Category Archives: parenting

Theological reasons to not use corporal punishment?

Victor Vieth has published an essay looking at the use of the bible to validate corporal punishment. What makes this essay interesting is not that he is arguing against the use of physical punishment but that he is writing to child protective services officials on how to respond to those who believe it is okay. I encourage you to read the full text here.

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Filed under Christianity, parenting

Before you cast judgment on stranger for their parenting failure

One of my current students, Stan, passed on this excellent blog post about the looks we sometimes give “bad parents” when we see their unruly and out-of-control children. The author nails the reasons for the shaming looks and thoughts we have: PRIDE.

It is also good to consider that whenever we see a child melting down in the grocery store or a parent using less-than-ideal strategies, we don’t really know the whole story. In the post you will see this mother’s understandable excuse for her child’s behavior–pediatric brain cancer. Of course, not every parent has an unruly child with cancer. But let it be a reminder, you don’t know the whole story and haven’t walked in their shoes…



Filed under parenting

Educating youth about sex: check out this local conference

I will be speaking at a local day-long seminar geared to educate youth, youth workers, and parents on the topic of sex, sexual health, and relationships. It is sponsored by Eastern University. You can check out this page for more information. While my talk is geared to help adults create environments free of sexual abuse, most of the other presentations are dealing with issues around teen sexuality, relationships in an age appropriate manner. If you are a youth worker or have teens or middle schoolers, you might want to come and bring your kids as well.

On July 26-27, the Center for Urban Youth Development at Eastern University will host a conference called O, YES! (Our Youth Enlightened about Sex). This Christian conference is designed to enlighten middle school and high school students from Philadelphia and vicinity about topics related to sex, relationships and sexual health. It will be held at the Eastern University Academy Charter School at 3300 Henry Avenue in Philadelphia.

The Friday night Kick-off at 7 PM will feature entertainment, games, prizes, snacks and an introduction of the theme, Be Transformed. Saturday (9 AM to 4:30 PM) will include interactive seminars, skits, entertainment and food. Facilitators will present the real deal on teens and sex.  Their expertise, experience and Christian worldview will be incorporated into dynamic workshops.

To register for O, YES! or to make a donation, go to Please direct inquires to or call 215-769-3105. Follow us on Twitter: @OYESConference. The cost for those who register before June 19 is $25/person. After June 19, add $5/person. For groups who bring 14 people, the 15th person will attend at no cost. Scholarships are available. Donations to make this event possible are appreciated.



Filed under Abuse, Christianity, counseling, parenting, Relationships, Sex

Still Face Experiment: Nonverbal communication and its absence?

I’m attending a trauma education seminar today where Dr. Sandra Bloom is teaching. Dr. Bloom has developed the Sanctuary Model of trauma recovery and care. There have been a number of very helpful ideas discussed and I hope to get them out to you in due course. However, I want to share with you all this interesting and short YouTube video (link here:

Watch it and let me know your reaction to the still face experiment. What do you notice the baby trying to do?


Filed under counseling science, Family, parenting

If Sixth Graders Ruled the World…

…the world would be run by girls.

Such was the observation of my wife after attending our son’s graduation from elementary school and the 6th grade. I concur. 80% of the awards and recognition for leadership went to girls. Actually, to about 30% of the girls. Mind you, I am not the least bothered by this. It was great to see these young women so active in the life of their school and community.

However, I do have a question: Will their leadership last?

There seems to be a pattern of girls falling back from their high performance in athletics and academia (my general impression and surely not always accurate). Why would there be such a change? Social pressure to focus on looks and boys? Boys catching up development-wise and creating more competition? Or, are we seeing a change in culture that will continue? I’m hoping for this last question to be true. When my wife was in school, there were few opportunities for girls to excel in sports. That has changed. A goodly number of the girls mentioned aspirations of being a professional athlete. When my mother was in school, I doubt many of her classmates aspired to be doctors and lawyers. These days, girls recognize that most professions are wide open to them. So, I hope we are seeing a continued culture change. I’m all for girls wanting to be married and to become mothers (all in DUE time) but I am also worried about how much pressure we place on them regarding looks and body image.

Can you and I do anything about the world of sixth grade girls? Well, let us all endeavor to encourage young women to focus on their intellectual pursuits and god-given callings. And let us cease giving support to those cultural entities (ads, TV, movies, print media, etc.) encouraging young women to equate value with looks.

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Filed under Cultural Anthropology, cultural apologetics, education, Family, parenting, Uncategorized

Learning to get good grades or just learning? Or both?

I’m a professor and I know it is all about learning. Who cares about the grades? Right? What matters is whether or not students comprehend the material and can use it in real life. In my world, I want counseling students to understand the nature of trauma, how to recognize it and respond well to it when evident in their clients. I don’t care if they get an A or a C as long as they are competent. And, I know that some students test poorly and yet are exceptional counselors.

Yeah right, grades DO matter

But ask students and parents of school-age children, and guess what–grades do matter. Good grades get better scholarships; get parents off your back. Good grades get better internships. Good grades make teachers think you are smarter. Good grades help you feel better about yourself. Wait…those last two…are they true? Yes, even if it shouldn’t be that way and probably worth another post at some other time.

Is there a relationship between good grades and learning?

But how close are getting good grades and learning? Can you get good grades and not really learn? How many readers aced a history or statistics test years ago but now couldn’t tell you the first thing about the subject? You can memorize, recite, and forget…and get good grades. So, we know that you can teach and study to the test (notice I didn’t say learn) without learning.

And yet, let me suggest one positive relationship between getting good grades and learning. The student who learns to get good grades (but hopefully isn’t obsessed or controlled by them) has learned to

  • Decipher what the teacher is looking for and to complete assignments as required
    • Learning: decoding, organization, self-assessment, predicting time/effort needed to complete tasks
  • Get the information needed to complete an assignment
    • Learning: speed reading, efficient categorization of material
  • Deliver the information needed in an appropriate format
    • Learning: concise communication, learning to differentiate between essential and non-essential material

The real reason I’m writing this post

Okay, the real reason I am writing this post is that I just helped my teenage son take a difficult, on-line quiz that covered an inordinate amount of material. He was allowed to complete the quiz while having the material still open. However, the amount of material he had to read and understand comprised overwhelmed his ability to remember what he learned and where he learned it. So, I taught him how to read the quiz question and then go back to the multiple e-documents and use the “find” button on his web browser to find the pertinent information he needed to answer the question.

Did I help my son learn or just to get a better grade on his assignment? If he chooses to not read the material in the future but just use the search functions, is that a failure to learn well or did he learn to become efficient in work?


Filed under education, Family, parenting

Parent Coordination for divorcing parents: Guidelines published by APA

In the January issue of the American Psychologist¹, the APA published practice guidelines for the role of parent coordinator. Didn’t know of that job? Neither did I…at least by this name.

What is parent coordination?

Per APA, “parent coordination is a nonadversarial dispute resolution process that is court ordered or agreed on by divorced and separated parents who have an ongoing pattern of hight conflict and/or litigation about their children…” (p. 64) The focus is on the best interests of the children. The essay suggests that the process is not typically confidential since the coordinator may need to interact with judges and other allied health advocates.

What is the focus of these guidelines?

In lay terms:

Guideline 1: keep your roles clear. Example: don’t offer therapy and coordination to the same people.

Guideline 2: Coordinators understand the key issues that will be at stake (e.g., impact of separation on children, abuse symptoms, etc.)

Guideline 3: Don’t be a coordinator unless you have competency (aware of biases, understand the problem of siding with one parent) and supervision

Guideline 4: Child safety is the primary focus

There were 4 more guidelines (be culturally aware, keep good records, follow good case management and billing practices, develop good professional relationships) but the first four are most focused on the clinical practice of parent coordination.

While these guidelines are basic, it is a good warning to many therapists who try to play a neutral role in managing estranged parent conflicts even while providing therapy to one or the other. This dual role rarely works well. But, counselors ought to consider this role for couples wishing to parent their children well even as they have divorced or are separated and considering divorce. No matter your views on divorce, it can only be helpful to children if their parents argue less about how to parent their children.

¹APA (2012). Guidelines for the practice of parenting coordination. American Psychologist, 67, 63-71.

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Filed under counseling, divorce, parenting, Psychology

Suffering and infertility

Some 18-19 years ago my wife and I were struggling with the secret pain of infertility. When everyone around seemed to be getting pregnant we couldn’t…and didn’t. Now, almost 2 decades later, the pain is a distant event in the past. I hesitate to say this because too often suffering people are patted on the back and given trite words of “encouragement”, but…I am thankful for the suffering because it has improved my sense of compassion for others and also my awareness of how God meets us in our pain.

But make no mistake, it wasn’t easy. And I don’t want to go through it again.

Some years ago we wrote about our experience and our spiritual struggles in an essay in the Journal of Biblical Counseling (CCEF’s journal). I mention all this because a friend of mine on staff at a church in NC wrote a short note about it (following a sermon on Zechariah and Elizabeth) and linked to the journal article. You can read my friend Brad’s intro here in their church blog.

Funny thing, this article seems to get more comments from readers than all of the other writings I’ve published put together. I guess it really touches a nerve. And not just with infertile couples. We’ve had comments from those who have had other kinds of losses as well.


Filed under "phil monroe", CCEF, christian counseling, Christianity, parenting, suffering

A Parent’s Private Pain

Most of my current counseling work is with adults. Didn’t used to be this way. When I started, I worked mostly with kids and then sometimes with their parents.

What do adults deal with? Some are dealing with personal problems, some are dealing with difficult marriages, work, and the like, some are dealing with parenting young children. All of them hope that counseling will be part of the solution: depression will lift; intimacy will increase, children will be more obedient.

But what of the parent of an adult child who seems to be going off course? Their beloved offspring refuses to address an addiction; rejects their faith; rejects values from faith or culture. Where do they find help and solace? Given the little power parents have over adult children no longer under their roof, these parents rarely choose counseling as an option. Seems too expensive for something that can’t change the situation.

Surely these parents hurt. Their assumptions or dreams seem dashed. They question what they did wrong. Others offer unsolicited advice as to what to do or why their child has departed from their family values. Surely these parents face confusing decisions. Do they cut off from the child? Cajole? Pretend nothing is wrong?

Where best might they turn?


Filed under christian counseling, Christianity, counseling, parenting

Parents as…?

Having had fun with the marriage metaphors a few days ago, I thought about a similar question about the best descriptive words about the role of parent. What triggered my thinking was a public radio interview with the authors of Too Close for Comfort, a book about mother/daughter relationships. In the interview they discussed problem parent labels: helicopter parents, parents as personal concierge, as guarantor of happiness for their child, etc.

What words do you think describe a better metaphor as parent and why? Guide? Mentor? Coach? In some ways, parents are more connected to their kids than in past generations. And yet, this connection may cause kids to depend more on their parents rather than getting out there and being responsible for their life. Can you think of ways to describe parenting that allows for emotional closeness without the over-dependency.

Here’s one I would like not to have as a title: Parent as homework tutor.


Filed under Cultural Anthropology, parenting, Relationships