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  • Related Blog: Family Matters 

    Healthy communities are built on strong family relationships and there are a rich variety of interpersonal skills that contribute to healthy families. Family Matters offers information about parenting, child development, sibling relationships, marriage and family communication, grandparenting, aunting and uncling, and many other topics chosen with an eye toward strengthening family bonds.

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  • Featured Articles

    Parenting the Challenging Child

    Difficult. Headstrong. Stubborn. Defiant. If any of these words describe your child or teen, don’t give up. An innovative set of parenting ABCs can help toward solving the problem.

    Doing Social on the Net

    New technologies always seem to stir up fear and anxiety in some quarters. The Internet, and social networking in particular, is no exception. From privacy concerns to worries that relationships can’t help but suffer, the practice of connecting with others publicly is often vilified. Are the fears well founded, or is there more to it?

    More Than a Feeling

    As recently as a few decades ago, the study of human emotion was off-limits to serious scientists. Today, however, it is a critical research topic, and the research has yielded some groundbreaking discoveries. Why do we differ from one another in the way we respond emotionally to life events? How do we learn to regulate our emotions, and why do we need to?

    Raising a Moral Child

    New research continues to show the importance of helping children develop and internalize a set of moral values that will serve both them and the community well.

    Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo: Teaching Children Decision-Making Skills

    By the time we are parents, we understand that the consequences of a single bad choice can reverberate for years, so we want to help our children become competent decision makers. But what skills are required, and how do parents instill them?

    People: Who Needs Them?

    Pop psychologists freely use words such as introvert and extravert, but these terms can be misleading as well as harmful to personal development. What do we know about the ways people connect and how important are interpersonal relationships anyway?

    Beyond the Nuclear Family

    In an interview with Vision’s Gina Stepp, researchers Bella DePaulo and Robert Milardo explore the importance of “collateral kin”—aunts, uncles and others who aren’t part of what we often term “immediate” family.

    My Brother’s Keeper: From Sibling Violence to Brotherly Love

    Sibling violence is as old as Cain and Abel. Where is the line between “normal” sibling conflict and abusive behavior, and how and when should parents intervene? 

    Parenting Issues: Playing Favorites

    Parents playing favorites is more common than we might think. When it is not recognized and addressed, it can create long-term emotional problems and can devastate family relationships.

    Grand Cultures: Strengthening Grandparent and Grandchild Ties

    Social trends over the last century have so dramatically affected family relationships that interaction between grandparents and grandchildren is almost nonexistent in many families. But the intergenerational gap can be bridged.

  • More on Family and Relationships

    This Is My Beloved Son . . .

    Parents are to train their children in the right way of living (Proverbs 22:6), but what is that way?

    Parenting the Challenging Child

    Difficult. Headstrong. Stubborn. Defiant. If any of these words describe your child or teen, don’t give up. An innovative set of parenting ABCs can help toward solving the problem.

    Words of Honor

    What we post on social networks can be far more hurtful than the spoken word because it can affect so many people.

    Doing Social on the Net

    New technologies always seem to stir up fear and anxiety in some quarters. The Internet, and social networking in particular, is no exception. From privacy concerns to worries that relationships can’t help but suffer, the practice of connecting with others publicly is often vilified. Are the fears well founded, or is there more to it?

    Connecting Beyond Ourselves

    Emotions are an essential dimension of our being. The Bible says God created humankind in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26); that is, we share characteristics of God Himself.

    More Than a Feeling

    As recently as a few decades ago, the study of human emotion was off-limits to serious scientists. Today, however, it is a critical research topic, and the research has yielded some groundbreaking discoveries. Why do we differ from one another in the way we respond emotionally to life events? How do we learn to regulate our emotions, and why do we need to?

    The Moral Compass: Finding True North

    The ability to interact well with others is based on shared ideas, especially those concerning moral values and what it is that constitutes and defines ethical behavior.

    Big-M Morality

    What Jesus stated in the Sermon on the Mount is the basis for living a moral life at a deeper level than is normal for human beings.

    Raising a Moral Child

    New research continues to show the importance of helping children develop and internalize a set of moral values that will serve both them and the community well.

    The Perfect Parent

    Compassionate parent is among the chief roles performed by God in His role as the Father. Who better to look to, then, for a model of loving, effective parental guidance?

    Attachment: Battleground in the Parenting Wars?

    It may be the latest buzzword in parenting circles, but the concepts underlying “attachment parenting” aren’t clearly understood by most people—including many of those who practice it. Exactly what is attachment, and what does it have to do with parenting?

    The Path to Right Behavior

    Children are at the height of mental plasticity; thus mental and social habits that are set early will have life-long effects.

    Raising Well-Connected Kids

    One of parenthood’s great challenges is teaching children to display active concern for others. How can parents encourage their kids to be helpful, caring and inclusive?

    Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo: Teaching Children Decision-Making Skills

    By the time we are parents, we understand that the consequences of a single bad choice can reverberate for years, so we want to help our children become competent decision makers. But what skills are required, and how do parents instill them?

    People: Who Needs Them?

    Pop psychologists freely use words such as introvert and extravert, but these terms can be misleading as well as harmful to personal development. What do we know about the ways people connect and how important are interpersonal relationships anyway?

    On Personality and Character

    Is personality merely a random product of genetics, or a construct of unique environmental conditions? What influence can we exert over our own personalities?

    Beyond the Nuclear Family

    In an interview with Vision’s Gina Stepp, researchers Bella DePaulo and Robert Milardo explore the importance of “collateral kin”—aunts, uncles and others who aren’t part of what we often term “immediate” family.

    My Brother’s Keeper: From Sibling Violence to Brotherly Love

    Sibling violence is as old as Cain and Abel. Where is the line between “normal” sibling conflict and abusive behavior, and how and when should parents intervene? 

    Brothers and Sisters, Unite!

    Vision interviews Laurie Kramer, associate dean and professor of applied family studies at the University of Illinois. It’s never too late to build healthy relationships between children or to mend a broken sibling bond, says Dr. Kramer.  

    Parenting Issues: Playing Favorites

    Parents playing favorites is more common than we might think. When it is not recognized and addressed, it can create long-term emotional problems and can devastate family relationships.

    Multiple Intelligences

    Howard Gardner believes that intelligence is more than just book smarts. In 1983 he proposed the concept of multiple intelligences: distinct areas in which human beings express cognitive ability.

    Teaching Children the Art of Self-Control

    One of the most important responsibilities that parents take on when they have children is teaching them to regulate their thoughts, emotions and behavior. But how?

    Off the Assembly Line

    The one-size-fits-all approach to education isn’t working; some argue that it has never worked. What’s needed is a new model—one that capitalizes on and nurtures each child’s strengths and creativity.

    Parental Guidance Required

    Children, whatever their inherited traits, are shaped by many outside influences. Where should parents begin in reclaiming their traditional role as authority figures and moral guides for their children?

    Helping Children Develop a Positive Sense of Self

    Over the past few decades, a glut of literature has proclaimed the need to instill self-esteem in children. But how is this best accomplished?

    Creating Sustainable Relationships

    An interview with leadership expert Will Marré suggests that new approaches to over-complicated modern lifestyles will not only help people improve their personal effectiveness but will also yield immense interpersonal benefits.  

    Silence Is Not Golden

    Although silence has been called "the true friend who never betrays," a growing body of literature suggests that silence is a destructive force in family relationships. Fortunately there are far more effective strategies for ensuring healthy family communication.

    Family Violence

    Family Violence- What causes families to self-destruct, and how can the greater community help couples solve relationship problems and perhaps even prevent domestic violence?

    Twelve Scriptural Principles of Child Rearing

    Supplement to "Parental Guidance Required." Be what you want your child to become.

    Who Am I? The Question of Youth Violence

    Research suggests that a child who lacks a positive sense of identity is much more likely to turn violent. Gina Stepp explores five keys to help prevent youth violence. 

    Training the Brain

    Supplement to "Off the Assembly Line." We now know that the adolescent mind is as active as a baby’s when it comes to neural pruning in preparation for adult life; it is truly a work in progress.

    A Forever Question and Challenge

    In his semi-retirement from a long career that focused (literally) on other planets, scientist Robert Nathan has turned his attention back to Earth and to how we humans can extend our stay here.  

    Stork Realities

    As parents and teachers know (but many teens don’t), parenthood is not all fun and games and cuddly babies who chortle happily in their prams. 

    Teen Pregnancy: The Tangled Web

    Statistics say very little about how to address the complex problem of teen pregnancy. What are the issues, and what can parents do to help?

    Teens, Parents, and Teen Parents

    Vision interviews Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, on the importance of healthy relationships.

    Green With Compassion

    When human relationships are good, life is good; and one important relationship for humans is that between people and the land they inhabit.

    Family Communication: If We Could Talk Like the Animals

    Miscommunication seems to be a much bigger problem for humans than for “lower” animal species. How can we improve our communication skills and thereby our relationships?

    Ruth Nemzoff: Parent Talk

    Ruth Nemzoff is a resident scholar at Brandeis University. Vision interviewed her about her recent book covering parent and adult-child communication.

    Deborah Tannen: Communicating With Style

    Deborah Tannen holds the esteemed rank of University Professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. A respected linguistics scholar who has written extensively within the scholarly community, she is also author of six books for popular audiences. Vision’s Gina Stepp talked with Tannen about some common misperceptions that can get in the way of effective communication.

    Teen Pregnancy and TV: The Good, the Bad and the Reality

    Gina Stepp's conversation with Bill Albert (chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy) leads to a discussion of the roles that family and media play in teen pregnancy rates.

    Taking A Pregnant Pause in the Blame Game

    The interest in finding solutions to problems like teen pregnancy is not about assigning blame. Nor is it true that if one factor is found to be a contributor to the problem, the other proffered factors are therefore innocent of any effect. In fact, uncovering the origins of any problem requires examining each of the relevant influences in the wider context of how the factors interrelate.

    Teen Pregnancy: Home Remedies

    The nations that currently lead the Western world in teen pregnancy statistics are not ignoring their considerable problems, but the responsibility doesn't rest on government agencies alone. Studies show that strong family relationships play an important role in reducing the risk of teen pregnancy on the individual level.

    Forgiveness (or Something Like It)

    Even without a universally accepted definition of forgiveness, researchers agree that when we don’t work toward a state of mind of something like forgiveness, we are the ones who suffer the most harm.

    Kids Parenting Kids

    Parenthood can be extremely rewarding when one is ready for it, but it is not for children.

    To Be a Village

    An old African proverb observes that it takes a village to raise a child; but in our fragmented, pressured society the traditional village that would support a growing child or teenager is a rarity.

    Teen Pregnancy: One Is a Tragedy, Thousands Only a Statistic

    Teen pregnancy statistics can be very misleading and making sense of them is somewhat like assigning meaning to tea leaves: they can say almost whatever you want them to say. No matter how one looks at them, however, the important role that strong family relationships play in reducing them cannot be exaggerated.

    A Former Child Soldier's View of Forgiveness

    People think forgiving is forgetting everything. From my personal perspective, it’s not.

    Building Resilience in a Turbulent World

    Some people seem to have a knack for coping with psychological stress and trauma. Vision writer Gina Stepp explores what it takes to build resilience for robust emotional health in an increasingly turbulent world.

    Childhood: The New Age of Anxiety

    Anxiety levels in American children have increased dramatically since the first effective scale for measuring childhood anxiety was published in 1956.

    Grand Cultures: Strengthening Grandparent and Grandchild Ties

    Social trends over the last century have so dramatically affected family relationships that interaction between grandparents and grandchildren is almost nonexistent in many families. But the intergenerational gap can be bridged.

    Boys to Men: Smoothing the Way

    Are boys in trouble? It would seem so if we are to believe all the headlines thrown our way over the past 10 years.

    Single but Not Solitary: Shattering the Myths of Singlehood

    Published just over a year ago, Bella DePaulo’s book, Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, uses humor and sometimes stinging sarcasm to explain, to singles as well as couples, that singles can be just as happy as their married friends.

    Doing Well Versus Feeling Good: The Self-Esteem Debate

    Parents and teachers throughout the West have been interested in building self-esteem in children for nearly half a century, but somewhere along the line the “doing well” aspect of building self-esteem seems to have been lost in the “feeling good” part of the message.

    Take My Mother-in-Law . . . Please!

    Bad joke fodder aside, what makes a good mother-in-law? Or is that an oxymoron? Most women today fill several simultaneous roles; wife, mother, step-mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, mentor, boss, employee—but being a mother-in-law remains the most challenging one, and it’s loaded with pitfalls.

    Are Fathers Necessary?

    Are fathers necessary? Based on the statistics, the right type of father is in high demand. In fact, loving, engaged and committed fathers are perhaps more important than ever before.

    Bouncing Back: Relationships as the Core of Resilience

    In psychological terms, resilience is the ability to bounce back from misfortune, change, trauma or loss rather than succumbing to depression. Parent-infant attachmentis crucial to the physical development of the areas of the brain that foster resilience and the success of future family relationships, but there are other considerations that may be encouraging to those who have difficult or traumatic childhoods to overcome.

    What’s a Mother to Do?

    Of all the difficulties single mothers face, their most distressing one may involve coming to grips with the current understanding about fathers.

    U.S. Study Finds Links Between Religious Participation and Involved Fathers

    In recent years, researchers have frequently turned their attention to investigating the importance of fathers to the well-being of their children. Finding after finding suggests that the more engaged and involved a father is in his children’s lives, the greater the physical, emotional and mental benefits for his offspring.

    Mind the Gap

    Is the generation gap inevitable? Or can grandparents and grandchildren reclaim strong family relationships?

    Study: Parental Relationships and Adolescent Academic Success

    How important are family relationships to teens? Do adolescents suffer more than minor emotional pangs when their parents permanently separate? A newly released cooperative study comparison by researchers from three American universities has found that consistently they do.

    Child-Development Illiteracy: A Growing Problem?

    The first needs of human beings include cuddling, healthy touch and gentle, affectionate stimulation. To develop what psychologists call “secure attachment,” infants need caretakers who demonstrate that they love them. Unfortunately, too many children suffer the consequences of complete neglect, high doses of the wrong kind of stimulation or dysfunctional family relationships.

    New Study Explores Adolescent Expectations About Marriage

    Vision looks at a new study that explores teen expectations about marriage and views on cohabitation.

    Like Father, Like . . . Daughter?

    Society admits that a father is important to a boy’s well-being, but how important are fathers to the well-being of their daughters?

    It’s About Being a Boy!

    The Dangerous Book for Boys, written by British brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden, has been very well received. Why is there such an appetite for this book? Whose need is it nourishing? Conn Iggulden believes the book satisfies the need in boys for adventure.

    The Mother Load

    Though the idea that motherhood zaps the brain cells is fairly well-entrenched, recent studies offer some great news countering this myth.

    Mother's Day or Mothers' Day?

    As Mother’s Day approaches, the ads for cards, flowers, gifts, and special restaurant meals are mingled with complaints about the commercialization of its sentiments and the loss of the true meaning of the day. But a return to a nostalgic past may not be what is required to equip the family to face the rigors and pressures of modern life.

    The Ghosts of Mother’s Day Past, Present and Future

    In its quest to understand the importance of family relationships and issues about marriage, women and children, Vision tells the surprising story of how the original intent of Mother’s Day was quite different from the reason the average family celebrates it today and how the latest brain research may change why we celebrate it in the future.

    Disenfranchised Grief

    Some bereaved are more likely than others to be overlooked. Such people often do not receive the comfort they need in order to grieve properly and can be vulnerable to loneliness and serious, long-term depression.

    Give Sorrow More Than Words: The Neuroscience of Grieving

    The last decade has seen great strides in understanding some of the brain science behind emotions like sorrow and joy—at least of the mechanics. One area that begs further study is that of grief and bereavement. How can we use the discoveries of neuroscience to help those who are grieving avoid the pitfalls that often lead to depression?

    Helping Children Be Children

    Some practical suggestions to help parents keep their children from growing up too fast.

    How Children's Grief Differs From That of Adults

    Ways children's grief differs from that of adults.

    The Pain of Letting Go

    How can we cope (or help someone else cope) with the death of a loved one?

    Male and Female He Created Them

    Man and woman—created in the same image, created to be comparable to one another (Genesis 2:20) and to complement one another, and yet very different from each other in so many ways. Why?

    Our Wired Children

    In a special edition on the human mind, Scientific American reported earlier this year that evidence now exists to show that from birth, boys and girls have differently wired brains. This comes as no surprise to most parents who have raised children of both sexes. What it means, however, is that the individual nurturing of children is important from a very early age.

    Getting Relationships Right

    Arguably, the most difficult part of life is maintaining healthy relationships. What should be at the heart of how we view one another?

    Workplace Bullying

    Workplace bullies share many of the same traits as domestic abusers.

    Children: Our Legacy for the Future

    Perhaps the greatest mark any single generation can leave on the next generation is its values. What kind of values are we passing on to our children?

    A Culture of Divorce

    More and more couples are willing to endure the pain of ending a marriage, a fact that is reshaping society itself, according to experts.

    Marriage: Mystery and Meaning

    Marriage is as old as humanity itself. But how relevant is it today?

    Taking the Bounce Out of Boys

    Vision contributor Thomas Fitzpatrick interviews author Christina Hoff Sommers about the upbringing of boys.

    Hands-On Parenting

    Vision contributor Rebecca Sweat interviews psychologist William Damon, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence, and a professor of education at Stanford University. Damon gives advice on raising children in today's society.

    The Splice of Life: Sex in the 21st Century

    Will biotechnology change our views on sex and procreation?

    Our Appetite for Aggression

    You are what you eat. The proverb is not just about our diets; it's also true of what we put into our minds. A quick look at the latest movie guide, television listing or video-game store offers ample evidence that children are at serious risk of being malnourished or even poisoned in this regard.

    In the Bully's-eye

    Bullying is not limited to physical violence. Victims are usually reluctant to tell school officials or even their own parents.

    The Family That Eats Together

    Is the tradition of the family meal doomed?

    Tips on Time-Out

    Are we willing to make spending time with our children a top priority?

    Frenzied Families

    Do children need endless structured activities in order to be fulfilled and to ensure a competitive edge as they grow up? 

    The Passion of Mel Gibson

    Apart from how it looked, the film The Passion, which will be released in theatres on Ash Wednesday, suffers in historical and biblical accuracy. Scholars and theologians around the globe are taking the well-known actor and director to task for his carelessness in attending to the facts.

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