Thursday, March 18, 2010

Video Game Competition!

How does homework and academics compete with video games?

In the news this morning was a short article that stated, “Study: Video Games Can Hurt Schoolwork. Study suggests new video gamers face immediate drop in reading, writing skills at school.” (Here’s the link if you would like to read the article).

My response to this new finding is ‘duh.’ Surprise, surprise, kids would rather play games than study. Okay, in all fairness, the authors of the study state that while the conclusion seems obvious, “it was important to scientifically prove that conventional wisdom was correct.” I agree, it is nice to know that our common sense holds up in the scientific study. But what is a parent to do? Here are our thoughts…

First, wait. Don’t introduce a gaming system into the house while the kids are young. We waited until our kids were 8 and 10 before we got our first gaming system. They had plenty of other interests and were both avid readers before this decision was made. They had friends over, and wrote and acted out plays with them as one of their pastimes. We knew they were developing socially and creatively before we got the system. Before this, they did play some educational games on the computer, such as Reader Rabbit, but we had no gaming system.

Second, no gaming system until all homework is done. We have a strict routine in our house that is printed and posted. Get home from school, hang up your coat, eat your snack (they usually visit and chat over their snack to provide a nice break and transition), then finish homework. No electronic entertainment until homework is finished.

Third, set strict time guidelines for play. For example: our kids (who are now 12 and 14) are allowed three – 30 minute turns* on either a game system or the computer (after each turn, they must offer the game to anyone else in the house who might want to play, they must also record the turn on a dry-erase board kept near the computer). After those turns, they can read for 1 hour to earn three more turns. After that, they are done for the day, they cannot earn any more turns. (We have made exceptions to this during vacations or school holidays and allowed them to read additional hours to earn more turns.) We have several kitchen timers around the computer and in the living room for them to track their time. And if we find that they don’t have the timer set, then their current turn is immediately over, they must offer the game to others.

Finally, the above guidelines would be adjusted based on the school performance of the child. If certain academic areas suffer, then gaming time would be reduced and replaced by work in that area.

Do you have some ideas or thoughts on how to win the ‘video game competition’? Please comment through the blog or drop us an email and we will post it.

* three – 30 minutes turns will be too much for a family that watches television. In our house we don’t watch TV (None. Zero. Really, it’s true.) In a home where the kids watch TV, this should be adjusted downward according to the time spent on TV. The same guideline could be used for all video-based entertainment, that is, three – 30 minute turns of TV, computer, or game system, then 1 hour of reading to earn more turns.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Have you traded your Passion for Glory?

For many of us as Christian parents, we inadvertently give the impression that Christianity is about what we do and don’t do. We say it’s about a relationship with God, but we live a life that exhibits the fact that our Christianity is bound up in two things: rules and busyness. We don’t do certain unbecoming things (at least not openly) and we busy ourselves in the multitude of programs, Bible studies, seminars, so-called “ministry opportunities,” and church events that keep us safely ensconced behind the fortress walls of our church buildings or within our tight circle of Christian friends. We surround ourselves with all the accoutrements of middleclass suburban evangelicalism and we don’t realize that we have traded our passion for glory, we have left the adventure for the country club.

Our children see the protected shell that we call Christianity and it’s no wonder they want out. God has placed within us a longing for adventure. Our kids have that longing and the irony of the situation is: if we were truly living out our faith as the passionate adventure that it was intended to be, they would actually be drawn to it, rather than repelled by it.

Is your faith a passionate adventure or a safe hideaway?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Teens, Dating and Purity

Recommended Books for Teens

Do you wonder what books about dating and purity would be good for your teens to be reading? Do you wonder how to select a book that is age appropriate for your teen? Let’s face it, even some good, solid, Christian books have too much information for certain age kids!! Do you ever wish someone could read all the books and recommend the best ones for the best ages? Well, my wonderful wife, Sandra has done just that!

Below is a list of recommended books arranged by the age at which the book would be appropriate for reading by a teen. Click the title of any book to see the Amazon web page which gives lots of information and, in many cases, reviews. (No, we don’t get any money from Amazon for putting these links in … they are just for your information. Many of these books are available at your local library!)

Books I would recommend for a 12 year old regarding puberty, dating, marriage, sex and purity:

Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado
So You’re About to be a Teenager by Dennis and Barbara Rainey

Books I would recommend for a 13 year old regarding dating, marriage, sex and purity:

I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris

Books I would recommend for a 14-15 year old regarding dating, marriage, sex and purity:

Eyes Wide Open by Brienne Murk
Authentic Beauty by Eric and Leslie Ludy
Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti by Chad Eastham with Bill and Farrel
Connecting With God: A Teen Mania Devotional by Ron Luce
Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris
Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

Books I would recommend for a 16 year old regarding dating, marriage, sex and purity:

Not even a Hint by Joshua Harris
When God Writes your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy

Books I would recommend for an 18 year old regarding marriage, sex and purity:

A Perfect Wedding by Eric and Leslie Ludy
Every Young Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn
Every Young Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge

Got any great recommendations? Send us an email with your reviews of books for teens or parents!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rollercoaster in the Dark

A radio talk show host who discusses technology recently received the following message from a parent, “I caught my 12-year-old daughter sending a picture of herself naked to her boyfriend. She used her cell phone. I guess I should have talked to her sooner. But how do I do it now? I am so confused. And I feel like a bad parent.”

Raging hormones are as old as time, but the techno-culture we live in has complicated things more than just a bit. We live in an image-rich web of interconnectivity in which privacy is a fa├žade and images, information, and relationships move at the speed of electrons.

I love rollercoasters. A couple years ago my family and I rode Space Mountain at Disney World and we all loved it. What makes this roller coaster unique is that it is indoors with all kind of lighting effects and visuals that make the ride a whole different experience. At times during the ride it is completely dark, and you cannot see when the next turn or twist is going to take place.

Going to Junior High and High School has always been kind of like being on a rollercoaster. It still is, but now the environment has changed so much, it’s like riding in the dark where you don’t know when the next drop off is going to occur. But for our kids, Space Mountain is the only rollercoaster they have ever known, so although we try to talk to them about it, their experience is so different, it is like speaking to someone from a different country. In a very real sense, we as parents need to be missionaries to our kids, entering into their culture and learning their language and sharing the timeless, unchangeable message of Christ with them in ways that they understand.

Our goal is not to operate out of a spirit of fear, but a position of strength. Strength in our own walk with God, strength in our relationships with our children, and in turn, their own strength in their desire and resolve to follow Christ.

As we re-launch Passionate Legacy, our desire is to create a community where parents can discuss and work together toward the goal of raising kids who are strong enough in their convictions to stand firm, even in the face of the difficult-to-navigate waters of our culture. We are inviting questions, comments and a trading of resources to help in this objective. Please feel free to use the email link on the right to give any feedback.

Kids will make their own decisions, they will develop and chose for themselves their own worldview. How they see you and your worldview will affect their choices. Do you have strength in your convictions? How does your worldview affect the way you live your life? Is your way of life desirable, based on truth, and ultimately satisfying? Do your beliefs actually work in the real world? The answers to those questions will influence how much your kids desire to adopt your beliefs and way of life.

Resource: Are you wondering about the 12-year-old sending pictures to her boyfriend? Click HERE for the article.