Monday Home School: Marital Satisfaction After Baby

In today’s Home School lesson, Lisa talks about how the transition from marriage into your first child can be challenging — but, there’s hope!  Couples need to be intentional about spending alone time together, be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses as you become parents, and develop a plan for long-term growth as a couple.  You kids will be better for it!

Tips to Help You Avoid Age-Inappropriate Ads on Game Day


With certain advertisers already promising more-risqué commercials this year, it’s important to understand what you can do to help filter the messages your kids might be hearing during the “Big Game” this Sunday:

  • Kids under 7 may not understand that an ad’s purpose is to sell them a product rather than entertain them. You can point out that the ads they see during the Big Game are really meant for grown-ups. Ask them what they think the ads are selling. Sometimes, they won’t even know. And hit the mute button for alcohol ads or spots with violent content. Neither is age appropriate.
  • Share some facts. The food and beverage industry spends more than $10 billion targeting children and youths through TV ads, coupons, contests, public relations promotions, and packaging. And 80 percent of the TV commercials are for fast food, candy, cereal and toys.
  • Give your kids some ad-proofing decoder tips: Ask them who they think created the ad and why they’re sending the messages they are. Who makes money from the ads? What tricks do your kids think the advertisers used to make them want to buy the products being promoted? Does an ad use a favorite celebrity? Does it have some feelings associated with the product—like happiness? What isn’t the ad telling them?
  • Distinguish fantasy from reality. How many calories are in that jumbo burger and soda and those extra-large fries?
  • If your kids are too young to understand the ad, hit the mute button. As a parent, you know best, so anything that feels uncomfortable, you may have to have a conversation you weren’t expecting. If your kids are old enough to talk about the issues, make sure that they’re learning about your perspective and values from you, not getting secondhand opinions from the media or kids on the playground.

Why Are So Many Kids Diagnosed with ADHD?

Why are so many kids getting diagnosed with ADHD?  According to a new study, the number of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has skyrocketed in recent years.

The study was conducted by healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente and reported by CBS News.  Researchers found that the number of black children between the ages of 5 to 11 who received a new ADHD diagnosis increased 70% in the past 10 years.  Newly-diagnosed Hispanic children’s rates went up 60 percent.  For white children, the rate went up 30 percent.

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children, and affects an estimated 3 to 5 percent of school-aged kids.  Typically it is diagnosed more in boys than girls. While some researchers believe ADHD might run in families, there is no clear cause.

Symptoms include having a hard time paying attention, daydreaming, not listening, being easily distracted, forgetfulness, inability to stay still, talking too much, not being able to play quietly, acting and speaking without thinking, having trouble taking turns and frequently interrupting others.  Many children with ADHD have another developmental or behavioral problem as well.

According to the research team at Kaiser Permanente, there is no clear reason for the increasing rates of ADHD.  They say contributing factors may include heightened awareness of the disorder among parents and physicians, which could lead to increased screening and treatment.”

Dr. Roberto Tuchman at Miami Children’s Hospital in Florida cautions that ADHD may overdiagnosed in wealthier groups, and that more outreach is needed in poor communities.

To learn more about ADHD and its treatment, go to

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Puberty’s Effect On The Family

Dear Dr. Bill,

My 10-year-old son is starting into puberty and has become really unhappy about everything.  It seems like he’s always arguing with someone — my wife and me, his siblings, friends, teachers, you name it.  He went from a generally happy child who used to laugh all the time to a fairly miserable kid.  What should we do?


Dear Rick,

When a child enters puberty, the physical, emotional, and relational changes can be stressful-not only for the boy or girl, but for their entire family.  Also, because your son is entering puberty fairly early for a male, this can make the changes even more challenging.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, boys start puberty anywhere from 10-14 years of age, with most completing the process maturity by 15 to 16.

Boys who start the process very early may feel a sense of shame or embarrassment, as their bodies are showing obvious signs of adulthood while all of their peers still look like 10-year-old boys.  Those who enter puberty late in the game also face adjustment issues.  For these kids, all of their friends have begun to look like young men, but their bodies are still immature.  They can begin to dread going to P.E. class and the boys’ locker room.

You can help your son through this adjustment process in two ways.  First, provide him with plenty of medically accurate information so that he will understand what is happening with his body and that this time of change is only temporary.  Assure him that even though he may feel like he’s going crazy, he’s not!

Secondly, provide him with plenty of love, support, and encouragement.  Extend an extra measure of grace to him as he experiences emotional ups and downs and give him space when he needs it.  At the same time, let him know you won’t tolerate aggressive, destructive, or disrespectful behavior in your home.

My friend Dr. Walt Larimore has written an excellent book on this. It’s entitled “God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen.”  You learn more at

Thanks for writing, Rick.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

10 Tips For Better Behavior From Your Kids

If it feels like you’re always yelling, nagging, or nitpicking at your kids, take notes from today’s Home School.  Here are 10 tips to get better behavior out of your kids!  Give ’em a try!

Tech Talk

Here are a couple of tech-related stories for you…

When Janell Hoffman gave her 13-year-old son, Greg, an iPhone this past Christmas, it came wrapped with an 18-point agreement he had to sign in order to use it.

And suddenly she’s become a national sensation for being … a good parent.   According to, his iPhone “contract” included some of these clauses:

“I (Mom) will always know the password,”

“Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm”

“Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room.”

Point 18 reads : “You will mess up.  I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.”

On Good Morning America, Janell said the 18-point list  of conditions was an effort to help her son enter the digital world with a little foresight.

Here’s another story that might interest you…social media and Internet usage are devastating workers’ productivity. Six out of 10 employees visit social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter while on the clock. And we’re interrupted, on average, once every 10.5 minutes by instant messages, Facebook messages and tweets.

After those interruptions, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back on task. That totals $4,452 in lost productivity annually for every social media-using employee in the country—a $650 billion-a-year hit to the American business bottom line.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

To Push or Not To Push

Dear Dr. Bill,

Our 7-year-old son approaches many situations in life with “caution.”  For example, he doesn’t like going fast on motorboats so we start slowly until he’s used to it.  He doesn’t like high and fast roller-coasters, but he’s okay with smaller ones.  But my husband and I disagree on how to handle such things — Dad believes he should be pushed harder, but I want our son to feel free to take his time and not feel like he’s not “tough” enough.    What do you think?


Dear Cindi,

It’s important to take into the account unique personality differences of each child.  Some kids are simply biologically wired to be more cautious, and birth order can affect their temperament as well.

It’s also important to consider a child’s age and level of development.  The fact is that there are a lot of 7-year-olds who would not enjoy traveling in a speed boat at break-neck speed or riding on a gigantic, “death-drop” roller coaster.

Here’s the key: God designed men and women to parent differently, and kids need the balance that comes from having parents of both genders.   These differences should complement and complete each other, so it’s critical to value the contributions that your spouse makes to the parenting process.

I’d encourage you not to overprotect your son—he needs to bond with his dad and develop masculine interests.  Express confidence in him, affirm him, and let him know that you believe he can overcome his fears.

At the same time, your husband needs to be careful not to “push” your son into activities he isn’t comfortable with.  The worst possible thing he can do is to shame or embarrass him—this will have a permanent impact on his self-concept and his confidence level.

As parents, give your son the time and space he needs to develop into the person God created him to be.

Thanks for writing, Cindi.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

20 Homemade Valentine Ideas

There’s something magical about a kitchen table covered in glitter, glue, and hearts made from paper doilies. The valentines of the store-bought variety have become so commercial. They’re more about characters, and less about extending a gift of friendship. This year, why not spend an afternoon crafting and creating with your kids, making truly unique and special valentines for their friends at school?! Have fun making valentines as you make MEMORIES with your kids! Here are 20 ideas to get you started.

Listening All Night Long!

Dear Dr. Bill,

Our 13-year-old son listens to his radio all night long.  My husband and I disagree about whether this is healthy or not — I wonder if our son is getting enough rest and if his brain doesn’t need a break!  Is this healthy?



Dear Karen,

When you say your son listens to his radio “all night long,” are you speaking literally or figuratively?  If he listens to his radio at bedtime and then falls asleep, I wouldn’t be overly concerned.  On the other hand, if he truly does listen “all night long,” you’re right—it’s not healthy and his brain does need a rest.

Young teens should be getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night.  Most don’t, and insufficient sleep can interfere with memory and learning, cause mood problems–even contribute to obesity!  You and your husband need to get on the same page and start setting some firm limits on the amount of time your son listens to music each day, and what time the radio goes off in the evening.

In addition to the sleep issue, if your son spends all of his free time after school and in the evening listening to music, his life is out of balance. He needs to be getting exercise, spending time outdoors, reading, developing meaningful friendships, and engaging in church and social activities.

Just as important as the amount of time he spends listening is the kind of music he’s listening to.   Much of today’s popular music features lyrics that are highly sexualized or that advocate violence.  Some groups are known for songs that emphasize dark, hopeless themes—even to the point of advocating suicide.

By the way, Focus on the Family’s Plugged In website and offers parents reviews of the latest music, helping them to make wise choices about the groups and lyrics they allow their children to listen to.

Thanks for writing Karen.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

“Walk-It-Out Wednesday” – What Do You Do When Your Kids Are Home Sick From School?

It’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and today is another “Walk-It-Out Wednesday!”  My three oldest kiddos were all home sick yesterday….yup….it’s that time of the year. My wife was SO glad when I got home last night as she was “nurse mom” to all of them. What do you do when your kids are home sick and everyone’s schedule changes…….how do you handle it and “walk-it-out?”