I LOVE Thanksgiving.
To me, it is more than the commemoration of a meal that the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared together. It is an overarching principle that reminds us of everything that God has blessed us with. It is where universal brotherhood mingles with religion and patriotism.
In this article, I'm sharing 18 ideas I've gathered from my resources, as well as friends and readers to help make Thanksgiving more meaningful. Some ideas are fun, and some are more heavy. Hopefully, there will be something here that resonates with you.
Pornography is an open secret that no one likes to talk about. But it is everywhere and affects anyone who has access to a device that can connect to the internet. It can happen at any age, and be anywhere. As I was talking to my friend Jewel about this post, she told me that her first grader was exposed to pornography for the first time at school. On a school computer. That one of his classmates had hacked.
That makes me sick and mad all at the same time.
Sometimes we wonder, but don't have the heart to ask:
Have my young children been exposed to it?
Is my teenager watching it?
Is my spouse watching it?
Hard core or soft core, I am a firm believer that no type pornography has a legitimate place in society. It's often fake, always objectifying, and takes attention away from real relationships, not to mention it also feeds the human trafficking and sex trades. A lot of other people and organizations feel this way, too. One of these, Fight the New Drug is a non-profit that is dedicated to sharing the science of how pornography works in our brains, relationships, and how it affects the world.
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Values: justice, mercy, love, duty, forgiveness, sacrifice
Age group: 10+
Justice, mercy, compassion, love for your fellow man, duty, loyalty, unselfishness. . . This work of Victor Hugo is unparalleled. Though fiction, it has so much truth packed into it.
This story is a favorite of our family. We love selected songs from the Broadway musical, we love the book (which you can get FREE on Kindle!). But when it comes to movies. . . things get a bit more tricky. I want to share this wonderful story with my children BEFORE they are old enough to read the five inch thick book sitting on our bookshelf- but I don't feel that many of the movie adaptations are appropriate for them.
Fantine's situation is terrible, no doubt. And we should understand it. But why are sex acts often shown as part of the movie? Why do some focus on making the Thenardier's as low and as crass as they can possibly be? To me, these things are a distraction and prevent me from sharing this story with my children. There is SO MUCH MORE to this story than those things. These characters and their situations were not meant to be the main focus- Jean Valjean and his journey from convict to saint, is.
That is why I love this movie version of Les Miserables. Starring Richard Jordan and Anthony Perkins, it is not only a family favorite, but also family appropriate. (There is a little bit of minor swearing, and Fantine does mention selling her body once, but that is the extent of it.) Best of all, I can teach my kids all of the wonderful lessons this story contains.
My children love this movie just as much as I do. Though it is a bit dated (hmm, is that why it's family friendly?), that doesn't really matter to them. The Bishop is so, so sweet. Richard Jordan plays Jean Valjean to perfection, and Anthony Perkins shows just how terrible justice is without mercy or understanding.
The only thing I would change about this movie would be to include some of my favorite Broadway "Les Mis" songs in it. But I guess you can't have everything!
One of the beautiful things about this world, is that whenever things seem dark, there is always a way to give light to those around us.
Kayley Willis felt really helpless. Some of her family members have been going through some very challenging times--and there was nothing she could do to help. But as she thought about it, she realized that though she could not do anything for her cousins, there were a lot of other people she COULD help. And that is how 3E Snacks was born.
Nationally, 1 in 5 children struggle with getting enough food to eat. Kayley had heard of the idea of providing school children with food for the weekend and had looked into it a bit, but when she needed an outlet for her concern for her family members, that is when 3E Snacks became a reality.
In Becoming Rome: How Our Culture Celebrates and Promotes Violence, I shared several articles and studies that showed the scientifically proven causal link between watching violent acts in media and violent behavior. I also shared some articles that argued the opposite-- that in fact, media violence does not cause real world violence. If you haven't read it, I invite you to read it here.
What to believe? That is up to you.
However, I believe in educating hearts- or as Sarah Mackenzie puts it, "teaching children to love what they ought, and to hate what they ought." Charlotte Mason puts it differently, that we should teach children "less good conduct than good character."
In that light, I believe that as parents, we should be very deliberate in what we watch, what our children to watch, and how we vote with our dollars as we use media- holding influencers accountable for what they create or promote.
Violence is in the news every day: shootings, road rage, domestic violence, anger at our families, and disputes with neighbors. Sometimes people are injured or killed. Other times the violence is so subtle, we don't even notice it as the Arbinger Institute so perfectly teaches us.
Experts will tell you (though the news doesn't reflect it,) that crime is lower than it used to be 25 years ago - but it is slowly starting to rise again. Politicians and researchers argue over gun control, the Ferguson effect, and more. Honestly, it's hard to know who to believe as we talk about a variety of emotionally charged issues related to violence.
But no matter what the violence rates are, I think we can all agree that they are too high. So what if I were to tell you that there was something that may decrease those rates? Something that you have direct control over?
There just might be.
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Suggested ages: 7+ for read alouds
May not be a good fit for sensitive children.
I randomly received this book as part of a Sonlight package of books. I had never heard of it before, and had no expectations about it, other than Sonlight book selections are awesome. But this is fantastic! We are using it as a read aloud and my 8 year old who doesn't get excited about much is TOTALLY excited about it and never wants us to stop reading.
'Nuff said right there.
If you want a fun international read, this book fits the bill.
Does anyone else sometimes find it hard to know how to start a good conversation with their kids? I have to admit, sometimes my brain goes completely blank. I am not a good conversationalist, period.
More than just making conversation however, asking questions build bonds. It tells our kids that we are interested in them and what they are doing. It builds self confidence. In various situations, it also teaches them emotional intelligence, oral presentations skills, and models how to interact respectfully and be interested in others.
When I saw the topic of questions come up on a Leadership Education Facebook page that I am a part of, I loved what I saw. With their permission, here are some of the questions that they suggested, as well as others that I have observed great parents, teachers and mentors ask:
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See if any of this sounds attractive to you:
This solution will give you all of that- and more!
If you've ever read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad written by Robert Kiyosaki (which I highly recommend, by the way), you have probably heard of the Cashflow games that were developed by the author to help children and adults understand the difference between assets and liabilities, and to help them understand balance sheets.
Guys, let me tell you that they work.
“Oh ya! Well at least I know how to be nice to people. You only know how to be mean!”
Let’s start by getting the right perspective about sibling rivalry. Here’s an unspoken truth- it is virtually characteristic of all children and it is in all families. The only way to get rid of sibling rivalry is to get rid of the siblings!
Why? Because it’s such an important part of life. It allows our children to learn about reality, the push and pull of relationships and where people’s limits are. In my parenting classes, I shock everyone by saying that I am an advocate for sibling rivalry! And the reason is because they are learning so much while they argue.
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"We want to illuminate the sacred meaning