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MourningDaughter

How To Help Children Cope A Parent’s Impending Death

Dear Dr. Bill,

I have a 4-year- old daughter at home.  Her father and I were divorced when she was a baby, but we’ve maintained good contact and my daughter adores her dad.  But now my ex-husband is dying and I don’t know how to prepare my daughter for this.  She knows he’s very sick, but how should I help her through this traumatic situation?

–Michelle

Dear Michelle,

I’m so sorry to hear about the impending loss of your ex-husband.  Even though you have divorced for several years, I’m sure his death will be difficult for you as well as your daughter.

Very young children don’t really have the capacity to understand abstract concepts like life and death.  It’s likely your daughter may not fully understand what is happening to your husband, and that she won’t be able to understand the permanence of his death after he is gone.

It’s important to remember that your daughter will look to you for “cues” about what emotions to feel and how to respond.  I believe you should be honest about your feelings and acknowledge your own grief.

Also, let your daughter know that you understand that this is a very confusing and sad time for her.

If your ex-husband is a Christian, you can assure your daughter that her daddy is going to live forever with Jesus, even though she won’t be able to visit him or talk to him after he dies.  You might read bible passages to her about God’s promise of eternity for all who believe in Him.

Also make sure to allow your daughter to ask questions and discuss her fears about this situation.  An excellent book that will help you is “Someone I Love Died” by Christine Harder Tangvald.

Thanks for writing, Michelle.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.

Listen to today’s audio here.

videogames

Video Games and Violence

videogames

Two weeks ago America was stunned by the tragic shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington DC.  Since then, many experts have commented on the shooter’s unstable mental state.

But what few news outlets have reported is that Aaron Alexis spent hours each day playing violent video games such as Call of Duty.

One of his friends was quoted as saying, “He could be in the game all day and all night. I think games might be what pushed him that way.”

In fact, Mr. Alexis became so engrossed in the game that his friend would have to bring him meals so he could eat without taking a break.

Speaking of violent video games, Grand Theft Auto V pulled in $800 million bucks the very first day it went on the market.

According to Pluggedin.com, controversy surrounding the game’s content began to surface almost as soon as it was released.  What is particularly troubling is a torture scene in which players earn a higher score for inflicting more pain.

Video game reviewer, Tom Bramwell says, “The fact you have to use the full range of torture techniques to get a higher score is unlikely to improve anyone’s mood.”

Commenting on the game’s enormous popularity, Christian culture expert, Walt Mueller, points out that culture both reflects our lives and tells people what they should value and believe.

He says, “We can learn a lot about ourselves by pondering this game. We can see who we are, and who we are becoming.”

To learn more about the impact of violent video games, visit the American Psychological Associations website at apa.org and enter “video games” in the search engine.

If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Listen to today’s audio here. 

TeenTextingRisks

Teen Texting Risks

Here’s another reason to put the brakes on teens texting while driving. It’s well known that texting behind the wheel greatly increases the risk of accidents, but what else may be happening?

Research links teens who regularly text while driving to other risky behaviors behind the wheel, including not using seatbelts and drinking and driving. One risk often leads to another.

This is nothing to “lol” about. Talk to your teen about texting while driving, strive to build a strong, close relationship, and lead by example. If you drive and text, don’t obey speed limits or practice other risky behaviors, why shouldn’t they?

If you have a comment or question for the New Shine.FM wellness expert Dr. Walt Larimore, visit the wellness expert page at Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Heroin

The New Face Of Heroin Use In The US

Heroin is illegal drug that is typically associated with desperate junkies on the street.  But according to a story on PluggedIn.com, the death of 31-year-old Glee star Cory Monteith from an accidental overdose of heroin and alcohol is shining a new spotlight on the type of person who actually uses the drug.

Dr. Richard Clark, the director of toxicology at the University of California San Diego Medical Center says this:  “I deal with drug users every day.  The stereotypical user on the street?  That’s the past as far as heroin use in the U.S. is concerned.  Lots of people are using it these days—kids, teenagers, white-collar workers.”

In 2012, the government reported an 80% increase in first-time usage of herion use among teens.  Heroin is now cheaper and more plentiful than it’s ever been.

And as the government has begun to crack down on prescription drug abuse more forcefully, heroin has become an alternative.

On a more positive note, teens who are connected with their parents on social networks feel closer to them in real life. That’s according to a new study out of Brigham Young University.

Researchers found that half of teens have “friended” their parents online, with 20% saying they interact with them online every day.  BYU professor Sarah Coyne says “It’s bidirectional…as we have experiences in new media, it strengthens bonds that are already there.

Dr. Coyne cautions, “You don’t want these results to get overblown to say, ‘If you friend your kid on Facebook, you’re suddenly going to have a great relationship.’ It’s just one tool in an arsenal that parents have to connect with their teens.”

For more great tips on connecting with your teens, go to focusonthefamily.com and click on “Parenting”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

 
TV

Older TV Sets & Toddlers—A Deadly Combination

If you have a toddler in your family, there’s a danger lurking in your home you need to know about.

Every year in America, more than 17,000 children are treated in emergency rooms when a television falls on them.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting on a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  It found that the rate of kids hurt from TVs tipping over has nearly doubled in the past two decades.

The study was prompted in part by a rash of TV-related deaths in the Chicago area, and it found that kids aged 5 and under were the most at risk.  Injuries included concussions, lacerations and traumatic brain injuries.

Dr. Gary Smith, the study’s lead author and president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, hopes that the findings will serve as a wakeup call for parents.

Dr. Smith says “A home with a TV that is not anchored is not a safe home for a young child.

He points out that in a span of less than four months in 2011 and 2012, falling TVs killed four Chicago-area children and injured a fifth.

The study found that as newer TVs make their way into a home, the older ones are sometimes relegated to dressers and other unsafe locations.

Flat-screen TVs can also be dangerous, according to the study. They are much lighter than older TVs, and combined with their less bulky design, they are easier to tip over.

Safety advocates say the study reinforces the message that all TVs, regardless of type, should be anchored.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

 
Grandfather

How To Share Spiritual Truths With A Grieving Granddaughter Who Lives Across The Country

Dear Dr. Bill,

My 9-year-old granddaughter recently lost a grandparent on the other side of the family.  Now she is asking me questions about death and whether her deceased grandmother has become her “guardian angel.”  Unfortunately she lives far away from us in a non-Christian home.  What do you suggest we do?

–Mike

Dear Mike,

I appreciate the fact that you love your granddaughter so much and are concerned for her spiritual welfare.  I would encourage you to talk to her about God’s truth, unless for some reason her parents strenuously object.

Since she lives in a home where faith isn’t important, you may be a powerful influence in her life.  In fact, you may be the only connection she has to Jesus.

Do the best you can to maintain and strengthen your relationship with her.  Since she lives far away, that will involve regular phone calls and e-mails.  Try to visit her whenever you can, and invite her to spend more extended time with you and your wife during the summer months.

If you build a strong relationship that is characterized by love, affirmation, and good communication, your words about the Lord will hold a lot more weight.  Also, make sure to “walk your talk.”  As she enters the teenage years, it’s critical that you model what it means to be an authentic, transparent follower of Christ.

In helping her deal with her other grandparent’s death, keep your discussion of spiritual principles simple.  You might explain that the Bible tells us that if we believe in Jesus, pray to him, and are honest about our faults, he promises to give us eternal life.

Even though our physical bodies may get sick and die, we will continue to live with Him in heaven, and someday we will have brand-new bodies that will never get sick or die.

Thanks for writing, Mike. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Listen to today’s audio here.

 
Help Kids

A Christian Organization Offers God’s Hope To Kids In Boston & West, Texas

Here are a couple of faith-related stories in the news this week.  The ministry Child Evangelism Fellowship is helping kids in Boston and West TX find HOPE in Jesus.

When tragedies occur, children ask the same questions as adults do:

“Why did God allow this to happen?”
“Does God know and care about me?”

So Child Evangelism Fellowship is planning to distribute thousands of crisis booklets in Boston, and in West, Texas,

The booklet was written after the 2001 terrorist bombings.  A team from the organization went to New York City to meet with firefighters and pastors and to learn from their experiences in order to design a booklet to help kids.

The booklet conveys the hope of the Gospel and the wonder of a God who loves them, watches over them, and will never forsake them.

If you’d like to learn more about the booklet, just go to cefonline.com.

In other faith news, one of Billy Graham’s faithful friends and crusade companions has passed away.  Gospel singer George Beverly Shea died last week at the age of 104.  He was buried in a private ceremony on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C.

The 94-year-old Graham attended the funeral for his longtime crusade singer, but did not speak.  The third member of their crusade team, musical director Cliff Barrows delivered the eulogy.

The 90-year-old Barrows said he and Graham spoke last week of how the two of them won’t sound the same without Shea’s powerful voice, but they are confident that they’ll be joining him soon in heaven.

What a powerful spiritual legacy those three men will leave behind!

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM

 
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Suicide

How Do I Talk To My Kids About Their Grandfather’s Suicide?

Dear Dr. Bill,

My father-in-law committed suicide about four years ago.  Back then my wife and I told our young kids that he was sick and elderly, and that he died — without giving any further details.  But now our two oldest children are 12 and 9-years-old, and they want to know more.  What advice do you have about how and when to talk to our kids about this?

–Scott

Dear Scott,

I would encourage you to be honest with your kids about your father-in-law’s death.  Let them know that sometimes people feel so sad about what is happening in their lives that they believe that things will never get better.  They lose all hope in the future, and they come to believe that killing themselves is the only way to stop the pain that they are in.

If your father-in-law suffered from chronic depression, you can explain that some people have a problem with the chemicals in their brain, which leads them to feel sad all of the time.

You should also tell your kids how sad the suicide made you feel, and that you couldn’t bear if something like that ever happened to them.  Assure them that they can talk to you about anything in their lives, anytime, no matter how sad, scary, or embarrassing it may seem.

Tell them that you will always love them and be there for them, no matter what they go through in life.  Also, let them know that Bible tells us that if we trust in Jesus and commit our lives to Him, He promises us that he will never leave us or forsake us.

By the way, a book that you and your wife might find helpful is “Grieving a Suicide,” by Albert Hsu.

Thanks for writing Scott.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

 
 for the audio version of this article.

Mass Shootings

What Factors Contribute To Mass Shootings?

What factors contribute to mass shootings? According to a new report from the National Science Foundation, the answer is a combination of three factors: access to guns, exposure to media violence, and mental health.

PluggedIn.com reports on a new study by the Foundation, working in conjunction with the Congressional Subcommittee on Youth Violence.

The study’s authors point out that Anders Breivik, who murdered 69 youth in Norway, used the video game Modern Warfare 2 as a military simulator to help him practice shooting people.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine Colorado shooters, claimed they used the violent video game Doom to practice their rampage. Violent video games have also been implicated in other school shootings in Alaska, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

The researchers say, “It is not possible to know whether playing violent games caused Breivik, Harris and Klebold, or any other killer to shoot their victims.”

But they point out that a comprehensive review of more than 381 effects from studies around the world shows that violent video games contribute to several things:  increased aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, an increase in heart rate and aggressive behavior.

Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others. An analysis of 26 studies involving over 13,000 participants found that violent media exposure is also significantly linked to violent behavior such as punching, beating, and choking others.

Although we can’t say that violent video games actually CAUSE people to commit violent acts, there definitely is a correlation.

So what should our response be as followers of Christ?  Well, I’d suggest we take our cue from scripture.  In Philippians Chapter 4, Paul says this: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM

 
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