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Raising Generous Kids in a Black Friday World

Timothy Diehl | November 29, 2019

How do we raise a child to be a generous person in a Black Friday world? You know, Black Friday: the day each year when half of us lose our minds and make a run on Wal-Mart like it’s The Purge. Meanwhile, the other half sit at home only to watch the video of it on YouTube on Saturday morning. Kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it? The problem isn’t that there’s one day a year when stores sell stuff really cheap as a marketing gimmick to get us in the door. Rather, the problem is that it’s easy to live the rest of the year with a Black Friday mentality.

Our culture is awash with the message that happiness is simply one transaction away. That’s a lie. Granted, there’s a shred of truth–buying new stuff makes you happy for a minute. But soon enough, the shine wears off and if the research is correct, you find yourself just as dissatisfied as ever, if not worse. The antidote to this obsessive consumerism is generosity. But how do we cultivate generosity in the lives of our kids? Here are 5 suggestions.

1. Budget giving.

Look, I know this is about as anticlimactic as a dental cleaning, but sometimes the magic is in the mundane. Aristotle is credited as saying, “We are what we repeatedly do.” And he’s right (he is Aristotle, after all). The key to generosity is developing habits of generosity.

Make a point to set aside a portion of your income to give to a cause you believe in and involve your children in the conversation. Also, if your kids get an allowance or have jobs, require them to budget a percentage of their income to give away to something they believe in, too.

2. Practice gratitude.

Gratitude and generosity are connected. When we are generous with what we have, we become increasingly grateful. Likewise, when we practice gratitude we become a more generous person. Take five minutes each night to practice gratitude as a family. Ask each person to simply share one thing they are thankful for that day.

3. Start something new.

Teaching our kids to give also can be a lesson in entrepreneurship. Identify a cause with your children and plan a project that will raise money for it. This could be as simple as a lemonade stand, a lawn mowing business, or offering car washes.

4. Listen to outside voices.

Read a book together (depending on your child’s age, you could read Just So Thankful by Mercer Mayer or Grateful by Diana Butler Bass). Watch a series like The Kindness Diaries or the Minimalism documentary. Take in positive content together from outsiders and talk about your child’s response to it.

5. Sell out…sorta.

When all else fails, go Black Friday shopping, but make it a trip for someone in need. Contact your church or a local homeless shelter to find specific items that would be beneficial. Make a budget with your children and take them with you, knowing that the haul they bring will go to someone with legitimate needs.

If we primarily become consumers, it’s not by accident. It’s the result of lots of little prompts and habits. Kids are born into a Black Friday world, but they don’t have to wind up with a Black Friday mentality.

Sound off: What other habits could you implement to cultivate generosity in your children?

The post Raising Generous Kids in a Black Friday World appeared first on All Pro Dad.

3 Steps For Raising Peacemakers in a Violent World

Timothy Diehl | November 18, 2019

Is raising peacemakers in a violent world even possible? I believe it is. In fact, I believe it’s more than possible. It’s necessary and it is our calling. In a world full of violence, from wars to domestic abuse, we need to become and raise peacemakers in a violent world.

Let’s begin with definitions. A peacemaker does the work necessary to bring about peace. This is different from a peacekeeper, who is focused on maintaining the status quo. On the other hand, peacemakers are willing to do conflict, have hard conversations, and come up with innovative ideas to help warring factions (literally or figuratively) work toward reconciliation. The peacemakers are building a future in which we all can flourish. So let’s raise our children to be peacemakers in a violent world. Here 3 ways to do it.

1. Look in the mirror.

It’s easy to look at the violence of the past and shake our heads in judgment over those who went before us. However, a much better response, in my opinion, is to understand why they made the decisions they made. Then I can ask myself what I would do if that same situation presented itself to me now. What would it require of me?

It’s easy to shake my head in judgment over white folks who remained silent during the Civil Rights era. But if the majority of my neighbors and family members, and even my employer, held a belief strongly that I felt was morally wrong today, would I risk my relationships and perhaps even my well being for what I believed was right, or would I quietly disapprove, but be sure not to rock the boat to ensure my and my family’s security?

We need to help our kids to do more than just know history, but to do the hard work to develop moral courage so we don’t repeat it.

2. Have moral courage.

It takes courage to have convictions. It takes even more to live by them.

Of course, this leads into the next need: having moral courage. It takes courage to have convictions. It takes even more to live by them. Therefore we need to prioritize the cultivation of moral courage in our kids.

Here are some ideas: Identify local community organizations working for peace (domestic violence shelters, churches, NAACP chapters) and volunteer along with your child. Teach your children about courageous people who have sacrificed for the sake of others. Help your child take steps to stand up and say something if they see bullying or injustice. Help them know how to stay safe, but not silent.

3. Love your neighbor.

It’s easy to focus on global issues. The harder and, in my opinion, more important work is learning to live at peace with the people next door and under your own roof. How are you teaching and modeling conflict resolution with your neighbors and your family members? Are you practicing hospitality? Are you working to make your home and neighborhood places of peace?

It all starts there. Peace begins at home. It begins with you. None of this is easy, but raising peacemakers isn’t a choice if we want a world where our children cannot just survive but flourish.

Sound off: What are other ways you’re working to raise peacemakers?

The post 3 Steps For Raising Peacemakers in a Violent World appeared first on All Pro Dad.

Teaching Your Kids How to Have Hard Conversations

Mark Merrill | November 15, 2019

If we want our kids to become stable, healthy, well-adjusted adults, we need to do a good job of teaching them to have hard conversations when they are young. It’s hard enough for spouses to have hard conversations, so our kids need our help before they leave the nest. The advent of social media and mobile devices made communication easier but has also made effective communication more difficult. Messages are easily misunderstood, incomplete, or inflammatory.

So before our kids have to break off a relationship with someone, apologize for a wrong, ask for forgiveness, or share some difficult news with someone, make sure they have understood these important principles for having hard conversations.

Communicate in person if at all possible, not digitally.

We need to avoid using social media, direct messages, emails, or texts for difficult conversations. We’ve become so reliant on electronic communication that we are tempted to use it at the worst times or in the most delicate situations. These tools are great and appropriate for quick info, encouragement, and brief connections, but should be used sparingly, if at all, for emotionally-filled or important situations. Here’s why:

  • You can’t fill in the emotional, relational gaps in Twitter’s 280 characters.
  • You cannot communicate nuance and context and emotion in written words.
  • People fill in the blanks without context. For example, what you meant to sound sincere may be easily misinterpreted as facetious.
  • Digital communication can lead to impulsive and regretful communication.
  • Digital communication is easier to ignore.
  • In digital communication, complex issues have to be reduced to unhelpful levels of simplicity. That’s not wise.
  • Digital communication tends to elicit reactive responses, not thoughtful ones.

Bottom line: Nothing can replace face-to-face communication, especially when having hard or challenging conversations.

Nothing can replace face-to-face communication, especially when having hard or challenging conversations.

Practice the conversation with them.

Role-playing can be helpful. Take turns playing the role of your child, or the person they are talking to, and give it a go. Help your child think through the strong emotions that come with the conversation, to anticipate the reactions, to process and respond to such a conversation, and to get through any awkwardness.

Determine the best time, place, and environment for the conversation.

We know from marriage that there are good times and very bad times to bring up sensitive issues. But our kids may not realize how important the setting and frame of mind can be. Help your child determine the best situation and environment that would be most appropriate for the conversation. Just by working through some of these basics, we can help our children be better at resolving conflict and relating to others. For more questions to ask your child, check out our Q & U app.

Sound off: What other tools do you give your kids when they need to have a hard conversation? 

The post Teaching Your Kids How to Have Hard Conversations appeared first on All Pro Dad.

6 Questions to Open Conversation with Your Child About Bullying

Dorothea Bauer | November 15, 2019

The core elements of bullying, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include “unwanted aggressive behavior; observed or perceived power imbalance; and repetition of behaviors or high likelihood of repetition” (CDC, 2014).

Bullying happens with disturbing frequency, but numbers do not begin to tell the whole story. The most alarming statistic has to do with the fact that the majority of bullying goes unreported, even when the victim suffers injury (study funded by the U.S. Department of Education).

A critical first step in creating safer learning environments, according to The Center for Safe Schools, is more complete and immediate reporting.

We cannot console, help, equip, or empower if we do not know what is happening in our kids’ lives.

Encouraging children to talk about intimidation is not about tattling, it is about our collective responsibility to work toward safe schools, to empower children, and to overcome bullying.

We cannot console, help, equip, or empower if we do not know what is happening in our kids’ lives. Try the following 6 questions to open conversation with your child about bullying:

1. “Tell me, what were the best two things about today and the worst two things about today?”

Listen to your child, don’t lecture. It is important to get in the habit of having open communication. Our children should not be nervous about sharing anything that happens in their lives. Overreacting tells children to hide their real thoughts and feelings.

2. “If you could be a superhero and help other kids, what powers would you have?”

Role playing can set up a safe place for honest communication. Ask for more details as the conversation continues.

3. “I’m not sure I really know what a bully is, can you describe one?”

Kids love to be “in the know.” Let them be the expert and talk you through. Ask your child how they know what they are telling you.

4. “Who are the adults you can talk to if you are scared?”

Answers may include teachers, bus drivers, coaches, friends’ parents. Follow up with, “Do you ever wish they could help you more?” and “What things make you scared?”

5. “What happens when you see other kids get pushed around?”

Sometimes it’s easier for your children to talk about what’s happening with other kids than themselves. Follow up with, “Do you ever get pushed around?”

6. “What do you think parents or teachers can do to help stop bullying?”

Again, put your child in the role of expert. Given that bullying is acknowledged, what do you – the kid – think adults can do to help?

The question is not “if” bullying happens but “how?” It is so important to have regular dialogue with your children about their behavior towards others and how they are being treated by their peers.

Here are some additional resources that may help you in talking with your child:

Sponsored by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families.

This project was supported by Contract No. LJ990 awarded by the state administering office for the STOP Formula Grant Program. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

The post 6 Questions to Open Conversation with Your Child About Bullying appeared first on All Pro Dad.

Teaching your Middle-school Child How to be a Courageous Upstander in School

Dorothea Bauer | November 15, 2019

Middle School is a lot like the famous opening to the Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…” The experience for our children often teeters on the balance, leaning to the best or to the worst in response to their peers. Middle-school students generally don’t like to rock the boat, but the difference between being a bystander or an upstander can make a critical impact in both your child’s life and others.

Leaders take initiative rather than waiting to see what someone else is going to do first.

A courageous upstander is someone who understands what is right and who is willing to stand up for others. Courage is not about being unafraid but about taking a stand regardless of how one feels. Leaders take initiative rather than waiting to see what someone else is going to do first.

Character may be revealed in the face of challenge, but it is also practiced, developed and cemented through everyday decisions. Making the choice to do right once increases the likelihood that choice will be repeated, and it gives courage to (en-courages) those who are standing by and watching.

We all want our children to be leaders in compassion and in doing right. Here are some tips when it comes to teaching your middle school child how to be a courageous upstander in school.

1. Be a compassionate upstander yourself.

Point out to your kids situations where you all can stand up for someone, and when you see an opportunity, do it yourself.

2. Teach your child to be kind to the vulnerable.

This means inviting unpopular kids to hang out, intentionally including kids who are isolated, and modeling respect for all students.

3. Teach your child to be kind to the troublemaker.

Standing up for what is right does not need to be aggressive or demeaning. There is no advantage in putting anyone down. This does not mean your child needs to ignore the harmful behavior. Instead, they can try inviting the perpetrator to shift camps and set an example for them in how to respect other people.

4. Teach your child to simply speak up – silence equals consent.

“This is not right.” “I am standing with my friend.” “No, thank you, I don’t believe smoking (or porn, or drugs, or cursing, or abusive conduct…) is right.”

5. Role-play scenarios at home.

It’s tough to think on your feet in a stressful situation. Pre-equip your child with a few simple responses, then rehearse them. Role play until your child is comfortable and confident.

6. Teach your child to interrupt/redirect.

Turn attention away from the confrontation, the bullying, or the toxic situation. Take the victim by the arm, “Let’s check out the game!” “Let’s not be late to class!” “The teacher is looking for you!” When other kids step in, bullying stops within 10 seconds more than 50 percent of the time (Psychology Today, Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001).

7. Teach your child to stand with the victim.

Whether it is bullying or an otherwise toxic situation, numbers count. Stand with the person who needs help. Ask a friend or two to join you. Make it clear that “light” is being cast on the situation.

Sponsored by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families.

This project was supported by Contract No. LJ990 awarded by the state administering office for the STOP Formula Grant Program. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

The post Teaching your Middle-school Child How to be a Courageous Upstander in School appeared first on All Pro Dad.

5 Ways Kids Can Take a Stand (& How You Can Help)

Dorothea Bauer | November 15, 2019

Every parent will tell you that they hope that their child is never a victim of domestic violence or a perpetrator of domestic violence. In fact, I, like most parents, want my children to have the tools to take a stand against domestic violence—whether it’s part of their life, or someone else’s.

Here are five ways your kids can take a stand and how you can help them.

1. Knowledge is power.

Your children can start learning about the concepts related to domestic violence at a young age. When they get angry at their sibling and hit, you can say, “When we are upset with someone we use our words, we never hit.” As your children grow older you can bring the topic into the dating realm by pointing out dangerous behavior in the news or among their friends, “You know, acting out in aggressive ways because of jealousy is not a sign that someone cares, it’s a sign that someone is not handling their emotions well and making poor choices.”

2. Find support.

If your children have witnessed domestic violence in your home or at the home of a family member, it may be helpful to get support for yourself and your children. Florida’s certified domestic violence centers are available 24/7 to support survivors and their children. To reach a center in your local area or to talk to an advocate over the phone call the Florida Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119.

3. Value all people.

When children broaden their understanding of other people they’re better equipped to recognize domestic violence and stand against it. So tell both your sons and daughters that control and dominance are not signs of masculinity. Teach them that all people have equal value.

4. Open communication.

You can help your children stand up to domestic violence by reassuring them that they can always turn to you if they witness domestic violence or are a victim. If they do come to you, try your best to stay calm so they won’t feel ashamed or as if they are at fault in any way for the abuse. Ask them how they feel and what they would like for you to do to support their safety.

5. Help others.

Find out about domestic violence centers in your area. Volunteer to donate items they might need. Let your children pack up the items. Encourage your children to share what they have with those affected by domestic violence—items like clothes, toys, and books. Age-appropriately, help your children understand that kids their own age are affected by domestic violence.

Domestic violence happens and our children need to be aware of it, for their own protection and to develop their own sense of service in standing up for others. If you or someone you know needs help accessing safety resources, please contact the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119.

Sponsored by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families.

This project was supported by Contract No. LJ990 awarded by the state administering office for the STOP Formula Grant Program. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

The post 5 Ways Kids Can Take a Stand (& How You Can Help) appeared first on All Pro Dad.