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Monday, July 25, 2011

Kids In Crisis - Helping to Minimize Risk - by Jim Burns

As my son is approaching his teenage years I look for ways that I can stay involved in his live and to help him grow up to be a young man. I came across this blog from a friend of mine and thought that you  might find it helpful.

Kids In Crisis - Helping to Minimize Risk - by Jim Burns

The atmosphere in my office was tense. Leesa and her mother, both exceptionally pretty, obviously were frustrated with each other. Leesa sat as far from her mother as possible. I started the counseling session by simply asking, "Who wants to go first?" 

Before Leesa could open her mouth, her mother blurted out, "Leesa is being a slut. She sleeps with her boyfriend. She drinks at parties, watches raunchy movies, and now she expects me to allow her to sleep in the same room with her boyfriend on our ski trip." 

When Leesa finally spoke, her eyes were moist and focused on the floor. Her response surprised me. "But Mom, I'm only imitating you since you left Dad. I don't do anything you don't do. You live one life here at the church and an entirely different life when you drive out of the parking lot." 

Ouch! Those words were a direct hit. Leesa's mother started to cry, and in a meek defense she said, "We're not here to talk about me. We're here to talk about you." 

Leesa, like the rest of today's generation of young people, is growing up in an "at risk" environment-a culture of crisis-if you will. Kids today, routinely experience crises. Not all of these are life-threatening, but they still qualify as crises. Why? Because crisis is by nature self-defined. Perception is the key word. 
While we may not believe that our child is really undergoing a crisis situation, if the child does-they are-and we need to respond appropriately. 

Still, our kids do face serious risk in today's culture, from issues such as drug or alcohol abuse and addiction, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, suicide, school violence, family dysfunction, peer pressure and low self-image. These issues all weigh heavily on young people. And if these cultural pressures are not enough, the adolescent years, are by definition a turbulent time-one of incredible challenge and change-that often gives rise to crises. 

For parents, these issues pose dilemmas that must be grappled with daily. There are no easy answers. However, there are areas of action that parents can take to help reduce the negative risk factors and minimize the impact of crisis situations in our kids' lives. 

Set Parental Standards. 
Setting standards and maintaining consistent discipline is not the only factor in deterring at-risk behaviors, but it's one of the most important. Often, kids who do well know what behavior their parents expect of them and the consequences of inappropriate behavior. If you lovingly discipline your kids and provide consequences for violating family rules on a consistent basis, the odds are your children will have few serious behavioral problems. 

Promote Involvement in Positive Activities. 
Frankly, many kids who get into trouble have had too much free time. Positive involvements often keep kids from getting into trouble. Kids least likely to get into trouble spend one or more hours a week in sports, clubs, music, drama or other positive extracurricular activities. 

Encourage Positive Peer Influence. 
When it comes to preventing at-risk behaviors, parents can often determine which direction their kids are headed by simply knowing who their kids' friends are. Monitor your kids' friendships and encourage those friendships that are positive in nature. While the negative influences of peer pressure are mentioned frequently, the truth is that positive peer influence may one of the most profound influences in adolescent's lives. Consider making your home, "Grand Central" to your children's friends. 

Promote Sexual, Drug and Alcohol Restraint. 
There is no doubt about it-kids who postpone sexual activity and choose not to get high on drugs or alcohol reduce their potential for experiencing crisis significantly. Provide your kids with tools to abstain. Provide them with positive, values-centered education in these areas. 

Promote a Positive School Environment. 
As kids spend more time involved in school and school-related activities than anything else, it is not surprising that school is a stress-producing place. To this, add the recent experiences of school-violence around the country-and it is no wonder our kids perceive of school as a risky place. As a parent, do everything you can to help provide your kids with a positive school experience; from monitoring homework and classroom activities to involvement in school crisis planning. 

Encourage and Model the Priority of Spiritual Development. 
Church involvement and the development of an inner spiritual life cannot be overlooked as major factors in preventing risky behavior. I am convinced that both risk factors will be reduced and the effects of crisis can be minimized as you and your children cultivate more church involvement and attention to your relationship with God. An important reminder: Your kids are looking to you for what living the Christian life looks like. For better or for worse, you are your children's role model for faith.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine that ultimately inoculates kids against all forms of crisis. Likewise, there are no easy answers that shelter young people from the onslaught of personal disruption and the longtime scars of negative environments and behaviors. Still, I am convinced that if parents adopt the right attitudes and are willing to work hard at preventing risky behavior, positive results will be evident in kids' lives. 

Excerpted and adapted from the book, Parents Guide to Top 10 Dangers Teens Face, by Stephen Arterburn and Jim Burns.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Creativity Can Bring Solutions to Many of Our Problems

Those who have been following us know that we at Firelight Media Group have been using social media to connect with our clients, colleagues, & friends. Our goal is not to talk about us so much as to talk about ideas, concerns, and happenings in the industry as well as the world at large.

Today I want talk about how the difference between a problem and a solution is often just a little creativity.

There is a statement by Rev. Robert Shuller that comes to mind which I heard a long time ago and has stuck with me. In consulting a business group on raising money to fund a growing business he said, "You don't have a money problem, you have an idea problem. There is plenty of money out there, you just need to figure out how to get it to flow to you!"

The gist of the statement has always given me the drive to solve tough problems, no matter what roadblocks emerge along the way. For us at Firelight Media, its often finding a unique combination of digital media technologies to creatively solve a client requests or to accomplish goals within their budget constraints.

With this in mind, I was taken back by an article I saw in our local town paper this last week. The Huntington Herald reported on a local Shelton Resident who was being creative in solving his job search issues. Recently laid-off, Mark Wirth used his skills as a marketing professional, using social media to not only extend his reach, but to "market" an incentive program for a referral leading to a successful job acquisition.

I think this is a great way to increase his exposure beyond the people he knows but those who they know and they know and they know... you get the point. Mark also displayed another key element to successful marketing. He didn't rely on one approach as a silver bullet. He reached out to the print world with a press release to get further FREE exposure. In fact it's the printed press release that I saw that pointed me to the online resume and incentive program.

I think it's key to use multiple forms of social media as well as traditional ads or press release to keep your business in front of your clients and potential clients. If written well, press releases are a great way to promote new products or highlight recent accomplishments in your business. They are free and get published when the papers are looking for space to fill. The more unique and creative to press release the higher the probability it will be published. There are freelance writers that can help companies that may not have a "writer" on staff.

In a "down economy" your business doesn't need to rely on everyone else recovering before you recover. Find creative use of your skills, products, and services to create new business for yourself. When enough businesses pull themselves up, we will each do our part to solve the overall economic woes... one business at a time!

Friday, July 1, 2011

July 4th & Independence

Well, it’s the July 4th Weekend! I’ve been looking forward to cooking out, the beach and the day off!

Why do we get this random day off every year marked by parades and cookouts? They have a July 4th in every country in the world, but no one else celebrates it?

The reason, of course, is because it is Independence Day, the day the Continental Congress of the 13 Colonies of the fledgling United States decided to “dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them” as the preamble to the Declaration of Independence states.

One of the 13 colonies was what is now the State of Connecticut, and 4 delegates from the state signed the document.

All of those who signed the Declaration were essentially signing their own arrest warrant for treason, and in fact all the signers had warrants for their arrest issued by the British government. They state in the document that “for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Most lost their fortunes, several died early deaths from being forced to run and hide, and for a time the honor of all of them was suspect. After all, who defies the king?

The 4 signers from Connecticut were fairly lucky. They all lived to see the end of the war. 2 of them became governors of the state. One was the mayor of New Haven. You can read more about about Roger Sherman, Oliver Wolcott, Samuel Huntington and William Williams if you would like.

At the time of the signing, on July 4th 1776, the war was not going well. Britain was one of the most powerful countries in the world with one of the best equipped and well trained armies in the world. The paradigm at the time was that the King was the head of state and had a “Divine Right” to the throne. No one thought that the people had a right to decide who would be the head of state, or had a right to truly and independently govern themselves.

These men who signed the Declaration did not know if they would succeed in their endeavor. There was a bitter disagreement in the Congress as to whether this was the correct way to resolve the issues they had with Britain.

These men were extremely courageous to do this, and I think we sometimes forget that in all the hoopla surrounding the 4th. We see the United States as it is. They saw it as it could be.

The HBO mini-series John Adams is not only great television about a complicated, interesting and truly great man, but it also put forth a realistic view of what life was like for him and those living at the time.

The series also did a wonderful job showing the gravity of the proceedings and arguments these men had about independence, which, let's face it, was basically a debate about whether or not to commit outright treason! It features Adams giving an approximation of his speech on July 3rd that reportedly swayed many of the members to vote yes in the July 4th vote. Take moment and watch the videos below, especially the video of Adams’ speech, which is powerful and moving.

John Adams’ Speech

Voting for Independence

So, this weekend, pause and reflect on these men who saw what could be, and went for it, instead of doing what was expedient for themselves in the short term.

These men, many of whom lost their lives and fortunes, secured for YOU the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, happiness as YOU see it, not as someone else sees it for you.