Nine Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Parenting Teenagers

Having been involved in raising three teenagers, I have sometimes been approached by other parents for advice with their teens. Perhaps it is providential that this doesn’t happen very often! When people do seek my advice, although the various situations differ widely, the problems usually revolve around the same sorts of general issues and so I usually end up saying the same things again and again. For what it’s worth, I’m going to share below what I normally say. This advice is what I wish someone had shared with me before I ever had teenagers. With regard to the personal anecdotes I will share, some of the circumstantial details have been altered to preserve the anonymity of the subjects. But first a disclaimer is necessary for those who may happen to know me: I am still learning to apply these principles myself. It is one of the ironies of life that by the time we finally learn all the lessons we need to know about being good parents, our last child is already grown.

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Should the Government be Involved Marriage at all?

government involvement in marriageSomeone asked me on Facebook whether I favored the removal of government from marriage completely.

Given that I have been making noise recently about the way same-sex ‘marriage’ intrudes the government into family life, it would be logical for me to advocate the libertarian position of removing government from marriage law completely, right?

Wrong.

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International Media Picks Up Report on Britain’s Home-Grown Terrorism

My Christian Voice report on Britain’s home-grown terrorism has been picked up by over 83 television stations and media outlets through the world.

The report raised concerns that increasing numbers of British-born Muslims are flocking to the Middle East to fight with ISIS in the growing jihad. The widespread response to the report is evidence of growing apprehension about the radicalization of Muslims within Western democracies.

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Pointing Children Godward

“Just as the Church is a place of beauty, so we can and should create within our homes this same beauty and order. Even in the womb, babies can hear beautiful music and loving words from their parents. Icons, incense, and prayers can grace their bedrooms and home. Gentle folk songs, good stories with lovely illustrations, poetry, all help to train the child’s mind to nourish itself on what is good and holy. Learning to love nature and animals, spending time in the outdoors, in the forest, mountains seashore, teach the child to respect and care for what God has created.

Out goal is to remind children of the angelic realm. We use the natural world to lead the hearts and minds of the small child Godward. Probably the greatest impediment to this is the television. As children grow order, it is almost impossible to keep them from the influences of the media in our culture. At least in the tender years, while we are able, we can protect them. ”

—Archbishop Abrose (Klucharev), cited in Orthodox Christian Parenting, p. 117)

ISIS Terror

isis-terrorists

In my Christian voice article on ISIS terrorism I explained that the goal of ISIS

is to eliminate all borders in the Middle East and establish a Caliphate under the monarchy of the terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a man wanted for $10 million by the Americans.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his thugs have exploited grievances felt by the Sunni community following their marginalization in the government America helped to establish under the Shia triumphalism of Nouri al-Maliki. After breaking off of Al-Qaeda, the group has gone on to control much of eastern and northern Syria and western and northern Iraq.

It is not simply the lawful governments of Iraq and Syria that have become the target of ISIS; they have also been exterminating the civilian populations on an unimaginable scale. Their regime of ethnic cleansing is slowly and systematically exterminating some of the world’s oldest Christian communities. ISIS has also been targeting Shia Muslims and all Middle East populations not associated with their particularly fanatical version of Islam.

When ISIS forces conquer an area they immediately impose Sharia law, including a ban on smoking, football and music. Women are forced to be completely veiled in black from head to toe and forbidden from leaving their house without a male guardian. ISIS thugs even routinely raid schools to punish girls who are not fully veiled in black. The less fortunate women are sold into sexual slavery.

ISIS has issued ultimatums demanding that all Christians convert to Islam, pay the jizya tax required of non-Muslims, or die. Last month we reported on a typical case of what happened when a Christian father could not afford this tax: three ISIS soldiers barged into his house and proceeded to rape his wife and daughter in front of him. The husband and father was so distraught that he later killed himself.

More recently, there have been reports that the holocaust against Christians has included youths being crucified and beheaded and buried alive and numerous other atrocities for no reason other than the fact that these children are Christians.

ABC news reported that in towns controlled by the group, “Friday is the day for public beheadings and amputations for people who violate its strict Islamic rule, and whippings for women if their clothing offends ISIS’ sense of propriety.”

The UN reported that “Civilians, including children, are urged to watch. Bodies of those killed are placed on display for several days, terrorizing the local population”

Further Reading

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Instrumentalizing the Liberal Arts (Common Core, Part 4)

This is the fourth and final article in my ongoing series on the problems with Common Core. To read the earlier installments click on the following links:

In this final article I want to suggest that the philosophy of reading behind the new Common Core Initiatives is fundamentally dehumanizing.

In the classical understanding of education, we acquire language skills so that we can read great texts, and we read great texts so that we can become richer and deeper people. By contrast, for Common Core the purpose of reading texts is to acquire language skills, and the purpose of language skills is to better compete in the 21st century global economy. As such, the value of the liberal arts is entirely instrumentalized to pragmatic ends. Accordingly, if it were possible to achieve these same goals independently of reading texts, then reading would become superfluous.

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Killing the Imagination (Common Core, Part 3)

In the past the man has been first, in the future the system must be first.” Frederick Winslow Taylor

This August children throughout America returned to school. Few of these students were aware of the monumental shifts that had just occurred in their schools. You see, the 2014-15 school year is when American public schools began implementation of the new Common Core State Standards Initiative – the controversial educational reforms introduced by President Obama.

President Obama used $4.35 billion of stimulus money to effectively “pay” states to join Common Core, which imposes new standards on what students should know at the end of each grade for English language arts and mathematics. By controlling national testing standards, Common Core creates the infrastructure for federal control of school curriculum.

In my earlier posts in this series on Common Core,I suggested that the ideological underpinings of Common Core can be found, in part, by being attentive to the hyper-pragmatism of men like Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) and B.F. Skinner (1904-1990). In this post I will be continuing that discussion by showing how the purely pragmatic principles of Common Core kill the imagination of our children.

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Treating Children as Lab Rats (Common Core, Part 2)

The philosophy behind Common Core goes back to one of the greatest educational reformers of the twentieth-century, the pragmatic psychologist B.F. Skinner (1904-1990). Skinner took the factory mindset of American pragmatism and applied it to school children, dehumanizing them in the process. Skinner was to the classroom what Frederick Winslow Taylor had been to the factory.

Skinner boxSkinner is famous for inventing the prototype of the Skinner Box, an operant conditioning chamber to study animal behavior. But Skinner didn’t stop at rats and mice: he wanted to take what he learned from rodents and apply it to the education of American school children. (Skinner acknowledged no ultimate distinction between men and animals, having declared “To man qua man we readily say good riddance.”) He wanted, in his own words, to bring “the results of an experimental science…to bear upon the practical problems of education.”

In his 1984 essay ‘The Shame of American Education,’ Skinner delighted that “with teaching machines and programmed instruction one could teach what is now taught in American schools in half the time with half the effort.” (Like Frederick Taylor, Skinner seems to have also been haunted with the idea of a time deficit.)

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The Triumph of American Pragmatism (Common Core, Part 1)

In 1912, the United States Congress began holding a series of hearings into workplace practices introduced by Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915).

Taylor had revolutionized American factories, increasing productivity by staggering amounts. Through removing “rule of thumb” practices from the workplace and regimenting production according to the principles of “scientific management”, Taylor enabled managers to run their factories like giant machines.

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