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Invisible monsters



Posted by on Aug 6, 2013 | 25 comments

Fight Porn Addiction - post by Robin DanceYou should not…cannotm u s t  not think porn doesn't affect you or your family.

If you think your husband wouldn't look at porn under the "right" circumstances, you're deluding yourself.

If you think your children aren't going to stumble across it by accident (if not on purpose), I'm here to tell you the vile minds who produce it are savvier than you or me and they're finding ways to make it happen.  

I know this from personal experience, stunned to discover some of the pages Google returned when one of my children researched a school report on slavery….

How did I find out?  Not because my child told me; thankfully, my internet filter reported to me in real time.  I marched right upstairs to find out WHAT in the world was going on, and couldn't believe what I discovered, how easily accessible it was…and how it had nothing to do with my son's report.

It breaks my heart imagining those images inked in permanent marker, stone-chisled, branded in  flesh.  Tender hearts, sweet minds, all but impossible to remove. 

Damn them.  My response is violent fury lasered at invisible monsters.

I have a beautiful, college-age daughter; I have two teenage sons, one of whom begins his freshman year at college next week.  More than sex or drugs or rock and roll, pornography has kept me awake at night, the influence for which I've been most concerned.  There are no words strong enough to convey my anger, frustration and fears when it comes to the effect porn addiction can have on innocent minds, on marriages, on families.

Remember the 90s Brain on Heroin PSAs?  The one that came after your Brain on Drugs commercial?  That is what porn addiction does to your brain…it wrecks it and the people who love you.

Purity is a dwindling commodity in today's youth culture; retailers peddle sex like it's candy.  Former tween stars grow up and explore their sexuality in front of God and everybody. 

And we just breathe it in like oxygen, half the time not even realizing it. 

That's how accustomed we've become to sexual imagery.  What used to be rated R barely registers now as PG.

I stumbled across a compelling infograph today; it's actually what prompted this post:


FTND-Infographic-How is porn addictive?

How is porn addictive? Please visit


Porn causes partners to bring baggage and unrealistic expectation into marriage.  For those already married, it undermines your spouse, distorts love and destroys intimacy.  Addiction breeds dissatisfaction and shreds reality…I likely have NO idea the reach of its devastation.

No one is immune from pornography's potential destruction.  No matter how hard you try to shield and protect your family, no effort is 100% sure.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do what you can to protect those you love. 

Check out the source of the How is Porn Addictive? graphic above, Fight the New Drug.  Their goal is "to educate teens on the harmful effects of pornography and provide a
free-of-cost recovery program for those who are struggling with
addiction."   They're neither religious or legislative which allows them entry into schools.  Brilliant.

Protect your computers.  We use Net Nanny by Content Watch, one of the filters suggested by FTND.  (When I looked for deals on their affiliate page, I saw that you can try it FREE for 14 days, enough time to decide if you'd like to purchase it.)

We just bought computers for our oldest two to take to college; before we turn them over to them, my husband was ADAMANT that I install Net Nanny on both.  It has NOTHING to do with us suspecting they're battling a porn addiction; and EVERYTHING to do with us wanting to help make it a non-issue…at least on the computers we buy.  Net Nanny (and I suspect) other filters have tools for cell phones, too; see?  that's one area for which we haven't been diligent….

This one makes me spitting mad, friends, because this is the world my babies will have to navigate.  It makes me nostalgic for the days the Sears catalog was the biggest threat in your mailbox…not Victoria and her stupid secrets.

Have conversations with your spouse and children.  Do something to help them help themselves. 

You can't afford to stick your head in the sand and think its reach can't slip under your door. 

Invisible monsters are nowhere and everywhere.


Please watch this video.  If I haven't convinced you to be diligent, maybe it will.




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An accounting lesson every parent needs to learn and practice



Posted by on Nov 18, 2011 | 1 comment

Some of the best parenting advice I can offer is over 2000 years old.  It's as relevant today as it was when first recorded, though it wasn't even suggested in the context of parent-child relationship ~

Keep current in your relationships; maintain a short account with your teens and tweens.  Don't let a day go by without speaking words that need to be said.

  • Offer a sincere apology when you've offended.
  • Grant forgiveness when you've been offended.
  • Provide encouragement when discouragement looms.
  • Say I love you.  Often.
  • Tell stories, share your life's minutia…

Don't let anything important ~ anything ~ go unsaid.

Whether or not you're a follower of Christ, words recorded in Scripture make practical sense for everyone ~

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. ~ Ephesians 4:26, 27 NLT

The passage in Matthew where Jesus basically asserts that words can kill and you better make things right, and quickly.

In Hebrews, where we're cautioned to "work at living in peace with everyone" and not to "watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up" troubling you and corrupting many. 

Because we don't know what tomorrow will bring, isn't it necessary and right and considerate to remain current with our children?  To take the high road, if need be, and reconcile relationship when it's been severed.

We're the grown-ups!  Our children need us to act the part, to take the first step in making amends, to make sure we aren't the ones harboring anger, resentment or bitterness.  They'll follow our lead.

One of the most poignant examples of doing this well and right was illustrated following the unexpected death of a friend of mine.  Her daughter's moving eulogy was indicator they were current; her daughter could let her go because there was nothing left unsaid between them.  

Are you current in your relationship with your children?  Is there anything you need to say or do?  Are there stories you want them to hear from you, family lore they won't otherwise learn?  Please…don't let another day go by without making sure you've got a very short account with your teen or tween.


Parenting teens & tweens badgeParenting Teens & Tweens, Day 24

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Telling stories



Posted by on Nov 12, 2011 | 6 comments

No matter what you do in your life,
what you create, what career you have,
whether you have a family or kids, or make a lot of money…
your greatest creation is always going to be
your life’s story.

Because it’s like this container
that holds all of those other things.

~ Jonathan Harris, artist

As hard as it is for your children to believe, you had a life before you had them.


The best way to share who you are as people, not just parents, is through storytelling.  In story, you can bring to life the people, places and things that made you who you are.

And though it's true that some people are natural born storytellers, inclined to hold you hostage as they unravel a tale of the spectacular woven from the ordinary, no one is better qualified to tell your story than you

An oral tradition of your family is just as important as the photographs you take.

Think about it–when your children were lap-size, before they could speak or read or even recognize letters, you read books to them.  How did they stall going to bed e.v.e.r.y. single night?  "Read me a story," they'd beg, and I bet more often than not, you did.  

And they never tired of reading the same book over and over and over again, until you were begging them to choose something new.


Whether by oral tradition or written account, why is sharing your life stories with your children so important?

  • It introduces them to people, places and events they might not otherwise know.
  • A family is greater than the sum of its parts; sharing your past enriches their present.
  • It helps them better understand their relatives–their motives, choices and idiosyncrasies.
  • It can build a sense of identity, family loyalty, pride.
  • It strengthens generations.

Even if you think your life has been relatively boring, it has all the essentials of good story–characters and conflict, good guys and bad guys, twists and transformation, passion and desire. 

Once you've stopped reading books to your children, after they've transitioned from learning to read to reading to learn, when they hit those tween years and can engage in meaningful conversation, it's time to start telling the stories of your life.

Tap into your wealth of memory and share the stories of your youth…

  • portraits of your best friends
  • how you spent Summer vacation or other memorable trips
  • favorite holiday memories
  • your easiest/hardest subjects in school
  • how your parents ~ their grandparents ~ disciplined you
  • your relationship with your siblings, their aunts and uncles

…the stories of personal transformation…

  • your faith journey
  • achieving goals
  • mastering a new skill
  • dealing with difficult circumstance
  • overcoming obstacles and on-going struggles

…your love story with your spouse…

  • how you met
  • what attracted you to him/her
  • when you knew he/she was "the one"
  • your conflicts

It doesn't really matter what you tell, just that you tell.

Over and over and over. 

My parents are no longer living and my grandparents passed away before I was old enough to remember their stories.  What I would give now for them to open doors to their youth and young adult years….

Which is motivating for me to tell my stories; to urge my husband to tell his.  In writing this, I realize we haven't enough

There's simply no such thing as "enough" or "too much."

If you aren't from a family of storytellers or don't quite know where to begin, you might find it useful to use a ready-made journal as your guide.  I have a copy of To Our Children's Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come by Bob Greene & D.G. Fulford that has wonderful, guided questions. 

Don't assume your children already know all your stories or don't care to know. 

The older they get, the more they'll appreciate knowing, especially when they have children of their own.   And if your own parents or grandparents are still living and you realize you don't know more about them than you do?

Start asking questions before it's too late.  The answers are buried treasure just waiting to be unearthed.

Your turn:  Can you think of additional reasons telling families is beneficial?  DO share in comments!!


Parenting teens & tweens badgeParenting Teens & Tweens, Day 23

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A most excellent lesson in parenting



Posted by on Nov 11, 2011 | 4 comments

A few instances during my Parenting Series, I've mentioned others who have influenced and shaped how I parent (Day 2 and Day 22)

I forgot to mention Bill Cosby.  Seriously.

During the mid-80s and early 90s ~ my 20s ~ I watched Heathcliff and Claire Huxtable negotiate the oft piranha-filled waters of parenting.  What I liked best about the show was the intelligence and involvement of both parents; I can't think of another show that has since portrayed such positive images of a mother and father. 

As parents and lovers.

For fun today ~ but also as instruction ~ I'm sharing a video clip that left an indelible mark in my memory.  This episode (I think the show's pilot) has come to mind countless times during my parenting experience, and if you haven't seen it, you need to. 

You'll want to watch the entire clip; at the three-minute mark comes an eloquent speech by a son to his father.  I can't help but wonder how differently Cliff's response would be today, in a pop culture that sometimes (at least on television) elevates a child's expression over wise parenting.




Parenting Teens & Tweens, Day 22

We're nearing the end of our 31-day Parenting adventure; I'm grateful for those of you who are following the series.  Again, I'm not writing this because I think I know it all or because my kids are perfect.  I'm just a mom with three teens who has a little experience under my belt, and my kids are turning into the kind of decent people I hoped they would when I entered this world as a mom. 

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Forget trying to love your children equally
Parenting Teens & Tweens, Day 20



Posted by on Nov 6, 2011 | 9 comments

Hearts-1474Oh, my.  I done done it now.

If I haven't yet stepped on your toes, I bet the title of this piece alone got your dander up. 

Or at least raised your curiosity.  Surely she doesn't mean what she wrote, you're thinking.

But I do.  I mean precisely what I said:

Forget trying to love your children equally.

Let's explore what I mean by beginning with what I don't :

Playing favorites.

Not for one second am I advocating ranking your children in some kind of misguided preferential order or proposing you lavish one with lollipops and lemonade while feeding the others stale breadcrumbs. 

Instead, I'm suggesting you ~

  • recognize the differences of each child,
  • understand that the dynamic of your relationship naturally varies from child to child, 
  • admit to yourself and accept that sometimes your children's behavior temporarily affects your emotions 

So, then, if we aren't to love our children equally, what are we to do?

Love your children u n i q u e l y.

I'll admit ~ when this concept was first introduced to me, I was offended.  It came to me by way of my in-laws (whom I love and greatly respect), in a conversation about their grandchildren.  My first response was judgement:  this was their way of admitting favor among their nine (at the time) grandchildren. 

My daughter had been their first grandchild, their "daughter" after having four sons of their own.  Because she was The One and Only, she received all their time, devotion and gifts. 

Things would change soon enough–over the next decade or so, nine more grandchildren were born.

Ten grandchildren scattered between two states in four different cities.  Financially, it was impossible to gift that many children at the same level it had been possible for one or two.  Time was divided not multiplied.  And personalities?  Each child's personality was as unique as his or her DNA; precious snowflakes, complex in design, one of a kind…and all over the place.

I wrestled with that phrase–  

Hmph…loving uniquely. 

It haunted me.

Yet, eventually I would discover its wisdom and brilliance.

So, then, what is the difference between loving equally and loving uniquely?  How is it accomplished?  What are the benefits?

Primarily, loving equally originates from you; the way you feel towards your children and how you convey those feelings.  Loving equally is striving towards balance, keeping tract, tit for tat.  

Loving uniquely originates with your children.  It requires you know them so intimately ~ their differences, their motivations ~ that the way your love is manifested differs from child to child. 

Loving uniquely is intentional, aware, demonstrative and action-oriented; loving equally is emotional, challenging, doesn't take into account individual differences, and is at times defeating.

Relationships are dynamic.  Emotions can be affected by circmstances, events, hormones, lack of sleep–a host of causes.  The way we feel, in essence, like those around us can fluctuate based on our temperment, the situation, and natural tensions and frustrations. 

Loving uniquely empowers you to love "in spite of" all those things. 

Loving equally expects children to be cookie cutter; that they respond to our parenting the same way in every instance.  But how many of you with two or more children have found that what works for one never works for the others?? 

Children within a family are as different as apples and…elephants.

William P. Young said it this way:

“Each relationship between two persons is absolutely unique. That is why you cannot love two people the same. It simply is not possible. You love each person differently because of who they are and the uniqueness that they draw out of you.”

I suppose that's why in his book The Shack, Young's version of God repeatedly said, "I'm especially fond of you."  "You" represented many people throughout the story. 

I doubt my in-laws have read the book, and knowing them they wouldn't care for it much, but I think my reading of it helped unpack the beauty, honesty and wisdom of "loving uniquely."

Loving uniquely is parental paradigm shift. 

It's giving permission not only to recognize the differences among your children but to encourage, embrace and esteem them. 

Loving uniquely isn't about loving one child more than the other, it's about loving each child differently

For me, this was liberating in my relationships with each of our children.  As I began to see their personalities maturing in middle school, loving them uniquely allowed me to applaud their differences and to resist trying to make them clones.  It also helped me avoid that familiar but damaging pitfall of comparing siblings to one another. 

So…I'm curious about your thoughts in response to this; is it a new way of thinking?  Can you see its merit?  Or do you think I'm making something out of nothing?  As long as you're respectful, I sure would like to hear your opinion.


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Rollar coaster and BIG mistakes



Posted by on Oct 29, 2011 | 3 comments

~ 31 Days of Parenting Teens & Tweens, Day 19 ~


Atlanta_car_hire_3_0I don't know why it took me so long to learn this one; it's not like she didn't tell me e v e r y time I did it.

Embarrassed her.  In front of grown-ups.  And sometimes ~ cardinal sin ~ new friends.

What was precious to me, what was past to me, was at best, uncomfortable, and at worst, painful, reminder to her–

What she perceived as her Awkward Season…

when she was chasing independence,

the years of her B e c o m i n g.

The things she associates with that season are off-limits for me to bring up in front of others.

* * * * *

From my perspective as a parent, middle school is the perfect time to cultivate independence in children.  They feel older; their bodies are signaling change, maturity.  Emotionally and psychologically, they need to assume more freedom. 

Wise parents will not only allow tweens to exercise more control in decision making, they'll encourage it.

So, when it came to choices based on preferences, I bit my tongue if I didn't agree and deferred to my children.  For example, hairstyle, frames for glasses, clothes, hobbies.  Certainly, I'd share my opinion, but these were not hills to die on–they weren't moral failings or rebellion. 

Think about it:  at puberty a body is suddenly growing and changing and emotions are roller coasting.  Doesn't it make sense that the natural reaction is to control those things you can? 

If a child isn't extended some measure of freedom, he'll become frustrated or defeated.  He'll act out or rebel or retreat.

Especially when your children make the opposite choice you'd make, rest in this:

One day they'll realize you were right. 
If you're lucky, they'll even admit it.

But hear me on this and learn from my repeated mistake: 

Never, ever, EVER bring up the choices they made during the Awkward Years in front of family or your friends, and especially to their friends. 

It sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?  But I bet you've done it if your children are older. 

I verbally and non-verbally affirmed and supported the choices my kids made as we intentionally encouraged their independence; sometimes it was easy but mostly this required restraint.

There's a good chance some of their choices will haunt them–even the things you LIKED that they choose to do.  For instance, their hobbies and activities. Of course, some of their pictures go without saying…!

But if they associate it with their Awkward Years, they don't want you bringing it up years later. 

Even for their choices that were good in your opinion. 

Which is why I'm not being more specific in this post :).

If your children are in their later teens ~

  • Respect them.
  • If you don't already know, have a conversation about the things you tell others that might be painful or embarrassing to them.

If your children are in their early teens ~

  • Make sure you're encouraging age-appropriate decision making.
  • Distinguish between moral, rebellious and simply preferential choice.

Your turn:  Am I the only one in this?  Can you think of examples where you've either done a great job of keeping your mouth shut or blown it like me?

31 Days of parenting teens & tweens

If this is your first visit or your 21st visit to PENSIEVE, I hope you'll subscribe in a reader or by email so you can finish this series with me!  And as always, if you'll share on your favorite social networking sites, I'd be forever indebted!

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