Monthly Archives: March 2014

No Controversy in Diversity

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Divergent is the new movie that everyone is buzzing about, and I, along with four middle school girls, saw it over the weekend. Based on the book by Veronica Roth, the movie tells the story of Beatrice (Tris) Prior who is in danger, along with a few others like her, who possess a unique collection of attributes. The government is much more comfortable with those who fit into one category only.

Those “factions” in the movie are as follows:

“Abnegation” – They are the selfless, the civil servants, the humble; they sacrifice for others.

“Amity” – These are the peace-lovers. They grow the food and seek harmony.blog - divergent -

“Candor” – This group seeks honesty and truth above all else; they administer the justice system.

“Dauntless” – Fearless and daring, these are the military and law enforcement officers.

“Erudite” – The most intelligent of society belong to this group of thinkers and creators.

It’s an interesting premise for a movie, and I expect most viewers can’t resist wondering where they would fit in this imaginary society. Personally, I would fall in “Candor” with lesser inclinations toward “Abnegation” and “Amity.” However, my prideful self would like to think I approach “Erudite,” but my “Candor” self recognizes I am anything but “Dauntless.”

Divergent is entertaining and thought-provoking, and it addresses the message of conformity. From a secular view, movie-goers are encouraged to explore and appreciate all their talents and gifts, even when those around them may not value their uniqueness and diversity.

Aren’t we fortunate to live in a culture where each of us can express our talents and gifts freely, and aren’t we blessed that God has given each of us a wonderfully unique set of them!

“We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace God gave us. Whoever has the gift of prophecy should use that gift in a way that fits the kind of faith they have. Whoever has the gift of serving should serve. Whoever has the gift of teaching should teach.” (Romans 12:6-7 ERV).

What did you think of Divergent? If you had to fit into a faction, which one would it be?

Keep Smiling!

Hally

 

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Kids and Social Media (Part 2)

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Last week, I wrote about the mistakes children and teens make when using social media. I discussed the types of poor choices they commonly make and why most will make one or more of these mistakes as they learn to navigate social media.

Today, I want to suggest ten strategies for parents. These ideas are designed to do one of two things: 1) teach your children how to safely and responsibly use social media, or 2) protect them from making mistakes that may have long-lasting consequences.

1) Know your child’s personality and skills, and recognize how they are reflected in their use of social media. Is he excited by FB and twitter? Does she prefer being outdoors? Some tweens can download 5 social media applications faster than they can do a long division problem. Where do your children rest on the social media comfort continuum?

2) Snoop—unapologetically. Be honest about your intention to review their posts and online activity whenever you are so inclined, and then follow through. You may not need (or be able) to see every piece of information they put into cyberspace, but watch closely.

3) Learn what you can about the tools they’re using, so you can communicate Imageeffectively (enough) about social media matters.

4) Don’t be afraid to scare them. Be completely honest about the risks in cyberspace, whether they are real physical dangers or practical considerations. Since kids don’t always take seriously the warnings of their parents, try to expose them to stories by law enforcement or business people whom they may consider more believable.  

5) Don’t be naïve. Good kids make mistakes and errors in judgment when using social media. Learning to maturely and appropriately use the tools out there is a challenge, one that until now young people didn’t have to deal with. Be alert and patient during the process.       

6) Recognize the addictive nature of social media. For parents 35 and older, we may not “get” the appeal of social media. In fact, we may struggle to get on board with any of it. For younger parents, that may be different. In any case, limit your child’s time on social media each day. Even those who behave perfectly on social media need to be doing other things—homework, chores, being outside, reading, extra-curricular and church activities, developing hobbies.

7) Be an example. Demonstrate the same smart practices and self-discipline with regard to posts and time spent that you expect your children to.  

8) It takes a village. Let your friends help police your kids when they begin using FB or other applications. I wouldn’t want to hear my child posted something stupid from just anybody, but I would (and have) appreciate it if it comes from a trusted friend. We’re all in this together, so let those who care about you know it’s okay to help with this; be willing to do the same for them.

9) Use language they understand. It would be wonderful if our children always knew what we mean when we use words like “ungodly” or “inappropriate.” But when they don’t, use words like “trashy” or “gross.” Talk to them about popularity, perverts, employability and college applications. Have a conversation that will hit home with them, if more abstract terms do not.

10) Offer acceptable alternatives. If your child is too young to be responsible with social media, introduce other online resources. Pinterest is an example of something fun, but boards can be kept secret. Share an account with your daughter, and she might find lots of satisfaction in that.

This is a tough one for parents. What challenges have you faced, and what suggestions do you have to share with the rest of us? 

Happy Monday!

Hally

Kids and Social Media (Part 1)

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There are many times when I (attempt to) write with a bit of humor. Today is not one of those. This particular post has been on my mind for weeks, and I’ve been contemplating how best to address what I consider one of the most serious challenges facing today’s parents and youth.

I’m talking about social media. When I refer to social media I include: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Kik and other similar applications available. There are many, and our children navigate them with ease and speed.

All parents must be prepared to address the complexities that come with our children’s and teens’ use of these online resources, and we all must recognize the related concerns and dangers facing every child growing up in our culture.

My kids are 12 and 16. Neither of them had their own devices at early ages, which I would consider to be 7 or 8. However, every family has unique opinions about what is age-appropriate. Typically, families that are more tech savvy are comfortable introducing these items earlier than families that are not as familiar with today’s technologies. For my purposes, “devices” refers to a range of phones, iPods, iPads and more, because social media applications can be accessed from many of the electronics kids are regularly equipped with.

No matter hoblog - social mediaw protected or even isolated your children are from social media, they all will have opportunities to use them—opportunities to make good or poor choices. Even though your child may not be using social media, you can be certain their friends are. And, as kids grow older, they may be encouraged to utilize social media tools for connecting and keeping up with school and extra-curricular activities. Few adults can resist all forms of social media, and resistance is nearly impossible for youth of today. They must learn how to function safety and appropriately when using social media. Like so many things in our lives, they must learn to use this helpful resource wisely without it becoming a hindrance and problem in their lives.

So, what are these poor choices kids make and the problems kids have when using social media? Here are three categories of errors that I have observed and survived. And, let’s be honest, if your child has made no bad decisions in their online activities, you are among the fortunate few. It happens to almost all of them, and all of us parents, accordingly. It’s embarrassing, frightening and frustrating, and between my two children mistakes in each category below have been made.

1) Behaving (with words or pictures) in a controversial, inappropriate or vulgar manner.

  • Posting polarizing views about politics, religion or current issues.
  • Posting foul language in acronym form or otherwise.
  • Posting photos that are unseemly or do not demonstrate good, moral character.

Here, we see teens, and perhaps more often boys, take a position about some highly-charged issue and freely post that view. This is to be done very carefully. Our kids are going to apply for scholarships and colleges, and seek jobs. Being very free with our thoughts, even though they may not be wrong or immoral, is not smart. Kids are still forming opinions. They aren’t wise enough yet to fully “own” opinions on our country’s difficult issues.

Also, we see girls and boys knowingly post foul language and immodest photos. Young people may feel okay about doing this if they’re on social media a lot and watching the behaviors of others. If they see someone they know or admire posting something, they may think it’s cool and acceptable whether it is or not. Their temptation to participate in the conversation can outweigh their desire to behave in a manner considered Godly and admirable within their home and family.

2) Inadvertently posting/sharing something without understanding the intent.

  • Sharing a video or photo or article without recognizing the source for what it was.
  • Clicking when they should resist and realizing afterward the evil nature of the item.
  • Sharing an item from someone known without considering if it’s right for them to share.

Sometimes children don’t know what they are sharing. What they may consider to be a funny picture may have been originally placed online by some magazine or group that is connected with drugs or something illicit. They don’t take time to exercise caution or investigate like adults do. They don’t have a knowledge base that we do, either. Or, they may take for granted that something is okay, because it was connected with someone they do know.

3) Ignoring or not recognizing the dangerous element also on social media.

  • Communicating with those they don’t directly know.
  • Connecting with far too many people in their social media.
  • Spending too much time on social media.

Lastly, our kids are just naïve about what is lurking, or really just hanging out, in cyberspace. They think we are overstating the dangers as their parents, and they will “talk” to strangers online. The big issue is no longer just convincing them never to take candy or a ride from a stranger. Now, we have to take that conversation to their online interactions, too. With increased numbers and increased time, the concerns can become greater.

I know this has been a long post, so forgive me. This is important, though, and I feel we all need to be united as parents in this struggle. Next week, I will give you ten strategies for teaching our children and teens, and taking on this issue.

Happy Monday,

Hally

Alliteration Contemplation

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The new season of Survivor began a couple weeks ago, and they have divided teams in a new way for this edition of the perennial favorite. This season participants were assigned to their initial teams based on each individual’s level of beauty, brawn or brains.

So, while I am not an avid follower of the show, I did catch the first episode, and it reminded me of my blog and my own affection for alliteration. Then, I couldn’t help but see the similarities in the three B’s identified by Survivor producers and the three B’s identified by me.

Let’s take a look…blog - daisies

First, let’s examine the idea of blooming. Does any word as readily conjure visions of flowers in spring bursting forth with vivid color? The classic, untouched, perfection of a rose, the serene symmetry of lilies, and the vibrancy of Gerbera daisies—these are certainly among the most beautiful pictures found in nature. And so it goes, blooming, either literally or figuratively, is a beauty-filled process for flowers and for us humans.

Next, consider bonds. blog- alliterationWhen I think of bonding, I think of connections and relationships that advance to a higher degree. I don’t often feel bonded with a professional acquaintance or my dental hygienist. (I may become very close to my daughter’s dentist before her orthodontic treatment is over, though!)  I do feel bonded with those whom I have shared experiences. I feel “tight” with those I worship with, those I tell my secrets too, those with whom I have history. While there may not be a great many bonds in each of our lives, those bonds are typically strong. They are tested, tried and true. The brawn matters in our lives; the brawn keeps us together.

Now compare building with brains. Do you see any association between the two? When we hablog- child learningve small children, we teach them innumerable lessons as quickly as we can. And, their spongy little brains soak it all in. We train, model, explain and demonstrate, all in the hope of growing a happy, healthy adult. We start them out in life, and our greatest desire is that they’ll continue to build on what they’ve learned as they go throughout their lives.

It will be interesting to see who ends up on top at the end of this Survivor season. For my part, I think we need them all. I’d hate to go through life without some of each. Do you have any predictions for the outcome? Share them with us!

Enjoy a Thoughtful Thursday!

Hally

Top Ten Lists of Laughs and Cries

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We’re all abundantly aware of the seemingly never-ending cold and snowy weather that’s plagued much of the United States this winter season. Of course, we all know it will eventually end, and warm days will come. But in the meantime, the dreary days often dampen spirits. Most folks are craving warmth and sun for a variety of reasons, physical and mental.

So, here’s a quick prescription for bringing a smile to your face and greater gratitude to your heart, when you may be feeling less that perky and motivated.

As I’ve grown older, I have come to really savor big laughs in life. I find that they aren’t always easy to come by. Now, I am not talking about joy or contentment or chuckles. I am referring to the BIG laughs that happen spontaneously in life – the kind that linger in our minds for years to come and really mark events in our lives.

How many of those do we have in life? Five, twenty, fifty? Well, I guess that depends on perspective, but I can easily identify the top ten laughs in my life. And, those laughs are real treasures.

Picture a family vacation to the beach. We’d packed up and were headed back to the condo. I was schlepping a variety of totes and gear, following several feet behind my sister. I have a “trick knee,” and it went out on me. When this happened, I clumsily fell, and the 35-mm camera I held snuggly in my hand went sailinblog- laughs and criesg into the back of my sister’s head. She hit the deck, so to speak. She wailed and grabbed the back of her skull, convinced there was a sniper invading the beach. It may sound a bit demented, but it was full-out hysterical.

If we are to be honest, the best laughs often come in times of slight injury and bodily functions. Once when my sister, my mom and I were Christmas shopping, my mother found a quilting store going out of business at the outlet mall. After considerable time, she purchased a bounty of bedding, which we drug out in huge garbage bags. As we struggled to schlep (seems I’m always carrying stuff) these monstrous bags, we became self-conscious amidst all the shoppers. We started giggling, and, then, well we had to go potty. Bad! It was awful. Burdened with bags and bent over laughing, we desperately tried to regain composure. You know what I mean!

These laughs provide great memories for us, and it’s worthwhile to take time to recall them. And, let’s not forget the biggest cries in life. They are the sobs that come with the disappointment of unrealized dreams, the shame of addiction, the defeat of divorce, the frustration of infertility, or the utter despair of losing a loved one. They come upon us in times of acute pain and randomly out of nowhere, evoked by a hymn or a comment or a memory.

In the quiet of winter days, let’s linger a moment on the joys and sorrows of life. The laughs and the cries that have shaken our bodies and exhausted our energies – those are good things.

What situation or event makes your Top Ten List of Laughs (or Cries)?

Have a Blessed Wednesday!

Hally