At the age of 9, my daughter was beautiful and bubbly, intelligent and funny. Always tall for her age, she possessed a body built for strength and she was using that strength to become a decent swimmer.
Nine was a year of significant growth—and a year of doubt. This would be the year that she became more sensitive about how she looked and the size of her clothes. In spite of every bit of praise I could muster about who she was and the amazing things she could do because of her height and strength, she only understood that her body was different from many of the other girls’.
And like many of us, she didn’t like being different. She longed to blend in.
At 14, a boy, so distressed by incessant bullying, took his own life. He left a note for his family and friends, reminding people how important it is to reach beyond labeling and intolerance.
At 14, a girl hanged herself; she looked for all intents and purposes to be a normal teen, active, involved, successful in school, but quietly feeling alone and hopeless.
At 13, another girl attempted suicide numerous times and then grew determined and leapt to her death; although she often seemed happy, in private she fought her own demons.
These youths, whose stories have been changed to protect families, came from different regions, but in many respects they all are “our children”—and we need to learn from their acts of desperation.
I was bullied in elementary school. For some reason, in the area in which I grew up, political parties were a “big deal,” and my parents were members of the “wrong” party. I can recall to this day being made fun of on the playground because of that fact. It hurt. In fact, I also remember a day—I believe there was a presidential election underway at the time—on which the elementary-school band director asked everyone in the assembled band to raise their hands as to which political party they belonged to—this was in fourth or fifth grade! What he meant was: to which party do your parents belong? I was the only one, out of probably 50 or so children, who raised my hand for the one party. I remember that scene even today, some 50 years later. Think bullying doesn’t have an effect? —A Diakon staff member
Does bullying concern you? Is your child being bullied? Is your child perhaps bullying others?
A blog represents a compilation of various views on various subjects.
Sometimes, blog posts are educational, sometimes inspirational. At times, they’re focused on broad subjects with multiple opinions; at other times, they’re very personal, reflecting a particular view at a pivotal moment in life … as is the following post, written by Melissa Kindall of the Diakon Corporate Communications staff (and her daughter continues to do well).
The call that no parent ever wants to hear came Wednesday morning two weeks ago.
My 15-year-old daughter had gotten a ride home from field hockey practice with a friend. Her friend’s brother was driving when their car was T-boned by a truck.
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that progressively harms and ultimately destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and changes in thinking and other brain functions.
People are at the greatest risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if they are more than 85 years of age; they may have a reduced risk of developing memory loss-related diseases if they maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives, according to the National Alzheimer’s Association.
Because people experience Alzheimer’s disease differently with varying symptoms, it is important that a doctor provide the diagnosis. Symptoms generally include the loss of problem-solving ability, impaired judgment, and loss of short-term memory.
Alzheimer’s disease occurs gradually. In fact, after a diagnosis is made, family members often say they believe they should have “seen it coming.”
As families learn to deal with a loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, they must become aware of the reality they face—the disease gets progressively worse and families should make plans to handle that decline.
By the age of 6, girls start to express concerns about their weight or shape, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Approximately half of elementary school girls (ages 6 through 12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.
The statistics on individuals struggling with eating disorders are startling. In the United States alone, 20 million woman and 10 million men struggle or have struggled with an eating disorder.
What is an eating disorder? I can tell you what it isn’t—a trend, a lifestyle or just a phase someone is going through. It is a serious problem that more often than not requires professional intervention. And the sooner the intervention takes place, the better the treatment outcome tends to be.
Youth sports continue to be of interest to blogs and media, often with mentions of “helicopter” parents, disrespectful players and belligerent coaches.
So what, you may wonder, can parents do to make the experience a positive one for their children? Jeremias Garcia, who oversees the Center Point Day Program at the Diakon Wilderness Center near Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, not only has extensive experience working with young people of all backgrounds, but also has coached various ages and levels of boys and girls basketball and girls soccer.
We asked him to share his experiences and advice:
Drinking and partying just become an everyday ritual when you do them for a long time. Drinking becomes part of every event. You simply must find a way to incorporate it because you are so used to it being part of everything you do. You try to change that, that pattern or direction. But it seems very difficult to do, because you believe drinking is part of you.
The drugs, the depression, and drinking increased, but none of that cured the pain. That’s when it got so bad for me. I was in such a dark place that I realized I needed to reach out for help. Stopping and looking at the reality of where I was emotionally, financially, and in terms of being able to support the people I care most about—my family—caused me to realize I needed help.
Changing seasons and holidays can result in other changes …
Daylight savings ends, bringing an extra hour of sleep (at least for one day) and a little extra sunlight in the morning—but it sure gets dark early.
For me, the first thing I notice is that I have one fewer hour to let the kids play outside. One fewer hour to go for a run before it’s dark … so treadmill it is. Sometimes I feel as if I miss the sun altogether after sitting inside all day at work, just to get home as the sun is setting.
It’s Friday—so how about doing something healthy this weekend and enjoying what the season has to offer?
For example, take time to re-energize with family or friends. When we are too busy and distracted, it can be difficult to make good choices particularly concerning our health. I think our children—and ourselves as adults—often participate in so many activities that we’re all pressed for time. So it’s much easier to grab fast-food or a snack on the go instead of sitting down to a family meal or something homemade.
Those quick “grab & go” options are convenient and time-saving, but we miss out on valuable opportunities not only to teach our children about healthy eating and meal planning, but also to spend quality time together enjoying one another’s company.