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Give me that Old Time Religion

In Abstinence, Birth Rate, Child Abuse, Child Development, Choice, Cohabitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Families, father, Freedom, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Pornography, Religion, Religious Freedom, Sanctity of Life, Sexual Freedom, Single Mothers, Values on May 19, 2016 at 5:32 am
Sturbuck Community Church. Address: 113 Front St. Starbuck, Washington 99359. Taken by Steven Pavlov.

by Mekelle Tenney

The other day my mom and I came across an old applique pattern from 1905. The pattern was for dish clothes and there was a girl performing a different chore for each day of the week. One day was washing, one was ironing, another dusting and so on. What caught my attention was Sunday. There was no house work for Sunday the pattern simply showed a girl going to church. The book shared a little bit of background on each pattern and on this particular one it said that this was the typical household schedule. I couldn’t help but think how things have changed. A product that suggested the average household went to church on Sunday would cause great problems today. Social media would explode with angry posts and tweets from people who were hurt, offended, and emotionally injured by such an insensitive product. We would see hundreds of blogs written about it and eventually several lawsuits.

In the past several decades our society has turned hostile towards religion. Special interest groups see it as a threat to what they believe is progress. More and more religious liberties are taking a back seat to the bigoted agenda of small minority groups. There was a time when society believed in marriages that last, spouses who were faithful, men who didn’t feed their selfish desires with degenerate pornography, and women who wanted to be mothers. We understood that children need a father and a mother and that gender is biological and nonnegotiable. We knew that there is right and there is wrong and they are nonnegotiable as well. Many will argue that we are fine without religion. The truth is society benefits from religion, society needs religion. The following information comes from a report published by the Heritage foundation. It offers strong support for the benefits of and need for religion.

  • Numerous sociological studies have shown that valuing Religion and regularly practicing it are associated with greater marital stability, higher levels of marital satisfaction, and an increased likelihood that an individual will be inclined to marry.
  • Couples who acknowledge a divine purpose in their marriage are more likely to collaborate, to have greater marital adjustment, and to perceive more benefits from marriage and are less likely to use aggression or to come to a stalemate in their disagreements.
  • Earlier research found that couples whose marriages lasted 30 years or more reported older married couplethat their faith helped them to deal with difficult times, was a source of moral guidance in making decisions and dealing with conflict, and encouraged them to maintain their commitment to their marriages.
  • Religious attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability.
  • During the 1980s and 1990s, when religious practice decreased overall,the association between regular religious attendance and marital stability became even more apparent. Those who had ceased religious practice divorced 2.5 times more frequently than those who continued to attend religious services
  • Compared with mothers who did not consider Religion important, those who deemed Religion to be very important rated their relationship with their child significantly higher.
  • Greater religious practice of fathers is associated with better relationships with their
    Little Girl Helping Father with His Tie ca. 2003

    Little Girl Helping Father with His Tie ca. 2003

    children, higher expectations for good relationships in the future, a greater investment in their relationships with their children, a greater sense of obligation to stay in regular contact with their children, and a greater likelihood of supporting their children and grandchildren.

  • For example, men who attended religious services at least weekly were more than 50 percent less likely to commit an act of violence against their partners than were peers who attended only once a year or less.
  • Compared with those who viewed themselves as being “very religious,” those who were “not at all religious” were far more likely to bear a child out of wedlock (among whites, three times as likely; among Hispanics, 2.5 times as likely; and among blacks, twice as likely).
  • Individuals with higher levels of religious involvement have lower rates of abuse and addiction and are more likely to find long-lasting success if they ever struggled with any of these behaviors.

These are just a few of the many findings listed in the report. What is scary about our world today is that many will argue that these are not benefits, they are an outdated way of life. And that stability in marriages, families, and individual behavior does not matter. We are stuck in a grey zone where everything goes, good and bad are objective, and society is shaped by selfish individual desires. We need religion to get us out of the grey and back to right and wrong, good and bad. The decisions that our society is making right now will only harm families and individuals. Maybe it’s time we gave that “old time religion” a try.

Tolerance is Eradicating the Sexes

In Child Development, Choice, Courts, Democracy, Education, Families, father, Feminism, Free Speech, Freedom, Gay rights, Gender, Gender Identity, Government, Health Care, Homosexuality, Human Rights, Non-Discrimination, Parental Rights, Planned Parenthood, Schools, Sexual Orientation, Transgender, Values, Women's Rights on May 16, 2016 at 7:09 am

transgender 4by Erin Weist

Just like most weeks, I read a lot of news articles this past week.  And, to be blunt, many of them were frankly frightening.  Most of these articles were surrounding transgender issues.  Gender identity, while still a fledgling area with insufficient basis of scientific knowledge, has become a political battering ram.  Target started by indicating they will allow bathroom use in their stores based on gender identity.  North Carolina is gripped in battle with the Department of Justice over a recently passed law likewise regarding gender identity and bathroom use.  The week of gender identity bathroom issues culminated with the US Department of Education and Department of Justice issuing a “directive” that all US schools allow kids to use bathrooms, locker rooms, etc. based on their gender identity.  

 

Part of the problem I see with all of these issues is that none of them describe gender identity.  There is no scientific, or even logical, agreed-upon definition of describing gender identity.  Furthermore, these definitions are not required to be backed by medical scrutiny or diagnosis, simply by self-identification.  By this logic, a boy who is born male simply needs to say “I identify as female” to receive unrestricted access to girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms, or schools risk losing funding and open themselves to lawsuits.

 

This group of families sued their school district over a similar issue, a transgender policy instituted without discussion or agreement by families whose children attend the high school.  This particular policy was instituted because of one individual who, although the school made every effort to bend over backward to make accommodations, was distressed that it appeared “the school didn’t accept [her] as a female.”  And here is the crux of the problem.  We’ve created societies of such extreme tolerance and equality that we’ve essentially destroyed individualism.  A mentality that says, “you must embrace my lifestyle or I will feel bad and that makes you the bad guy” is more than a dangerous slippery slope.  It is insanity.

 

For example, I don’t agree with nudists.  They believe in a certain lifestyle, but they are also subject to laws, just like everyone else, including ones regarding human decency.  I would take issues with a nudist suing for tolerance and equality for their lifestyle the same as I would with anyone going against laws of human decency.  A boy with unrestricted access to a girls’ locker room is insanity and indecent, not tolerance.  And it seems clear that other factors are at play here, factors that cut at the root of a sane society, like one that understands the clear delineations between male & female.  I have read several articles like this one declaring alternate agendas for the “tolerance” movement, views that make it clear that we haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg.  How long before it forces its way into my home?

 

You think that you’re protected because we have rights in our homes?  Think again.  This case in Canada proves otherwise: a man dictated to by the courts on how he is allowed to raise his child, because it was deemed that someone else knew better.  A judge who believes that tolerance and acceptance are more important than truth and parental guidance.  A court who dictates a father must call his daughter “he” and allow her use of damaging hormone blockers.  Now the court will be able to decide whether his daughter will receive unbiased counselling to address underlying causes of gender dysphoria or whether she will continue to be groomed by transgender activists and transgender therapists.  These court-ordered decisions made their way into this dad’s life, how long before they make their way into yours?  One of the most recent politically powerful groups, Planned Parenthood (seriously, why are they still calling themselves that?) is jumping on the bandwagon as well.  They have shown their imperviousness to indictment and their skill at negotiating laws in their favor.  What will the next step be?
Now is not the time to be silent or complacent.  Now is the time to stand up for the life-affirming truths of biological sex and the natural, god-given role of mother & father.  Now is the time to stand up for children who need guidance and who are taught their place in the universe irrespective of how others view them.  Now is the time for truth, not political posturing or enabling of damaging behaviors.  I believe it’s important to still reach out and embrace others and their differences, to love & to teach just as Jesus Christ did, but at some point there will be a sifting.  Where will you be?

Watch Therefore…

In Child Development, Choice, Families, father, Freedom, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, Values on May 9, 2016 at 7:59 am

children praying at homeby Erin Weist

This morning my husband made an interesting observation.  We were busy in the bustle of trying to get ready to leave the house to go to church (someday I’m sure I’ll understand why this is such a Herculean effort that takes an inordinate amount of time!) and reminding our children to stay on task and get ready before they got distracted with other play.  Of course, as children sometimes do, they ignored our encouragement so that when it was time to leave they ran disheveled from their play still needing to find their shoes, ask for help untying their laces, comb their hair, find their jackets, find the socks of the little ones, etc.  Obviously it was time to leave and we couldn’t leave as a family because they had left things undone.  We all stayed together and found our missing items, which, as usual, made us late to church.  

 

Sometimes this happens on other days when a little one is promised a trip to the store with mom or dad, but their preparation is put off; they are too busy playing to find their shoes or jacket or money or whatever it is they need, but in this case they find themselves left behind because they weren’t ready.  My husband wisely observed that this is like our Christian faith, the belief that Christ will return to earth and, as He says in Matthew: “But as the days of (Noah)… so shall also the coming of the Son of man be… they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage… and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matt. 24:37-41)  Basically my husband was saying we needed to remember to not be like our children and be busy doing what God asks instead of waiting until it is too late.

 

It made me think of other things in my life that I am always putting off until later.  I really need to finish this Netflix series, then I’ll work on writing that novel.  Or, I know I need to reach out and get to know this neighbor but there’s never a good time, I’ll try this weekend.  Or how about I know there are refugees needing assistance but I’m too busy right now, I’ll look into it next month.Parenting, help with school  And one I’m sure we’ve all done, Saving for retirement is super important, we’re putting a little away, we’ll take care of that when things settle down for us financially.  What I realized when I looked at our kids playing the morning away instead of being prepared is that later, or next week or next month never seem to come, they just get pushed out exponentially.  Later, next week, next month or next year turn into nothing more than excuses to delay what we KNOW we should be doing.  And ultimately, in one way or another, a reckoning comes, when it’s go-time and we’re not ready.  So what things are you delaying that could ultimately be too late?  Preparing for a rainy day?  You could lose your job next week, what would you do?  Mending a relationship?  Providing restitution for someone you’ve wronged?  Just telling someone ‘I love you’ because you know you need to say it?  
Everyone has something they delay, I have a laundry list of them, but watching my kids is teaching me to work first and be prepared.  (They’re also teaching me to play more because they get so much more joy out of life just by being and moving and experiencing, but that’s a post for another day.)  I don’t want to put something important off only to find I’ve wasted time with things I thought made me happy when what will really make me happy is to be ready: to mend that relationship, to say ‘I love you,’ to save for a rainy day, to help my community.  Even though I instinctively fight against it, WORKING actually makes me happy, it’s a universal principle.  And thank goodness it’s not too late… right???

Should the Government Conduct Psychological Research on School Children?

In Child Development, Choice, Democracy, Diane Robertson, Education, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Government, Health Care, Human Rights, Parental Rights, Parenting, Research, Schools, Senate, Values on May 4, 2016 at 7:48 am

uncle samby Diane Robertson

 

Parents if you haven’t thought about homeschooling yet, this just might provoke it.

The senate recently passed a bill– S. 227 or SERTA (Strengthening Education Through Research Act)—that will allow the federal government to conduct academic research on the psychological make-up of children in the public schools. Parents, students, and even local school boards are not offered a way to opt out of this program. It will just happen without anyone’s consent.

You may not have known it. I didn’t, but the federal government has already been collecting academic data on public school students through the Education Sciences Reform Act. SERTA takes this a huge step further.

Check out section 132. SETRA will begin research on “social and emotional learning.” SERTA defines this as: “the process through which children . . . acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

SERTA will bring in outside businesses to conduct the research, and to collect and analyze the data. Section 174 actually calls these businesses “regional educational laboratories”. Yes, laboratories will be established throughout the nation to conduct psychological research on public school children.

SERTA will make the data available publically. You won’t have a say about whether or not the government can use your children as research subjects, but you and everyone else will get to see and use the data from the findings. In fact, SERTA makes it clear that “policymakers” will be able to make use of the data.

I’ve often thought that public schools are becoming indoctrination camps. If the senate has its way, public schools will become laboratories as well.

It’s possible doubling government schools as psychological laboratories is meant to assist the government in more thoroughly indoctrinating children. One can only speculate.

One may also wonder if those in the Senate voting for SERTA have children and grandchildren because what parent in their right mind would want the government to conduct research on their children’s psychological and emotional reactions? Maybe all senators’ children are all safe in private schools, and they just don’t care what other parents and children would think about this.

When I asked my high school children how they feel about it, they had a hard time getting over the shock and then, of course, declared that there is no way they would participate. But SERTA would not give high school students or their parents the opportunity to opt them out.

It’s not too late yet. SERTA is awaiting a vote in the House. Parents can call their Representatives and tell them to vote no, or to keep SERTA from even coming up for a vote. SERTA as written is a disaster for parental rights and an incredible over reach by the federal government. It must be stopped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Privacy and Safety for my daughter? You better believe I care!

In Child Abuse, Democracy, Diane Robertson, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Gay rights, Gender, Homosexuality, Human Rights, Parenting, Pedophilia, Sexual Orientation, Transgender, Values, Women's Rights on April 27, 2016 at 4:00 am

Target boycotby Diane Robertson

When Target decided to allow men into women’s restrooms, favoring the comfort of the LGBT community, something unusual happened. People were upset. And despite being called bigots and hateful and homophobic, they stood their ground. Why? Well, unlike gay marriage, this has hit people in a much more personal way. Who one marries, people think, affects just them. But where one goes to the bathroom in public affects everyone’s privacy and safety.

One man, Andy Park, wanted to find out if men really were allowed in women’s restrooms at Target, so he made a video asking if he could use the women’s restroom. The astonishing video makes it clear that not only can men use the women’s restroom, but that if the women complain, they will be chastised by the manager.

Another man, Izzy Avraham, brought his daughter to Target to ask about the policy. He was not happy to be told that any man could follow his daughter into the bathroom. Target said that the change is to be inclusive. Avraham responded, “Telling me you’re ok with men walking into the bathroom behind my baby girl actually doesn’t make me feel like I belong…Target just told us — and millions of concerned parents — that we’re no longer accepted, respected, and welcome in their stores.”

The American Family Association called for a boycott of Target, and to the surprise of many, the pledge has just under 800,000 signatures as of Tuesday night.

Stories about women being molested at a women’s shelter by a man dressed as a woman, video-taped in gender neutral bathrooms , young girls being exposed to naked men, and girls and women sexually assaulted in bathrooms have been circulating.

The LGBT lobby has been successful at taunting its opposition into silence, but when it comes to protecting women and children, many more people can and are standing up to their taunts.

 

Minimum Wage, Maximum Unemployment?

In Democracy, Education, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Health Care, Schools on April 14, 2016 at 11:09 am

flipping hamburgersby Rebecca Mallory

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Remember that show? They should do a remake: “Who Just Wants to Take Home What They Did Five Years Ago?” There never seems to be enough at the end of the month. If you live in a free capitalist society, you can always be assured that someone will make a lot more than you and someone will make a lot less than you. Many people, especially politicians, feel that this isn’t fair. That everyone should be equal and no one should have more advantage than another. This ludicrous concept has been a hot topic of debate since caveman days. The American constitution ensures that “all men are created equal” NOT “all men are guaranteed equal results.” One way many politicians have distorted and misinterpreted the constitution is by legislating and “redistributing” wealth through minimum wage laws.

Anyone with a heart would first react to this proposal as a great idea. Of course raising someone’s pay is a good idea, right? But with most government-mandated programs, there are oodles of unintended consequences. Most non-economists believe that minimum wage laws protect workers from exploitation by employers and reduce poverty. Most economists, however, believe that minimum wage laws cause unnecessary hardship for the very people they are supposed to help. Who’s right? Let’s take a look.

Contrary to what you may believe, a business’s first priority is to make money; not raise an unskilled worker’s wage. Sorry- that’s the reality. And since most people acquire their salable skills through on-the-job-training, the employer is already taking a risk on you! Low-skilled jobs get low-skilled wages. Period. If you don’t like the wage you’re making, go back to school and acquire more skill. I can almost hear the vitriol and high-pitched screams that “most people in these positions are poor and can’t afford to go back to school and improve their lot in life.” Oh contraire. Take five minutes at the local library to check the internet for free government programs begging people to go back to school at the public’s expense. But… I digress. That’s a topic for another day.

So let’s say we all think it’s a super idea to raise the minimum wage. You be the employer this time. I’ll be Suzie Lowskilledworker looking for employment. You own a hamburger joint and items on the menu range from $1.00-6.50. You offer me $5.25 per hour. I take it and realize 6 months later that I can’t live on that. Low and behold some awesome politician on a white horse swoops in and passes legislation that the minimum wage should be raised to $7.15 per hour. YEAY! I am ecstatic! But you start to panic. Why? Because you don’t care about your poor workers? That has nothing to do with it. It’s pure economics, folks. You’re barely making enough profit to meet payroll, pay rent, insurance, and have a little to support your own family. Solution? You could raise the prices of all your products thereby passing on those costs to your customer. Will your customers come back though? Or, Suzie is your most recent hire. You are forced to let her and two other employees go to make up for anticipated profits lost from this compassionate wage increase. What? I’ve now gone from $5.25 per hour to 0. What happened? Plus the workers who are still on the payroll have to double their efforts and workload to make up for the three fired employees.

Federal governments instituted minimum wage laws to ensure a basic quality of life among all citizens. Governments can use minimum wage laws to force companies to pay all individuals equally, regardless of race, creed, sex or other feature. Awesome goals. No one should be discriminated for any of those! But as mentioned above, the unintended consequences of laws are often devastating. You know who else is ecstatic about your little wage bump? The good old IRS! An increase in wage could raise your income tax liability. The IRS raises your taxes as your income increases. Additionally, high minimum wage laws significantly increase a company labor expense, potentially forcing it to lay off current employees. (see above)

     The reason is simple: although minimum wage laws can set wages, they cannot guarantee jobs. In practice they often price low-skilled workers out of the labor market. Employers typically are not willing to pay a worker more than the value of the additional product that he produces. As Princeton economist David F. Bradford wrote, “The minimum wage law can be described as saying to the potential worker: ‘Unless you can find a job paying at least the minimum wage, you may not accept employment.’”2 “Minimum Wage vs. Supply and Demand,” Wall Street Journal, April 24, 1996.

Several decades of studies have found that minimum wage laws reduce employment. At current U.S. wage levels, estimates of job losses suggest that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage would decrease employment of low-skilled workers by 1 or 2 percent. The job losses for black U.S. teenagers have been found to be even greater, presumably because, on average, they have fewer skills. As liberal economist Paul A. Samuelson wrote in 1973, “What good does it do a black youth to know that an employer must pay him $2.00 per hour if the fact that he must be paid that amount is what keeps him from getting a job?”

Instituting higher minimum wage laws can also reduce the competition faced by union members while leaving the unskilled unemployed. Of course, employers may also respond to minimum wage laws by decreasing overall employment, substituting machines for people, moving production abroad, or shutting down labor-intensive businesses. It bears repeating, a business owner’s first priority is business not your welfare. He’s going to cut corners if he has to. He’ll be innovative and cost-conscious. That may very well nix you from the payroll.

Recently California legislators passed a $15.00 per hour minimum wage law. Yippee, right? Let’s just wait and see what happens to businesses, employees, employers and the general condition of the state. Legislation has literally driven commerce away from this beautiful state to other areas that are far more business-friendly. Keep your ears and eyes open to the repercussions of this “generous” legislation. Hey… if I’m wrong… wouldn’t that be fabulous? I will shout it from the rooftops. Stay tuned. Suzie Lowskilledworker… out.

 

Importance of Rituals

In Child Development, Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Values on April 11, 2016 at 7:50 am

family birthdayby Keely Tanner

Is there a birthday, an anniversary or a meaningful day coming up between you and your significant other? Some of us look forward to these celebrations.  But if the truth were made know, we would realize that there are many who dread them!  Why?  Perhaps because of expectations not realized? Too often time, creativity, or financial restraints make it difficult to meet the expectations of a loved one? These celebrations are not intended to make anyone’s life miserable. In fact there is more meaning behind the reason we have celebrations?  They are ritualistic.  And there is purpose in rituals.

What defines a ritual?

First, it needs to be repeated.

Second, it needs to be coordinated.

And finally it needs to be significant to both parties.

If you have an event or something that is reoccurring in your dating, marriage or family, this is a ritual. Rituals have meaning.  Rituals have the power to bond couples and families emotionally.  But the main thing to remember is that it needs to be meaningful to both parties, or there is little value to the effort.

If you are one of those people who just can’t seem to catch the vision of weekly, monthly and annual “ritualistic” celebrations, choose to make an attitude change. These rituals are important events that are supposed to happen in relationships. In the long run, these rituals will benefit you and your loved ones. Make the effort. Get your creative juices flowing…or do as I do, and get ideas from others who seem to thrive on such creativity.  Surprisingly many of the most meaningful rituals just seem to evolve. For those that take more thought or research, it’s surprising how creativity doesn’t need a big price tag.

 

The Most Masculine of Roles: Husband & Father

In Child Development, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Gender, Marriage, Media, Technology, Values on April 4, 2016 at 9:18 am
Little Girl Helping Father with His Tie ca. 2003

Little Girl Helping Father with His Tie ca. 2003

by Erin Weist

I listened to a talk today by an apostle of my church about “the highest of masculine roles: husband and father.”  In a world that constantly pushes the normality of immorality, adultery and other purely selfish forms of living, it was highly refreshing to hear a man– a husband, father, and grandfather– praise the virtues of putting a family first.  

Part of his talk was an open call to media to eschew negative depictions of the role of men.  As he spoke I could think of several depictions of men in television or movies that are shown to be bumbling idiots, or inept, groveling servants at the feet of their grossly overbearing wives.  I could think of rap and other music that indicated the necessity of men to show their “manliness” by demeaning women in their roles of wife or mother, or by racking up a high count of illegitimate children.  

On a different but slightly related note, for some reason I thought of being a young teenager, seeing the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” and being disappointed with the message that a mother & father could grow apart so much that it was better for everyone involved for the two to divorce.  Obviously, these things can and do happen, but the idea that we encourage our media to promote positive messages appeals to me.

I would never promote censorship, and I understand that many people have different stories to tell, stories that can be violent or full of pain, doubt and fear.  But what if the roles we modeled to our children (and ourselves) had clear messages?  Our lives can be muddled and confusing but stories, in every age and every part of the world, have always been clear– they are meant to entertain or instruct.  Or both.  

Watching or hearing about a tragic character make poor choices leads us to understand how to avoid similar negative consequences.  Shakespeare gave us plenty of those.  Watching or reading or hearing about a strong character faced with difficult circumstances who makes correct choices based on correct principles strengthens and moves us to pattern our lives in a similar way to lead to positive rewards.

Imagine the difference in a generation of boys if their media, what they consumed the most, was filled with exemplary men, men who are forthright, who uphold virtues of morality, who encourage honesty in those around them, who respect women, who honor the institution of marriage, who treat as sacred the role of husband and father.  

Every story needs a villain as well, but where are those exemplary men?  Surely there are some scattered throughout our media but we could do better.  We could expect more.  We could demand more.  And, as generally works in a consumerist society, one of the surest ways to vote is with your dollars.  Are there shows you support that demean those roles?  Could you take your time and money elsewhere?  Do you know people in these industries?  Could you encourage them in this effort, and encourage your friends to do the same?

 

We all have different tastes and there are different voices that best speak to us but we can love ourselves and our younger generation enough to demand more, to encourage those around us to teach to the ideal, rather than the lowest common denominator.  Men are inherently noble and powerful, I hope we can treat them as such and remember their worth and ultimate potential.

 

(Full video of talk on Fatherhood found here)

Be Where You Are

In Child Development, Choice, Families, father, Marriage, Media, motherhood, Parenting, Research, Technology, Values on April 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm

children with computersby Tashica Jacobson

A favorite Buddha quote states “be where you are; otherwise you miss your life.” This can apply to many different things in our lives, but for now let’s look at it through the lens of technology and electronic devices. The advancements in these is dramatically changing the way that members of society interact with one another, and making it easier and easier to be someplace that we are not. How many of us have been in the same room with a friend while they are texting and surfing the internet, only to find that their mind is anywhere but present and there is no connection between the two of you.

Technology has many benefits and is a great luxury of modern society. I wouldn’t be able to write this article, nor could you read this, without it. It can be a source of information, job networking, connection with family, or even a relaxing break from stress. But along with the benefits come the downsides. Family time is diminishing; work bleeds over into home life, we are in constant contact with friends, and we expect that everyone should be available at a moment’s notice. These things together scream that technology while good, needs to be monitored.

In 2010 the Kaiser Foundation conducted a survey that found youth, age 8-18, spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes on electronic devices a day, about 53 hours a week. And because they can use multiple media devices at the same time they pack 10 hours and 45 minutes of usage into those hours. A 2014 study done on adults found that the average adults spends 11 hours a day plugged in to their electronic devices. To put this in perspective that is more hours than a full time job.

These statistics have a dramatic effect on how we live our lives, and how we interact with our families. The biggest noticed effect is a decrease in family interaction. One article describe our obsession with technology as a new family ritual that consist of “One family. One room. Four screens. Four realities.” Even when families are spending time with each other it is interrupted by constant distractions.

Both children and parents have become increasingly dependent on technology, and it is causing a divide in families. Many times these devices are used as a problem-avoidance tool. When a conflict arises and family members need to address the issue, instead they are turning to technology to avoid confronting the issues.

It is also limiting members’ ability to connect with each other. For one thing, when children are on electronic devices it takes away from the time family can spend together. You can’t do both at the same time. A growing trend is parents, in attempt to fill this connection, connect with their children on social media rather than face to face. This does not allow true connection and increases the divide even more. Jim Taylor of Psychology Today stated “the ramifications of this distancing are profound. Less connection—the real kind—means that families aren’t able to build relationships as strong as they could be nor are they able to maintain them as well. As a result, children will feel less familiarity, comfort, trust, security, and, most importantly, love from their parents.”

So what can be done? In our day it is impossible to disconnect one hundred percent from technology; that is why monitoring electronic usage is so important. Families should have household media rules that are enforced. Each family is different and rules should be set for your specific situation, but put down the phone. Have a specific time set aside each day to actually connect as a family with no electronic devices.

Meal times are a great time for this. Make an active effort during this time to learn about each other’s day.

Computers and tablets can be used in a shared room where others are present. This helps media not pull members into a chamber of isolation, and helps parents monitor electronic usage. And parents, be a good example of the electronic usage you want your children to follow, take the initiative to put the phone aside and really connect.

Media use can be a great way to connect with your family and a facilitator of conversation. Families should talk about the messages portrayed online and what their time on media was used for. Parents can talk to their children about the dangers online and ways to avoid them. If this habit of communicating is established when children are young, they will feel comfortable talking about questionable situations they encounter online.

My last semester at college I made it a point to put down whatever I was doing when each of my roommates came home and ask how their day had been. In other words I wanted to actually be where I was. I wanted to be aware of what my roommates had going on in their lives. I was usually doing something productive when they came home, but it didn’t hurt my grade at all to put my homework aside for a few minutes and try to really connect. So as technology keeps demanding our time, be intentional about your media usage, be where you are and be part of the life happening around you right now.

Measuring Family Growth in the Garden

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, Health Care, Parenting, Research, Values on March 31, 2016 at 10:14 am

family workingBy Ally Fife

In this fast paced world of digital dependency, finding ways to have meaningful family time without spending a fortune is rare indeed. To also find something to do that is worthwhile and provides skills to the participants is too much to hope for. There is, however, a task that can not only bring the family together, but it is free and full of life skills. Gardening. I hear groans from my kids in the other room, but it’s true. And once they get their little hands dirty, they realize they are actually having fun and helping the family in the process. Gardening together produces shared memories while teaching us patience.

 

With all the stress we carry around, finding a way to decompress is important to our health and happiness. A study done in the Netherlands found that gardening was better for stress relief than any other leisure activity, including reading.  The sounds, smells, and feel of nature helps us detach ourselves from our problems and focus in the moment.  Exposure to sunlight releases the chemical serotonin, which helps naturally balance the brain and fight depression. In fact, better mental health is another side benefit to working with plants. A study in Norway found that gardening relieves symptoms of depression. On top of these benefits, it can lead to better sleep patterns and  an improved quality of rest. Can you imagine the family benefits of better sleep and less stress?

 

As a form of exercise, gardening integrates multiple muscles working together to build strength for real life functions. Pulling, pushing, bending, digging, and lifting combined is a real workout. Studies from the University of Alaska show that it is a better form of exercise for fighting osteoporosis than jogging, swimming, or aerobics.  And it lowers the risk of dementia by 40%.

 

Nutritionally, your family will be healthier if a vegetable garden is planted and harvested. Studies of after-school gardening programs suggest that kids who work in food gardens are more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables, make better choices about food, and be more adventurous in their taste testing.

 

A family garden is a great way to teach children a love and respect of nature and the value of patience,  hard work, and nurturing something into life.  We live in a world of instant gratification, but gardens live the law of the harvest. It takes time to produce flowers and fruit. We must wait for the moment when a zucchini appears on the vine, and it is all the more exhilarating for the wait. It also requires us to be part of the process. We learn the science of how things grow as we fertilize, dig, water, and deweed. We see the beauty of the whole process and not just the outcome, and we learn cause and effect in a real and safe way. For example, if you don’t water the garden, it dies. Which also leads to teaching responsibility and a sense of accomplishment and pride in work well done. Imagine the joy on a child’s face when it is announced at dinner that he helped grow the cucumbers and tomatoes in the salad.

 

Just so you know, I do not have a green thumb. Far from it.  That’s the beauty of all these benefits; it doesn’t require perfect skills or a bountiful harvest. We learn far more from the process of gardening than the end result, and both are satisfying.

 

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