Friendship And The Adolescent Brain by Jerusha & Jeramy Clark

Today Jerusha Clark and her husband, Jeramy are guest blogging for me for a second time. I met Jerusha when we spoke together at a convention and I instantly loved her and definitely have come to respect her as I got to know her work. I wrote a bit about the adolescent brain in my book, Screens and Teens. Their book, Your Teenager is Not Crazy, is brilliant.  They clearly write about very important applications of significant brain research in ways you can understand. Today’s post is about friendship, which is always a relevant topic. Maybe it’s on your mind more, though, as Valentine’s Day will be soon upon us. Read this and then share it with your friends. You’ll want to!

Do you remember who your best friends in middle school or high school were? Of course you do! Faces either swam into your memory or your stomach tightened as you recalled being alone day after day. Adolescent friendship—or the lack of it—powerfully impacts all of us.

If you’re the parent of a tween or teen, chances are it’s impacting you all over again, this time from the other side. You’re navigating hurt feelings and adolescent drama with your child, and it’s not that much easier (it may, in fact, feel harder) than lo so many years ago when your most pressing concern was the North Star zit that exploded on your forehead right before Homecoming.

Your tween or teen is experiencing radical changes in his or her brain. Neuroscientists liken this to the brain being remodeled. Have you ever remodeled a room in your house? If you have, you know that it always takes more time, costs more money, and requires more of you than you planned to give. Raising a teen is kind of like that! Why? Because adolescent brains are being progressively renovated as a tween or teen moves away from childhood and toward young adulthood.

We described some of the general changes happening in the teen brain in this post for Dr. Kathy and the Celebrate Kids community. For today, we’re going to look at how the amazing adolescent brain deals with friendship. If you’ve wondered why it seems so hard for your teen to make or keep friends, if you’re concerned about the people your tween is hanging out with, if you’re hoping that maybe things will change this school year, we’d like to equip you with some knowledge and some hope.

Knowledge first.

As your adolescent’s brain is remodeled, the neural structures that make up what scientists refer to as “the social brain” are pruned and transformed. During this season, there is a natural and healthy push away from the home and toward peers.

It used to really hurt my feelings when my teenage daughters would ask, “Can I bring a friend?” or “Do we have to have a family night?” Now I understand there’s way more at play in their brains than I initially assumed. Whereas I once assumed these changes meant I had been weighed and found wanting by my adolescent children, I now understand that when adolescents push away from parents and toward friends, it can actually be a really good sign.

God designed for your tween or teen to move toward peers while they are still in your home so that they can learn important social skills like conversation, interdependence, and empathy. Imagine if your son or daughter only stayed in your home and never interacted with peers. That’s a frightening prospect for their adult life!

Adolescents need to practice these new skills and then come home to a safe and stable environment where their brains can “rest” from the (often dramatic) ebbs and flows of teenage friendship. And similar to flabby muscles that need to be worked out for optimum performance, your tween or teen’s social “muscles” need to exercise in the world of their peers.

In other words, don’t take this personally, parents! This is both a physical reality (the social brain is “propelling” adolescents toward one another) and a heart desire (the need for acceptance is common to us all). You can be an ally for your tween or teen by facilitating healthy friendships.

Of course, I’m not saying we should release tweens and teens to limitless peer interaction. Yikes! Scary thought.

Instead, we can remember and put into practice the following truths about friendship during the teen years:

  1. Teen brains learn best by example. If you want your son or daughter to develop healthy relationships, show them how to do it. Love your own friends well. Treat strangers with compassion. Listen patiently and attentively when someone wants to share a story or opinion (even if you don’t agree). You may not think your adolescent is watching, but studies show otherwise. Your tween or teen’s brain is busy—constantly busy—interpreting what’s going on in and around him or her. If you’re “too busy” to be with friends but are perennially on your phone or computer, don’t be surprised if your son or daughter enacts the same pattern. Your example certainly isn’t the whole story, but it does play a significant role. Don’t let your input be an empty set or worse, a negative one.
  1. Surround your teens and their friends with “surrogate prefrontal cortexes.” The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is sometimes called the brain’s CEO. It’s the portion of the brain that coordinates executive-level functions like forethought, judgment, planning, and impulse control. Kinda reads like a laundry list of what teens struggle with, doesn’t it? That’s because the PFC is the “final frontier” of brain remodeling. Because your adolescent’s PFC won’t fully develop until approximately twenty-five years of age and his or her friends’ brains won’t develop until the same time, they benefit from having more mature brains around them. This can’t always be you, so it’s essential to engage “surrogate prefrontal cortexes” in your tween or teen’s life. Coaches, church group leaders, mentors, and teachers are great options. Invest in knowing these people. Facilitate times for them to be with your teen(s). We recently paid for one of our teenage daughters to get coffee with a family friend who offered to talk with her about some concerns she was having. Via text, a youth group volunteer also helped one of our adolescent girls process some friendship drama. Knowing that your adolescent and his/her friends have more mature brains around can give you greater confidence and peace.
  1. Influence whenever possible. Making blanket statements about your tween or teen’s friends usually gets you nowhere and them angry. Don’t make rash judgments about your adolescent’s friends. Instead, ask questions to determine what your son or daughter likes about the people he or she is with. If you can’t get an answer, observe carefully. Yes, this takes time. Yes, it requires some work. Yes, it’s worth every bit of effort. You lose the opportunity to influence when you dismiss your tween or teen’s friends out of hand. You also miss the chance to influence when you just want teens “out of your hair.” If you see your adolescent’s friendship needs as one prolonged hassle, you’re headed in the wrong direction. You have a tremendous potential to influence your teen’s life of friendship. Don’t miss the opportunities!
  1. People first, devices second. This fantastic phrase came from my friend, Arlene. It’s a great way to remind your teen that people always come before electronics. If your son or daughter is having a friend over, consider setting limits on their tech time. It’s amazing what happens when teens don’t have the option to default to screens. They actually talk; they may even Imagine that?! This is also helpful when you’re visiting family, especially older relatives who may not be as initially “exciting” to talk to; if you already have the “people first, devices second” principle in place, you won’t be in a constant battle with your teen. He or she will know that when people are around, relationship is the #1 priority.

Finally,

  1. Don’t be afraid of getting some professional help! Today’s world can feel like a scary place to teenagers. Faced with near-constant media bombardment about issues many adolescents don’t understand (world terror, elections, economic pressures, immigration, sexual and gender tensions, just to name a few), modern teens are finding it more difficult to interact in safe ways with one another. Some adolescents would rather just stay home with their video games and phones; this feels safer. Others are battling mental health issues and isolating themselves is an outgrowth of this struggle. The habits your tween or teen learns by withdrawing from relationships can ultimately be detrimental. If you find that your teen is struggling with friendship, don’t assume “this will pass” or “it’s just a phase.” Go see your pastor and/or consider talking to a counselor to get equipped. Perhaps taking your son or daughter to a counselor is in order. All too often, parents don’t reach out for help because they just want the issues to go away. If you find yourself in this situation, we understand how hard it is! We’ve been there. When you get help, however, you help for more than just right now; you’re setting your adolescent up for relationship success long-term.

There are several chapters in our book, Your Teenager is Not Crazy, that deal with peer dynamics and influence (including peer pressure), why and how teen friendships form and last, and how you can be part of the grand adventure. We just can’t fit it all into a little blog!

For lots more on the teenage brain, how understanding it can make you a better parents, and ways faith impacts it all, check out the resources available at www.jandjclark.com.

Your Teenager is Not Crazy: Understanding Your Teen’s Brain Can Make You a Better Parent is available online and at local retailers from Baker Books.

7-20-16 JeramyClark

Dr. Jeramy Clark received his Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Talbot Theological Seminary.  He served as a youth pastor for 17 years before becoming the Pastor of Discipleship at Emmanuel Faith Community Church.  His role includes overseeing Men’s and Women’s Ministries, Care and Counseling, and Small Groups.  Jeramy roasts, brews, and savors coffee of all varieties, plays pickup basketball, is a drummer, and enjoys surfing.

7-20-16 JerushaClarkJerusha Clark co-authored four books with Jeramy, including three bestsellers, prior to launching her own writing and speaking ministry, focused on helping others glorify and enjoy God, one thought at a time.  On quiet days, you can find Jerusha body-boarding, reading, or singing around a bonfire at the beach, her absolute favorite place.  Jeramy and Jerusha have two amazing teenage daughters and love ministering together at churches, retreats, schools, and conferences.

Unshakable Loyalty, Do Your Kids Experience This From You?

The Green Bay Packers lost yesterday in their championship game with the Atlanta Falcons. As a result, the Falcons will compete against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Packers and their fans will stay home.

If you know me, follow me on Facebook, or have heard me speak especially during football season, you probably know I’m a fan. I grew up in Wisconsin and lived in Green Bay for seven years before moving to Fort Worth in 1991 to begin my ministry, Celebrate Kids, Inc.

I’m still a fan. My loyalty is settled and not dependent upon their win/loss record. Using this as an opportunity to reflect on family dynamics, I hope you’re a fan of your kids and that your loyalty doesn’t depend upon how often they win or lose.

The Packers aren’t losers just because they lost a game. They’re still winners in my book. After all, they made it to their conference playoff game! Now, looking from sports and toward your children, how do you view your kids? Are they losers because they lost (failed a test, lost at sports, behaved badly, etc.)? Or do you think of them as always beloved, and usually victorious with an occasional bad day?

I didn’t take the Packers’ loss personally. I didn’t get angry. I didn’t yell at the TV. I didn’t post anything on social media sites that would make friends who are Falcons’ fans mad. In fact, within minutes of the Falcons victory, I texted my niece’s husband and some friends who are huge Falcons fans. Congratulating them was right.

And I posted on Facebook that I’m still a Packers’ fan. I am. Do your kids know if you’re still their fan? It is never the wrong time to cheer them on!

Dream. Dream BIG. Dream Large. Dream Gigantic!

Change. It’s a word and a concept that results in many strong reactions.

There’s not a person alive who doesn’t have something they could change in order to have a better life.

More productivity. More peace. More joy. More friendships. More hope.

Less fear. Less trouble. Less trauma. Less loneliness. Less despair.

Change will more likely work out well when all five core needs are met in healthy ways. This gives us a lot to count on during the sometimes shaky transitional times surrounding change.

How do we get started? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and legacy we celebrate in America today, believed a dream was essential. He was right.

You’re Not Alone: The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt (Guest Post by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory)

How often do you wonder if you could have handled a situation with a child better than you did? Notice, I didn’t ask if you do, I asked how often you do. That’s because if you’re a parent who cares, you have wondered. If we’re not careful, mom guilt or dad guilt can occur and paralyze us as we’re overcome with regrets. It’s just one of the many things that causes parents to be overwhelmed.

Because being overwhelmed is never good and can lead to other negative issues, I was glad to pre-read the new book, Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity, written by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. You’ll benefit from the book as they share about many things that can cause us to be overwhelmed and, more importantly, what to do about them.

Please read their guest blog. At the end, you’ll want to get the free gift they offer you and follow through to possibly win a free book. (The chapter related to the free gift is worth the price of the book.) – Dr. Kathy

You’re Not Alone: The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt

“What would you do differently as a mom, Cheri?”

I hesitate, look around the table at the five women gathered for a mom’s night out, and realize I’m among friends.

“Pretty much everything!” I say, only half in jest.

“There are three general types of feedback people can give each other: (1) Affirmation (2) Coaching, and (3) Evaluation.”

Everyone nods; they’ve each read Thanks for the Feedback, too.

I continue. “What I wish I’d done was spent their first ten years giving them very intentional coaching in all key areas of life. Then, by the time they were teens, the foundation would have been well-laid, and I could have focused more on affirmation. Unfortunately, I fell for the self-esteem movement of the 90’s.”

All five women roll their eyes in sympathetic understanding.

“I did it the wrong way around: I affirmed my kids’ every waking moment but failed to coach and, as necessary, correct. As a result, they’re 24 and 26 and still trying to figure out how to launch independent lives.”

As our conversation continues, each mom shares her own regrets.

By dessert time, our list is long indeed.

The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt

I’ve seen plenty of social media memes urging us to “Live with no regrets.”

But I have yet to meet a regret-free mom.

Most conversations I have with mothers, of any age or stage, quickly turn to how overwhelmed they are by Mom Guilt.

A few years ago, I posted this question to my Facebook page:

“I’m working on a project and need some examples of negative self-talk that parents use against themselves. (i.e. “They deserve a better mom than me…”) Give me your best imitation(s) of those inner critic, mom/dad guilt voices!”

In less than an hour, almost one hundred women (no men) had left comments like these:

  • “If I was a better Mom, I wouldn’t have such a hard time breastfeeding – or I’d produce more milk.” Or “This baby deserves a better mom – one that isn’t feeling weepy or crabby every day.”
  • “What will people think if my child keeps _______________?” (Fill in blank with crying, sucking his thumb, whining, talking in church, carrying her blankie, refusing green vegetables, etc., etc.)?
  • “At this rate we’ll be Jerry Springer Show regulars by 2015.”
  • “If I were a good mom, my child would… take school work more seriously, be better organized, have more friends, play outside more, not be failing his class, not be working on his project at 10:00 the night before it’s due.”
  • “Whatever I do it will never be enough.”
  • “They would choose (another mom’s name) over me for a mom if they had a choice.”

My Most Overwhelming Regret

I resonate with every single concern voiced above.

But my most overwhelming regret is that I didn’t take care of my own emotional and spiritual health when my children were little.

I met my husband when I was 18, just six months after being discharged from the eating disorder unit of a neuropsychiatric hospital. We married young (21) and had children right away.

I knew that the eating disorder I’d struggled with for five years wasn’t fully resolved. But I did what so many women do: I believed I could put my own needs high on a shelf for the next twenty years, raise my children, and then pick back up where I’d left myself off.

Of course, it didn’t work that way.

My kids grew up with a mom who was barely surviving. Oh, how I wish they’d had a mom who was intentionally thriving!

Giving Our Guilt to God

Over the holidays, my 26-year-old daughter, Annemarie, and I sat at the kitchen table, drinking tea and chatting about how God is working in our lives.

As I shared some of the self-care and boundary-setting decisions I’d recently made, Annemarie responded, “I’m so proud of the choices you’re making, Mom! This is such incredible growth for you.”

“I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to deal with my issues,” I said, deflecting her praise with guilt. “I wish I’d made these kinds of choices twenty years ago.”

Annemarie reached across the kitchen table, put a hand on mine, and her next words took my breath away:

“Mom, you need to know that the 6-year-old in me is watching you, too.”

For so many years, I thought it was too late. The damage was done. It was too late for me to change, to become a better mom, to be the kind of mom my kids needed and deserved.

But my daughter’s words told a different story. They reminded me that God really can
“restore … the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25, KJV).

Today, if you’re a parent who feels overwhelmed by regret, here are four truths you need to know:

1)  You’re not alone.

2)  It’s never too late.

3)  You can change.

4)  Even the smallest change you make makes a difference that matters.

————————

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions (that will only last for a week), how about creating a Personal manifesto that will carry you through the rest of your life?  Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.

Giveaway

Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of our readers!

To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:

#1. LEAVE A COMMENT below.

#2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Friday night so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

About Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

Bios

Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.

Names Can Be A Positive Source Of Identity

Our names are important to us. They can be a strong positive source of identity. This is certainly true for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. When we know His names, we know a lot about Him.

The identity link to our names is among the reasons I wish more parents would be as thoughtful and purposeful when naming their children as some of my friends have been.

Especially when children know their name’s heritage, dreams parents had for them are reinforced when they hear their name. If your children’s names are significant, make sure they know the reasons. Tell them the relevant stories.

For my first example, let me share a short paragraph from pages 131-132 in the book Jill Savage and I wrote, No More Perfect Kids. I love the reason Jay and his wife named their son Jamison.

Kids’ names are important because they’re the first labels they’re given. If your kids don’t know why you chose the names you did for them, share your reasons, especially if you named them for a reason or because the name held significance. Kathy’s friend Jay and his wife named their son Jamison. Jamison was present as Jay told Kathy about his name’s origin and how much he had prayed for a son. Although it’s pronounced with a short i sound, his name means “Jay my son.” Although Jamison already knew the story, you should have seen his face while his dad explained it to Kathy. The connection between the father and son was beautiful and obvious.

And, how about the decision my friends, Michael and Meredith made? They’re expecting their second daughter and have named her Moriah Renee. They explain their choice this way: Abraham offered his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, where God provided a ram in the thicket as a substitute and it is near where He would ultimately provide His own Son as the perfect sacrifice to be the Savior of the world. The name means “God is my teacher.” Renee means “reborn.”

And now let me share about Zion Daniel, the son of David and Lindsay Eaton. They’re pictured above. In David’s words:

Let’s start with Daniel. Daniel means “God is my judge” and in ancient times he was quite a man of God. He was full of wisdom, courage, conviction, vision, and faithfulness. He was a shrewd leader and a servant of the people.

The name Daniel also means a lot to Lindsey and I because some of the most important men in our lives have that name! We knew that we HAD to name our first son Daniel just to honor them.

– Daniel Gee … Lindsey’s loving father.

– Conan Daniel Gee … Lindsey’s steadfast brother.

– Daniel Eaton … my annoying brother 😉 … that I deeply respect and admire.

– Jeremiah Daniel Callihan … the other cofounder at Axis who is a dear friend.

– Daniel VanValkenburg … an incredible friend from college and lifelong friend.

… and of course there are a host of other amazing Daniels in our life as well …

And the name Zion. It is a name with many meanings. Some think it means “bald dry place” as in the top of a mountain, but we prefer the meaning “monumental” or “fortress” that other scholars ascribe to the name. It is actually not a Hebrew word … but rather predates Israel. However in the Bible it is a very important geographical place and a concept. It represents Jerusalem, the City of David, and is the place of worship and redemption for Israel. It also embodies the future hope of followers of Jesus, of a restored world and the eventual city of God where God dwells with humanity.

One final thing that we particularly like. Any ancient temple like the temple on Zion or the temple location at Shiloh, our daughter’s name, was considered a dwelling place for God. It was a place where the veil between heaven met earth was thin. We like the idea of our children representing an overlap or intersection between heaven and earth.

I believe Zion Daniel, Moriah Renee, and Jamison are blessed to have thoughtful parents and rich stories and meanings assigned to their names. I’d love to know about your name or names you’ve given your children. Please comment below. Let’s encourage each other.

Some Random Thoughts to Enlighten and Brighten 2017

Enjoy some random thoughts about a new year.

Have you thought of some things you want to change? Maybe some things to leave behind in 2016 and not take with you into this year? Great. Remember, you can make these decisions daily. We don’t need to wait for the year to change for us to change.

~~~~~

I teach that “wishing it so won’t make it so.” If you want to change, it will take effort, diligence, perseverance, humility, … good old-fashioned work. Listen to your language. Are you telling people that you “wish you’d lose 20 pounds” or you “wish you’d be more compassionate when your kids struggle to learn”? It will take more than a wish. Let’s make work fashionable.

~~~~~

Remember, it’s really hard (if not impossible) to start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the current one. Have you learned from the past what you needed to? Stop reading yesterday’s news and start writing the next chapter.

~~~~~

We’re each one decision away from something. What decision do you want to make? Anne Frank said, How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

~~~~~

We need to make sure any changes we desire for ourselves and children are appropriate and realistic. If they’re not, discouragement comes easily. I sometimes use the example of my height. I’m 6’1”. I’m not ever going to be short even if I pray a lot about it. Make sure your goals for 2017 fit. Do the same for your children. In the words of a young child, recorded in the book Really Important Stuff My Kids Have Taught Me, “If the tree had apples last year, don’t expect pears this year.”

Change is possible, but expectations must be real or disappointment and despair can set in. We can pray about and hope for juicier apples. Redder apples. Bigger apples. More apples. Tastier apples. Fewer worm-filled apples. But, not pears from an apple tree. If you want pears, plant a pear tree.

~~~~~

Daily, weekly, and monthly, let’s make 2017 great. That reminds me – instead of telling the next person you talk with to “have a great day” encourage him or her to “make it a great day.”

~~~~~

Do you have any enlightening and/or brightening random thoughts to add? Please leave a comment! Would love to hear what you have to share.

Choose the “Best”, Choose to Initiate

Initiative.

If you’d like something different to think about this week and next, choose initiative.

Especially if you’ll be with others, and you want to be a blessing, choose initiative. Talk with your children so they’ll do the same.

Initiative is recognizing and doing what needs to be done before being asked. Initiative is action. It’s helpful. Purposeful. Directed. About others. Tasks to bless people.

Initiative is “just do it” now.

Choose to see what you can do for the people you’re with. Have ears to hear. Help your children see and hear in these ways, too. Talk about this idea. Model the behavior. Reward it with “Thanks!”

Picture your family at your mom’s for dinner. She’s cooking when you and your children arrive and the table isn’t set. There are maybe four possibilities for your children.

  • They don’t notice the need and do their own thing. This is not good.
  • They pay some attention to their grandmother and ask, “Do you need any help?” This is good.
  • They ask, “May I set the table for you?” This is better.
  • They know where the dishes are and set the table knowing it needs to be done. This is best. This is initiative.

You arrive home with a car full of groceries.

  • Adults and children who are home pretend to not notice they could help. This is not good.
  • Someone yells from another room, “Do you need any help?” This is good.
  • Someone asks, “May I help you bring the bags in from the car?” This is better.
  • Someone stops what he or she is doing, meets you in the garage, and carries as much as possible into the house. This is best. This is initiative.

Using initiative honors others. It’s efficient. It decreases arguments. (Imagine not having to declare, “I could use some help in here!!” ever again!) Initiative can increase peace and joy.

Initiative feels good. A few minutes ago, while I was working on this post, my brother needed to locate the serial number on the back of his TV cable box. He moved it with one hand and had his phone in his other hand talking with the tech person helping him. There wasn’t much light in the area and I knew the numbers would be small. So, without being asked, I stopped writing, put down my laptop, and stood up and walked toward him as I turned on my phone’s flashlight. I positioned the light so Dave could see the numbers. He was able to read them for the person on the phone. He was grateful. So was I.

I’m not special. You can do this, too. So can your kids. It feels good. It is good. It is initiative.

Welcome Focus On The Family Radio Listeners!

Welcome! If you’re here for the first time because you listened to 8 Great Smarts on Focus on the Family Radio, we’re glad you’re here!

You are your children’s first and most important teacher. The ways you love them, mentor them, and teach them matter! Celebrate Kids is here to offer you ideas, practical skills, new ways to see your children as well as encouragement for the tough times.

Teachers face many challenges in their work. When they attend one of our workshops, they gain different concepts to add to their understanding of their students and can plan innovative and effective ways to meet the needs of all their students. Educators are heroes in our eyes!

Church-based teachers, leaders, and volunteers are equipped to love, lead, and teach well during these days when culture is teaching our children and us if we’re not careful, that Truth is what ‘I’ want it to be, and you can have your own Truth. Teaching God’s Truth is just as important as it’s always been.

Our seminars, whether in a church, school, camp or another setting, promote these truths, so children and adults become convinced they apply to themselves:

  • I can be smart with my smarts.
  • I am created on purpose with purpose.
  • I am who I am supposed to be.
  • I am a human being, not a human doing.
  • I am a unique, one-of-a-kind, created-in-the-image-of-God miracle.
  • I will control my technology. It will not control me.

Radio is an efficient way to influence people, and we’re grateful to Focus on the Family for the opportunity to be a guest on their show. Speaking at events sponsored by Christian schools, public schools, homeschool groups, churches, camps, corporations, and conventions are the most common way we meet people’s needs. Providing hope and direction is a privilege! You can learn more here.

We also support you in these ways:

  • This blog. Check out a list of recent and popular posts in the right sidebar. Clicking on “multiple intelligences” at the top will direct you to the posts about our smarts. You can subscribe near the bottom of the sidebar, so you don’t miss any posts.
  • Our twice-a-month email newsletter will keep you inspired and equipped to celebrate your kids well. Subscribe here.  There’s no risk. We won’t use your email address for any other reason, and it’s easy to unsubscribe. We hope you won’t, but we’ll understand if you do.
  • Kathyism videos are posted to our Facebook page and on Vimeo.com. Two-five minutes in length, they’re produced for you to watch alone or with your kids. Fun and influential!
  • You can also connect with us on other social media sites for an open exchange of experiences and ideas.  Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
  • Our website includes information on my main topics. For instance, you can read about multiple intelligences here. My speaking schedule is posted there, and you can get to our shopping cart to see what books, CDs, DVDs, and other materials may meet your needs.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope that you’ll continue to follow us and take advantage of all our resources so you’ll find solutions for today and hope for tomorrow. It’s why we do what we do!

During the scheduled airdates, the streaming audio of this broadcast will appear on the Focus On The Family Radio broadcast page along with a brief description. Click here to find a station in your area. After the airdate, the program will be posted here for 31 days.

In addition, a downloadable podcast will be available on iTunes (just search for Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast). Thank you for listening!

Christmas + Children = Play Time! Here’s How The 8 Great Smarts Can Facilitiate The Joy

Christmas and children – they just go together, don’t they? Perhaps you’re looking forward to spending time with children and teens later this month. Maybe you’re still shopping for their gifts. You’re not alone. Stores are still full. Website traffic is high.

Games and toys are some of the best ways to awaken and even strengthen their eight great smarts. Here’s a short list of suggestions taken from the end of each chapter of 8 Great Smarts.

Shop strategically. If you don’t know how the children are smart just pick one or two that sound interesting. If you do know, think about whether they’d enjoy a game for a smart they’re already developing or whether to buy one to better awaken one they haven’t used as much. Or, buy both!

Word Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Scattergories: If you can quickly come up with a list of, say, things at the park, in a drawer, and that you wear that start with the letter t that no one else thinks of, you can win this game.

Play Apples to Apples: One player draws a card. Each player selects a word card from their hand that they think is most relevant to the word on that card. If the judge picks your card, you win that round. Unlikely connections among words make for lots of laughter!

Logic Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Blokus: Players take turns placing pieces of their chosen color on the board. It’s tricky because each new piece must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners. You win if you place more pieces than anyone else.

Play Clue: Crack the murder that took place in the mansion by asking the right questions to win this classic game. Junior version available.

Picture Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Telestrations: Picture the “Telephone Game” using drawings instead of whispering something into your neighbor’s ear. Lots of laughter.

Play Pictionary: Make quick sketches that others will hopefully guess correctly. Junior version available

Music Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Cranium: Answer trivia questions, create art, hum, act out clues, and use your vocabulary skills to win. Relevant to many smarts.

Play Encore: Draw a card with a word on it and sing at least six words of a song with that word in it. Judges memory, not musical ability.

Body Smart – Let’s Play!

Play tag (or any outdoor game).

Play Twister: Give the spinner a whirl and follow the directions. Just try to keep from falling over!

Nature Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Qwirkle: Match colors and shapes and use wise maneuvers and a strategy to win.

Play Rock On Geology Game: Rock and mineral collection includes fifteen specimens and fifty-plus polished rocks and minerals; five levels of play.

People Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Headbanz: Everyone but you knows what role you’ve been assigned. Ask questions to try to figure it out before you run out of time. You could be a mouse, dirty sock, or cash register.

Play Guesstures: You only have a few seconds to use classic charades techniques to get your team to guess the word on your assigned card.

Self Smart – Let’s Play!

Do quiet things together that your child chooses, such as completing a puzzle, coloring, building with Legos, playing with dolls, or playing a car game like “Who Am I?”

Shop, shop, shop! Play, play, play!

Making Christmas Memories a Priority

Making memories might be one of the most important things to do during this month.

When we concentrate on making memories rather than just “doing things” chances are that our experiences will be richer and go deeper. We’ll pay attention to the people we’re with rather than just the tasks at hand. Therefore, stronger emotional ties will be established. Other adults and children will be blessed as we interact with them intentionally.

Think about all the things you have scheduled and other tasks to accomplish. What if you think about them in the context of memory making? You might’ve already done some of things I list at the end of this post, but maybe you can now have rich conversations to still broaden the potential for positive memories that last.

What would it take for these activities and things on your to-do list to become memories that are thought of fondly next year? If you think back to past Christmases, what do you remember? Why do you remember those things and those people? Your answer to these questions may help you do things differently to create richer memories for your family this season.

Did humor make your list? I suspect it did because it’s often during times of joy and laughter that bonds are deepened. Look for opportunities to really enjoy each other this month.

Did you think of something that involved a surprise? That’s often the case for me as I reflect on strong memories of my childhood and even adult years. For your family this month, add something surprising that you’ve never done before. Or you could add a twist to something you have typically done. This will make it more memorable.

I was reminded this past weekend that some of the best memories are those about small and seemingly insignificant things. Seeing my sister-in-law putting newly-baked Christmas cookies into a tin that belonged to her mom and has been used for maybe 40 years or more. Hearing a song on the radio and remembering who I was with when I heard it performed at a concert last December. Wrapping paper that my mom would’ve loved. A recipe that was hers that her grandchildren still love. Dessert plates hand-painted by my grandma when she was about 18 that we still use at my brother’s home.

It’s the conversation surrounding these things that make the memories – and, therefore, the people involved – come alive. Let’s purpose to talk a lot about meaningful things as we’re out-and-about and in our own homes. Let’s get pods out of ears and eyes off of devices and talk. It can be done! Expect it. Have high expectations. Listen and talk. Talk and listen.

No one in our family would know about the Christmas cookie tins if Debbie wouldn’t tell us. My nieces and nephew wouldn’t know their great-grandmother painted the dishes their cake is on if we didn’t tell them. They wouldn’t know that the food they enjoy was first served by their grandmother to her father on Christmas Eve many, many years ago if my brother and I didn’t tell them.

Make memories, not just cookies. Make memories, not just a clean house, make memories, not just purchases. You get the idea.

How might concentrating on making memories influence the way you do tasks like these?

Choosing a tree. Decorating a tree. Shopping for a present for your child’s teacher. Choosing presents for friends and loved ones. Wrapping presents. Planning menus for times when family and friends will come over for dinner. Choosing outfits to wear here and there. Watching favorite Christmas movies together. Choosing recipes to make for different events. Making them together in the kitchen. Practicing the piano for an upcoming recital or to play for a visiting relative. Making cookies together. Eating some with hot chocolate in candlelight. Driving to see Christmas lights and decorations. Visiting shut-ins. Surprising neighbors with flowers, Christmas cookies, or something you know they would appreciate. Singing Christmas carols. Cleaning the house so it’s more ready for relatives to arrive. Attending church. Having meaningful conversations in the car on the way home. Practicing for and then attending church or school Christmas programs.