Author Archive

Talk about Sex with Your Kids

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
by Jane Jackson, LPC-Intern

WHAT:         age-appropriate dialogue about sex with your kids

WHEN:         sooner than you think— on an ongoing basis

HOW:           with plenty of preparation, patience and prayer

WHY:            to point to the amazing work of our Creator, and for your kids’ protection!

The name “sex talk” is misleading— it’s not a talk, nor is it a one-time event. Did your parents initiate a series of progressive conversations with you from pre-puberty to young adulthood on the wonders and mysteries of sex? Neither did mine. (Blessed are you if your parents were thorough and purposeful in respect to your sex ed!) So where did you get your sex education? Where do you want your kids to find their sex education? That’s right, it’s up to you — the parents — to build this vital part of a child’s education instead of ignoring it and sheltering them from the truth. And the time to start these conversations is when they’re young, and what you say is still absolute truth, (remember, “My dad can [fill in the blank] better than your dad.”) Starting young can prevent the awkwardness of trying to start this when they’re already adolescents with their sex radars up.

If you don’t provide the how and why on sex for your kids, then you’re leaving them vulnerable to distorted truths and twisted falsehoods from their peers, magazines, or the internet to shape their sexual character. Don’t let this happen.

Around age three to five is when children start to notice differences between themselves and others in their world. First among siblings and family members, and as their circle of influence expands, friends and classmates. It’s right for them to notice, be curious about and ask questions about personal the differences they observe, and always with the simple innocence of a child. These are good conversations to have, which will often lead to questions about differences between boys and girls; men and women.

Fortunately for parents, there are wonderful resources that can open the door to healthy responses and invite candid conversations about our bodies, where we came from, differences and similarities like skin color, gender, height, eye color etc.., and learning God’s purpose as to why He made male and female the way He did.

Like learning any new skill for the first time, these dialogues for parents will be uncomfortable or awkward at first, but that’s okay! Better to broach the subject awkwardly than to avoid it and stay in your comfort zone. By not opening the door to these truth-sharing opportunities with our kids, we increase their susceptibility to the traps of predators in this fallen world in which we live. These orchestrated conversations do get easier the more they happen, and think of the powerful message that a child receives when they learn early on that their bodies are nothing to be ashamed of. Just like discussing media boundaries, like what’s ok to watch on TV or what music is acceptable to listen to, there are body boundaries to be discussed as well.

God made our bodies for sharing, like giving hugs or appropriate kisses, or holding hands as we walk. Other parts are private and not for sharing. A good rule of thumb is that anything that underwear or a swimsuit covers is off limits (excepting at the doctor’s office when mom or dad are present). While on the topic, appropriate touch should be discussed, as well as how to respond when touch makes us uncomfortable, like if a friend is hugging too tightly. It’s MY Body is a short book for younger children that shows how to respond when touch is inappropriate or makes us feel funny. Another good book for young ones is God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies. It’s critical to educate kids about physical boundaries with others so that they can better protect themselves from sexual abuse or exploitation.

If a child is not asking questions, that doesn’t mean they’re not wondering or don’t need to know. It’s good to plan when to share a book like one of those mentioned earlier when a child is around 4 years old. Put it on the calendar months ahead of time, so you can prepare. Age appropriate means keeping the discussion short, not answering more than they’re asking, just simple, honest, and appropriate responses. Just like lessons on money and finances, it’s easier to understand the older they get, so progressive conversations are the key. It’s also ok to respond with, “We can talk more about this next time.” Leave that door open. It’s good for children to learn from an early age that they can freely talk with you about this stuff.

Talking to Your Kids About Sex by Mark Laaser, Ph.D., is another great handbook for parents. Laaser spells out the developmental milestones for early childhood. Children are curious and will investigate and explore. It’s natural and normal for them to play doctor, or to say, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” Remember that situations like these that children will often engage in, should not be areas of concern, but rather an opportunity to review safe boundaries and private parts of the body (Laaser, p.91). It’s our reaction and response to these situations that communicates whether this subject is safe or not safe to talk about. Consider for a moment the message you send to child when you do not teach them on the subject of sex, but talk and teach freely about other important parts of life like how to be a friend, or why it’s important to eat healthy food and brush your teeth.

Another excellent resource that every home should have for reference is a 4-book series called God’s Design for Sex by Stan and Brenna Jones. This award-winning set that gives clear, how-to-use-this book instructions for parents. Books are separated for ages 3-5, 5-8, 8-11 and 11-14. There’s even a resource manual for parents, How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Character, to help parents lead instructive conversations with their families. This resource beautifully shows how to lay a spiritual foundation for sex and prepares believers to defend the Christian view of sexual morality to our culture. Foundational are the ideas that God is the Creator of all good things and that the gifts He’s given us to enjoy with our bodies are good. This series helps to “put the words in your mouths and put the issues out on the table.”

One great online resource, Sex Ed Rescue, suggests some reasons why you should start the conversation while your kids are young and keep it going:

  • Kids will feel more positive about their bodies if the conversation about physical differences, not only gender, but skin color, hair texture and other characteristics– begins at home, where you can set the tone.
  • If you can make this topic comfortable in your home, then kids will feel freer to discuss other tough subjects like bullying, partying, and loneliness, as well as sex.
  • What if your kids were prepared for the changes that come with puberty because they’ve been anticipated and discussed, rather than waiting until they happen? They would feel less out of control, less bewildered, and more willing to talk with you about related troubles and concerns they may have.

We have to protect our kids by equipping them with a healthy understanding of their bodies, sexuality, and our openness to talking about these things with them as their parents. This will help keep them safe from sexual predators.  For information on the grooming processes often used by such predators, please go to www.MinistrySafe.com.

Resources Mentioned in This Article

Talking to Your Kids About Porn

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016
Jane new headshotby Jane Jackson, LPC-Intern

Are you protecting your kids from Internet predators? How are you preparing their developing brains to deal with content beyond their capacity when they do encounter it?

In today’s tech-based culture, Internet skills are learned early on; so parents need to be vigilant about implementing protective measures regarding Internet safety. Moreover, it’s critical for adults to initiate age-appropriate conversation that will encourage kids to ask questions when they see inappropriate images online.

A great guide to help navigate these conversations is a book for parents to read with their children called Good Pictures Bad Pictures (K Jenson, and G Poyner). Providing simple explanations on how we’re wired mentally–identifying both the thinking brain and the feeling brain (see article by ACW’s Annie Higgins on how porn use really affects brain wiring), this book offers good information and an action plan to equips kids to respond when pornography is encountered. Sadly, this excellent preventative measure for kids is needed at an early age, often earlier than we may expect.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures spells out a C.A.N. D.O. strategy for how to respond when eyes first see porn:

 

C         Close my eyes immediately.
A          Always tell a trusted adult.
N         Name it when I see it: “That’s pornography!”

D         Distract myself.
O         Order my thinking brain to be the boss!

Each age and stage of your child’s development will require different levels of protection. Marriage and Family Therapist David Wever suggests the following safety checks (taken from an article written and reprinted with permission at covanenteyes.com).

Preschool

  • Kid-friendly sites
  • Investigate Internet-filtering tools.
  • Begin teaching about privacy.
  • Sit with them and watch everything.
  • Use a pop-up blocker.

Early Elementary (K-3rd)

  • Oversee online activity.
  • Bookmark favorite sites.
  • No instant messaging, email, chat rooms or message boards
  • Use protective software.
  • Communicate

Upper Elementary (4th – 6th)

  • Computer and devices in public areas of the house
  • Discourage instant messaging.
  • Share email accounts and have a list of Internet house rules.
  • Communicate – encourage kids to come to you before giving out info
  • and talk with them about sexuality and pornography.
  • Use all filters, protective software and kid-friendly search engines.

Middle School (7th and 8th)

  • Make clear boundaries concerning the Internet (no personal photos, personal info, and no meeting of online friends).
  • Keep computer in open, public area of the house– never in a child’s room.
  • Communicate responsible online behavior.
  • Don’t allow your teenager to go into public chat rooms.
  • Use blocking software to filter websites your teen may visit.
  • No financial transactions online without parent permission
  • Use all protective software.

High School (9th – 12th)

  • Make clear boundaries concerning the Internet and make them clear to your teenager (no personal photos, personal info, and no meeting of online friends).
  • Keep computer in open, public area of the house– never in a child’s room.
  • Communicate responsible online behavior.
  • Don’t allow your teenager to go into public chat rooms.
  • Use all protective software to filter the websites your teen may visit.
  • No financial transactions online without parent permission

Ladies, Suit Yourselves

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
by Jane Jackson, LPC-Intern

Do you have your suit yet? Swim season is nearly upon us. If you’re wanting to debut a new look at the beach or the pool this summer, then calendar your quest for the suit that best suits you before it’s time to sport it at the pool. You’re less likely to make a poor purchase decision if you’re not in a rush to find the suit just a few days before you need it. So take a breath, shop online for ideas first, have a plan, and get started before the Coppertone hits the shelves.

If you’re one of the many women who can get a good workout in just trying on swimwear, then consider these suggestions before hitting the dressing room.

Most of us are not the same size all over, so if your north half and south half don’t quite line up with what the Jantzen maillot has to offer, then consider the mix and match options that a two-piece. Varieties in styles for top and bottom give you many different options from which to choose.

If you’re big-busted, then consider a structured minimizer one piece like those made by Miraclesuit. They cost more, but it’s like packing the structure and sturdiness of your favorite bra and into your swimsuit (whether as underwire or molded cups). L.L.Bean is a great source for coverage-maximizing swimwear. Check out their swim dresses and swim shorts, as well as skirted bottoms.

For those who are smaller on top, padded cups can boost the bustline. Halter tops create an enhanced bust as well. Go for an asymmetrical strap that emphasizes the shoulders and chest, like this one by Nautica at Swimspot.com. Swimspot is a great website featuring a variety of designers, but they also have a fit specialist tab, where you can choose your body type from real body photos, not silhouette drawings of different shapes. Top and bottom options are then given from least to greatest amount of coverage. If it’s hips you need to hide, check out the sarong swimsuits by Carol Wior. There are plenty of swim dresses and skirts out there at L.L. Bean and drapey, camouflaging tankini tops at Swimspot. Remember sometimes it’s more about featuring your assets than hiding your challenge areas.

If hearty describes your shape, ok, plus size, then go for lighter colors up top, and darker on the bottom. Yes, Virginia, Spanx does make a swimsuit, and if you got a return on your income taxes this year, maybe you can spring for one of these very attractive, yet hard-working one pieces. Look for vertical detailing that slenderizes your figure while the shapewear fabric keeps everything smooth.

Remember, a good-fitting suit should stay where you put it, cover what you need covered, and move with you wherever you move. In addition to those mentioned above, check out the swimwear made by these brands: Nanette Lepore, Tara Grinna, Old Navy, J Crew, and Athleta.

 


 

Source: Oprah.com

Give It Back

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
by Jane Jackson, LPC-Intern

My husband’s mother recently moved in to our house. She has ALS. We now help her with routine daily actions that you and I carryout without conscious consideration. While it’s very hard to watch her surrender her independence, it can be considered an opportunity to return the favor by doing for her what now she cannot. She cared for my husband when he was a baby; we get to care for her now. I see it this way, maybe because my dad cared for his mother in her final days, and then did it again a decade later for my mother, his wife, as she finished her race; or perhaps it was that I read Reggie Anderson’s book, Appointments with Heaven, and saw the privilege it is to see patients at the end of their lives cross over to claim their heavenly citizenship. What an opportunity, right? To get to do and see what others typically don’t.

What’s on your list to give back? Would you consider it fulfilling to take a gift you’ve received and pass it on to another? Can you think of 3 things that someone else did for you that you’d like to do for someone else? Maybe even giving back to the one who did for you, but it doesn’t have to be. It feels good when we do for others, when we volunteer and serve. According to research, there are improvements in self-esteem and a greater sense of personal empowerment including better health for those who think like givers. Doing for others may stimulate endorphins, which is linked to improved nervous and immune system functions. Research shows that those who volunteer, offering emotional support – even just practical help for friends – have a lower risk of dying over a five-year period over those who don’t. These days social connections are less eye to eye, and more screen to screen, myopia (nearsightedness) is on the rise in this country because kids are seeing everything without looking farther than a few inches from their face. Maybe helping a younger generation with underdeveloped social skills would be a giving opportunity for you.

Make a list that makes you thankful for what you’ve been given, and start looking for opportunities to give it back.

Jane, an LPC-intern supervised by Anthology principal Brittany Senseman, is available for sessions at a discounted rate. Please contact Jane directly for further information. 

Unplug and Reconnect

Monday, December 7th, 2015

by Jane Jackson

If it’s December, it must be the season to double our weekly errands, our on-line gift ordering and the seasonal social events – all of which can increase both stress level and blood pressure! With all the extra activities going on this last month of the year, how are we supposed to slow down long enough to reflect on what or whom we’re supposed to be celebrating?

What if we start with unplugging and powering down? Can we choose to leave our phones in our purse or the glove box? I challenge you to take a moment this month to slow down, de-device yourself, relinquish the distractions of finger-tip data, and offer eye contact and interaction with those you love the most instead. Blessed are those who find themselves in remote places where there is no wi-fi , bluetooth isn’t necessary, and the only hotspot is in the fireplace (or the oven).

Start by taking just an hour or two to say adios to the Apple — sayonara to the Samsung — the awkwardness of this new foreign freedom will pass shortly, I promise! Screen time can be replaced with conversation about what is going on in the life of those loved ones around you — especially the ones you’ve not seen for twelve months. Offer to be the listener first. Choose to be a purposeful observer of what’s going on around you — soak it all in. On the way home, see if you can remember 3 things that others said during conversation.

Don’t be caught missing out on some good story because you’re reading a text or updating your status. Instead, take a walk with the family members that are willing to get up and move instead of plopping down in front of the TV after the big meal. Ask questions of those from a different generation than yours. What are their favorite (or least favorite) experiences and adventures of 2015? Find a deck of cards and see who remembers how to play hearts or go fish, or perhaps someone has a new game to teach you? Don’t succumb to the device if you look around and others are head down in their own e-world — PERSEVERE!

You can do this! The fact is, you will never regret time spent away from the phone, tablet or laptop, especially if you’ve elected to engage with others face to face instead. It may not be the most comfortable situation when families share space they’re not accustomed to, but focus on the positives you can look forward to about the visit before it takes place. Decide what your response will be if a certain challenging topic comes up. Ok, Ok, you can use your device to take the family pic commemorating the event before people start leaving, but wait until you’re in the car before sharing it on social media.

Really, time, eye contact, and listening are some of the most desired gifts we can give, and they don’t cost a cent. Be generous this season, and see what kind of response you get.

And finally, if charades or other team games need a little more umph, try using your device to engage the crowd with a round of Heads Up, where your phone is held to your forehead while others give you clues to what’s on the screen you can’t see. The clock is ticking, so try to guess as many as you can before the timer goes off.

Enjoy this season with those you care about and learn skills to use in every season!

About Anthology

We are a group of professionals dedicated to promoting health and healing in the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. We believe that healing occurs more effectively and more efficiently when each facet of a person is addressed. Our group is comprised of professional counselors, and a nutritionist who is also a certified lactation counselor.
Counseling Medical Evaluation Nutrition Community Service