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Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians, which we call Scribit Veritas.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.


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datingMy husband is a little crazy.  Well, okay, he is a lot crazy!  When our oldest daughter turned sixteen, we gave her permission to start dating – double dating, that is.  No single dates until she was eighteen.  When her date came to the door to pick her up, my husband answered it, dressed like a Viking and carrying a big axe. He asked the young man how much he valued his car, and mentioned how much damage that axe could do if his daughter was a minute late returning home.  And of course, he’d better not touch her. My daughter later mentioned that at one point during the night, this boy accidentally brushed up against her and immediately jumped way back, stammering an apology.  For some strange reason, he never took her on a second date.  

What makes the thought of your teenager dating so frightening?  Several things come to mind:

  • Your child is becoming an adult, which means they might not need you as much.
  • Your child could get hurt – physically or emotionally.
  • Being alone opens the door to sexual activity.
  • Sexual activity might lead to pregnancy or STDs.
  • Since you marry who you date, this person your child is going out with just might be your future son-in-law or daughter-in-law.  What if you don’t approve of them?

Dating is a scary prospect for parents.  There are so many questions and concerns to be dealt with and you need to be prepared to answer them. Here are some questions to consider – sooner instead of later.

  • At what age should you allow your children to begin dating?  Should they be allowed to date one-on-one, or only in groups?  Are they allowed to have a steady boyfriend or girlfriend?  
  • What time should curfew be?  Are curfews negotiable?  Who is going to be driving?  Where are they allowed to go?  
  • Should your teen check in with you periodically?  What consequences will there be if your teen breaks the rules?  

And here are a few really important ones.

  • Does your teenager feel comfortable talking to you?  Are you comfortable talking to them?
  • Do they really want to date or are they feeling pressured?  If something isn’t quite right, can your teenager come to you for help and support?
  • Do they know you love them and that you will listen? Have you let them know they can call you and asked to be picked up, no questions asked?

Focus on the Family offers this advice:

“Teens that date often experience rejection. Be sensitive to their pain. Listen. Shows like The Bachelor promote lies, betrayal and pain — not the life-long commitment of marriage. Help teens establish personal boundaries by encouraging them to respect their values and their bodies. Discuss sexual temptation and ways to avoid it. Offer safer options like double dating in public.”

There are many other websites that can help you to prepare for this rite of passage event.  Here are a few:

When all is said and done, probably the most important things to remember are to keep the lines of communication open and to let your child know that you love them and that you are always there for them.  Oh, and go get yourself a Viking hat and an axe!

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Do Unto Others

do unto othersI was out driving and approached a busy intersection.  Cars traveling north and south had stop signs, and had to give the right-of-way to the east-west traffic. Unfortunately for me, there was a car stopped at the intersection ahead of me.  I could see from the back of her head, that it was an elderly woman, and she was obviously intimidated at the number of cars flashing past, as well as their speed.  Several times, I felt that the opening in traffic was more than adequate for her to pull out, but she didn’t budge.  I sat there fuming and wishing that someone would just remove all the “idiot” drivers on the road.  Finally a huge hole in the traffic appeared and she turned the corner.  As she did, I saw her profile and recognized her as a good friend of mine from church, a sweet lady whom I had known for years.  My anger disappeared instantly.  I said to myself, “Of course she took a long time.  She’s quite old and her reflexes are slower.  She needs to be extra careful, for her own safety and the safety of other drivers.”  I was quick to find good reasons for her behavior and to forgive her for inconveniencing me.

 I thought about the incident for most of the day.  Why is it that we can feel so much anger toward a stranger?  After all, no matter who was driving the car, they probably had the same good reasons for taking so long to pull out.  I don’t know why any more than I knew the reasons for my elderly friend.  But I can certainly venture a guess.  I can try and put myself in their place and try to envision how they are feeling.  What if that person who cuts you off really did check the rearview mirror, but just didn’t see you?  What if that person driving fast and weaving in and out of traffic is on their way to the hospital, hoping against hope that their loved one is not going to die before they can say goodbye?  What if you greet someone and they ignore you because their mind is miles away, worrying about the huge fight they just had with their spouse?  There are a thousand excuses that we could come up with for bad behavior, and when the perpetrator is someone we know and like, most of us make that effort and easily forgive.

Shouldn’t we do the same for strangers?  And for those we know, but not necessarily like?  Most of us have been taught some form of the message, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  We would want other people to understand and forgive us.  When I sit behind another driver who is making me feel impatient, I now like to think to myself that maybe, just maybe, if I got to meet them and talk to them, they might become my friend.  And I will treat them that way.  

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Good Enough

good enoughI have a daughter who has always been naturally studious and hard-working.  During high school, it was her normal routine to come home each day, sit at the kitchen counter, pull out her books, and start on her homework.  She would moan and complain about how difficult many of the assignments were, but she would tackle them right away.  She  seldom needed any help from me, but I was there as her support and cheerleader.  After her freshman year, she was first in her class in academic standing.  As parents we were so excited that we might have a future valedictorian in our family.  She was excited, too, and continued to work hard to meet her dream.  

As each year passed, our daughter became more and more stressed, pushing herself, taking all AP classes, spending more and more time hitting the books.  We continued to remind her how it would be worth it when she finally achieved her goal.  Then one day, as she sat down to choose which classes she would take in her senior year, she broke down crying.  When we asked what was wrong, she told us that she really wanted to take drama.  It sounded fun.  But if she did, she would automatically take herself out of the running for valedictorian, since the class only gave her 4 credits instead of 5.  She said that she knew how much this meant to us and she didn’t want to be a disappointment.  As parents, we were shocked.  We had thought that this was her goal and we were just supporting her to the best of our ability.  And yet, somewhere in the last two years, it had become only our dream and not hers.  At this point we gave her a hug, told her we loved her and knew how smart and good and amazing she was.  If she wanted to take drama, she should take drama!  

We want our children to set goals and achieve them.  We want them to be successful and to be someone we can be proud of.  How often have you heard a child say that they were going to grow up and be a doctor, a lawyer, a movie star, a pro athlete, a beauty queen, or President of the United States?  Parents often ingrain these thoughts and aspirations into their children’s heads, pushing them to be the best.  There is nothing wrong with wanting them to be the best.  But we need to be careful that we aren’t pushing our goals and aspirations onto our children, without considering what our children want and need.  

Dr. Dale Atkins, PhD., a licensed psychologist has said, “Our kids come to us to find out who they are and if we’re not letting them know they’re perfect as they are, they’re going to wonder, what do they have to do to be good enough.”  Needless to say, none of us are perfect. Still, sometimes we need to be reminded that we don’t need to be.  Let’s let our children know that they are loved, that they can be whatever they want to be, and that they are more than “good enough”.  


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Hidden Gifts

hidden gift“I’ll never be as good as Beth!”  These were the words I was hearing from my younger daughter, Annie.  In her eyes, she had the misfortune of having to follow in the footsteps of a very talented big sister.  Beth had an amazing voice, played the piano well, excelled in school in both language arts and math, was well liked by all of her teachers, kept her room immaculate, and was obedient to the rules of the house and, consequently, was seldom in trouble.   What an act for her to follow.

Every child is unique and has gifts and talents of their own.  Some of these gifts are obvious and make a child stand out from the crowd.  We notice the child with musical talents that has a chance to perform or the artist who has work on display.  Likewise we give honor to star athletes whose games we are able to attend.  Those who have a gift for acting or speaking are also given a venue to display those talents.  Academic honors and scholarships are awarded to those who excel in school.  But what about the child with gifts that are not so obvious?

Annie was very different from her sister.  She was an average student, preferring to work on set designs rather than act in the school plays.  She tinkered around at the piano, played the clarinet in the band, not practicing much and so never excelling in that field either.  Her room was a disaster and her teenage years were mark by incredible mood swings, making contention in the home the normal state of affairs.  She could see no good in herself, no matter how much I tried to point out her strengths and assure her that she was just as talented and loved as her sister.  Here is what I saw in my daughter.  Annie could charm any animal and any child. She was everyone’s favorite babysitter.  Wherever she went people surrounded her.  She was excited to see them and made them feel special, so naturally they would be drawn to her.  She was an excellent cook and frequently made treats to take to school to celebrate a friend’s birthday or to congratulate them for accomplishments.  She listened to people when they needed a shoulder to cry on.  She could make up the funniest stories, especially for children, and had everyone laughing.  She made you feel good about yourself.  

Several years later, when my daughters were married, we chose a small church for Beth’s reception, with seating for about 100, which was more than enough space.  When Annie was married, I reserved a place that could hold 500.  My husband questioned why I would be doing that.  I looked at him and said, “Do you have any idea how many close friends your daughter has?  Do you know how much she is loved?  I’m not sure that it’s big enough!”  And I was right.

When I hear a child say that they will never be as good as someone else, I think of my two daughters, so different and yet both so accomplished.   We need to not only recognize each of our children as unique and special, but we need to help them recognize this themselves.  

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Love at Home

love at homeLast Saturday I was doing yard work, and watched my next door neighbor interact with his family.  He was washing his car and his 6-year-old son was riding on a little push car, up and down the driveway.  Occasionally the boy would get too close to the car, or stop on the hose, or bump into his dad’s legs.  Each time this happened, the father would express impatience and irritation, until finally he yelled for his wife to come and get him.  As his wife came outside, he asked her when breakfast would be ready, and reminded her that he couldn’t be late – again showing irritation and impatience.  As he finished washing the car, a neighbor came by walking his dog.  As he stopped to chat, the dog was doing its share of misbehaving, tangling my neighbor in the leash and then using the lawn to “do his business”.  Amazingly enough, he never complained, smiled the whole time, and accepted the neighbor’s apologies in a very gracious manner.  

After watching these interchanges, I spent the week being more observant of how people treat total strangers or acquaintances, as opposed to how they treat the ones they love.  Why is it that most of us are kinder and more polite to everyone else, but treat our own spouses and children with rudeness?  Do we think less of them?  Aren’t these the people we profess to love the most?  Do we think them undeserving of common courtesies?  Is it because we feel we can let down our guard and just relax and be our worst self with family?  

I have decided to begin with myself, and try to be as polite with my family members as I am with others.  I will say, “Please” and “Thank you”, “I’m sorry”, “Excuse me” and “Let me help you with that.”  I will actively remember what I love about each one of them.  When I am feeling impatient or angry, I might try to think, and really picture in my mind and heart, just how sad or lonely I would be if they were no longer in my life.  I will try, every day, to be grateful for the love and blessings that they bring to me. 

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Keeping Promises

promiseMy daughter wanted to go to Knott’s Berry Farm. She had attended with her school class, and the amusement park had given them “free” admission tickets for a return trip, which, of course, could only be used if they were accompanied by an adult.  How kind of them!  My daughter asked if I would take her, and I said, “Sure.  That would be fun.”  And then I forgot all about it.

“But you promised!”  It was now June, a very busy season (long, long lines!) and the certificate was due to expire soon.  I sighed inwardly, dreading every minute of the trip, but put on the big fake smile and took my daughter.  After all, a promise is a promise!  

Why is keeping a promise so important?  This is what it teaches:

  • Integrity and honesty.  Keeping your promises helps children to learn that lying is not okay.
  • Trust and dependability – Children depend on us to keep our word and we want them to do the same.
  • Respect – both giving respect to others and getting respect in return.
  • Reputation matters.  If a company has a bad reputation due to broken promises, they lose customers.  As parents we need to maintain a good reputation and teach our children the benefits of being respected and trusted by others, in both our personal and business relations.  
  • Your children matter to you – they are important and loved.

An important factor to remember – don’t make a promise that you can’t keep!   I once told my son that if he didn’t stop crying by the time I hung up the phone, he could not go to the store with me.  When I was done with my phone call, he was still crying.  He was too young to leave on his own, there was no one else to watch him, and I had to go to the store.   So I took him with me and have paid the price for not keeping my word.  If I threaten him with a punishment, he has no reason to believe that I would follow through on that punishment. I now keep my word and he has slowly come to realize that. Is is so important to “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

There are times, through no fault of our own, when we have to break a promise.  Make sure that you explain why, apologize, and ask forgiveness.  Offer an alternative.

Remember that it might not seem like much to you, but in the eyes of a child, keeping promises is a very big deal.   

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Drawing a Gumball Machine

gumball machineBob and Nancy had been invited to attend an important gathering.  Bob was very excited to be able to make new contacts for his newly-opened business, looking forward to doing a little schmoozing and getting his name out there to potential clients.  He enjoyed socializing and enjoyed challenges, so this was right up his alley.  His wife, Nancy, however, was very shy and hated big parties.  She preferred having a few close friends over for a quiet evening.  Knowing this about his wife, Bob kept Nancy close to his side, holding her hand, putting his arm around her to reassure and protect her, and telling her that she didn’t have to say anything.  He would do all the talking.  When they returned home, he was surprised to find out that Nancy was very angry with him.  She felt that he didn’t trust her to speak or even be on her own.  She considered his actions to be insulting.  Which one was right? While Bob thought that his actions showed kindness and consideration, she was feeling hurt by those exact same actions.  He was saying “I love you” in a way she didn’t understand.

Symbolic interactionism, in layman’s terms means that we each communicate and interact using words, gestures, and other symbols that have meaning for us.  The problem comes when we don’t understand that those things could mean something entirely different to another person.  So much arguing and fighting is simply a result of miscommunication.  When someone smiles at you, what do you think?  “They’re friendly and I will smile back at them.”  “They are laughing at me because they think I’m a nerd.”  “They think my outfit is stupid.”  “They smile because they like me.”  That is just one small gesture with so many interpretations.

When I was in high school, one of my teachers gave the class a test.  She asked each of us to get a piece of paper and draw a large rectangle.  Then we were to draw a smaller rectangle inside the large rectangle.  Next, we were to draw a large circle above the large rectangle and a bunch of small circles inside the large circle.  We then compared pictures.  Although each of us had been given the exact same directions, every picture was quite different from the others.  The teacher then asked us to turn over our papers to follow the exact same instructions, but with one more piece of information.  We were drawing a gumball machine.  This time the pictures were all quite similar and recognizable as gumball machines.  The next time you are having an argument, take a moment to ask yourself if you might both be right, if you are really listening and understanding, and if your message is clear.

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The Power of Family

IndianFamilyDo we all know the power that the members of a family can have on one another? I’m sure it is one of those things that we don’t realize – how important family is – until we go through an experience to show us. That is what one couple experienced not long ago. After giving birth to twins and finding out they lost one, mom and dad refused to let go. Instead, they held their son tight and witnessed a miracle. Not long after being skin-to-skin with his mom and dad, little Jamie began to move. The medical staff had already told the parents to say their goodbyes so when Jamie began to move, it was hard to believe.

Do we take our families for granted? Do we appreciate every individual as much as we should? More often than not, we probably forget to do that. Families are vital for us all to survive and succeed in the healthiest way possible.

To read more about this family and their little miracle, click here!

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How Do You Understand Love?

couple loveDid you know that not everyone feels and shows love the same way? Every individual has what is called a “love language”. This is the way that a person understands love. There are 5 different love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts. These 5 areas describe how you show your love to other people, and what matters most to you when others show love back.

I encourage you to click through and take the quiz to find out what your love languages are. There is one for someone in a relationship and another quiz for those who are single. After taking the quiz, you’ll get your results and a description of what your love language means.

Once I realized what mine was (Words of Affirmation) and took the time to know what my husband’s was, so much began to make sense. The arguments we’d have, the things that I’d find out were important to him and the reasons why he would treat me the way that he did. It is because of what his love language is. Your relationship can be taken to a healthier level if you understand more about your spouse’s love language. I encourage you to take the time and find out… then do something about it.

Written on March 10, 2015

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choresWe have always insisted on our children doing chores and marking a chart to show accountability. While my three boys were all teenagers, they had gotten very lax in their duties and no amount of lecturing was having any effect. So my husband called a family council. He handed each family member a spreadsheet.

“I have given you a copy of our monthly budget. I have listed the cost of the mortgage, insurance, utilities, phone, food, and other miscellaneous household supplies. I have divided it by the number of people living in the house. As you can see, the cost for each person is $300. That would be about $75 a week. You pay for your share by doing chores and helping out around the house. I am looking at the chore chart, and I can see that you three boys have not marked off any chores for this week. You now owe me $75. Go get it.”

There was total silence. Not one of them had that kind of money lying around. My husband continued. “Okay, you obviously don’t have the money. So now you can’t live in the house. You will pack what clothes you need and move into the back yard. You can use any of the camping supplies in the shed, as well as the ice chest. You can use the house for showering (or the pool), and the bathroom in the garage. You are responsible for your own food. You may only come into the house to do your chores.”

As a mom, I panicked. These were my babies! But all three of them were Eagle Scouts and were very capable of camping, cooking, and taking care of themselves. In fact, my youngest son was smiling and laughing and saying that this would be fun! And they moved into the backyard. They pooled the money they did have and walked to the store to buy some basic supplies – milk, cereal, bread, peanut butter, hot dogs, and some chips and cookies. I was kind enough to give them some ice for the ice chest. That night they roasted hot dogs in our fire pit and decided that this wouldn’t be too bad.

It is amazing how much we don’t appreciate technology. Camping in the back yard meant the only lights they had to use were a lantern and flashlights. My boys learned the first day that they had better do their homework while they could see by the light of the sun. Chores could be done later, when it was dark. There was no television to watch. No video games to play. No computer or internet. This was before the days of cell phones, so, no texting, games, or youTube. It was too cold to swim and there was nothing to do. The sun set at about 6 pm and they were in their sleeping bags by 8. Guess who had all the chores done that week, and every week after?

Here are some ideas suggested by Jacqueline Curtis in Money Crashers to teach your child a good work ethic:

  • Treat school like a job. The teacher is the boss, there are rules to follow and responsibilities to complete. There are consequences when you fail.
  • Put work on the schedule. Don’t just have them pitch in to help.
  • Work together. They learn teamwork, and you can keep them on track and teach them as they work.
  • Don’t use bribes. Children then learn to work for the wrong reason. Instead of learning to do laundry so they will have clean clothes, they do it for the reward they have been promised.
  • Allow consequences. As hard as it is to watch your child suffer, negative consequences will help your child learn what happens when they don’t complete their responsibilities.
  • Model the behavior. If you have a solid work ethic and a positive attitude about work, your children will probably copy your example.

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