Shelterwood CEO thanks the staff

 DSC 2008 copy e1417458820659 200x300 Shelterwood CEO thanks the staffDear Shelterwood Team:

I want to take a moment this Thanksgiving Holiday and thank you for your service and your dedication to Jesus and to the kids and families we serve at Shelterwood.  I have told many people that I am very proud of our entire Shelterwood team.

I would like to share a wonderful complement we just received from John DeVries from a conversation he had with the CEO and Founder of one of the other “Jesus focused faith based” programs in the country.  They had a Education Consultant visit their program and the consultant told them that “Shelterwood was the gold standard of Christian programs.”   It is a huge encouragement that the perspective regarding us continues to be so positive.

And I recognize that this positive report is due first to the favor and blessing of God, and then second to the hard work of a wonderful and dedicated team of people.  Please join me this Thanksgiving in thanking God for His favor and blessing, and ask Him to continue to give us wisdom, divine protection, and to send us those kids and families that we can help.

I also want to share a story with you from our trip home on the airplane from Ft Lauderdale to Dallas with our team of 35 from Haiti.   I am going to leave off the specific names.  You can certainly guess the names, but the purpose is not to single our any particular staff members, but instead to give you a picture of the perception of our Shelterwood team by those watching.

I was seated on the exit row aisle, and I boarded the flight first so that I could check off our kids as they boarded the plane.  One of our young adult staff brought up the rear, and he checked the kids off in the lounge as they boarded the plane.  Seated across from me in the exit row aisle was a middle-aged woman who was interested in my list and struck up a conversation.  It turns out that she was a psychologist and had placed one of her children in a residential program a number of years ago.  She started the conversation by telling me how well behaved and respectful that our kids had been in the waiting area at the airport.   She told me about a couple conversations that she had with our kids prior to boarding, and she was very complimentary.

Towards the end of the boarding process, one of our girls was unable to find luggage space in the overhead bins, and she came to me and began to cry, saying “my mom and dad told me to keep this with me and not to check it, what am I going to do?”  One of our team immediately got up and pulled their own bag out of the overhead bin so that she had space for her bag, and then took their bag to the front of the plane to be gate checked.    The female psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.

Then halfway through the flight, one of our young adult leaders knelt down in the aisle next to me and told me that one of our female teens was using foul language and cursing out one of our female staff.  It had evidently caught the attention of the senior flight attendant who had warned her that if she did not behave herself, she would not be allowed to board her connecting flight.   I instructed this young adult leader to move our most senior female staff member to the seat adjacent to this young woman and to explain to her the consequences of her behavior.  And that if she did not change her behavior and apologize to the flight attendant, she would not board the next flight, and I would drive her from Dallas to KC with one of our female staff.   The female psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.

Then I got up and went to the front of the plane to visit with all four of the flight attendants on the flight.  I introduced myself to them, explained who we were, and where we had just been.  Among other things, I told them that fourteen of these kids had just been baptized in the Caribbean, and that we had a team of 35 on the plane and 34 were behaving themselves.  I apologized for the “one” who was misbehaving.  I assured them that we do not approve of that behavior, and that there would be consequences.  I said that “I fully support your decision should you choose to refuse her boarding the next flight.  We will simply rent a car and drive her back to KC from Dallas.”   The flight attendants couldn’t have been more kind, gracious and understanding.  They wanted to know about Shelterwood and what we do.   I then went back to my seat, and while I was sitting there, the lead flight attendant brought me two bags of stuff… when I looked inside, I found a sample of most of the stuff you can purchase on the plane:  a bottle of wine, chips, nuts, hummus and cheese, etc..   They thanked me for what we do and said that they just wanted to bless me with these things as a gift.  The female psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.DSC 2007 copy e1417458765471 200x300 Shelterwood CEO thanks the staff

After the airplane landed, the female psychologist leaned over and with tears in her eyes, said, “I wish that I had known about a facility like yours to place my child in when he was struggling.  Your team is absolutely amazing.”   This was a huge compliment from a woman who watched our kids and our staff interact for several hours, and I would agree with her.  We do have much to be thankful for!  God has blessed us with a great team!    Thanks again for all you do!

I know that you may be working this Thanksgiving, and as a result, you will be missing your family.  Thank you for your service to Jesus and to us at Shelterwood.  Your service has not gone unnoticed in heaven, and our entire team is grateful as well.   As Corrie Ten Boom used to say, “If you obey God and give of your life, time and possessions generously, you will discover that you cannot out-give God.  God will do amazing things for you and through you.”  God is doing amazing things here at Shelterwood.  Thanks so much for the important part that you play in our ministry to struggling teens and their families.

May God bless you this Thanksgiving!

Blessings, Jim
Shelterwood CEO


What is the impact of social media on your teen?

Screen Shot 2015 06 02 at 1.08.52 PM 300x195 What is the impact of social media on your teen?These days, being a celebrity can be as simple as doing your job. For Alex, a Texas High School student who works at Target, this couldn’t be any more apparent. You see, Alex works at Target as a cashier and one day a girl who is known as, ‘Rim’ on Twitter, tweeted a photo of Alex bagging her groceries. Now, that tweet has been shared nearly a million times and Alex has more than half a million followers. He has been tweeted by Target and Google, and even has even been contacted to be on the Ellen Show. Throughout the day, #Alexfromtarget has been the top trending post on Twitter. And, all Alex had to do was do his job and be found to look somewhat like Justin Bieber by teenage twitter users.

What’s interesting is that this celebrity-making phenomenon is by no means new to Alex’s story. Social Media has been the creator of many pseudo-celebrities. There have been many scientific studies published in the last few years about the social phenomenon of celebrity-making social media sites. Social media users create their own reality. They become mini celebrities in an entirely me based reality. From research topics that show how ‘selfies’ breed narcissism to entire Facebook photo albums staged to look like the user is on an exotic vacation, social scientists have considered it all. In the last year I have read positive reviews of Facebook being a help in overcoming drug addiction to negative reviews of Facebook fueling cyber bullying.

So, where does your teen fall in the midst of this social media debate? Perhaps your son or daughter has been involved in some painful cyber bullying either as a victim or an aggressor. Or, maybe your teen simply loves posting selfies. Either way, it’s important to open a discussion about what social media means. Often, it is difficult to put boundaries on social media usage, especially when it gets out of hand. But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Open up discussions with your teen about how social media has affected them and what they use it for.

While we may just shake our head at the silliness of nearly a million people retweeting a picture of a teenager doing his job, we cannot ignore that this is a huge part of our teenagers’ lives. Invite your teenager to discuss the impact of social media with you. It’ll give you a different perspective into their lives and maybe, just maybe, help you understand why #alexfromtarget is such a big deal.

What’s in a name?

IMG 4847 copy What’s in a name?What’s in a name? First grade is learning the meanings of our names. The idea started in British Columbia, Canada. There are a few places in North America farther from The Geneva School’s Early Childhood Campus than this remote section of the Canadian Rockies, but not many. This summer, a group of troubled teens agreed to challenge themselves: to leave everything they knew behind and head into the Canadian wilderness for ten days. Each came from widely differing backgrounds. Among them, there was a pastor’s daughter who had been deceived and lured into prostitution; another young teenager was trying to escape the vicious web of drug addiction; still another was so painfully frightened by life that she wanted only to peer around her mother’s shoulder like a shy four year old; and there was a beautiful young woman who looked in the mirror and saw not what the world saw, but ugliness, shame, and a life she believed was an unwanted mistake. Each brought with them emotional and spiritual baggage that far outweighed the small backpack they were allowed to bring on the adventure.

As the young couple, John and Stacy, who were to lead these young women prepared for the girls’ visit, they scouted trailsIMG 4652 copy What’s in a name? and gathered supplies for camping: tents, kayaks, paddle boards, equipment, food, and water. They also prepared their hearts and minds for what they hoped would be a life changing time for their guests. They prayed fervently that by leaving behind the familiar trappings of busyness and comfort, these girls would be awed by creation and its Creator. Stacy asked for brief histories and pictures of each girl so that she could pray for them by name and with their image in mind. She hoped that by studying each face and knowing a little about their struggles and gifts she might feel a connection before they even met. As she prayed for each life, heart, and face, she had an idea. Each name she lifted in prayer was so beautiful. Each must have been chosen with great hope for a full, vibrant, joyful life. What did their names mean? In Bible times names were given after careful consideration of their meaning. God clearly chose certain names and even gave new names to identify and recognize renewed hearts and remarkable circumstances. God’s name itself is so holy, it can’t even be uttered nor limited to a single word. Names are significant. Stacy decided to look up the meaning of each girls’ name. At the very least, it would be fun and interesting to share the meanings with her new friends.

IMG 4815 copy What’s in a name?The ten days were cold, often rainy, and, as the girls later said, God showed up and showed off! These city girls slept in tents, cooked their meals over camp fires, took turns keeping the fire alive through the storms, and found a place where they could be still. As they took in the breathtaking views of snowcapped mountains, verdant meadows, deep crystal blue lakes, and mile high waterfalls, they felt appropriately small. They also realized that the very same Creator who formed each tiny blade of grass for His own glory and for their pleasure, loved each of them with no limits or boundaries. It was unfathomable, yet they glimpsed it and felt it take root in each battered, hurting heart.

On the ninth and final evening, Stacy shared with the girls that she had researched each of their names before she ever met them. She anticipated curiosity and perhaps even laughter as the girls learned the meanings of the names their parents had chosen almost twenty years before. What she couldn’t have known was that God was about to show up, and show off. As she went around the circle of girls gathered around their final campfire, she watched as the meaning of each name touched some precious, long neglected place in each heart. Tears began to flow as the girls realized that their names were symbols of their very identity in Christ, and appeared to be the root of every battle in their young lives. The young girl who had been seduced into selling her body learned that her name means “seen by Yahweh,” and that she is named after the holy place where Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac but was mercifully relieved of the cost of that obedience. It is the very same place where Solomon later built the temple that would honor the God of the universe. As they turned to 1 Corinthians 6:19, they could scarcely breathe as they read that her body is a temple to the Holy Spirit, and that Yahweh sees her and is merciful. She had felt beautiful and desired when she gave her body to men, and she now saw clearly through that lie. Her beauty and value was more real than she had ever imagined, and came from her identity in Christ alone.  Then Stacy turned to the stunningly lovely face of the girl whose arms are a roadmap of her unbearable pain. In her despair, this beautiful girl had routinely taken a razor blade to the flesh on her arms. What had begun as secret, hidden attempts to relieve the pain of her self-loathing and doubt, soon had no shame or need to hide under protective clothing. The shock and disgust she pretended not to see on the faces of strangers who saw her arms only mirrored her own disgust and feelings of worthlessness. Not one inch of this young girl’s arms and shoulders were free of deep, raw, brutal trails of a razor, but on this night powerful words of truth poured over her like healing oil. She learned that her name means beauty, elegance, and a gift of God. The worthlessness and ugliness she imagined were lies from the very pit of Hell.

IMG 4785 copy What’s in a name?Each of the ten girls received the balm of seeing their identity in Christ in the name chosen for them so long ago. The painfully shy and fearful girl who could barely peek from around her mother’s shoulder learned her name means, “she will see.” One who doubted both her beauty and her worth found out that her name means “fair” both in appearance and in judgment. The evening was life changing. Their struggles and battles weren’t over, but the lies they’d clung to had been bathed in the light of Truth and had lost some of their power. The girls had to leave that Canadian mountaintop the next day. The valleys and shadows were waiting; but each had been given a gift they could cling to forever. The story of that night would be passed on and celebrated even in a dot on the map of Central Florida, a continent away from that mountain in British Columbia.

As The Geneva School first grade teachers prepared for this new school year, we eagerly received class lists and began to pray for each child and family the names represented. This summer the faculty was given the assignment to think through the activities of the first days of school, and try to see them anew. The challenge was to reevaluate a practice and breathe fresh air into it by adding, omitting, or changing parts of it. Were the ends being best accomplished by the current means or was there a better way? First grade traditionally begins the year celebrating that we are children of the King. Each child has value and significance because he or she is a son or daughter of the King of Kings. As we looked at the names of our new students, we thought of that night in Canada and decided to explore the meaning of each first grader’s name. Hearts began to pound as we recognized that not only were we enhancing a current practice, but that it perfectly meshed with the focus of the yearlong Chapel lessons, the Names of God. Each week Mrs. Heinsch shares a new name of God from the Bible. She teaches that He is too big, too holy to be contained in one name. The children learn there are more than 700 names for God in the Bible, and they learn dozens of them through the year: Elohim, strong Creator; El Emeth, God of Truth; Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide; Abba, Father. We’ve been teaching that there is power in His name for years, but never that God’s purpose could be seen in the name of a six year old. One idea led to another, and soon a whole new curriculum was created based on Isaiah 49:16: Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. 

Before the children stepped foot in their new first grade cottages, the teachers researched their names, and called each child’s parents to find out why that name had been chosen. The teachers delighted in hearing the stories and tapping into the hearts and lives of each family. The stories were as varied and unique as each child. Some names were chosen to honor a beloved family member, or in memory of a special place. Others simply sounded appropriately beautiful and mellifluous for their exquisite newborn son or daughter. Still others were carefully researched for their meaning and origin. In every case, the names were chosen with love, tenderness, and hopeful anticipation of a meaningful life. The first grade team realized there was value in sharing the meaning of each name with the class. Would we be able to see our student’s identity in Christ in the meaning of each name as the year unfolded? Perhaps the students themselves would begin to see untapped passion in the one whose name means “the fiery one”, or recognize the innate kindness of the child whose name means “noble, kind.”

Aiden What’s in a name? Alli What’s in a name? Owen What’s in a name? Victoria What’s in a name?
Each morning we begin our day in first grade with our Bible lesson. The children learn a song or hymn, practice Scripture memorization, and listen to God’s word and message in His wonderful stories. This year our classes also stop and lean in as a classmate is in held in the arms of his teacher and recognized. We share the meaning of the name specially chosen for him. Sometimes that leads to laughter, but they are giggles of delight, not mocking. We tell the story of how his parents joyfully selected that perfect name. We recognize that God knew his name even before he was born; even before his parents did! We discuss what it means that his name is engraved on the very palm of God’s hand. We talk about how painful it would be, to both that child and to God, for anyone to take that carefully chosen name and twist it for teasing or unkindness. Knowing that parents will also delight in each unique name story and meaning, we are also featuring a boy and girl in our weekly first grade Florida Flash. Will our precious six year old charges remember each meaning and story? Probably not. Have the seeds of recognizing each other’s value in Christ been sown? We trust with eyes of faith that they have. The addition of our Isaiah 49:16 curriculum has brought great joy and depth to the start of our year in the First Grade Cottages. We are far from a campfire in the majestic heights of the Canadian Rockies, but God is no less present and no less eager to cover us with the balm of His perfect love and purpose. What’s in a name? Our first graders are learning it’s much more than the letters they write at the top of every paper. The Lord of Hosts has engraved it on His palm. Hallelujah!

L. O’Donoghue

I try to forgive but I just can’t FORGET

To forgive and forget has been a phrase that most of us have known, and have likely used at one time or another. It seems like an ideal that all individuals should strive for in healthy relationships. However, the problem is that, we as humans are not good “forgetters.” In fact, more often than not, the more we try to forget something, the more we end up rehearsing it and committing it to memory.  In his book Hate-Work, author David Augsburger believes that we all find a “place for our grief, rage, and resentment in our memory.”

Screen Shot 2015 09 17 at 11.45.09 AM 300x99 I try to forgive but I just cant FORGETThe difficult reality is that we were designed to remember.  Our choice then is not to remember or forget, but to choose the manner in which we will remember the wrongs committed against us. In the same book, Augsburger states that, “people need to remember their story, tell it with historical accuracy, recall the injuries given and received, and do reparative work or they are very likely to repeat it in painful detail. Simple forgetting, repressing of memories, substituting disinformation holds an [individual] hostage to his past.” It is therefore over simplistic and unrealistic to hold ourselves to the idea of “forgiving and forgetting.” We can, however, examine the manner in which we remember those who have wronged us.  How will we model for our children how to practice forgiveness in their own lives?

Reflect on the following “Exploration Inventory” from the book Hate Work.  It has been modified from how it was originally printed to fit common experiences we often find in the families we work with at Shelterwood:

  • Are there members in my extended family whom I have emotionally cut off, who were previously connected with me but are no longer so?
  • Do I have hurtful relationships with my spouse or children that I cannot stop reviewing?
  • Do I realize what payoff I get from rehearsing an offense over and over?
  • How often have I told and retold the story of the offense to others to gain their support and validation of my role as victim?

Maybe Teens Should “Just Relax” and Not Parents

I read a survey today of 340,000 Americans that said that after we turn 50, we are generally happier. The 30-50 age was less happy and the most stressed out group was 20-30. The study didn’t survey teenagers, but I wonder if the 13-18 group would top all the age groups on feeling stressed. Today’s teens especially carry a pretty hefty load of issues on their shoulders every day. Of course, the load is relative to the degree that we learn to be content. That’s why the older we get, the more at peace we become. But teenagers are just beginning to deal with life’s up’s and down’s.

images 5 Maybe Teens Should Just Relax and Not ParentsSometimes your teen may seem to be overly sensitive. And the more you try to help them, the more he or she may cry or sob. The guys will be better at ‘stuffing’ and will tend to funnel all their emotions into the one they know best: anger. Girls tend to be more expressive and deliberate in their emotions.

I remember one night when Elizabeth came home from cheering at a basketball game. She made it to the steps coming up from our basement and fell to her knees sobbing. I thought she’d broken up with her boyfriend or been in a bad accident. She announced that someone had backed into her car in the high school parking lot. I looked at her car and it didn’t even do much damage. I laughed and gave her a big hug. Another time she called home from college in tears and upset. As she cried, I figured she’d been kicked out of school or arrested. She announced, “Daddy, I dropped my cell phone in the fountain.” I just started laughing again. I was so relieved. It made her laugh too. “It’s OK darlin,” I said. “We’ll get you another phone.”

The point is that a part of being a teenager is feeling things intensely. I probably shouldn’t have laughed with Elizabeth because what may seem trivial to us as parents is huge to them. But I was so relieved. As parents who have dealt with heavier issues, getting bumped by a car is small beans. But to our kids, these events are huge.

We need to be careful that we validate our teen’s emotions. As parents, we tend to trivialize events and happenings in the lives of our teens. Though dropping a cell phone or struggling with a friend at school or having a bad baseball practice or having a zit may seem small to us, to our kids, it’s huge and we need to feel the pain with them. The danger, if we discard these events, is that our teens will stop telling us about events in their lives.

Yes, hormones are pumping and our teens may seem irrational at times, but show your teenager that you love them by listening to them in the midst of the drama. Don’t offer advice or minimize the problem, just listen and sympathize.

Yep, you may have a drama queen (or king) on your hands. But be sure you take them by the hand and show them you love them by being with them through the problem.

Accountability Protects Us From Ourselves

Over the years, I’ve watched hero after Christian hero “crash”– divorce, affairs, abuse…you name it. It made me angry and it scared me. It still scares me. It always leaves me realizing my own frailty and potential to “blow it.”

I have been challenged with the Biblical principle of accountability. After the partner of a popular Christian singer was discovered in an affair he said, “The key to staying pure is accountability.”  He is absolutely right!

King Solomon wrote in the Bible, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor, for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion…a cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

I guess there’s irony in Solomon writing those words in that he himself would fail miserably in his own idolatry.  I’m thinking, “two are better, but only if I’m willing to listen to others’ advice.” I’m thinking Solomon was “flying solo” when he should have been relying on his friends and his God.

I don’t want to fall. I want there to be true accountability in my life- friends to speak truth to me when I’m blind in a situation. I’ve always had good, close friends, but lately I’m making sure those relationships are up to date…lunch with an older mentor each week, dates with my wife Jeanie, monthly calls with my best friend in Nashville who knows me, and most of all, daily time with my best friend, Jesus.

As summer approaches, I’m making sure true friends surround me and are checking up on me. I need to be surrounded. I have to be surrounded.

Who surrounds you?

How do I get my teen off the couch?

Getting your teen off your couch is often says more about your parenting skills than it does about the teen.  We all need a little Parent Training because we tend to lack the courage to follow through on our directives.  If it is time to take back your home this short Parent Training might be for you.

1. No problem for you.

    • When we rescue the teenagers in our lives from difficulties THAT THEY COULD manage, we teach them two valuable lessons.  One, they can get others to do their work.  This produces entitlement and in working in mental health for a decade, I can say nobody who is entitled is happy.  No one.
    • Teenagers won’t do work that somebody else is willing to do for them.  You were that way when you were a teenager.  I was too.  And I was good at it!
    • Parents should believe enough in the teenagers who are in their lives to empower them through serving in a consultant role.

2. Offer choices.

    • As you are listening, encouraging, consider offering some choices if the teenager is stuck.
    • Remember your presentation of possible choices is YOUR job.  Choosing and enacting them is theirs.
    • Caregivers need to remember that a teenager can only score a goal if the teenager possesses the ball.

3. Consequences only.

    • Consequences are the teacher.  Enjoyable consequences and not so enjoyable consequences.
    • Many folks who support teenagers, including me, are incessantly tempted to REMIND students of what they learned.  I can then become construed fairly as condescending and the teenager then works to prove to me that they didn’t learn anything.
    • Remember, none of us like other peoples’ ideas as much as we like our own!  So we can smile, listen, love, consult, hug, then leave.

4. Don’t warn or remind.

  • With regard to warnings and reminders, I have learned two things from the teenagers God places in my life.  One, they teach others to not own what the adult intends the teenager to own.
  • If I remind a teenager 5 times to get off the Wii, then I’ve just taught that teenager that he doesn’t have to listen to me until the 5th time.
  • The real world doesn’t usually offer reminders.

5. Don’t justify or defend.

  • When we justify our authority, it’s because WE don’t feel you have enough of it; that’s about us not them.


Parent Training reminds caregivers that a teenager can only score a goal if the teenager possesses the ball. Call to find out more parenting tips

5 Tips to Communicate Accountability

These are five great ways to develop accountability within your relationship with your teen.  These steps look simple but they do take some practice…. we dare you to give them an honest shot.

1. Wait until calm.

    • We don’t do good work when we’re angry.
    • The 93% of a message that’s communicated non verbally doesn’t lie.
    • When we engage while angry, teenager focuses on our anger not there misbehavior

2. Stop talking sooner.

    • Teenagers don’t especially enjoy or appreciate adult speeches.
    • People don’t appreciate lectures and generally don’t like the ideas of others.
    • Famous communicator, Dale Carnegie, reminds us that people like their own ideas not those of others.
    • Actively listen, reflect, and promote exploration of THOSE (their ideas)

3. Lock-in empathy.

    • This is the cornerstone of both Love and Logic and proficient interpersonal relations.
    • This cannot be faked; especially with teenagers who are walking, living, breathing, polygraph machines.
    • For example, explore the Fruit of the Spirit Paul writes in Galatians chapter 5.  We can’t fake those.

4. Listen and confirm

    • Teenagers don’t always need to have their way, they do always need to have their way listened to.
    • We all crave a listening ear more than we do an open hand.
    • Teenagers don’t need us to do everything for them.
    • Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development.  Folks 13-18. Identity versus role confusion. Learn it.  It will bless you.
    • Listen and validate their feelings (not necessarily their behavior: Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

5. Problem for teenager.

    • When we consistently rescue teenagers from the low to no risk challenges in their lives, we actually rob them of learning opportunities they need to develop feelings of agency over their lives.
    • Often, we as caregivers for teenagers, want SO much to reduce our perceptions of their struggles, we rescue them.  This sends a potent, damaging, and unspoken message that the teenager is incapable.  Who wants to teach the teenager in their lives THAT?  Adolescents learn from two vehicles only:  Experience and Example.
    • We focus on supporting teenagers through loving and empowering accountability.

Should men support feminism?

How are the women in your life affected by sexism? That can be a fairly typical question in regards to feminism. Women have traditionally been the ones at the center and spotlight of feminism discussions.

This weekend Emma Watson, famed Harry Potter actress, challenged us to ask another question.

How are the men in our lives affected by sexism?

Watson, the United Nation’s Good Will Ambassador, spoke at the UN’s summit to discuss the new initiative, HeForShe. In doing so, she urged men to take a stand for feminism.

You can access her speech here:

Watson speaks against the traditional view of feminism as “man-hating”. She turns the tables and says that men are hurt just as much by sexism. She points to her own father’s role in the family being valued less by society. She points to the extreme pressure for me to be “successful” adds to high suicide rates for men.

Watson says, “It’s about freedom. I want men to take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too, reclaim parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves”

Our girls are not the only ones affected, but so are our boys. Media can have a huge impact on teens and the pressure they feel to conform to certain standards and have certain roles. There can be a lot of peer pressure to fit a certain image. Opening up conversations with your teen about what sexism means can be an excellent avenue to discuss the specific pressures your teen is dealing with. Pressure to conform to expectations within those roles can add pressure and stress to your teen. Opening up discussions about sexism and gender equality can help them to feel seen and heard as they navigate adolescence and make their way into young adulthood.

What Do I Value?

soup girl Medium 257x300 What Do I Value?A group of university alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit an old professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests something to drink, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups — porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite — telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself, adds no quality to the coffee in most cases, just more expense and in some cases, it even hides what we drink.  What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups … and then began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Family life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of the lives we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.  Maybe it is time to spend a little more time and effort on the parts of our life that have meaning and connect us to those we love.