Tag Archives: Parenting

Are You An Accessory to Abuse?

By Angela Tooley

156.

156 women testified. 156 deeply moving statements each made by a victim of Larry Nassar’s abuse during a week-long sentencing hearing.

The victims have become survivors, and each seeks to heal. Each one was not only abused, but each was betrayed by institutions thought to be places of trust and safety. Each will have to find courage to trust again.

USA Gymnastics will never be the same and for that matter all sports should go through an intense self-examination. Likewise, Michigan State will face painful consequences for protecting their self-interest ahead of their students.

Accusations were ignored because addressing them meant a loss of status to a program. Accusations were dismissed or denied because the predator gave convincing justifications to reassure questioning authorities. Despite what was seen and heard from accusers, no one in authority took action.

Predators exist among us in unassuming ways.  As a predator grooms victims, they also groom their enablers. Predators are manipulators and even a passed background check allows a false sense of security.

Survivor Annie Labrie said in her impact statement, “a pedophile cannot flourish in the way Larry did in an environment that is not conducive to his behavior. He was prolific because surrounding authorities allowed him to be.”

No matter what our role is in a youth’s life – as a teacher, coach, minister, parent or just as a responsible adult we are expected to be vigilant in protecting them.  Our responsibility is to act when danger is present or even suspected.

We protect when we:

  1. Watch
  2. Listen
  3. Act

Remember the adage – Where there’s smoke there’s fire?

If we saw smoke in our house we would never ignore it, thinking that fire wasn’t present. We would look for the source of the smoke.

As smoke fills the house, we would never ignore it thinking that it wasn’t there.

Nor would we sit still and not seek safety or call for help from the fire department.

We would not rationalize, deny or justify our inaction.

No, we would act.

That is trust worthy – and noble.

Levenson, E. (2018, February 5). Larry Nassar apologizes, gets 40 to 125 years for decades of sexual abuse. Retrieved from CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/05/us/larry-nassar-sentence-eaton/index.html

Six Things To NEVER Do If Your Child Looks At Porn

If you discover your child is looking at pornography:

  1. DO NOT PANIC

This moment is not about you. Put your feelings (i.e. fear, anger, disappointment, etc.) aside and focus on your child. Show your child that you love, support, understand, and want to help. Unfortunately, porn is common among teens. One study found that 93% of boys and 62% of girls were exposed to pornography before age 18. (1)

  1. DO NOT IGNORE

As an adult, I learned that my parent’s knew I was looking at their pornography. They never mentioned it to me because “boys will be boys.” Oh how I wish they had helped me. I suffered under this addiction for thirty-five years!

  1. DO NOT ASK FOR (OR EXPECT) A CONFESSION

Only 22% of adults confessed when confronted by their spouse even with evidence. (2) Do you think your child or teenager is more likely to confess than these adults?

Instead of asking “Did you …?”, say “I discovered …” in a matter of fact tone. Remember we set aside feelings of fear, anger, and disappointment?

  1. DO NOT INTERROGATE

Avoid asking “why”. Use concrete questions: When did this start? How often have you looked at porn in the last month? How do you access the pornography? What can I do to help you stop?

Then Listen. Validate their feelings even if positive. “I could see how that would be exciting for you.” Validation just means you understand not necessarily agree.

  1. DO NOT MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO

Your child’s promise to never do it again is not enough. Believe their sincerity but don’t believe in their self-control. Do whatever you can to block your child’s access to porn. You don’t let the alcoholic keep going to the bar.

  1. DO NOT GO IT ALONE

Remember that fear, anger and disappointment you set aside? You need someone to express your feelings. Your child likely needs the same support. Call us (972-342-0753 or 214-415-4555) or email us here at Noble Choices. This is our specialty. We want to help.

(1) Chlara, S., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2008). The nature and dynamics of Internet pornography exposure for youth. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 691-693.

(2) Steffens, B., & Means, M. (2010). Your Sexually Addicted Spouse. Far Hills, NJ: New Horizon Press.

Be FOMM not FOMO

By Angela Tooley

I hate to admit it, but I have FOMO. Do you have FOMO?  Maybe you’re not familiar with this but it is

Fear

Of

Missing

Out

(and yes it is a word)!

FOMO begins innocently enough, usually with our smart phone but it can be any digital device. The device lets us instantly:

  • check sports scores
  • check Facebook status and likes
  • look at all other social media
  • listen for incoming texts and emails

Our smart phones and mobile devices have become the indispensable organizers of our lives – through communication and calendars; and through every kind of conceivable news, entertainment, calorie counting, exercise, and fantasy football app that is out there. We get addicted – never wanting to be without our mobile device.

Ultimately interacting with our device takes precedence over a conversation with the person right beside us in the car or right in front of us at the dinner table.

What we are really missing out on is each other!

FOMO is now so widespread that it necessitates a public service campaign to get us all to put away our phones at the dinner table.  While I think it is a sad reality, I am encouraged by the opportunities for family growth that can happen by coming to the dinner table – device free.

At any age conversation matters. Sharing the day whether it was how the presentation went, or what was the most fun at preschool.  Laughing at silly pasta shapes and hearing the laments of pop quizzes is meaningful. One day there will be a hard conversation and you’ll be there to listen.

This isn’t just for family dinner, this is for friends, coworkers and everyone we face. Please don’t miss any of the experience, put the phone away.

I am making a conscious effort to be aware of how and when I am using my smart devices. I’m working on a new word for the dictionary, FOMM

Facing

Others

Matters

Most

(not quite as catchy as FOMO but I’ll keep working on it).

I hope you will all do the same and set a great example for your kids too.

Eight Factors Common in Childhoods of Sex Addicts

I am a huge baseball fan and the postseason is great. Last year in the 10th inning of the decisive game of the World Series, Chicago Cub Ben Zobrist drove in the winning run.

Was this just about an opportunity? Or was this path set much earlier: the Houston Astros who first drafted him? His high school coach who convinced him to try out? His whiffle ball games with his friends at age 8?

It was the opportunity AND the path.

What about a person struggling with pornography? Is it just about an opportunity? Or is it about a path that had been set many years before? Again, the answer is both.

Patrick Carnes lists eight factors common in families of sex addicts.

  1. Addiction.

This can be alcohol, gambling, nicotine, eating, drugs, sex, or pornography. Often it is a combination.

  1. Secrets.

This “elephant in the living room” is having a huge impact on life but everyone pretends it is not there.

  1. Rigid and authoritarian.

There is only one way to do things. There is no give and take.

  1. Sex-negativity.

Sex is always negative, dirty, bad, sinful, or nasty.

  1. Sexual duplicity.

Parents do not live up to their standards about sex. There are affairs, pornography, sexting, etc.

  1. Little intimacy.

Family members are disengaged. There is little sharing of feelings or vulnerability.

  1. Neglect.

This could be capital N neglect: sexual, physical, emotional abuse or a lack of food, shelter, clothes, or safety. It could be little n neglect: lack of attention, empathy, or love.

  1. Compartmentalization.

People act one way in one situation and something totally different in another. There is an overreaction or under-response to life’s problems.

Are any of these factors present in your home? King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Apparently, that is true negatively and positively.

Carnes, P. (2015). Facing the Shadow: Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery (Third ed.). Carefree, AZ: Gentle Path Press.

Topkin, M. (2009, July 13). Tampa Bay Rays’ Ben Zobrist has taken a surprising path to today’s All-Star Game. Retrieved from Tampa Bay Times: http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/tampa-bay-rays-ben-zobrist-has-taken-a-surprising-path-to-todays-all-star/1018198

The Noble Wolf

By Angela Tooley

Most of us consider the lion as the noble animal.  We think of these beautiful, stately creatures as the king of the animal kingdom.  So, it seems strange to think of a wolf as noble. “The big bad wolf” comes to mind as in the Three Little Pigs, or Little Red Riding Hood! Well it is true that wolves kill, but we are far less aware of their life-giving function in nature.

Just over twenty years ago, Yellowstone National Park’s efforts to control the overpopulation of deer were failing.  Overpopulation had allowed the deer to graze away almost all vegetation.

After a seventy-year absence, wolves were reintroduced to the park. While they did kill some deer, they radically changed deer behavior. The deer began avoiding the valleys and gorges where they were most easily trapped.  This allowed the regeneration of trees and shrubs. Songbirds returned.  Beavers, otters, muskrats, hawks, weasels, foxes, ravens and bald eagles could return because new forests allowed new habitats to be made. Even bears came to eat the berries off the trees.

Perhaps the most fascinating result – the course of a river changed! Regenerated forest stabilized the banks. There was less erosion and less meandering of the river’s course.  An entire ecosystem and its physical geography were transformed. Because of some wolves.

Are you a wolf? Yes, if you’re a parent, a grandparent, aunt, uncle or godparent. Yes, if you are a teacher, coach, minister or mentor to young people. Obviously, I don’t want you to kill, but I do want you to realize the major impact you have on young people

Like a wolf you will promote the growth of habitat by:

  • Educating youth about healthy sexual values and making wise choices
  • Providing a stable environment at home, in churches, schools, and extracurricular activities

Like the presence of the wolf, your presence can intervene in the lives of your kids and their friends by:

  • Removing threats using filters as well as monitoring all computers and mobile devices
  • Observing their social media habits
  • Protecting from abuse

Like the changed river course, your presence will have an impact for generations to come.

You can do this! Blessings!

Monbiot, G. (2014, February 13). How Wolves Change Rivers. Retrieved from Monbiot.com: http://www.monbiot.com/2014/02/13/how-wolves-change-rivers/

Are you a Hypocritical Parent?

Finger PointWhen I was two years old, a drunk driver swerved and hit our car head-on. My parents and my injuries were so severe that my grandparents were told my dad and I would not likely live through the night.

None of us were wearing seat belts. We were lucky to survive.

Every memory I have of my dad driving us in the car anywhere is his “obsession” with making sure we all had on our seat belts.

Was my dad a hypocritical parent?

I mean he didn’t wear a seat belt when he was younger. What right did he have to force his children to do something that he wasn’t even able to do when he grew up?!!

This logic is absurd, isn’t it? My dad was now acutely aware of the risks of not wearing a seat belt. He loved his family so much that he would do everything to protect us.

Change the topic from seat belts to sexual activity or pornography or drinking or drug use. The logic of the hypocritical parent is still absurd.

Yet it is one of the top reasons I hear from parents as to why they don’t address these issues: “I can’t ask my children to do what I was unable to do myself.” I am glad my dad didn’t have that problem with demanding that I wear a seat belt.

You should not have that problem either. If you love your kids, do everything to protect them even if it means being a hypocritical parent.

In reality, asking your children not to make the poor choices you made does not make you a hypocrite. It makes you a good parent.

Positive Reasons to Save Sex

Intimate Couple --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

When you encourage teens to save sex, are you negative or positive?

Too often we are negative.

  • Don’t get pregnant as a teenager.
  • Don’t get an STD.
  • Don’t get emotional scars.
  • Condoms don’t fully protect you.

What about positive reasons to wait?

A recent study looked at whether the age of first sexual experience predicted romantic outcomes as an adult. The study put the age of first sexual experience into three categories:

  • age 14 and under
  • age 15-19
  • age 20 and up

Which group was significantly more likely to have satisfying adult romantic relationships? The age 20 and up group. Their findings held true even when they tested for other factors including body mass index, attractiveness, or differences in teenage dating.

The study defined a satisfying adult romantic relationship as having the following factors:

  • stable
  • satisfying
  • a partner who shows love and affection
  • enjoyment of day-to-day things with partner
  • happy with the way conflict is handled
  • avoidance of aggression
  • avoidance of victimization

If that wasn’t enough, saving sex until the 20’s also was linked to

  • higher achievement of educational goals
  • more income as an adult

Teens deserve the truth about teen pregnancy, STDs, condoms, and emotional scars. Just don’t neglect teaching the hope and reward from saving sex.

 

Christine Kearney. (2012, October 18). “Age Of First Sexual Experience Determines Relationship Outcomes Later In Life.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251640.php

Harden, K. P. (2012, September 25). True Love Waits? A Sibling-Comparison Study of Age at First Sexual Intercourse and Romantic Relationships in Young Adulthood. Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/0956797612442550

The University of Texas at Austin. (2012, October 18). Does True Love Wait? Age of First Sexual Experience Predicts Romantic Outcomes in Adulthood. Retrieved from http://www.utexas.edu/news/2012/10/18/does-true-love-wait-age-of-first-sexual-experience-predicts-romantic-outcomes-in-adulthood/

Expectation Problems

Ranger GameI love Texas Rangers baseball. I love TobyMac’s Christian music.

A couple of years ago, TobyMac did a concert after the Texas Rangers game. It just couldn’t get any better, right?

After the game, we’re told we have to move to the lower bowl for the concert. We struggle through the crowds to get to the elevator. The elevator is broken! I hear the concert begin just as the elevator becomes operational.

On the lower level, we can only find obstructed-view seats from behind the stage. At times we can’t hear because the Rangers’ ground crew is using a tractor on the outfield grass!

As my anger builds, I look up at our original seats on the top deck and there are lots of people seated there! I am furious!

What happened? I saw a Rangers victory. I am at a TobyMac concert. I have a chance to worship God with thousands of people in Rangers Ballpark led by TobyMac. AND. I. AM. MISERABLE!

The problem was expectations. My expectations were so high that all I could see were my expectations failing to be met.

As we work with young people, be aware of expectations. Music, novels, television, and movies set lofty expectations for romance, marriage, and sex.

Even Bible classes, sermons, and sex education set lofty expectations.

  • “Save sex for marriage to have the best sex.”
  • “Marry a Christian to avoid divorce.”
  • “God has chosen the perfect person for you to marry.”
  • “My spouse will be my best friend and soul mate.

When our actual romance, marriage, and sex happen, it doesn’t meet expectations. It must be wrong then. So we break up or divorce to continue the quest to meet those expectations. We cannot see how good we have it because we are too focused on the unmet expectations.

You see blessing is not the absence of struggles. It is because of the struggles.

“Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4.

Six Things to Check at Your Teen’s Job

My first job as a teenager was at McDonald’s. I remember being so proud to drive myself to work, get a pay check, and have real responsibilities.

I also was amazingly naive and my new boss (who was very young himself) was quick to take advantage of me. I kept getting scheduled at times I said I wasn’t available and was asked to work after hours almost every shift.

Then abruptly it stopped. I wouldn’t know until I was an adult that my father talked to my boss. Dad didn’t tell me he did this and swore my boss to secrecy as well so my pride would be maintained.

Regardless of whether you agree with my father’s tactics, are you involved in the working life of your teenager? You need to be.

According to a recent study, the majority of parents do not help their teen ask questions about workplace safety or help their child learn about youth work restrictions.

How many U.S. teens each year experience death, injury or illness at their job? 146,000. The stakes are high.

Ask your working teens:
• How much training did you receive?
• Have you been trained about what to do if there is a robbery?
• Are you ever alone in the workplace?
• Are there hazardous machinery or tools?
• Have you been trained on how to deal with an angry customer?
• Is there an adult manager always on site?

(“Parental Involvement With Their Working Teens.” Runyan, et al. Journal of Adolescent Health, July 2011, Volume 49, Issue 1 , Pages 84-86.)

Teen Texting Rules

Texting girlWhat is the number one way people use their cell phones?

Checking the time.

Number two? Texting.

In fact the average teenager will send a text every ten minutes they are awake. That’s over 3100 texts per month! This isn’t even counting the number of texts they receive.

Here is some advice for parents regarding texting.
1. Get an unlimited texting plan. Teens will likely text far more than the minutes they will use on phone calls.
2. Use parent-controls. These can not only help to avoid going over any limits but also can make sure texting is not done at inappropriate times.
3. No texting in class.
4. No texting at meals.
5. No texting overnight.Be sure to set the specific time each night when texting is no longer allowed as well as the time each morning when it can begin.
6. No texting while driving.
7. No texting while walking, Search this in YouTube for video evidence of why this is a bad idea.
8. No texting to cheat in class.
9. Texting rules include reading texts as well as sending.
10. Establish clear consequences for misuse. Confiscate the phone for a period of time. Then limited use for a period after they get it back.
11. Monitor messages. Text messages can go viral. Therefore, they are not private. You are not invading privacy by reading them. Have your teen give you their phone every night at least one hour before bedtime. This is your time to monitor their messages and phone use. Return their phone to them the next morning.
12. No sexting.Teach that sexting by teenagers is a crime. It is child pornography and is a prosecutable crime even if they are voluntarily taking the picture of themselves. Therefore it will not be tolerated whether they are the sender or receiver.
13. Embrace the technology yourself. 63% of parents believe texting improved their relationship with their teen. Quickly check in with your teen with a “How are you?” “Where are you?” or “Need anything?” text.
14. Set a good example. Follow your own rules. Don’t text while driving. Don’t text your child in class if you don’t allow them to look at texts in class.

(“Responsible Text Messaging Tips” by Common Sense Media. December 21, 2011. San Francisco, CA: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/responsible-text-messaging-tips)