Teenagers and Dating

The thought of my child dating is "unbearable."
When Hannah turned 11, I decided that she was about the right age for me to start embarrassing her in public. (She disagreed, with a smile.)

Now that she's a teenager, some say that it's time for us to thinking about dating. (I disagree, with a scowl.)


Maybe your child is closer to the dating scene than my children are. Or, perhaps I'm closer than I'd like to realize. Here are some good articles to help us think through this topic:


At least these Blimey Cow videos can make me smile:

Seven Reasons Why Being a Teenager Is the Worst 

When Should You Start Dating?

Let us hear in the comments:
  • From the first video: What do you think is (or was) the worst part of being a teenager?
  • From the second video: Do you have a set age when you will allow (or allowed) your child to start dating? 

Inquiring minds want to know!

**image courtesy of clarita via morguefile

Your Child's Schoolwork


Anna Sargeant gives 8 Thoughts to Encourage Your Kids in Schoolwork:
  1. God works.
  2. God made us to work.
  3. In working, we reflect God's image. 
  4. In itself, work is not a bad thing. 
  5. If you think work is supposed to be easy, you are wrong.
  6. Work doesn't have to defeat us. 
  7. Schoolwork is an assignment from the Lord. 
  8. Jesus came to do the work we could never do. 
Be sure to read the full article.

Then, check out this post from my archives:

**image courtesy of cienpies via freeimages

9 Things I Learned about Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg / Dollywood

Since we moved this summer, we hadn't had a family vacation since we went to Washington, DC in the spring. With us settling in, and with me working multiple jobs, I knew that we needed some time together.

So we planned a trip to Pigeon Forge, TN, nearby Gatlinburg, and one day (plus a little more) at Dollywood. And this out-of-town excursion was a week-late celebration of having the first teenager in our family.

It was my first trip to any of these places, and I learned a lot.
  1. "Myrtle Beach in the Mountains."  I swear, I never heard Pigeon Forge called this, until I was having lunch with a friend a week before our trip. The name fits perfectly, as we spent 3 nights surrounded by neon lights, T-shirt shops, and pancake houses.
  2. Gatlinburg is not Pigeon Forge.  I really thought that both of these towns would have been identical, being only a few miles apart. But whereas Pigeon Forge is crowded, bright, and active, Gatlinburg seems to be quieter and more relaxed. 
  3. A large mirror maze can make for major laughs.  Don't get me wrong about Gatlinburg -- it
    is still plenty of fun. We played indoor putt-putt under blacklights and ate some great pizza. But the best part of our time there was the mirror maze; apparently it's the second largest in the country. We had fun getting through it and back a few times, and we even got to "rescue" an elderly couple that got turned around and lost -- twice. And big laughs came when our 7-year-old tried to run and smacked into mirrors. 
  4. We picked a perfect time to go.  We went late enough in the year to be past the warm summer months, but before the area was swarmed by vacationers who wanted to see the color trees. And it helps to homeschool, where we can take a Friday off of school.
  5. Weather can change quickly in the mountains.  Friday was supposed to be rainy, with scattered thunderstorms all day. But the rain (barely a drizzle) stopped by lunch. Which meant we got . . .
  6. Extra time at Dollywood.  Dollywood's policy is that if you enter the park after 3 PM, you get in free the next day. We were already planning on going all day Saturday, so we got three bonus hours of fun on Friday afternoon.
  7. One of my sons is fearless on roller coasters.  Elijah rode all the major rides with me,
    multiple times (most of our wait times for rides were under 10 minutes). We loved the Wild Eagle and Mystery Mine. Hannah joined us on Thunderhead and Tennessee Tornado. And Sender joined me and his siblings on the Firechaser Express (though he screamed the whole time), Daredevil Falls, and Blazing Fury. Joanna did none of the above, but we all did some of the calmer rides.
  8. You don't have to actively participate in order to have fun.  Joanna was joyful to see us come off of rides with big smiles. And when we rode go-carts one morning, Sender had fun just riding in the passenger seat with me. 
  9. Our kids are grateful.  I can't tell you how many times our kids told us "Thank you" over the course of the weekend. And they said, "This is the best vacation we've ever been on!"

And I'm so thankful that we could spend a long-weekend enjoying time together!

Note: If you want to see more pics, check out this album on Facebook

Related Links:

Changing Your Child

Does your child have any attitudes or behaviors that you want to change? I'm not talking just about little annoyances, but even significant issues related to their character.

I've discovered some bad news about this desire to change children: You cannot change them. Sure, we can do some behavior modification, but we cannot change their hearts.

But I've also discovered some good news about this:  You cannot change them . . . but Jesus can.

Read more about how God has changed my life, and what He has taught me about changing my kids' lives, in my latest guest post on the Family Matters Blog, Changing Our Kids.

Related Links:

Common Core Is NOT the Common Problem


A few months ago, leading up to South Carolina's primary elections, I shared my not-so-humble thoughts about the elections. One of my biggest issues then (and now) is people whose primary platform "anti-Common Core."

I promised that I would explain this more in detail, and here we go. Ready or not . . . .

Anti- Anti-Common Core

Since I live in the south, and since most of my friends (and social media connections) are "conservatives," I hear a lot of rage against the Common Core State Standards Initiative. But whatever one's worldview, I think most of the complaints can be centered around these five issues:
  1. General myths and misunderstandings  
  2. Struggle with change 
  3. Politics  
  4. Funding 
  5. Standardized Testing

Myths and Misunderstandings

The biggest misunderstanding I hear about Common Core is about what exactly it is. Many people think that Common Core is a new nationally-mandated curriculum. But Common Core is a set of standards (which we've had for years in education) of what's expected for students to learn.

For everyone who has complained, and shared their complaints with friends and the internet, how many have actually looked at the Common Core website? If you are guilty of this, a good place to start would be the Myths vs Facts page.

Common Core is a tool. It levels the playing field of what children are expected to know. As it is now, every state has different standards, which is not too big of a deal unless a child moves, or unless your child lives in a state which merely calls for a minimally-adequate education system.

As a tool, Common Core can be used, or misused. A hammer can be used to put a nail in wall to hang a picture, or it can put a big hole in your sheetrock. But if you mistakenly do the latter, don't blame the hammer.

Struggle With Change

Ah . . . our favorite defense mechanism, "That's not how we did it in our day, and we turned out fine." But at some point, even what we did was a change from the previous.

There are growing pains with adjusting to a new system. This should be expected. But let us not live in the dreamland of thinking that the standards of 30 years ago are just as relevant as today.

And I don't get the viral complaints about how children are being taught math. Again, we have to understand that there is a difference between standards and curriculum.

(And to be honest, that examples of how to do that type of addition makes sense to me. I'd be happy to explain why the often-complained-about way of doing math is a good thing. Just ask me....)

But even if that was a terrible standard, let's keep it in perspective. That is one standard out of four core subjects, out of an entire year of education, out of thirteen years of schooling. If only 1 or 2 percent of Common Core (or any other educational tool) was terrible, I'd be content.

It's funny (to me) to hear people in South Carolina fight to "keep Common Core out of our schools." It's already in the schools! And I've talked with many administrators and teachers who love it. As one principal told me, "We love it! Our teachers now have the freedom to create their own curriculum. It's helping us do project-centered lessons." This doesn't sound like the "one-world, government mandate" that so many are afraid of.

(That's not an isolated example. For example, read about some successes in Kentucky).

And speaking of which government and politics . . . 


I think most "conservatives" are against Common Core because of the President that this was enacted under. They may even claim that this is part of Obama's plan to bring about a one-world government.

I'm not going to touch this conspiracy theory. Besides, Common Core was originally supported by the National Governor's Association.


Another issue I hear is that teachers don't know how to use it. And I get this. I know a teacher from another state who complains that teachers are being told to use this tool, but the state is not providing the resources to train them how to implement it.

But the issue here isn't with Common Core. The issue is politics and funding.

Standardized Testing

Besides the issue of funding, there are numerous other side issues that Common Core is being blamed for. The biggest of these may be the heavy emphasis on standardized testing (which takes up at least 20% of a student's school year)?

But standardized testing is not specifically a Common Core issue. We can better lay the blame on No Child Left Behind (which, by the way, was enacted under a Republican president).

There is a lot in our education system that I disagree with, but let's make sure we assign the correct blame.

Is Common Core perfect? By no means. Should we debate its effectiveness? Absolutely. But let's make sure we are debating facts, not emotional and irrational responses.

Related Links: