My 1st Year as a Blogger- Top 5 Highlights

I'm afraid to admit this, but this time last summer, I don't think I had ever read a blog. Wait, maybe just a handful from a couple of friends locally. But definitely didn't follow blog world.

In just a few days I'll celebrate the one year anniversary of starting this blog, after my husband encouraged me to, followed by my daughter convincing me to keep going when I wanted to quit (before I even started!) I'm so glad they both kept me going! I love it now.

Looking back, there are a few moments and comments that stand out from this year that have been fun, encouraging or thought provoking.

1.  The incredible message I got from a teen girl in Maryland, who after reading an anonymous story on our blog of a woman telling her experience with dating abuse, felt equipped to understand her friend who was in the middle of an abusive dating relationship. She said, "I'm sharing this with you to let you know that your blog helped me realize that as much as I felt helpless, I was able to read the stories on your blog to get a sense of what my friend was feeling. It's hard watching your friend get hurt, but helping her out of it makes you realize how much friendship really does change lives." I have two friends who glady shared their stories anonymously, in hopes of helping someone else not make the same mistakes. You can read them HERE and HERE.

I was already grateful for the women willing to share these difficult stories, but then to know that it helped empower  a girl currently IN the situation, as well as a friend know how to help, blew me away. Mission accomplished.

  2. A 13 yr old girl in New York made the observation that girls her age are more concerned about what other girls think about their appearance than what boys think. I mentally zoomed in on that topic and have been intrigued ever since. Why is this?? I'm still thinking about that. (Her comment came after the post about what teen boys really think.)

3.  I covet and adore and appreciate more than you know those who take the time to write, make comments, share thoughts, opinions (even when different than mine), and encouragement to me. It makes it all worth it! Sometimes it can be lonely in blog world. Blog statisticss are that about 1% of readers stop to make comments. So with a start up blog, just building an audience, often that has been 1 person! or 2! Comments keep me going, though I had to learn to put on my big girl panties and just move on without them- I couldn't stop writing just because there was little feedback. Comments have grown over time and I'm less dependent on them, though never have they become any less appreciated! Hearing what you think helps me in so many ways. I have gotten to know people through comments. It makes me so happy when I see you in public and find out that you follow this blog. Thank you!

4.  An unexpected blessing has been the offline conversations, in person, via email and private messages of moms who have talked to me about all kinds of things. Private issues with their girls that are being sorted through, moms of boys share their thoughts and struggles too, teachers have shared things. This all helps me so much to understand even more the real world, behind the scenes, real lives of teens and the moms raising them. Having a clear picture of the reality of how things are helps me have the outlook needed to write on timely relevant topics.

5. It has been fun to expand my horizons and read blogs, articles, research and websites of other organizations and people who care about cultural issues for our children. Through social media I've even been able to "meet" and communicate with some of these women I respect who are doing great works.

Among them:
Michelle Icard of Michelle loves to help tweens and moms transition into a fabulous middle school experience.
Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker of "Don't Conform...Transform" at Her site explores the sexualized media messages that are sent to children.
Twin sisters Lexie and Lindsay Kite over at who are transforming culture's definition of beauty.
Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician and author who speaks out on raising teens, importance of fathers in our daughter's lives, and healthy sexuality. See her at
Dannah Gresh at Dannah covers purity topics for girls.
Laura Wells at Insightful reads for moms of girls.
I like to follow and Among others!

To celebrate a year, I have a giveaway planned! Everyone who comments on this post, either on the website, Facebook or Twitter, will be entered into the drawing. Drawing will be held at 10:00pm central standard time on Thursday, July 5, 2012.

Answer this:

Please share with us your favorite blogs or books you like to read for encouragement on raising kids.

If you don't read other blogs or books much, answer this one: What is one thing that meant something to YOU or has inspired you...some favorite thing that you have read over the last year on 5 Things?

The winner will have a choice between 5 of my favorite books (depending on your age and stage, and if it's for you or your daughter!)

Shaun Robinson is weekend co-host for Access Hollywood. She has collected quotes, encouragements and advice from many famous successful women from various roles- singers, actresses, athletes, scientists, news anchors.

A favorite mom-daughter Bible study to do together. An elementary or a tween version available.

Scripture based approach to dealing with mean girl issues

A favorite read from my first days of being a mom.

A well known book by a girls issues guru. Cheryl Dellasega was among the first to speak to these issue.

Leave your comment now! and thanks!


5 Things Story - A Daughter-in-Law Shares

One of the fun things we do on this website is highlight stories of older moms who have already survived the years of raising children. 

The question is asked of them, "Looking back, what are 5 things you're glad you did in raising your kids?"

It seems easy for all moms to instantly think of things they regret or wish they'd done better, but we push those aside's too easy for any of us to focus on negative. 

We ask them to think a little harder, push aside humility for the moment, for the cause of passing on encouragement, hindsight and tidbits of wisdom to those still in the trenches. Most moms, if they know they could be of help to someone else, will dig deep and give honest answers.

These have become our 5 Things Stories. You can always click on "5 Things Stories" on the menu bar at the top of and read encouraging stories from moms who have raised children in many different situations.

Earlier this week, the feature mom was Roberta Pepin. Roberta shared her 5 Things she's glad she did raising 10 children.  Yesterday her daughter, Jana, told 5 things she's glad her mom did while raising her.

Today, we get to hear from Scarlet Pepin, wife of one of the 8 Pepin boys, Brad. Scarlet shares her perspective as daughter-in-law to Roberta.

Here it is, in Scarlet's words. Enjoy.

"I have reaped the benefits of Roberta's godly mothering. All the seeds that she planted into my husband's life have established such wonderful fruit that I am able to enjoy everyday. His patience, strong work ethic, self control, and godly fathering are straight from the environment he grew up in and the steady, gentle mothering of Roberta. Because she set such a wonderful example and kept her hand to the plow day in and day out, laundry load after laundry load, our children and grandchildren are being raised with spiritual roots that run deep.

The 5 things that I respect in Roberta's mothering are:

1. She allowed her children to problem solve on their own.

2. She established in them what a "team player" looks like and acts like.

3. She rewarded scripture memory verses with trips to the ice cream store!

4. She chose her committment to marriage over and over again.

5. She didn't take life so seriously but allowed kids to be kids.

My list could go on and on and that is why I am so grateful for all she did in the past to make our todays and tomorrows steady and peaceful."

Alyssa, Lindsay, Gabrielle, Scarlet, Brad


5 Things Story- Jana Pepin Emerson Shares About Her Mom

Yesterday the 5 Things Story of Roberta Pepin was highlighted, giving us a breath of fresh air in this complicated world of parenting. Love your kids, take care of them, teach and pray for them. Live well.

Today Roberta's daughter, Jana Pepin Emerson, 4th child of 10 and 1 of only 2 girls, shares her 5 Things she's glad her mom did while raising her. (surprise mom!)

From Jana, 5 things I'm glad Mom did….

1. Always pointed us to the Lord. I remember so many times when I was struggling with making a decision, was anxious or concerned about a relationship, my mom would encourage me to pray about it and seek God for my answer. She would say “Why don’t you take some time and do some praying about it”. Probably even more importantly, she lived her life that way. She would “go away” every once in a while to pray and re-charge herself. I can still picture her feeding a baby (because there were a lot of those in my family!) and her Bible would be open and she would be reading or praying while she was nursing.

2. My mom was (and still is) an AMAZING listener. I honestly can NEVER remember a time when my mom was too busy to listen to something I had to say. She never made me feel as though what I had to say wasn’t important or that she didn’t care. She was really good about listening and not telling me what to do but instead letting me talk through what I was dealing with and not trying to “control” or “solve” the issue. We would often tease my mom about her friendships. She has always had some close friendships with women who seem to do much of the talking and I attribute this to my mom’s amazing listening skills. She is a person who is content just listening and people are very drawn to that.

3. Gave unconditional love. I have always felt as though my mom was my biggest fan! As the mother of ten children, she was able to find the time to make each one of us feel as though we were her favorite! She is one of the very few people in my life where I feel like I can be my true self with, always. I can say anything to her and know that she will never think any less of me or judge me in that moment. She truly knows my heart and I feel extremely safe with her. I know that I have not always been the easiest person to love and forgive but my mom has always been there for me and has been a constant support.

4. Modeled the importance of thinking of others. My mom is one of those people who has always put others needs before her own. Regardless of her own daily struggles, she has always modeled the importance of putting her children, husband, and others before herself. Looking back now, as an adult and parent, I think about the challenges that my parents faced on a daily basis when raising ten children. At the time, we were all protected and had very little knowledge of the obstacles that were before them. My mom has always been gracious and kind to those around her. I do not think that it is a coincidence that all ten of us children place high value on helping others, whether that is through choosing a “helping” profession or incorporating mission work into our lives.

5. Was a strong encourager. My mom is also one of the most positive people I have ever met. She is an eternal optimist. She has always had a way of finding the good in people, even when they don’t deserve it. There have been many times in my life where I have felt hopeless or really frustrated with a situation and I know that by talking with my mom, she will be able to encourage me and remind me that God has a plan. I truly believe the success of her children is attributed to her constant support and encouragement.

Thank you Jana for giving us your perspective, looking back on life, and sharing what felt most important, as the daughter. Tomorrow we get to hear from daughter-in-law Scarlet, who was happy to share, as she is "still benefitting daily" from Roberta's parenting. Stay tuned!


5 Things Story- Roberta Pepin, Mom of 10

Pepin is a pretty well known name in our area, maybe because there are so many of them! I've had the fun of getting to know Roberta Pepin recently, a mom to 10 grown children.

Almost the whole family (missing one!)

Married to her "Handsome", Jerry, for 51 years, Roberta and Jerry have known each other even longer, being neighbors growing up! So she says they have known each other forever.

Roberta and Jerry have 8 sons and 2 daughters, ranging in ages from 50-27. Grandchildren are 15 in number, with one on the way. Great grandchildren are two in number, with one more on the way! They are a large, blessed family.

My good friend Scarlet, married to one of the Pepin boys, arranged for me to meet Roberta, knowing that she would make for a great 5 Things story!

As I talked with Mom Pepin, I also got input from daughter-in-law Scarlet (who says she is reaping all the benefits from Roberta's parenting.) Therefore I'm mingling in Scarlet's comments also, to add a different angle to this interview.

First, I asked Roberta if she always wanted a large family and her answer surprised me. She did, but apparently at the time, in her area of the country, many people were causing guilt about having large families due to overpopulation fears. She prayed about each child, wanting to know each time that having another was the right thing. The response always seemed to be that children are a blessing, and she says now that they always had enough, even though it was not always clear ahead of time how they would provide for each added blessing.

After becoming pregnant with their 4th child, Roberta said she and her husband became committed followers of Jesus and began to experience more understanding of their relationship with Him.  The issue of having a large family and overpopulation guilt was bothering Roberta, so she began to pray about it even more.  At a Lutheran service they attended, a Christian man from India spoke. He noted in his speech that Americans spoke against Indians for having too many children, and that peaked her interest. Afterwards, she asked him about this. He shared with her Psalm 127 "Children are a heritage of the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame."

Roberta and her husband were very new to having a close relationship with the Lord and it was hard at times, but they listened to the Lord. Finances were often hard.  She says they weren't an ideal situation to have multiple kids. Each time she became pregnant they needed reassurance that it was the right thing.

So the calm outlook that I saw on her face today,  I realized was a learned thing over years of seeing answered prayers.

Before meeting with Mom Pepin, I asked my Facebook readers what questions they wanted me to ask a mom of 10 grown children. Two responded, and both asked about worrying. What did she decide to let go of and not worry about? What did she waste time worrying about that she wished she hadn't?

Much to my surprise, one of her favorite lifetime mantras is "Don't worry. It'll all work out". She has seen God come through too many times to think that He won't this time.

Her children are all known for being quality, good, solid people, so before I met her I thought, "This will be like talking to the super source of all parenting! 'How did you do it?! What can we do that you did?!'" (Isn't it funny how our human tendency, though we know is false, is to look for some formulas that will make everything be okay.)

That is not what she had to share. She's a wonderful, peaceful, humble mom. No formulas. Just a handful of great principles.

(Bad news, there's no magical formulas.) (We knew that, but don't we always hope?)

Good news, all she shared about her life is possible for any other person to do, if they so choose.

That's a good thing!

She is a mom who loved, listened to, took care of and prayed for her kids. And exemplified a good life.

In a world of hyper parenting and over parenting, it was refreshing to take a look back just a few years and see how simple her approach really was...and how well it worked.

I asked Roberta to share 5 Things She's Glad She Did raising her children. Though she was reluctant to come up with anything she really did, (true humility), as she talked about those years we managed to identify 5 things together.

1. Raise them to know the Lord, by teaching them and living the example. Once you release them to live their own life, they will have the foundation necessary to be on their own. Life decisions will be made through that filter.

2. Be there for them, an encouraging, listening ear. If you're worried about them, yes it's hard, but still listen and encourage. (Daughter in law Scarlet stepped in here and added that she has noticed that Mom Pepin really shows interest in what interests her kids. She gets into their world, not in a controlling way, but in an interested way.) Roberta said to listen, not in order to press your own plan, but to stay involved. You are the parent. Stay involved by listening.

3. Don't worry. It's relief to know that we don't have to do the fixing. God gives us room and choice in life, we should extend that also. Teach the Word to them, and then they choose. If they do drift, be there still to encourage. We have all drifted off the path from time to time. It's never the end. From years of experience, she says something good is always around the corner. (Isn't that great??!!)

4. You think you love them so much, but God loves them so much more. He will take care of them.

5. Be an example of godly living. (DIL Scarlet  jumped in with her observance of this family she married into. Scarlet describes the family closeness as nothing short of just amazing. Favor surrounds them "like surround sound in a movie". They are all honorable and respectful. Among the most godly men Scarlet said she knows. The favor and closeness the family shares is amazing).

Roberta quickly added, "I didn't teach that, it's got to be God. He fills in the gaps for us. I know there's no way it was me."

I had to ask, "Were you hours in prayer? Praying for this great family?" She laughed and said, "No, I was doing laundry." Scarlet said that Roberta oozes peace and that set the tone for the Pepin home, one of peace.

As for not worrying, Roberta said you can't white knuckle life. Let God take over. There were so many kids, they had to get along. They didn't always have a lot of extra finances, but she now sees her kids love to give. God did it all.

She said, "I didn't have time to problem solve everything for them, they had to solve things on their own often. As a mom you feel so responsible, but you cannot do it all."

The three of us noticed how different some parenting is now, thinking that we have to oversee and do everything for or with our kids. Maybe they don't really need all the overboard extra attention and stress some moms put on themselves today. Roberta's kids all grew up able to problem solve and take care of themselves and be responsible. Because she gave them room to learn that growing up.

This interview took me back to the old school parenting that I love- be a good person, take good care of your children, and know that the kids will be ok. If you can't afford something, let your kids see God provide. If they have a problem with friends or school, listen but let them work it out. There is something very freeing about the whole thing. Maybe a reminder we need.

Roberta shared what she sees in today's generation that she appreciates so much. She loves that fathers are more involved and helpful now. She loves hearing wisdom of younger generation too.

So my summary... In this stressful world we live in, maybe it's all easier than we make it. Easier, yet harder. Sometimes it's easier to fill our lives with activity, than it is to be a solid person.

I choose to go after the simplicity of the solid life, doing the right thing and trusting God to be God.

It'll all work out.


5 Awkward Talks - #2 To Tell or Not to Tell

To tell or not to tell. That is the question.

In the tween and teen years, generally speaking, it is taboo to tell on someone. However, on occasion it may be essential for a friend's safety.

That said, sometimes it's hard to discern when it's important to tell, then equally hard to have the guts to tell, when you may feel like you're ratting out a friend.

I've heard of and experienced quite a few sensitive situations like this over the last 9 years of talking to tweens and teens.

When I ask middle schoolers if they have personally known someone affected by abuse, cutting or suicide, about 70% say they have at some point known someone affected by each of the 3 categories. They also confirm that drug use is a huge temptation or struggle for many people their age.
If cutting, drugs, suicide and abuse are that prevalent among 6th, 7th and 8th graders, odds are that your tween or teen knows or will know someone struggling.

So the question is, what do they do about it? Anything?

My first thought was that our culture has turned into one of such an independent spirit, that often even we adults turn our heads away, with the attitude of "It's not my business. Someone else will deal with it." But do we leave kids in danger when we have that attitude?

However, in discussing this blog with my friend, Dr. Krysclie Mayer, Psy.D., she shared a different perspective that I think is much better than my original thought. She said "I might quibble with your idea that our culture has an independent spirit. I think I know what you mean-that people tend to "live and let live" --but I think it's due to a tendency to be very dependent...dependent on someone else to do something, say something, take care of a difficult situation.  I think it's an outgrowth of nanny-state-ism, fear of liability and/or not wanting to be perceived as judgmental, etc. Dependency is a huge impediment to people confronting situations that are truly unsafe for others."

So maybe even we adults are afraid to step in to difficult situations, but when teens act the same, don't we wonder how no one thought to get help? There is a horrible news story, (an extreme example), when in 2009 there were multiple witnesses of a 2 1/2 hour gang raping of a girl, where no one got help. How could no one report this? Teens watched, but didn't report it.

That's so extreme, but there are plenty of other instances where fights have gone on in our own schools and few think to get help, even though many will video it.

Last winter in Oklahoma City, a big fight at a high school was in the news because of it's severity, length and how it made the rounds on Youtube (video no longer available). Details are unclear about whether anyone went to get help as the guy was getting beaten, I'm going to assume that someone did...but how long did it take? The video of the beating is long, and obviously because there is a video, some chose to record instead of or while help was being sent for. Still, the video showed people walking by the beating, seemingly unaffected.

Years ago in high school I remember happening upon a group of guys beating a guy senseless. I was so horrified that anyone could do that to someone that I think I froze and did nothing but leave as quick as I could. (Everyone that knows me well knows I freeze at emergency type situations haha). I still remember that and wish I would have gotten him help.

I'm also grateful to say that there are those responsible teens who will tell an adult when something dangerous is going on with a friend. Several things come to mind. One girl told higher ups when a person was doing drugs in class unnoticed. A girl told when a friend was drunk at a lake. I know of a few girls who got adults involved when  friends mentioned or contemplated suicide. A girl told an adult when a teacher made sexual remarks to the class. Was it risky to tell? Yes. Would some people consider them a rat? Probably. But more importantly, people got the help they needed to steer clear of more life-threatening danger. All of these  who told were brave, responsible and made a difference.

When a life is at risk or in danger, or illegal activity is involved, it becomes necessary to tell. A true friend will get help before it's too late. It takes guts. It also takes someone willing to risk a friendship to get the help needed. I would rather tell an adult that my friend is in a dangerous situation and have her mad at me, than to do nothing and have disaster strike, knowing I could have stopped it. 

But how is a 6th grader supposed to know what's truly dangerous and what to do about it? One example- cutting is so common. Many tweens and teens know people who cut, but never tell. All the teens may know that so and so cuts, but it's rare that they tell an adult. The kids may think, "I know it's not good, but lots of people do it". What they may not realize is the danger of cutting.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Self-injury can cause a variety of complications, including:
  • Worsening feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem.
  • Infection, either from your wounds or from sharing implements.
  • Life-threatening problems, such as blood loss if major blood vessels or arteries are cut.
  • Accidental or deliberate suicide. You may unintentionally injure yourself fatally, especially if you injure yourself while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. You're also at higher risk of deliberately taking your own life."
"Inside a Cutter's Mind" by Jerusha Clark with Dr. Earl Henslin is an informative book to "understand and help those who self-injure". I have come to just ask bluntly about cuts if I see them. One girl told me you'd be surprised how no one ever asks about obvious visible cuts.

Most kids know who uses drugs, who is high in class, even if it escapes the teacher's attention. Most kids know who the creepy adults are- the ones who do inappropriate things and give most students the heebie jeebies. It's also far too common for our teens to walk around with the knowledge that a friend gets beaten or abused at home. These are serious life issues that are very difficult, delicate and hard to deal with. What do they do with this information?

Even responsible adults may believe in different approaches for these sticky topics. But as long as you talk through your beliefs with your children as to what is appropriate and needed, they will be armed. Make sure they are comfortable coming to you with information.

Did you know most schools have an anonymous hotline you can call to report suspected behavior? You can also call if you fear someone might be a victim of something negative. It's not our job to investigate, accuse and bring change to a person's life, but it IS the job of  professionals. We can take responsibility to report suspicion to professionals.

If we can report suspicious behavior, the professionals can investigate and take necessary action if needed. Find out phone numbers of your local centers or hotlines to call for different needs. Find out if your school has an anonymous tip line.

Have this discussion with your teens.
If a friend talks about suicide, what should you do?
If a friend tries drugs, what should you do?
If a friend confides in you that they are abused at home, what should you do?
Do you understand that cutting is very dangerous even though it may be common?
If you see a fight happening, what should you do?
What is the difference between being a tattle tale and getting help when really needed?

Inside a Cutter's Mind by Jerusha Clark with Dr. Earl Henslin
How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs by Stephen Arterburn and Jim Burns


5 Awkward Talks to Have This Summer #1 - Pedophiles

If I see one more story of a teacher being inappropriate with students I may blow up. Is it weekly now? And often too close for comfort? Sometimes in my own city.

This has been on my mind, but this week I saw yet another story. A Teacher of the Year was found sexting nude photos to an 8th grade student where he taught band in a middle school. In Texas.

We have had  recent crazy stories here in our town, involving even elementary aged children. I know of real stories, more than I wish I knew, about people involving inappropriate actions. Not all of them ever went public. It is too common. I've even had to call a school and report a teacher for warning signs.

As serious as this is and as much as we want to protect our children, it's still an awkward subject to bring up in normal conversation. Especially at my kids ages, when they're coming and going and rarely all home at the same time. I can see it now, as they are running out the door for work, "Oh and beware!! If anyone tries to touch you inappropriately, don't let them!" Seriously, when does it fit in??

Is it good dinner conversation? Maybe. Whenever you can fit it in I suppose. Bedtime? Sure. Sometimes I use news stories as a good way to bring up talks. With Sandusky back in the news allegedly having written creepy letters to his victims, maybe that's a way to bring it up. Use this blog as an excuse.

And how do we stop this from happening to our kids? By having the awkward conversation.

I had an idea. I have 5 Awkward Talks that should be had with your kids,  the level of intensity depending on their ages of course. What if we do this together this summer?

Over the course of 5 weeks this summer, I'll post a blog about an awkward topic. Then within the week, find a time to have a discussion with your kids about it. And share feedback.

By awkward, I mean this. For some, it will be very hard to talk about the subject. For some it will be no big deal, but for the subjects coming, frequency and reminders are always good. These are things that just don't have an easy entry point in day to day conversations. 

Your kids may moan and look at you like this.

YOU may moan and look at them like this. But do it anyway.

So today we are going to talk about pedophiles. Or creepers, as our kids would say. The problem is, sometimes pedophiles don't always come across as creepy. But eventually, they will DO something creepy. Let's talk about it.

This last spring, I attended a workshop held by E.A.P.C. Empowering Adults, Protecting Children. The statistic the presentation starts with is this startling one:

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 9 boyswill be molested by the time they are 18.
90% of molesters are known and trusted by the families of their victims.

As an advocate for youth (I just declared myself that this year. Isn't it a fancy title?), I attended this just to be informed and to be able to see warning signs, because I'm tired of stories in the news like I mentioned.

Keeping Them Safe
E.A.P.C. sells a small book, Keeping Them Safe, describing warning signs and more at the link. You may want to pick up a copy.

Here are highlights: (all quotes are from Keeping Them Safe)

- Teach your children proper body part names, not just nicknames. Why? "Potential molesters know that the mere fact that children know the proper names of private body parts is an indication of the level of communication they maintain with their parents. This is a red flag to a potential molester. He or she is more likely to steer clear of a child with that level of communication freedom with parents or guardians."

- Just like we have safety rules for all other areas such as knives, scissors and ovens, have Touching Rules.  "No one is allowed to touch your private body parts (parts of the body covered by a bathing suit) except to keep you clean and healthy (as in a doctor). Very few people have permission to do this and only when your parents say it is okay". If ANYONE, even someone you know and trust, touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, scared or confused, you should: say no or words that mean no, get away as quickly as possible, tell another trusted adult what happened, even if the person tells you not to tell."

- Predators will approach your child with something they can relate to- a lost dog, candy, etc. Anything to pull them away from safety by choice. Tell your kids that whenever they are alone and someone asks for help, don't help them. It's okay to appear rude or mean sometimes. It's not okay to help a stranger. Go get an adult to help them.

-Have a family code word for emergencies. If children aren't with you when something uncomfortable happens to them, have them call or text and use the secret word or phrase that you've chosen. Then you will know they are in trouble.

-Molesters often give gifts to their victims.  This is so true. True in many of the news stories of serial molesters, gifts are almost always a part. Even with older teens or college aged boys- if an older adult is giving you lots of gifts for no reason, be suspicious.

-The yucky part is that molesters always have a "grooming period". This includes manipulation, deceit and bribery. This can leave the victim feeling confused. For example, a man may offer a young teen boy a beer, knowing that the boy will be less likely to tell his mom of any inappropriate acts, because then he'd get in trouble for having a beer too, which he knows is clearly wrong. They will always say not to tell, and threaten the child that no one will believe them if they do tell.

- Keeping Them Safe has a chapter on good babysitter rules and guidelines too. Baths or showers should not be given by babysitter without your prior permission.

Listen to your children if they say someone is creepy. Believe them.
Show up, introduce yourself, make yourself known around other adults. Predators say they are less likely to approach a child if the adult has made themself known.

I've also heard from friends who do speaking on this subject, that often faith based kids are targeted. The reason? They are less likely to talk about sex openly, therefore less likely to report it, or be comfortable talking to an adult about it. And they are also taught to be nice and respectful, so maybe they'll have a harder time stopping the perpetrator.

Be open, let them know you can talk about anything, be brief and don't make it a lecture.

SUMMARY- (mine, not E.A.P.C.)

1. If someone makes you feel creepy, stay away. Don't be alone with them. EVEN if this is an uncle or a  coach or teacher or stepmom.
2. No adult should want to touch you, or ask for a massage, or rub your shoulders if you are one on one. If you feel weird, it is. Someone you don't know well shouldn't even try to be alone with you.
3.  IT'S OKAY TO BE RUDE AND SAY "STOP IT, that makes me feel weird".
4. My personal thing is, I don't want teachers or coaches to have cell phone numbers of my girls. If they can only communicate through text messages, they can text me and I'll pass the info along.
5. If you think it's weird but aren't sure. IT IS. Listen to your gut. You're right.
6. The ones who do tell are the brave ones that help end harmfulness to kids.

If they say someone has been inappropriate to them?

According to Keeping Them Safe: "Don't panic or show shock, remain as calm as you can. Express your belief in them. Let them know it's not their fault and that telling was the right thing to do. Report to the authorities immediately. It is your job to listen and support the child, not to investigate the allegations. Tell your child what happens next, be honest. You are calling authorities and someone will be investigating."

It has to be stopped for the safety of all kids.

Also be aware that most schools have anonymous Help Lines that you can call anonymously to leave tips- whether you know of a student who has been harmed, or if you suspect a teacher is a predator.

No one likes to be the one who tells, but for the sake of everyone, we have to. It's the right thing to do.

Now, go have this conversation. Some time this week.


Crazy Summer Schedules?

photo credit-
It's summer time! Time for moments like these. Relaxed. Unplanned. Spontaneous.

But with three teenage girls, now our summer looks like this for the first time.

photo credit- my ipad pic of my fridge

I just posted on our Facebook page, 5 Things, that I'm so thankful for hard working girls, who have multiple jobs, making bank in this economy. Seems each summer I hear a new report of how hard it is for teens to find jobs, but mine are always working.

Part of that is our region of the country and part is due to their strong work ethic and entrepreneurism.

But now with two working and one volunteering, along with all the fun summer camps and events, you can see how full the calendar is!

We used to eat dinner together several times a week. Now I have one scheduled in on Friday.

I know this is normal.

But gee whiz.

I'm new to this and adjusting to the new normal.

Good news is, I suppose, that I have all this time alone to accomplish lots of things!

Except that something always the text I just got from one daughter asking me to bring something she forgot to her all day event. I just got home. Should I help her? This isn't a normal trait with her, forgetting things... 

This is what fill my summer days. It's reminding me of my former post from last summer,

A highlight in all of this though- One thing I prayed for a lot when my girls were little was that their gifts and talents would become evident early, so that we can help point them in that direction.

That has begun to be answered.

One just got a job  in a field that we discovered a couple of years ago that she is truly gifted in. She has an eye for design and can rearrange and decorate in a way that's not normal- it's obviously a gift.
One spends a great deal of time doing what she's always loved since toddlerhood- horses.
The photography talent that emerged in the other is amazing and she has her own thriving business, taking pictures like this:

 So they are all out spending time doing worthy things.
And I decided to go deliver some forgotten items.

Happy summer!!


For Better Teen Years, Start When They're Little

photo credit
The teen years aren't ever a breeze, but they can be pretty darn good if some character traits are in place from a young age. The effort you put in when they are young can help build smoother teen years. Of course it won't solve all potential problems that will come along, but will just make them easier to deal with then.

The best tip is leading by loving relationship of course, that is assumed. But here are just a few other thoughts.

1. Develop absolute respect for you and others early on. The more respect you can get in place when they are young, the easier their teen years will be for both of you.

2. Develop self control and imagination at a young age. Daily, make sure they spend a few minutes alone in creative play without use of technology. (Be very careful how soon you give them the freedoms of phones, internet and social media. Make sure those two things are in place first, self control and imagination).

3. Develop thoughtfulness toward others and awareness of their world. Empathy and perspective are powerful.

4. Help them understand and experience the power of waiting, being patient and not receiving everything they want immediately.

5. Develop the knowledge that they are loved and taken care of but the world doesn't revolve around them. They have to know how to exist without being the center of attention. They are an important part of a bigger picture. They are one part of a bigger family.

Of course how you present each of these ideas will look differently at each wonderful age and stage, but they are guiding principles that are valuable to hold up as standards.

Don't you just want to squeeze that little baby in the picture??