Thursday, June 28, 2007

Foolish Adults

This article is from the Wednesday Rocky Mountain News.

Kaiser may not be the only health care provider doing this but I think it is outrageous.

How unwise to have 13 year olds making decisions related to sexual health, substance abuse, etc and their parents not only don’t know about it but also are not allowed to know.

I know the old argument that if it was a good family, the teens would be talking to their parents about these things. Teens are teens and they don’t always do what is right even with the best parents.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the part of the brain that is needed to make proper decisions in these kinds of situations isn’t fully mature until long after the teen years. If you want to read more about that, click here.

Kids are not adults. Adults need to be adults. Don’t mix up the two and don’t shut off kids from adult input.

Philip

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

10 Secrets Every Father Should Know

If you have a daughter, this is a book for you. I found it both encouraging and challenging.

It seems it’s a battle these days for parents to stay involved in their children’s lives. There are so many things that compete for time and other things that create distance with our kids. Friends, media and cell phones are just a few of the things that separate us from our teens. Then there are the messages that we need to back off and let them grow up. It’s hard being a good parent. The world wants to send the message that it takes a village to raise a child but that parents, especially dads are not necessary.

This book focuses on fathers and daughters. I’m sure every father would concentrate on different areas of the book. All of it was good but several areas impressed me stronger than others.

“We want to believe our kids are stronger, more mature, and better capable of handling situations than other kids. And that’s when mistakes happen.”

Some of the other messages I zeroed in on are that a daughter needs leadership, she needs to be taught to persevere – not to give in and she needs time with her father that results with her feeling better about who she is.

The book pointed out some of the false messages that daughters have to deal with. Here are several: I need to be beautiful, I need to be sexy and I need to be independent. A daughter needs to understand what true beauty is. It’s not clothes, appearance, what she reads in fashion magazines, or what she sees on TV.

Sexy is everywhere. A daughter will face the pressure to look sexy. She will see this as necessary for approval from friends and guys. She needs to understand that modesty is attractive as well and she gets to keep her self-respect.

While we want our daughters to be strong and independent, they also need to understand that all of us need to be interdependent. There should never be a time in our lives where we don’t have others speaking into our lives.

A daughter also needs to be taught to say no. Nice girls want to please people. She needs to be nice but she also needs to be able to say no and mean it. She needs to learn to stand up for her own standards – the ones we have taught her.

The last thing from the book I want to focus on is the one I learned the most from. It is about teenage brain development – and no, that is not a joke.

Let me quote from a study referred to in the book:

Dr. Jay Giedd, chief of brain imaging in the child psychiatry branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, has spent more than 13 years performing MRIs and studying the brains of more than 1,800 kids. Through high-powered MRI technology, he has discovered that the adolescent brain, while fully grown in size, is still a long way from maturity.

Long after the size of the brain is established, it continues to undergo major stages of development. One of the last regions of the brain to mature is the pre-frontal cortex—home of the so-called "executive" functions—planning, setting priorities, organizing thoughts, suppressing impulses and weighing the consequences of one's actions. This means the part of the brain young people need the most to develop good judgment and decision-making develops last!

This "under construction" nature of the adolescent brain helps explain why teenagers act the way they do, and why their behavior can be idealistic, energetic or enthusiastic at one moment, and cynical, lethargic and bored the next. At age 16, their bodies may look fully developed, but the minds are very much still in the development phase.

According to new studies, the pre-frontal cortex usually does not reach a level of genuine maturity until someone reaches their mid-twenties! "It's sort of unfair to expect [teens] to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision-making before their brains are finished being built," says Giedd.

Knowing the limitations of the adolescent brain does not excuse bad behavior. It does, however, reinforce the need for parents to provide persistent support and guidance. More than ever, adolescents need their parents to be an integral part of their lives. It's not butting in, it's pouring in your love and guidance to protect their future hope, health and happiness.
After reading the above quote, my first impression was that we need more control in our teen’s lives rather than less; we need to protect them from themselves. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I think I understand it better. For one, it helps explain teen behavior. It also shows me the importance of a good relationship with my daughter. She needs to understand that she needs her parents input. I need to help make it easy for her to learn and accept that. Of course, the same is true for sons.

So now, something we probably felt in our “gut” has been backed up by research. Our kids need us long after we they think they do. Even good, well intentioned kids need a lot of input in their lives.

May God give us wisdom sufficient for the task!

Philip

To read the complete report on Maturation of the Teen Brain, click here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Know It All Dads

There was an interesting article in the Denver Post on Father’s Day. Called Dads say the darndest things, it was about dads who don’t want to admit they don’t know everything; it usually comes out when they are telling their kids something.

The article talked about overheard conversations at the National Air and Space Museum. Kids are wondering about something and the dad just makes up the “fact” or maybe he cobbles together an answer from something he remembers even though it ends up not being true.

Even though I try to be a very accurate person, I know that I have fallen into the know-it-all trap on many occasions. Just the other day my son and I saw video of the space shuttle landing. I wanted to give him some idea of how big it was so I said it was as big as the building we were in. He then starting asking specific questions and thanks to having read the article I caught myself and told him we should probably look it up when we get home.

The funniest part of the article was this paragraph: “Workers had put exhibit ropes around a forklift on the floor to keep kids from climbing on it. Sure enough, Lopez said, a boy was heard asking whether it was a piece of space equipment, and his father answered that it had been to the moon.”

As I thought of the article this week the Bible came to mind. Are you familiar with a know-it-all related to spiritual issues? I’m not thinking of someone who really does know a lot but the person who makes it up as they go. How many times do we just do what we think is right. How about when we want to do something and then look for proof that God wants us to do it?

Think about these verses: Jeremiah 17:9 says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? We can’t listen to our heart. We need the objective standard of God’s Word. Proverbs 3:5-7 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

The wise person admits he doesn’t know everything. How liberating it is to drop the all knowing front and to be able to say, “I don’t know.” And the truly wise doesn’t stop there but goes on to find what is true.

Now, what was your question?

Philip

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Food Stamp Scam

For two weeks now some local politicians have been playing a game with food stamps. Here’s how it goes: a person on food stamps supposedly gets on average $3.57 a day. The challenge for the politicians is to live on that amount of food for a week. They are all moaning how hungry and tired they have been. Read one story here.

Here’s the problem with the scam. First of all, food stamps are a supplement. They aren’t designed to cover everything. Second, most recipients are in a family and it is cheaper to fix meals for several people than just one.

When you get down to it, their objective with this media stunt is to try to make us feel sorry for the poor food stamp recipients. They are pushing for an increase in the monthly allotment.

Here are my reasons for opposing this. I am usually amazed at the contents of the shopping carts of food stamp users. Back in the old days, you could spot them because they had to pull out actual stamps. Now, here in Colorado they have a nice plastic card that they swipe. If you didn’t pay attention you would think they were using a credit card. Anyway, from what I see, most of them are not scrimping and scraping. There are nice packs of steaks, etc. Some weeks ago, I was behind a very nicely dressed lady. She had the fancy nails, designer purse and spent most of the time talking on her cute cell phone. When the time came to pay, out came the food stamp card. The poor poverty-stricken woman, how does she afford such a nice nail job and cell phone? It’s because you and I are paying for her groceries. I wished I could have seen the car she got into.

One of my favorite experiences was seeing a “bum” buying cooking wine with his food stamp card. The checker told me it happened all the time. And no, he was not a gourmet cook. Thanks to the taxpayers, he gets a little buzz.

Now I do know there are a few people who really need some help and I don’t oppose that. But, the truth be known, I wonder if they would even make up a single digit percentage of those who get welfare.

Another reason I don’t feel sorry for the food stamp user is because I know how much my wife spends on food a week. We have a large family and she has done an excellent job through the years on both groceries and all the other household items she buys. Most of the food is cooked from scratch; there is not much prepared food. She watches for sales and plans out meals and the weekly shopping trip. As I calculated it out, we spend about as much as the politicians are whining about. It can be done and we do it without government help.

So there you have it; another political scam exposed.

Philip

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Effective prolife strategy

There is an interesting editorial in today’s Denver Post about the effectiveness of incremental prolife strategy. I would encourage you to read it here.

A battle is going on regarding the correct strategy to end abortion. One camp would push for a paramount human life amendment to the US Constitution that would establish personhood for the unborn and “settle” the issue. Others have worked to end abortion step by step, little law by little law. One problem in the latter approach is that many judges have rebuffed those laws, declaring them unconstitutional.

With the recent US Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on partial birth abortion things seem to be changing. Those who are good at analyzing what the court has said in this decision see many positive things from a prolife perspective. This editorial points out some of those and also how the incremental strategy is bearing fruit for future gains.

One thing that needs to be made clear is that those supporting the incremental approach are not saying that some abortions are okay. They are doing what they can do to save lives today. The goal is to end all abortions as quickly as possible.

Do take some time to read the editorial. It says things much better than I can. I would also direct you to my previous post on this subject if you haven’t read it already. It contains some links to excellent arguments on this subject.

May we find the grace to work together in ending abortion. The enemy of my enemy should be my friend.

Philip

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Dobson’s Critics Debunked

You are probably aware of some recent criticism of Dr. James Dobson by Colorado Right to Life and others. It relates to the recent Supreme Court Ruling upholding the ban on Partial Birth Abortion.

I think Dobson was singled out because he is an easy target. Another reason is that criticism of him almost guarantees media coverage. I know the people behind this attack on Dobson and I think I would be very accurate to say that media attention has become their god.

Colorado Right to Life historically was a very good group. In the past few years they have been taken over by a group of nuts. That is the most charitable way I can describe them. What the organization was in the past is not what it is today.

If the name Bob Enyart means anything to you, then you probably have an opinion about him. I have known Bob since 1990 and have seen him abuse the gifts that God gave him to manipulate people to his own ends. Bob is behind the changes at Colorado Right to Life. He hides behind their good name and is publishing his drivel as if it came from them. By using their name and reputation, he gets better media coverage.

As you can tell, I have a definite opinion about Bob. I probably know more of his history than anyone else in Colorado. It may seem that I have an ax to grind but what really motivates me is the knowledge of who he is and the damage that he does.

I have been slow to speak out on this recent escapade as Bob and the others he is working with can be very nasty and have little concern for truth.

I read two blog posts today that I thought were very good on the criticism against Dobson and I want to pass them on.

Here they are:

Dr. Dobson's Critics are Wrong

Examples of Legal Positivism

A good article from World Magazine on the positive results of the Supreme Court Decision is here.

Good critique of Enyart’s methods.

In my history with the prolife movement in Colorado, I have mostly seen times where various groups got along and worked together. We didn’t see everything exactly the same but we worked to the same end. It’s sad to see people now who take pride in the division they are bringing. With the resulting infighting, there will be less energy to fight the real enemy. What a horrible distraction.

Philip

Sunday, June 3, 2007

False belief or true conversion?

Thanks to a World Magazine column from May 19, 2007, I got to go back to 1944 and see what Alcoholics Anonymous believed in the beginning.

It seems all we hear today is that people need to believe in a “higher power” (however they understand that). It could be Santa or the Easter bunny, doesn’t really matter, just look beyond yourself and admit you need help. Well it is good to admit you need help but a fantasy is no good in real life.

Here is what Step 3 of the 12 steps said in the first pamphlet written in 1944:

We made a decision that we needed to come under new management since our own management got us nowhere. So we turned our wills and lives over to the care of our new manager—Jesus . . .

(At this point both of you get down on your knees. The sponsor says: "Jesus, this is ______(name). He realizes that his life is messed up and unmanageable. ______(name) is coming to You Lord in all humility to ask to be one of Your children—to work for You, to serve and dedicate his life to You and to turn his will and life over that he may be an instrument of Your love."

Newcomer responds: "Lord, I ask that You guide and direct me, and that I have decided to turn my will and life over to You, to serve You and dedicate my life to You. I ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ.")

That’s not just words, it’s coming to Jesus, turning your life over to Him and being converted.

I remember my friend and I sitting around before my conversion and discussing that it would be a good idea if we quit smoking pot for a while. We thought if we did, the high might be better after. We never got around to it. Things changed in 1973 when Jesus came into my life. In addition to deliverance from drugs, many other things dropped out of my life. There was power to change and I was glad.

It’s not just that we believe, but what or who we believe in that makes the difference. Thank you Jesus for changing my life.

Philip

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