bought the video game system or the hand held device? What would they do if you gave them books and blocks and paper and puzzles and then never tried to solve their boredom? (I just heard the mom who said aloud that SHE would then be drinking!)
  • Help your child discover areas of interest. This does not mean activity after activity to keep them “busy” so they won’t have time for getting into trouble. This means exploring physical fitness or wood working or art or music or crafts…
  • Send/bring them outside. Nature has a way of drawing kids into physical and creative play. It offers incredible competition to screens and indoor boredom.
  • Emphasize depth in personal relationships. In this new world of online “friends” and a superficial “presence” on social media, help them understand the importance of real friendships based on loyalty and absent of “drama.” Facilitate friendships with kids who are also seeking loyalty and depth verses popularity and fun.
  • Model independence from, rather than dependence on, substances. Despite the temptation to “have a drink” after a tough day, model any alcohol consumption in isolation from emotional highs and lows. This helps avoid the connection between alcohol and freedom from pain.
  • Create rituals that bond you and your child. (Special walks together or Saturday morning donuts or read-aloud time in bed.) Discover their interests and meet them there with unconditional love and an acceptance of who they are.
  • Help them find their value in who they are rather than what they do. Connecting exclusively over their grades, activities, or athletics is an insecure foundation for your relationship.
  • Have FUN and lots of it. Make the connection that life is FULL of joy, fun, and excitement. Make the connection that kids who drink are not comfortable having fun as their “sober-selves.” These kids quickly become dissatisfied with their sober-selves and drink to fit in and have “fun.” But their sober selves will actually remember the fun. Their sober selves will not throw up after the fun. Their sober selves will RARELY make foolish choices that may actually have a lifetime of consequences after the fun.

So when your precious five-year-old eventually turns 15– take a deep breath, stay connected, reinforce a decade of past conversations, stay current by observing the culture together, and then simply walk WITH them during this challenging period rather than becoming paralyzed with fear and worry. You have done the work. They may still make mistakes. But they have a strong foundation to help them learn, grow, and mature.

Marianne Miller is a Midwest girl who loves Jesus, campfires, giggling little boys in overalls,  99¢ a pound grapes, long car trips, and warm brownies with white chocolate chips.

She is also a middle school teacher, parenting instructor, financial counselor with Crown Ministries, and author of The Gift of Enough. She loves encouraging moms and dads on their parenting journey–which can be extra-challenging in this culture of  “perfect” Facebook kids, excessive living, and social pressures to raise “successful” kids. You can connect with her on Facebook. She’d love that!