Monday, November 17, 2014

Confessions of a Former Bully

Bullying is such a hot topic right now. We are getting so much information from the school about it: special night events at school about how to stop bullying, letters about how bullying won't be tolerated, special initiatives and on and on.

Most of the information is along the lines of how to teach your child what to do when someone is bullying them.

-Tips on how to report bullying
-How to stand up to a bully
-Strategies to stay safe from bullies
-Helping other kids who are being bullied

But is that all we want to do? Teach our kids how to handle bullies? Are there bullies that they can't do anything about and so we just have to learn how to tolerate them?

Why don't we hear more information about how to teach someone NOT to bully? Wouldn't that be a more productive way to address the issue?

My daughter is a loving, kind, intelligent girl and this week she came home to tell me that one of her classmates is telling others that she is a bully and a snitch (which, isn't that bullying?). As sweet as she is, our girl is a strong willed, confident, first-born who is destined to be a leader one day. She's learned how to use her leadership power to manipulate her younger brother and friends. We've discussed with her how she gets to choose whether her leadership gifts will either be used for good or for bad. She's navigating the elementary years and trying to figure out how she fits in the world.

Being labeled as a bully is a real stigma. I'd say that many kids who bully don't even realize they are bullying others. Being a bully in my day was characterized as the big kid who beat up the little kid and took his lunch money. But now bullying is any kid who is picking on someone else or using their words (not just fists) to get others to do what they want. And there is also cyber-bullying to be concerned about also.

I happened on this book the other day at the library and I want to highly recommend if you are concerned your child might be bullying others you have a child.

It gives a grace filled look at what being a bully really means and how to change. It is written from a child's perspective in a great 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid/Dear Dumb Diary' style that makes it a fun and engaging read for kids. But it's full of great information on both sides of the bullying issue: How to not bully others and how to deal with someone who bullies.

I really appreciate a look at this issue from the bully's point of view. That the bully is a girl is even better and more helpful for my daughter. The main character of the book talks about how bullying hurts everyone, even the person who bullies.

I think that most kids will probably find themselves on both sides if they are honest. I know mine are learning and growing and hopefully they are learning lessons like these and I'd love it if more people shared this book with their children.

I did NOT receive a copy of this book for my review, just thought it was worth reviewing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Mom's Prayers for Her Son

A few months ago Hubby read through A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter and so when this book came up I was excited to get it:

This year I am becoming increasingly aware of the power of prayer. As a mom there is only so much that I can do for my kids. I can provide a good environment for growth but it's God who does the work of growth in their hearts. Through tough experiences I'm seeing that my prayers are not simply hopes tossed up to heaven but a real, powerful weapon against the work of the enemy in our life. James 5:16b - "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

In my prayers I am going to battle on their behalf, I'm fighting for their hearts. This book has been an encouragement to me in my prayer work for my sons. I'm finding my heart agreeing with the prayers and praying them for my sons, myself and the rest of my family too.

The 77 prayers are not categorized so you could go to any based on what your child might be needing prayer for. There are 15 side stories aside from the prayers and each prayer and story has a few verses of scripture. The prayers are varied on many different areas of his life including:

When He's Angry
When He Goes Online
When He's Stressed
When He Feels Alone
When He Needs Self-Control

Many of them are specific and since I'm reading straight through the book I find that some of them don't apply to his life right now. It would be great to come back to in that time of need or to pray in advance over him. They really could be adapted to any age child, I'm finding that I pray them over my 3 year old and over my 8 year old, but that I most often think of my 8 year old. I can envision the issues he is dealing with today and in the near future.

These prayers are helping me be specific in my prayer work for the boys, not just offering up 'Oh Lord, be with them today, help them, keep them safe.' Through these prayers I'm considering the heart of my boys and how I can bring them before God's throne and ask Him to change their hearts, protect their minds and guide them into His truth.

I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Good News About Marriage

I ran across an article on Facebook a while back about some recent research done on marriage and divorce statistics and the book that detailed the research. It included some startling findings.

  • rriages are happy.
  • Simple changes make a big difference in most marriage problems.
  • Most remarriages succeed.
  • - See more at:

  • The actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50 percent.
  • Those who attend church regularly have a significantly lower divorce rate than those who don’t.
  • Most marriages are happy.
  • Simple changes make a big difference in most marriage problems.
  • Most remarriages succeed.
  • - See more at: actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50 percen-The actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50 percent.

    -The actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50 percent. 
    -Those who attend church regularly have a significantly lower divorce rate than those who don’t.
    -Most marriages are happy.
    -Simple changes make a big difference in most marriage problems.
    -Most remarriages succeed.

    I was intrigued and jumped at the chance to review the book, "The Good News About Marriage." We've all heard the statistics that 50% of marriages end in divorce, that Christians are just as likely as non-Christians to get divorced and remarriages have a high rate of divorce. Where did these statistics come from and how have they been misinterpreted? explains in the first chapter how she got started on this 8 year project. She was working on an article about marriage and wanted to cite correctly the statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce. She tried to find the study for 2 or 3 hours and finally tossed it to her research assistant, Tally, so she could get back to writing. When Tally got back to her after several more hours without a definitive answer they called an expert on marriage and divorce who told them, 'No one knows and there are many different types of surveys and different ways of tracking divorce.' They found that the Census Bureau stopped projecting divorce rates in 1996 and those projections were based on divorce increasing while it's actually decreased.

    With my background in Psychology I did a lot of work in school on how to conduct research studies and analyze statistics, so this book was especially interesting to me but it may be cumbersome to those who aren't into tracking numbers and statistical research. But the message of the book needs to be spread because these are very discouraging myths about marriage and divorce.

    It was really interesting to see her unpack each of the myths, to show where the statistical studies had been misapplied, misinterpreted or just simply did not exist! There were some studies that were 'projections' that had, over time, become accepted as the reality. According to the most recent authoritative data (Census Bureau 2009) 72% of people are still married to their first spouse. And that data does not account for those who are not still married but their marriage was ended by the death of their spouse, not divorce.

    The myth of 'divorce being equal in the church as it is outside of the church' is based on a Barna study that has been misunderstood. The study in question was looking at divorce trends based on faith based beliefs and self assessment of faith, not faith based practices like worship attendance. So participants were asked if they affiliated themselves as a Christian, not whether they were currently practicing their religion. New tabulations of the data shows that when a person attends church it lowers their chances of divorce by roughly 25-50% compared to those who don't attend. It also found that those who prioritize their faith and/or pray together are dramatically happier and more connected.

    As for the remarriage statistics, she found that a large majority of remarriages last. Among women in their second marriage 65% are still married to their spouse and of those who aren't many of those were widowed rather than divorced (because second marriages tend to happen later in life and thus have a higher likelihood to end because of the death of a partner than marriages at a younger age).

    Why is any of this even important or note worthy? One of the reasons that marriages don't make it is a loss of hope. There is a sense that 'we only have a 50-50 shot of making it' or a couple who is considering divorce thinks 'well, at lease we have a lot of company.' Some people avoid marriage all together thinking, 'Why bother?'

    It's also encouraging for pastors to know there is hope in the church for marriages! To know that studies have shown that couples who attend church, read their bibles, and/or pray together have a lower rate of divorce is a reason to encourage couples to get involved with a supportive church community and that believing in God and acting on your faith does make a difference in practical things like the success of your marriage.

    We have lacked confidence in the institution of marriage for far too long. It's sad to go to a wedding, flip a coin and conclude that this couple only has a 50-50 shot of making it for life. This book really encouraged me by the facts that have been undermined by misunderstandings and incomplete data. Now we can change the way we think about marriage, divorce, and the positive impact that faith can have in the life of a couple.

    I received a copy of this book through the Blogging for Books Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.