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3 Things You Can Do Today To Keep PORNOGRAPHY From Ruining Your Child’s Future – PART 2

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This is Part 2 of 2 of the most important articles I’ve posted. Please read Part I if you have yet to. It quickly became by far the most popular article on my blog (and the most shared as well), showing how truly urgent this topic is.

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In Part I we looked at some of the incredibly destructive effects of pornography on our kids and how we must connect with them regularly about this issue, equipping them for this battle that they face every day.

As I share two other very practical action steps we can take, let me start by saying this:

If we are not taking steps to protect our children from pornography, we are partnering with this predator to destroy their lives.

I don’t say that solely for shock value but as a perspective on the reality of how bad this situation has become. It would be like living on the street in your city known for the worst gangs, drugs, murderers, sexual predators and pedophiles, and simply unlocking your door at night and keeping your kid’s bedroom doors wide open. With a plate of cookies on their night stand.

Pornography (in video, violent, and hard core forms) is actively pursuing your children—not to mention you as well—and will prevail if you don’t take corresponding action to keep its tentacles out of your home, off of your electronic devices, and out of your mind and soul.

#2. BUILD AN HONEST, OPEN RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CHILDREN

When it comes to porn and sexuality, equally as important as the information you share with your kids is the transparent heart-to-heart relationship you build with them.

Girls_Uncovered

Killer book on sexual health based on social science & neuroscience… for dads to read with their boys too!

This is one reason why making the time to read with them is so powerful, because it combines so many elements of success in one activity:

1. Making the time to connect specifically with your child screams love, affirmation, and value to them. There is nothing more impacting and life-giving for our kids than when we make time to focus solely on them—it fills their “love tank” to the brim.

2. Close the door when you have these reading times together. Closing the door is a subtle but powerful message to your child that what you are about to discuss together is important, private, and deserves their utmost focus. It shows that you believe your child is mature enough to handle this information and it causes them to step up to the plate.

3. Don’t just read, but share your personal stories with your child. Sharing mistakes or dramatic events from your life not only allows the moral of the story to stick like glue in your child’s mind, but it makes you more vulnerable, real, and human to them—it allows them to feel like they can approach you with their problems because you understand what they are going through. Recently my wife was talking with a handful of middle schoolers at the end of a conference that featured speakers who shared about pornography and sexuality, and all of them agreed that what they loved the most was when the speakers would tell stories about their own struggles when they were that age. This is a powerful key to help unlock your child’s heart.

FAKE IT ‘TILL YOU MAKE IT

And here’s a point that I cannot stress enough because I know that the majority of you reading this are saying to yourself, “I can’t do this. I feel way too awkward and embarrassed by this topic. My parents never did anything like this with me—it’s just uncomfortable and scary!” Well, first of all, that’s another great reason to start by reading books together, because you’re so flippin’ freaked out that you’re even talking about this with your 11 year-old that you don’t even know what to say. Books definitely do that heavy lifting for you. But secondly, you have to dig deep into the WHY of what you are doing and find that overcoming, compelling reason that will supersede the uncomfortableness and compel you to speak. And that motivation, of course, is your love for your children.

But here’s the real point I”m trying to make:

You have to fake it ‘till you make it.

I’m not going to lie, although it does get a bit easier and you will grow in confidence talking to your kids about these issues, it still is awkward for the vast majority of us discussing wet dreams, menstrual cycles, breasts, erections, pornography, puberty, and masturbation with your tweens and teens.

That’s the reason why I’m saying you’ve got to fake it ‘till you make it. For the love of your children, you have got to pretend that this is normal talk between parents and children and that you feel honored and privileged to be the one who first shared this information with them.

Dad_SonTrust me, I know what you’d rather do is go throw up in the bathroom. But your kids don’t know that! And I’m not saying not be transparent and real with them—you’ve got to be. What I am saying is that to create a new culture in your family (which is what you are doing) you have to be bold and start to normalize what is not normal feelings for you. Embarrassment and awkward feelings will creep in… resist them, take a deep breath, and open your mouth to speak anyway. Just read the freaking book out loud!

#3. DON’T WAIT—SECURE YOUR HOME WITH FILTERING SOFTWARE TODAY

When you are finished reading this, don’t think, delay, or use the bathroom, simply go here (which is on the site: opendns.com) and read through the Parental Controls. Then scroll back to the top of the page and click on the orange Parental Controls button to get started signing up for FREE for this whole home internet filtering software.

Family_Shield(Okay, I know it’s not smart to just load anything onto your home’s router, I’m just making a point that you need to do your research and take action as soon as humanly possible!)

We’ve been using OpenDNS for a couple years and I think it’s a great starter package for filtering for your home because it gives you personalized control over what categories of content is allowed into your home’s WI-FI system, allows you to see what sites are being viewed on the devices in your home, and covers every device that is logged on to your network through your home’s router, including video game consoles and your kid’s homeys who you log on so they can play Minecraft together.

Understand that it is a filter on your internet router, which means every device that connects to your wi-fi (or hard-wires in to your internet) is protected by OpenDNS, so it is not software you have to install onto each device in your home.

If you don’t use OpenDNS (again, it’s free at its most basic level, which is what we use) then make sure to install something similar—and do it today.

One of my sons even thanked me the other day for protecting his eyes and heart with this system. And let me tell you, it’s for your protection too!

GETTING SERIOUS WITH EVERY DEVICE IN YOUR HOME

DevicesAfter you install OpenDNS (or something like it), then your next step is to physically obtain every electronic device in your home, sit down with your spouse, and talk through protections, guidelines, and rules for each one of them. I’m talking every computer, laptop, tablet, data phone, electronic reading tablet, everything.

If you have to make a chart or some kind of spreadsheet to be a reminder for your family on the guidelines of usage for all of these devices, you go, big daddy.

1. Set times for your internet access in your home. For example, Holly and I turn off our router (which is located under my work desk in our bedroom) at 10pm every night and don’t switch it back on in the morning until one of us begins work or needs to use it.

2. Set times for internet usage for the kids. Our general rule is that they should be finished with homework or connecting with friends over the internet at least a half hour before bed time. This allows them to slow their soul down and read, filling their minds with “good food” as they sleep. They also know there is no internet (or “screen time” for that matter) in the morning before school.

3. Data Phones/Tablets: here is a serious question: does your child really need to have a data plan on their phone (or tablet)? Now this gets in to a whole bigger discussion on parenting and slowly releasing our teens into responsibility/freedom, etc, but for kids/tweens/young teens, is it worth the risk? I totally understand being able to call and even text your kids when they are out of the home, but does any young person you know under the age of 16 really have the internal self-control and wisdom to handle managing the onslaught of filth, hard core porn, and child predator activity swirling through that device in their little innocent pockets 24/7? Something to seriously discuss.

4. Apps and Protections on devices: go through each device (do this part with your kids) and explore everything. Ask about communication apps (deleting Snapchat is more about protecting them from freaks, not that you don’t necessarily trust them to not send stupid crap) and go through the Settings on the devices, applying Parental Controls whenever possible. On the laptop our kids share, for example, the computer itself is set to lock them out at 10pm.

Okay, there is a ton to discuss when it comes to all of this and so we’ll have to talk more about all of this later. The important thing is to get involved and start today. Get your hands, dirty, momma—it’s just a part of the job description these days.

Here’s one philosophy we use with our kids and technology I strongly suggest you adopt as well:

There is no such thing as privacy on the internet.

Mom_TeenDaughterSo don’t fall for the argument that this app is private or this texting program is off limits. Hell, no. You having unlimited access to your child’s digital and online life is completely normal and healthy. And here’s the truth you can share with them when they throw a fit over that: even as adults, everything put out there on the internet or shared through a device can be made public. Everything. So as a parent, it is our responsibility to equip them for that reality.

So, let’s take some action today. It’s never too late to start. Apologize to your kids for not protecting them and loving them properly, ask for forgiveness… then start cleaning house, yo.

This is simply a part of loving our kids in the 21st Century, boss. I know you’re busy, but this cannot wait.

You got this. I believe in you.

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Read, take action, and SHARE this with your community. All parents need to be challenged and equipped in this battle, and the very least need to be prompted to start the discussion.

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3 Things You Can Do Today To Keep PORNOGRAPHY From Ruining Your Child’s Future – PART 1

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If you are a parent of a tween or teen (ages 9 to 19), here’s the unfortunate reality: Your child…

1. Has already viewed pornography

2. Watches it on occasion

3. Is addicted to it

Do you know which it is? Are you 100% positive?

Although there is an extremely slim chance your child hasn’t viewed some form of pornographic material yet, the undeniable truth that we face as parents today remains: if we are not proactively involved in our children’s lives when it comes to pornography and sexuality, the truth is that they are being massively impacted in a way that can hurt them, their marriages, and their future sexual health.

IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP, PARENTS

For some of us, this is a radical, earth-shattering alarm that needs to shake us awake from our slumbers. When the statistics are showing that the average age our kids are being exposed to pornography is 11 years old (some are saying it is as low as 8 – 9 years old), then we know we are living in a different world than the one we grew up in.

“According to a cross-party parliamentary report, published last week, the scale of the exposure is so vast that four out of five 16-year-olds regularly access porn online — while one in three ten-year-olds has seen explicit material.”

One British psychotherapist who works with addicted tweens and teens has the most horrifying stories of what is happening with internet pornography addiction, including young teens who are being dragged into deeper and more graphic and violent forms of pornography, often times viewing 5-6 hours a day without their parents knowing anything is going on. For both boys and girls, this is distorting their growing minds in ways that is manifesting in their social lives: destroying their minds, school performance, and social lives, objectifying women in grotesque ways that often leads to stalking and violence, and scarring their souls when it comes to healthy sexual relationships in the future.

It may sound like I’m being overdramatic, but when it comes to the hearts, minds, and souls of our children, I don’t think we can be dramatic enough with this issue.

WHAT WE CAN DO – STARTING TODAY

Okay, Dean, so it’s a crazy situation, I hear you. But the truth is I’m just so busy with work and getting the kids to school and all of their activities… and honestly, most of all, I just don’t know WHAT I’d say to my kids about all of this – it’s just such an awkward thing to deal with.

Listen, I get it. Raise your hand if your parents created this super empowering environment where you talked about sex openly and felt free to share with them or ask questions or… oh, right. Okay, so your parents didn’t do that either, eh?

Well, that’s the great thing about marriage and parenting: we are free to CREATE A NEW CULTURE in our homes when it comes to sex. And with the incredible onslaught of hard core internet pornography coming at our kids through every electronic device in their rooms, their school bags, and their pockets, we cannot afford to sit this battle out.

So what do we do? Is it too late?

Never. Here are three things we can do (starting today!) to begin creating a new culture of empowerment in our families:

#1. TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT SEX & PORNOGRAPHY

Well, duh.

No, seriously, as simple as it sounds, it can be galactically difficult to do. But the statistics are clear from every source regarding this topic: from tweens to teens to our college-aged kiddos, parents influence their children’s attitudes and actions regarding their sexuality more than the media, the culture, their school, or even their peers.

If you have never heard that stat before then close your eyes, breathe, and read that sucker again.

We have to open our mouths and speak – we have to get involved! We are the #1 champion of our kid’s sexual health and success in life.

Take 2 minutes and check this vid out about what kids are saying about porn today – pay especially close attention to what they say about how much their parents are talking to them about sex and porn.

Whoa. So let’s get practical.

Here is the best place to start: reading books with your kids. Yes, even your teens. Reading books with your kids about sexuality is one of the best ways to break through the awkwardness. Why? Because books have done all the heavy lifting for you! Because I know what you’re Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.57.26 AMthinking, “Even if I DID speak to my kids about sex, what would I say?” Well, reading books is the best way to start because it deals with that issue for you.

A book like “Hooked: New Science On How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children” is a rad one to start with for your tweens/teens. And I’m talking about taking 30 minutes (and stick to it, unless they are asking questions or sharing), close the door so everyone knows this is private time, and sit on the floor and just start reading. Pause as you go and ask them questions – it doesn’t matter how far you get in that 30 minutes. What matters is the engagement and that some content is coming through.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.59.53 AMI started with my 11 year old with, “Preparing Your Son For Every Man’s Battle,” which actually is designed for dads to read with their sons (there is “Preparing Your Daughter For Every Woman’s Battle” as well for moms and daughters). This is from a Christian perspective, but I found it super empowering because I didn’t have to research all about puberty and everything – the book did it for me! When you’re struggling to just say ANYTHING to your child about this topic, trust me, you’ll be SO much more confident if you have a “script” to read from – it truly takes care of more than half the battle right there.

Here’s another incredible resource: fightthenewdrug.org. This is purely social and neuroscience information that explains the harmful and addictive effects of porn on your brain, your relationships, and society. I’d say it’s for mature tweens and definitely for teens and older.

Share the site with your son or daughter and choose an article to read together (especially fromScreen Shot 2015-04-29 at 11.11.25 AM the tab, “Get The Facts”). If your teen is active in social media, encourage them to follow this organization on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (as should you, too!) as they do a great job creating a culture exposing porn for what it is: lame, harmful, and destructive.

Now this might sound freaky at first, but I would suggest you have at least one touch point PER WEEK on an issue related to sexuality or pornography (a “touch point” being some form of communication or interaction). I like to email links to videos from fightthenewdrug.org to my two older boys with a short encouragement from me. Or on the weekends I’ll grab one of them and drive out to the beach and read a part of a book with them. Or watch the video posted above to start a conversation with them about porn. The key is that you have to initiate and you have to be consistent. Remember, you are creating a new culture in your family, so it will take time.

I’ll save points #2 and #3 for the next post. We’ll talk about how to build an open and honest relationship with your kids, as well as implementing guidelines in technology and internet filtering software (which is an absolute MUST).

Make time to speak with your spouse about this tonight, then take action asap.

Breathe, soldier. You got this. 

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* SHARE this with other parents you know who need to hear this encouragement today and stay connected with us on our Facebook page and on Twitter for more on the radical adventures of parenting, marriage, dating, and sex.

 

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“The One Thing That Will Make or Break Your Family Life”

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Sounds a little over dramatic, doesn’t it?

But it’s true. The dynamics of how we prioritize our relationships in our family is one of the most important factors in setting yourself, your spouse, and your kids up for success in life.

Especially for busy parents who can sometimes be plagued with GUILT and who end up putting things in the order – it can be very detrimental to your family.

Find out what you can do to build a successful system in your family…

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Is Counting At Your Kids To Make Them Obey You Hurting Or Helping Them?

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countingatyourkids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know what I’m talking about.

“Krissy, I already told you twice to put that down and get in the car, we’re late. One…Two…Two and half…”

Now, I’m not an Anti-Counting Nazi or anything, but let me share with you why Holly and I are not “counters.”

#1. It is reasonable to set the standard for your children to obey you the first time. By asking twice or counting, we are teaching our kids that they don’t have to obey the first time. Instead, they can wait for mom or dad to get really angry or so serious that they start to count. So that’s not good. If first-time obedience is not a priority for your family, I encourage you to make it one. For us, it is the standard we are always working towards and responding off of.

#2. Counting is flippin’ draining for mom and dad. In your discipline and life of obedience with your kids, you should always avoid any behavior that drains energy from you. Is growing our kids hard work? Yes, but there is good hard work and bad hard work. Good hard work bears fruit over time in your children (as they grow in responsibility and self-control) and is life-GIVING. Bad hard work is the kind that sucks life out of you as YOU carry the majority of the burden of life for your kids and they don’t mature – they actually become more dependant and self-centered over time.

#3. “Counters”often don’t follow up with whatever the heck happens at “Three.” And when they do, it is often a burst of anger. Both of those responses are equally unhelpful to the maturing of our kids (not to mention it is really like a time-bomb for our frustration that WE are counting down to!). Lack of follow-through or outbursts of anger don’t help. Or the other threat, “Okay, we’re leaving without you.” C’mon, you’re not really going to leave your child.

Check out the other videos and posts on the site for what you CAN do to develop obedience in your child if you’re done being a “counter.” Like this one.

YOU CAN DO IT!

All the best as we start a new year together…

Dean

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“The 3 Steps To Get Your Child To Obey You The First Time”

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Are you tired of nagging, begging and pleading with your kids to obey you?

What if there were some simple steps you could take TODAY that would revolutionize your family life and cause your child to obey the first time you asked? Sound too good to be true? Check this short vid (originally posted on SupermomCEO.com) and start implementing these practical steps to see real transformation in your home.

And make sure to SHARE this with others you know who could really use some encouragement and help.

YOU CAN DO IT!

Dean

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2014 DATING TIP #55: Live the Dream, Embrace Compromise

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2014-dating-tip-#55

Compromise isn’t sexy, for sure, but it’s the reality of any relationship, especially the marriage kind.

Ask ANY happily married person you know if they ever compromise with their spouse or kids and they’ll shock you by telling you how many times they have to compromise something in their life… every day! So if it’s a reality for married couples why would it be any different in a serious dating relationship that could be heading for marriage?

But what do I mean by COMPROMISE?

There are two categories of compromise that must be defined:

#1. Areas that you should NEVER compromise. This includes standards of character, integrity, sexual purity, honesty, and aspects of your spirituality or faith. You should keep your standards high for the both of you and never let someone you’re dating tear away at the things that have to do with MORALITY and TRUST. If they are, that fool needs to go…fast.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m speaking about the second category.

#2. Areas of personal preference, selfishness, or non-essential things that you should ALWAYS be open to compromise. This is the killer list and is what can slow you down or sabotage what could be a fantastic relationship that leads to marriage. You still with me?

This category includes pretty much EVERYTHING not included under category #1. Things like changing schedules, preferences in food, exercise, entertainment, night life, wants, likes, desires…things that YOU MAY BE USED TO HAVING FINAL SAY AND FULL CONTROL OVER, those things. You hearing me?

What I’m telling you right now is the real, raw, unedited truth about marriage and life. So you’d better just embrace it and deal with it, because here’s the problem: if your expectations about life while you are dating (or looking to date) someone are unrealistic, then you may jump ship from a potentially awesome marriage relationship due to your own selfish little wants and desires. Let me put it another way: if your quest for the “perfect mate” really is more about finding the person who fits nice and neat into the incredible life that you’ve made for yourself and really don’t want to change, then you may be living more of a fairy tale than real life, my friend.

Listen, I care about you.

I know that this dating thing is WAY more nuanced and complex than one little blog post can ever truly cover. But hear my heart in this. Society has sold us a fantasy that says that you can have it all. Well, you can’t.

And you know what? Life isn’t designed like that. Because if it was, then you and I would never grow. We would never have to face our own selfishness or have to man up in certain situations or face our fears or expand our souls through sacrifice, giving, serving, and unconditional love – IF WE GOT EXACTLY WHAT WE WANTED THEN WE WOULDN’T EVER HAVE THE CHANCE TO BECOME BETTER VERSIONS OF OURSELVES.

So do yourself a favor today and embrace compromise. Know that the relationship you’re in (or the next one around the corner) isn’t perfect on purpose, in fact it is designed to change you. So without lowering your standards in the areas that matter, celebrate the opportunities you have to get involved in the give-and-take, the self-sacrifice, and the imperfect life that you are growing to understand you will have to embrace if you want to live the dream.

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SAVE ME FROM MY KIDS! (How To Survive Winter Break Without Losing Your Mind)

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winter break with kids

You know what I’m talking about. The kids are freaking sugared up, whining and wasted from sleepovers and late night parties, full blown cabin fever has set in, and the amount of movies, electronics, video games and i- everythings are turning them into zombified psychopaths.

Or is it just me?

Here are some quick tips on how to increase the peace.

#1. QUIET TIME AFTER LUNCH: this is one of our best hidden gems. After lunch, break the kiddos up and send them to their rooms (or another quiet place) for a specific amount of time – I use a timer and set it for 45 min or an hour. The RULES: only reading, no games, cell phones, TV, music. Nothing. ONLY reading. Some times we let them draw or write as well. But the idea is to simplify their souls for a time and allow them to “reboot” and “realign” their hearts and souls. Maybe some of them will even fall asleep! The other bonus to this is a patch of quiet time for you (wink).

#2. OUTSIDE PLAY: this may seem like, duh, but it is surprising how little kids play outside these days. Well, it’s even more important over winter break! Get those zombies outside! Now I know that for many of you it’s snowing or freezing cold – I get it. But do whatever it takes to get some fresh air and physical exercise in those little bods. And here’s another key in how to do it (because your kids most likely will protest at first): get up and go out to play WITH them! Not only is it important for you to get some exercise, it will create bonding memories for the whole family.

#3. CRAFTS, BOARD GAMES, & CREATIVE ACTIVITIES: the key to this is simple – when our kids are PROACTIVE with activities versus PASSIVE, their level of engagement increases and their attitudes have a greater shot at changing for the better. I don’t have any science or social data to prove this outside of my own experience, but I can tell you that playing Legos or building a fort outside or in the living room with sheets and pillows rejuvenates your child’s soul in a way that watching a movie or playing a video game on their iPad can never do. And here comes the success tip once again: it’s better if you can make the time to do this WITH your kiddos, not just bark at them to go and figure it out themselves.

I know you’re tired. So am I.

Make a plan. Stick to it. FORCE YOURSELF to do this with your kids. I know you’d rather pass out on the couch, but you’ll be happier and healthier if you PUSH forward with these simple ideas.

And so will your kids.

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If You’re Afraid Of Having Kids…

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if-you're-afraid-of-having-kidsIf You’re Afraid Of Having Kids…

Here’s something I’ve learned that might encourage you today: you can never out-give your family.

What I mean by that is no matter how much I serve, sacrifice, or make selfless choices for the benefit of my wife and kids (which is a very intense reality for folks looking square on at how their lives will change once they start having kiddos), they ALWAYS pour love, fun, and enrichment back into my life beyond what I have ever done for them.

I’ve tested this out for more than 15 years now with my wife and our 5 children, and I am now convinced it is a natural family law: you can never out-give your spouse and kids.

Here’s the trick: true selflessness isn’t thinking about what it will get in return or how it comes back to them. Selflessness is unconditional love, which means that it pours out without expecting anything in return. Truly. But the magic of this is that once that is activated – BOOM! – you are investing in a natural law that is getting ready to bless your socks off. Sounds contradictory, I know, but it’s what I’ve discovered to be true.

Feel free to try it for yourself.

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“Wife Tip #457: How To Deal With Your Husband When He’s A Suckin’ Screw Up”

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wifetip457-

When your husband screws up or is letting you down pretty consistently in an area, the general rule is to not beat him up about it (as much as you want to, I know).

Confront him, discuss how things can change for the better, be generous with your forgiveness and explain how you plan to support him as he matures and grows. Don’t let him off the hook or enable a weakness of his or a victim mentality. But don’t light your hair on fire either.

Here’s why: good guys who make mistakes or are weak in areas as husbands or dads know it too well, and are usually dealing with guilt and shame about it already. If you attack him, he’ll shut down, and that will never help him grow and change. So be redemptive in your correction, loving in your stance for righteousness, and very liberal in your expression of support and faith in him. Let him know how his behavior negatively effects you (and/or the kids), but do your best to communicate that as a fact that has the potential to change, not as a reality that he will never grow out of.

You’re partners, not enemies. The speed of his growth and maturity in many ways is directly proportionate to how you deal with his failures.

It’s best for everyone if you can deal with them with grace.

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“Don’t Sabotage Your Child’s Heart… Empower Them With HONESTY”

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Are you in danger of hardening your child’s heart as you discipline them?

Check out this passionate plea (I really feel this!) and practical application on how to empower your child to live from their heart so they can find success in their life.

This may seem a bit advanced, like “Parenting 301″ or something. A bit emotionally deep. But I cannot over emphasize how important this – especially as we prepare our kids for the teen years!

YOU CAN DO IT.

Watch it. Share it. Live it.

 

 

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