Monday, March 30, 2015

Why is Parent Development needed in the church?

I have been reading a study by the Institute for Advanced Studies of Culture. It looks specifically at what parents in America have to say about parenting. There were two statistics which stood out to me as troubling. The first is "Though a minority of parents say they have “little clue what it takes to be a really good parent” (9 percent), “feel inadequate as parents” (21 percent), or believe that their children need more from them than they are able to provide (31 percent), it doesn’t mean that they are not worried about how they are doing as parents. The majority (55 percent) expressed concern about their effectiveness, admitting that they often wonder whether they are doing a good job at parenting." The second is "The overwhelming majority of American parents (96 percent) say “strong moral character” is very important, if not essential, to their children’s future.What is more, while most (69 percent) agree that “we would all be better off if we could live by the same basic moral guidelines,” large swaths of the population of American parents live by an everyday (as opposed to philosophical) relativ- ism, believing that there are “few moral absolutes."

Adults are not being simply challenged by their sense of being overwhelmed in parenting. But, they must also fight in a culture where most adults believe in moral reativ-ism, and raise children who believe the opposite. I find it ironic we have not been supporting adults all along in the area of parenting. One of the most common statements about parenting is "children do not come with a handbook" and yet attending parenting classes is considered taboo some how.
We in the church have bought into the myth that parenting is an innate ability. Rather, than recognizing parenting is a learned behavior. If we had great parents who both taught and treated us well then our children will have at least one parent who has good training. However, unless both adults grew up in stable Christian homes it is rare both will be. Even more concerning is when neither parent has had a good example.

Parenting is a unique relationship. It is the only one where two people start a relationship where one is completely dependent on the other and grows into an independent adult who can become a friend and even a colleague. This happens not by osmosis but by the consistent, purposeful, development of every area of a child's life. Most adults have no real idea what this entails as noted by the study's finding. Yet, parents can know if given the tools to do so.

The church can provide the atmosphere of both support and training for adults to be effective parents. Who know exactly what they are doing and why. Here are three things churches can do:
  1. Create an atmosphere where all church members understand and support the growth and development of the next generation. This support should extend to both parent and child.
  2. Offer strong and ongoing training for parents with children of every age from birth to college level.
  3. Create avenues for adults to support one another in their parenting. It could be support groups, Sunday School Classes, specific fellowship groups, Ask the Pastor or Leader question/answer events, Bible Studies, etc.
If you are interested in doing something more specific and targeted starting a Parent Development Ministry is what I would recommend. Believe in Parenting is a training and coaching program for churches to support the development of this type of ministry. For more information visit the website here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Parents, School Control, and the State

Here in Georgia our Governor is seeking to take over several failing public schools and turn them over to a charter school company. While I am a strong supporter of school choice I am wary of our public schools becoming privatized and a major business rather than a true place for education. This brings up a true conundrum for me. One I know for a fact having been in education for years the unions are often more trouble than they are worth. They play both sides of the fence. First, they want to protect jobs over protecting our children. Secondly, they are often more concerned about keeping the status quo versus accepting change.

I believe in free public education. However, our system here in the United States is broken. While the richer counties have great schools with plenty of resources. Schools in poorer counties have less to work with. The disparity even within the city of Atlanta is stark and disturbing. The question is, is  taking control away from panrents and the local community the answer? I do not believe so. I wrote Govenor Deal an email about the importance of parent and community involvement. I asked him should this law pass, he put a  struck and unbreakable clause into any contract requiring the company not only listen to parents but, find ways to implement  changes, or forfeit there contract. In, addition, I gave him a suggestion on how to move forwards should the law fail.

I encourage you to get involved and take action. Schools belong to children, parents, and the community to where it stands. What can you do? Contact your Georgia State Representative or Senator. Attend the protest on Monday. See this blog for more information. Write a letter to the editor of the AJC. Write Governor Deal. Organize local parents to write letters. There is a better way to get these failing schools improved, government takeover iin my opinion is not one of them. I believe it will put too much distance between schools, parents and the community.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thank You to the Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta

This past Monday I was hosted by Reverend Frank Brown the President of the Concerned Black Clergy at their Community Forum. I was able to speak to them about Parent Development Ministries. I found the Pastors, Ministers, Clergymen, and Community Members to be very interested. I am excited about moving forward to bring our program to the community.I thank Reverend Brown for giving me the opportunity to speak.

The overarching theme to the day's events was helping and looking out for the next generation. On the CBC's agenda was Understanding more and doing more regarding Sex Trafficking in our community and how churches can become involved in the effort to curb this practice and help all involved to make better and healthier choices.

Also, on the agenda was the fight they are waging against the formation of Opportunity Schools  which our state's governor is pushing to try and improve failing schools. The issue is Governor Deal wants to turn these schools over to a private sector charter school program. The CBC is adamant what needs to happen is not privatization, but true school improvement. They are not happy that schooling will be taken out of the hands of the local community, parents, and teachers. I believe this is the wrong move. On this score. I am not against using the services of the Charter School to support any change that needs to happen in these schools. However, the state taking over schools smackes of bureaucracy which never seems to really get anything done effectively. I am going to do a little more investigation and get back to you on this with more detail.

 In the meantime on March 30th this coming Monday the CBC will be part of a protest called Moral Monday Georgia  Education Day Rally. It will be from 4-8 pm at Liberty Plaza at the State Capitol. They are asking for support of House Bill 481 which calls for Mandated Histories of Ethnic peoples in the K-12 Core Curriculum. They are also asking to call your state official to vote against House Bill 181 and Senate Bill 232. The privatization bill I spoke of earlier.If you need more information contact Thomas Terry at,

The last and very impressive meeting agenda item was the Drug Abuse Ministry to women called Gilgal. Gilgal is a faith-based one year in-house program for women who are suffering from substance abuse. This program is bible-based and works diligently to help women turn their lives around and become employed, Jesus centered church going and volunteer focused women. I was very impressed with their leader Joyce Bray a graduate of the program who has become the program's leader. If you would like more information click the link here

I was very enlightened and educated at this community forum. The Concerned Black Clargy is open to any clergyman, community member businessmen or concerned citizen who is interested. You can attend the Community Forum on Mondays from 9:30-11:30 am at the Vicker's Community Center  838 Cascade Road, College Park, GA.  I would again like to thank the CBC for the opportunity to speak with them. I look forward to a better future for families because of it.

Believe in Parenting!!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

How Churches have Unintentionatly Hurt Families

I love the church and believe that all God's people try to the best of their ability to love and serve one another.  I also know we can become tunnel visioned. We have created Marriage Ministries, Children's Ministries, Ministries to help parent to raise godly children. What we have not done is create ministries to help adults to parent effectively in all areas and raise healthy, well-adjusted, contributing, and stable adults.

I will say the church is not the only arena to neglect this process. Most people think there is something wrong if adults need help with parenting. Which is rather ironic when the most common statement about parenting is "children do not come with a handbook". I believe there can be truly well developed parenting ministries that are part of a churches Family Ministries. There needs to be consistent ongoing classes, support groups and discussions for parents with children of every age. However, parenting ministries are notoriously difficult to get running. Believe in Parenting offers churches training and coaching services in developing Parent Development Ministries.

Our Parent Development Ministry has three focus points:

  • Challenging parents to examine their own lives and to adjust where needed into living their own godly purpose driven lives.
  • Facilitating the growth of each parent through an understanding of child development, personality, temperament, and other aspects of childhood to give them the basis for dealing with children based on understanding.
  • Empowering parents with the tools they need to establish strong interpersonal relationships with their children. Then training them to use their influence to empower their children to develop lives lived with purpose courage, and conviction.
.It is our goal to help your church to establish this ministries through a unique one-on-one coaching program with your leadership team. This training program come into your atmosphere and develop the Parent Development Ministry based. Working with staff and volunteers, PT&A will bring in the tools, training, and parent development curriculum to trains a team of believers can then offer this Parent Development Ministry to other parents in your congregation.

If you would be interested in learring more about our training and coaching program. Check out our websites Parents, Teachers, and AdvocatesBelieve in Parenting.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ona Brown's Own Your Dreams Tour

Do you know your dreams? Have you turned them into goals? Do you need some help or encoragement? Then the Ona Brown Own your Dreams Tour is for you. This program is to help you to start to Own your Dreams and work towards making them come true. You might ask how does this relate to parenting? I will tell you. I believe parents are to inspire, motivate, and empower their children. Finding a way to live what you dream sets the example for them to do the same. Finding a way to live your dream is inspiring to tohose around you. Being happy to get up and go to work or to do what it is you have dreamed of in other ways motivates those around you to learn to get into living their dreams. Your talking about what you have done and what steps, missteps and successes empowers others to know if they work hard and stick with it, they too can live their dreams.This is all true for your children. Dr. Phil's says you can not lead where you have not been. So, I challenge you to take on a day to begin living your dreams. The tour is free, but if you would like more information or to support this effort you can use the link below to donate $22.00 or more to offset the cost.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Why Early Reading IS a Problem!

Once again the experts in Early Childhood Education are being ignored. Those in Elementary Education really do think they know what is best for children even though research and over 100 years of practice and  experience in early childhood says they are wrong.

In an article I posted on Linked in several years ago  I wrote about the real differences between Early Childhood and Elementary Education. The link is here. The most important point of this article is the fact those in Elementary Education do not have the foggiest notion about how young children learn or why it is important not to push academic learning on them too soon.

We in this country are already talking about teaching Emotional Intelligence in Elementary School. Why? Because we are so focused on getting young children to read, we are failing to support what they really need to be focused on, their Social/Emotional Development.

Many in Elementary Education think those of us who are critical of early reading are being overly sensitive. The truth is we know putting reading before proper social/emotional development leads to children who have issues following directions, listening, self-control, regulating emotions, getting along with others, and many other things they need to succeed in school on a daily basis.

Early Childhood Professionals know these things are the foundation of  children doing well in school. They need these skills. The thing about ECE is our goal is to meet the needs of each individual child. The truth is some children will master the social skills early and be ready for learning to read. However, many will not. The concern we are expressing is if Common Core pushes learning to read in Kindergarten, then we are putting Emotional Intelligence out of order and both the children snd the educational community will suffer for the misplaced order of development.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Inside-Out/Upside Down Lesson Planning

Every Early Childhood Professional know it is preferable that children learn through play. The environment is to be set up to help children to learn through exploration and discovery. Teacher directed learning is not only discouraged. It is developmentally inappropriate and not professional. So, the question becomes how do we create lesson plans which allow for proper classroom interactions? My session at the Online Quality Conference will answer this questions. Below is the description.

Every week thousands of Early Childhood Professionals sit down to write lesson plans. These plans are what teachers use to guide the development of the children in their care. This process is ideally about creating activities to allow Abby to explore dinosaurs, while also allowing Sammy to create lovely meals. However, many times it has been created for them by the corporation they are headed by, who have no idea what the interests of the children. In addition, Paul has trouble with his motor skills, and Sarah is working on her speech. These issues also need to be addressed, but the curriculum purchased and assigned use by the leadership, can be so broad it hinders a teacher's ability to narrow down the weekly activities to support these particular needs.

We all know the classroom is supposed to be a child centered environment developing their development, interests, and needs. However, the curriculum tends to be either too specific or to vague to really meet these needs. Though we all know the goal of Early Childhood is to allow the children to learn from the environment and their own interests most programs have difficulty in making that happen.

Inside-Out/Upside-Down Lesson Planning helps teachers to change their focus in lesson planning from the curriculum-focus to children-focused. Teachers learn observation techniques, use of child developmental domains, and tailoring of current curriculum to create lesson plans which will provide child directed classroom content. Teachers will be able to :

Use classroom observations to:
Create activities which support individual children's interests.
Provide challenging activities to support the development of all children in the classrooms
Use the understanding of Domain Development to promote growth and development of classroom environments which develops each child's understanding of their abilities and support weaknesses

Create lesson plans that are truly led by children's interests and developmental needs while staying within the framework of whatever curriculum is being used by their center.

Want to know more and enroll in the Online Quality Conference? Click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spaking or not Spaking American Parents Setting the Example

A colleague mentioned today an article in the Washington Post which spoke to the fact that adults often parent their children they way they were parented. Millennials Like To Spank Their Kids Just As Much As Their Parents Did. Dr. Dorothy  Law Nolte wrote it best in her poem  Children Live What They Learn. Studies have shown over and over it is the consistency of day in day out living which shapes the lives of children. If you would like your children to grow up and not spank then do not spank them. The issue becomes then how do I discipline them?

The answer is you make different choices. So, here is my take. There is a difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is the use of rules and consequences to teach children to have self-control. Punishment is about paying for wrong doing. The motivation of discipline is teaching. The motivation of punishment is anger and control. This is going to be a point where I differ from most of my colleague; spanking is not the problem. The problem is that spanking is used as punishment and not as discipline.

When I teach this concept in my classes, I say never spank when you are angry. If the child deserves a spanking  when you are angry; they will deserve one when you are calm. The response I most often get? If I did not spank when I am angry I would never spank." My response then? Are you disciplining or are you punishing?

Punishing is not about helping your child learn. This is why so many feel so strongly against spanking. The truth is punishment is not effective because the motive is not about learning it is about making the child feel badly about what they have done. The problem with punishment is there is no choice to do right. Only control and anger of doing something wrong. I ultimately think this is abuse.Please note I did not say spanking is abuse. I said the use of punishment is abusive. If your child does something wrong and in anger you tell them they are not allowed to watch their favorite TV program because you want them to feel bad about what they did; that is also abuse.

Discipline is about knowing the boundaries what it is okay to do and what is not acceptable. It is also knowing that if I chose to do what is not acceptable there will be consequences. This requires lots of discussion, lots off reminders, and lots of support to remind children. Once children know and understand the rules. It is then about helping them to chose to follow them because it is the right thing to do. It is mainly about teaching our children to chose to do right. I encourage parents to sit down as a family and talk about the rules and consequences before using discipline. Give the whole family a chance to have a say in both the rules and the consequences. Then create a family covenant to hang on the wall in both written form for older children and picture form for younger children. Then to review those rules and consequences on a regular basis. (By the way the family covenant is for everyone. If the rule is do not leave your soda can out put it in the recycle bin. Consequence: if you do you take the trash out for a week. If Dad leaves his can out, he takes the trash out for a week).

Now if we are talking about spanking here is where the difference comes in. If the family decided a serious offence requires a spanking then a spanking can be used. As long as the four rules of discipline are followed. The four rules of discipline are.

  1. Sit down together and discuss the broken rule and the consequence.
  2. Discuss the situation and help the child to see how they came to make the wrong decision and what they can do to chose the better choice next time.
  3. Apply the consequence
  4. Renew the relationship
Number four is the most important part of the process of discipline. It is the main factor of the difference between discipline and punishment. The relationship between parent and child is the most important thing. Therefore, if I have to apply the concept of discipline I do not want your to feel badly I want you to learn. Because my goal is to help and love you once the lesson is applied I want you to feel better. So, I will read you a story, go for a walk, play basketball, sit down for a tea party, go for ice cream, or simply cuddle on the couch and watch a movie. I will let you know you are precious and important even when you make a mistake.. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Stay at Home Parents and Pre-skills,

 I have been an early childhood development professional since 1987. I have taught, directed, been a curriculum developer, trainer and college-level instructor and I can tell you unequivocally the best place for a child under the age of five is at home with a loving parent or grandparent.  The issue facing these caregivers is two-fold social/emotional development and preparing for Kindergarten. I am going to just say one thing regarding social/emotional development it is more about children learning to be self-reliant and doing things for themselves (putting coat on/away, cleaning up behind themselves, and independent bathroom use) and following directions than it is about getting along with others; although that is also important. I want to focus this blog on pre-skills.

Pre-skills are the preliminary things children need to know before they are ready to enter Kindergarten. Depending on your school-district, state or country of origin this may differ. There are four areas of pre-skills they are pre-reading, pre-writing, pre-math, and pre-science. Early Childhood professionals in classrooms refer to these as Reading, Writing, Manipulatives and Discovery respectively in classroom environments. Each of these area have specific skills needed in order to be ready for school.

Reading Pre-skills-Turning pages in the proper direction, eye movements int the correct direction, learning to handle books gently, learning a little about author/illustrator, recognizing words/symbols have meaning, storytelling.has a beginning a middle and an end

Math Pre-skills-counting, recognizing sizes (big,little), whole/part, volume (recognizing the same amount of water is poured from a glass to a bowl)

Science Pre Skills-curiosity, recognizing that things chance from liquid, to solid to gas, temperature changes (hot/cold), color recognition

Writing Pre-skills-eye-hand coordination, developing pincher grasp (How we hold a pen, age Four or Five), recognizing letters/symbols, recognizing letters or symbols which make up their name and learning how to write them

I know this seams like a lot to learn and of course it is. However, children learn these things just by living and parents/grandparents can help ensure they learn it by doing activities that will help them. Here are some suggestions.

Reading- read to your children, encourage them to look at printed materials. Take them to libraries and bookstores for story time, take them to sit down restaurants with hand held menus,  let them see you reading

Math-if you need to count something get them to help, count your steps from the car to the stores door, ask kids to look at object like a real and a toy cars ask with is bigger,  let them watch you cut an apple, peal an orange together point out the whole and the parts

Science-make jello, make iced tea (the old fashioned way cold water in a pan),  ask children to notice colors of objects point out the varying shades of the same color when shopping for clothes etc., take children to museums and let them explore especially museums designed for children's exploration

Writing-get children to trace the shapes of letters, do puzzles, pick up buttons and put into a can or bowl, get the cardboard cut out sewing games, play dough, and play catch with small and large balls

I think the number one and most comprehensive activity to help children with all of the above is cooking with them. Especially if you are using recipes.Cooking above all else uses all the pre-skills in one way or another. There are many ways to support these skills not only can you cook at home there are great parent-child cooking classes and even cooking schools for children.

Parents and Grandparents can use these activities to support children as they grow. Want more ideas? My book Journeys Through Parenthood Volume One: An Educator Guide you Down the Path to Quality Childcare gives more detailed and specific information about pre-skills and their development. here is the link.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Americans National Issues and Parenting

I have been thinking a lot about the Nigerian Bishops and what they had to say about families being the "building blocks of nations". One of the things which is troubling me about American life right now is our strict division down political party lines.  Where ideology is taking precedence over being Americans.

I have been reading a study by the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture and it's interesting to note our parenting is divided not down "political" lines, but definitely down liberal verses conservative. So, my question is have we in our culture become so fixed on our point of view being right or wrong,  we can no longer tolerate someone else's view even when it comes to how they live in their families?

I bring this up because parenting is becoming a right versus wrong kind of enterprise. Negating the fact that at its core parenting is about the relationship between an adult and a child. So, when did we decide there is a right way and a wrong way to have a relationship? I think this goes back to "right fighting". If I can not look at the relationship between you and your child and see my relationship with mine, then you are doing it wrong. Therefore, I must correct  you. This is the basis of what we are seeing in the political realm. You do not think as I do therefore I must correct you. When did we decide there is no such thing as compromise.on a political level. It was about the time we decided to sit in judgement upon on another relationships with our children and families. One can not exist without the other. If I am sitting in judgement of you I can not compromise with you to get something accomplished. Because compromise implies we are equal, If I am right and you are wrong then there is no equality. There is no compromise in being right.

I have come to realize the issues we are having with what I call the "criminalization of parenting: is not based on the government becoming intrusive. Instead it is based on our sitting in judgement of one anthers choices. We are so busy thinking "I would never" and passing judgement on someone who would do what we would never do. We are failing to offer support and care to one another. Instead, we insist we are right and those who chose a different path must be punished. There is no compromise. Sound familiar? Washington, is reflecting us and not the other way around. If we want to fix the issues in Washington it starts with our putting down being right about that Mom who left her child in the care while she ran into the store and simply watching over the child until she comes back. It starts with putting down our desire to be right and picking up the willingness to see something from someone else's point of view. It really comes down to protecting one anothers right to love, care for, and parent their child in their way. It takes Believing in Parenting.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Making Life Easier for Families

In this age of Shark Tank, How I made My Millions, and  Food Fortunes entrepreneurs are looking for ways to capitalize on solving the problems of others which will make them rich. The Institute for Family Studies March 4th blog  by Ashley Mcguire suggests making life easier for families.

Ashley's post looks at several companies capitalizing on making life easier for parents. I am greatly intrigued by Mamava Lactation Suites. These small, clean, comfortable pods which can be located in a variety of public places allow nursing moms both privacy and comfort.  The article mentions other kinds of services entrepreneurs have offered to families and become very wealthy. So, do you see a problem that can be solved by  your ingenuity?

I have a suggestion for one. Everyday thousands of parents have to miss work because their child is ill. My idea is for a nanny service which services sick children so their parents can go to work. I envision this service would be offered by childcare center working with LPN's.

Parents would pay a service fee added to their child care fees. The center would  pay the LPN a monthly service fee. At the time parents needed the LPN's services they would pay a daily rate to the nurse; who would come to their home to care for the ill child while the parents' worked. Working out the logistics would be complicated, however I think it could work if the LPN offered services to several childcare centers in the area.If you chose to use this idea. I will thank you for a service fee. What ideas can you come up with to help families serve problems. Can you solve the problem and offer a service or product that could be a win-win for you and parents everywhere?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Unsubstantiated Child Neglect

When I read the outcome for the Meitiv's the Maryland couple who encountered police and CPS intervention over their 10 and 6 year old walking home alone from the park. I almost fell of my chair. 

"Child Protective Services found the parents responsible for "unsubstantiated child neglect." An unsubstantiated finding is made when there's some information supporting child neglect, seemingly credible reports disagree or there isn't enough information for a conclusion." You can read the rest of the article here

Okay, here is my rant!! 

This is obviously Maryland's CYA ruling. It says to me that CPS had no business stopping the Meitiv"s children, but they can not simply say sorry. They have to show some form of reasoning so they say "we can't charge you with anything but Big Brother is watching you just in case, beware!" It smacks of intimidation, harassment, and governmental oversight of a family clearly exercising their responsibility as they see fit; in raising responsible and independent children. 

One thing to keep in mind is that in 2012 Maryland ranked 34 in the Kids Count data for states which are best for Child Welfare Rankings. This shows they are not exactly on the ball when it comes to taking care of children. In the middle of the lower half of state ensuring child welfare. I think this is significant because it shows the state needs some work on supporting families and children. The Meitiv's are going to be under survillance by the state for the next five years. Though technically the case is closed. I feel for them as I do for so many parents who are falsely accused and end up becoming "criminals" because of the over reaching arms of government.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Do you serve low income Children First Books could help.

Do you serve low income families? First Books is dedicated to serving low income families to prevent illiteracy. They want children to live in print-rich environments. If your agency serves a population of 70% or more low income families then First Books can help you to get new books into you program.

You need to register at their website. Even if you do not serve low income families it is a great site to see what books are available and they do accept donations.  What a great way for Girl/Boy Scouts to earn a patch to raise dollars for other kids to have books to read. Also, this would be a great way for families to volunteer. Help your children to realize not everyone is able to just go and buy a new book. I applaud First Books and the work they do!