Author Archive

Create a Routine From The Start

Written by MHCS on . Posted in MHCS Together

Humans are creatures of habit.  If we create good habits and routines around homework, there will be much less argument and negotiation. 

Designate a set time when
homework will be done.

This will solve a multitude of problems. If your child knows that every day from 3:45 – 4:45 is homework time, it will become an everyday routine. If it’s “what we always do,” pretty soon, no one expects anything different.

Ideally, you want to have homework time to be the same time every day. Determine the time with your student. Does she need a snack or a little down time before she starts? How much time will that take?

Look at your student’s needs, the typical amount of time homework takes, and your family activities. Then if at all possible, designate the same time everyday for homework.

If this is not possible due to parents’ work schedules, or other activities, create a weekly schedule where the homework time may vary from day-to-day, but there is a designated time each day of the week.


Stick to your designated
homework schedule.

Don’t let anything else take priority.

Do not schedule appointments or take phone calls during this time.

Nothing gets priority
over homework during
the set homework time!


Children are often guilty of saying, “I don’t have any homework today.” (This may or may not be true!) Sometimes, students forget their materials, forget to write down their assignments, “conveniently” forget details, or just find it easier to say they don’t have homework.


Whether your son or daughter has
homework or not, 
the designated homework
time is for homework.


If she actually has no homework from school, homework time should be spent studying for spelling tests or other upcoming tests, working on long-term assignments and book reports, doing free-reading, or writing in a journal. This preserves the homework time routine and helps remove the temptation of saying there’s no homework when in fact there is.

You’ll find that the routine of a schedule really creates much more order and calmness when it’s time to do homework.

BUT, the time to set all of this up is right now, BEFORE you get too far into the school year.

shared by permission from Pathfinders Cognitive Educational Training


Fearless Parenting

Written by MHCS on . Posted in MHCS Together

My family and I recently ventured to the great Kern River in Central California for a weekend of relaxing, fishing, and playing in the water.  Did I mention that the Kern River is one of the deadliest rivers in the United States?  There are swirling whirlpools, thundering rapids, hidden rocks and dangerous undertows—not to mention an extremely fast current in a river that is the fullest it has been in more than 10 years. Does that sound relaxing to you?

It was beautiful, mind you, but absolutely terrifying to this mama. And though no fish were caught, many laughs were shared and memories were made. But I was afraid to turn my back on any of my kids, lest they slip and fall into a river that was ready to take them on a quick trip down a perilous journey never to return!  This kind of reminds me of parenting in general.

I want my kids to experience beautiful and memorable things in life, even some exciting and exhilarating moments! But, I want to protect them from being swept away. I could be so fearful that I hold them tight and close and in fact, they miss out on moments that may be scary moments where they have to learn to trust God. These could be normal, coming-of-age dangers that are very real and I must trust God to get them through.

The great theologian Charles Spurgeon wrote that we call upon God, but then we try to carry our burden of fear for our children on our own.  “You mock God,” Spurgeon says, “you use the name of God, but not the reality of God.”   I am guilty of that! I cry out to God to protect my child from questionable friendships, and then I fret over it. I pray for their safety and worry until they get home.  I ask God to heal them and then I cry myself to sleep when they are sick.  Gary L. Thomas writes in Devotions for Sacred Parenting, “Perhaps God gave us children in part to make our own faith more real, to keep us from settling for merely naming God rather than pushing into the reality of God.”   He goes on to write, “Some of us parents insult God by verbally placing our children under his protection but then worrying as though he were either deaf or powerless.”  Ouch. I know my God. He is neither deaf, nor powerless and yet I live in fear when I should rest in faith!

This week I challenge you to ask these questions Gary Thomas lists:

  1. Who cares more about our children—us, or God?
  2. Who is better able and more equipped to protect our children—us, or God?
  3. Who looks on our children with greater understanding of the future—not just ten years’ time, but for all eternity?

However, I recommend you still wear a life vest near the Kern River!

In Good Hands

Written by MHCS on . Posted in MHCS Together

MHCS Alum Katie Ryan, Assistant Sports Information Director for Football at USC, wrote the following article about USC star wide receiver Deontay Burnett. Here he shares about his dedication to faith, family, and football.

You may not recognize him as he walks past you on campus. You may not notice him as he stands in front of you in line at Little Galen to get lunch. You may even sit next to him in a class at the Annenberg School and not realize who he is. But when you look at his backpack and see the “#80” football tag, you’d realize that you were in the presence of a Rose Bowl legend. 

Last January, junior wide receiver Deontay Burnett tied Michigan’s Braylon Edwards’ 2005 record for the most touchdown receptions in a Rose Bowl game with three unforgettable catches against Penn State, including the extraordinary final touchdown catch from quarterback Sam Darnold.

Although Burnett, a communications major, has left his mark in the Trojan football history books, life hasn’t changed dramatically for him since that game.

“Life didn’t change for me at all,” Burnett said. “Everything is still the same. I don’t get recognized on campus. And that’s fine.”

Burnett would never be described as flashy or boisterous, typical adjectives that depict recent Trojan wideouts like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marqise Lee. While some players have an outgoing personality, Burnett’s quiet humility is something that makes him stand out.

“He’s a silent assassin,” said offensive coordinator Tee Martin. “He’s quiet. He sits in meetings and doesn’t ask a lot of questions, but he always has an intense, focused look on his face at all times. Then when he goes out and plays, you look at his body and you don’t expect him to play as big as he plays.”

The fact that Burnett, all 6-feet, 170 pounds of him, starred in a game that is described as one of the most iconic college football games of all time fits well into his storybook tale.

USC is a special university that is respected and admired throughout the world. You feel it when you walk on campus. You see it when the Trojan football players march to practice through Goux’s Gate. The energy on Howard Jones practice field is palpable. That was where Burnett first fell in love with the Trojans.

“When I was young, I came to a USC practice and I got to meet Joe McKnight,” said Burnett of the late Trojan tailback who led Troy in rushing in 2009 before going onto the NFL. “I really looked up to him, and having the chance to meet him meant everything to me. He actually gave me some gloves, and I still have them.”

From then on, USC was his dream school. Burnett knew that his hard work and strong faith would make anything possible.

“I believe in Christ. He gives me confidence each and every day,” he said. “I trust Him and know that everything is going to work out because He planned everything before I was even born.”

That plan continued to reveal itself to Burnett as he continued on with his football journey. At Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., a hotbed for collegiate and NFL talent, he began his prep career as a quarterback behind current Trojan receiver, Jalen Greene, himself a former QB. Once his junior year arrived, he realized he would get more playing time as a pass catcher.

“I really settled in at receiver that year, and then during my senior season I got a chance to catch a lot of balls and show the world what I could do,” he said. “I received some offers, and I eventually committed to Washington State.”

Even though he was preparing to become a Cougar, the future had some surprises in store for Burnett. Martin, then USC’s wide receivers coach, went to Serra one day to watch recruit Adoree’ Jackson.

“I asked Adoree’ which receiver in the city gave him the most issues,” said Martin. “I expected him to name a player that he played against from another school. He said, ‘Honestly Coach, Deontay.’ “

“I responded, ‘Deontay Burnett?’

“So the next time I went out to practice, I really started focusing on Deontay. I could see why he gave Adoree’ trouble as a defensive back. He was so smooth in transition, he catches everything and his speed is deceptive.”

Said Burnett: “Adoree’ and I had a contest to see who could get the most one-handed catches. I believe that Coach Tee saw that and he was surprised at what he saw. I guess that’s where it all began. That day, right there.”

When asked who won the one-handed catching contest, Burnett laughs bashfully and admits, “Uhhhh, I did. I caught 20 straight.”

“I always record things when I go recruit,” said Martin. “I brought that tape back to the staff and everyone was like, ‘Wow, this guy has great hands.’ And it’s still true today. He has some of the best hands around.”

National Signing Day had arrived, and with no offer from the Trojans, Burnett was still set on faxing his national letter of intent to Washington State. The phone rang and Tee Martin‘s name showed on the caller ID. USC was formally offering him the opportunity to be a member of the Trojan football team.

“It was crazy,” Burnett said with a laugh. “I already had my mind made up. I thought recruiting was over with. To get that call from Coach Tee and the USC coaching staff changed my perspective of where I wanted to go immediately. I talked to my parents about it, and we all came up with the decision that it was best to go to USC.”

That decision has resulted in 73 receptions for 925 yards and seven touchdowns in his career, including a breakout Rose Bowl game with 13 receptions for 164 yards and three touchdowns.

His epic performance resulted in Burnett being named to the 2016 AP All-Bowl Team first team, ESPN All-Bowl Team first team and the ESPN Pac-12 All-Bowl Team first team. The current headlines describe Burnett as the Trojan receiver to watch this season and a necessary weapon for quarterback Sam Darnold.

It’s remarkable how this young man went from idolizing Trojan football players to becoming the player that current young athletes look up to.

“As a kid I always looked up to college players and the professional players,” he said. “Now that I’m here at USC, when I see a child at practice or on campus, it warms my heart because I know that they look up to us and if we give back to them, it just makes their day. It makes my day as well because I remember I was in their same position.”

Burnett’s quiet personality suits him. He’s not the type to get hyped up and jump around to energize the team. He prefers to keep to himself and even listens to a unique genre of music to mentally prepare for a game.

“I am a mellow guy,” he said. “I’m not into getting rowdy. I’m quiet and keep to myself. Before games I’ll listen to something mellow. Then I listen to gospel, and then I listen to the latest trend of music.”

During a team photo shoot this summer, each player had the opportunity to request their favorite song to play while they were photographed. Most of the requests were Top 40-type hits. When it was Burnett’s turn, he quietly asked to have the gospel song “The Presence of the Lord” play while he took pictures.

“I listen to that song a lot. It gives me energy and it gets me going. Just to feel the presence of God is special.”

Burnett is the prime example of Coach Helton’s mantra “Faith, Family, Football”. In addition to being a man of faith, he is a young man who loves his family immensely.

“My family is a big support system for me,” Burnett said, his face lighting up as he talks about them. “They come to every game and it’s great knowing that my family is here supporting me. I also go home every Thursday before the games. My mom loves to cook so I get to go home and eat the home cooked meal before the game. It’s good to get home and relax before I get locked in.”

When Burnett is not in season, he spends weekends with his family bowling or roller-skating.

“I do that every weekend in the off season,” he said. “It’s fun and it’s something we’ve been doing since I was about seven years old.”

Faith, family and it all comes back to football. Keep an eye out for Burnett in the end zone this season. While the Coliseum may explode into a roar of cheers for him, Burnett will keep his head down, quietly return to the sideline and silently reflect upon his dream that turned into a reality. And that dream is still alive.

“Always believe in what God has planned for you,” he said. “As long as we have faith and keep striving to be the best, I feel that anything is possible for us. We have huge goals as a team of where we want to be, and we want to keep playing until January.”

Maybe then Deontay will finally be recognized on campus. 

Seven Traits of Effective Parenting Plus One

Written by MHCS on . Posted in MHCS Together

Denise Hurdle Photography | Orange County Family and Newborn Photographer

Good parents aren’t perfect. And that’s okay. There’s no formula to follow, but there are ways you can grow every day. Focus on the Family’s Seven Traits of Effective Parenting article gives you a large parenting trampoline to jump from!  There are thoughts and ideas on seven things you can bring into your home to improve your parenting game.  Check it out here:

I find this article to be encouraging, but find a huge effective trait that the author does not mention:  PRAYER.  Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   As a firm believer in prayer, I know when my prayer life is active and fervent—there is peace in my home, even when there isn’t.  The peace is in my heart, even when my kids aren’t at peace with each other or with me.  The prayers give me strength to keep on believing in God’s power in my families’ lives, even when I don’t feel like I’m seeing much of a difference in my kids or myself. There is peace about our future, even when tomorrow is uncertain.

The Holy Spirit is prompting me to pray often when my family is in turmoil and when it is rolling along just fine. When I want to throw up my hands, toss my kids into their bedrooms and cancel everybody’s plans for the day—I pray. When I feel like a friendship is in question, I pray.  When I don’t know how to spend our time or money, I pray.  It doesn’t always end up exactly how I want and prayer certainly isn’t an aspirin for a parenting headache.  But continual, thoughtful, solitary and family prayer is one of the most effective parenting tools we have. 

So, please read the article and practice the traits of love, respect, intentionality, boundaries and limits, gratitude, grace and forgiveness, and adaptability.  Just don’t forget to cover them all in prayer.

Positive Parenting Your Tween

Written by MHCS on . Posted in MHCS Together

By Dr. Laura Markham, founder of and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life Parenting preteens, or tweens, can be a challenge. Discipline, school, homework, time with family — everything is renegotiated. Hormones kick in as puberty approaches, and the pressures of the peer group magnify. Many moms and dads react to their tween’s moodiness, focus outside the family, increasing independence and maturing physical body by distancing somewhat from their child. But tweens need to feel they have a secure nest as they launch themselves into the exciting but scary world outside the family. Kids who feel disconnected from their parents lose their anchor and look for it in their peer group. The only way to make it through the tween years with a firm foundation for the teen years to come is to fiercely maintain a strong bond with your child, even while you encourage age-appropriate freedom. In fact, much like the toddler years, parents play a major role in whether the tween years are turbulent or terrific. Here are 12 tips to positive parent your child (and maximize your influence!) as she moves toward the teen years.

1. Stay connected

by having dinner together every night, or as often as possible. Kids who have dinner with their parents do better in school, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, are less likely to have sex while in high school, and are less likely to experience depression or anxiety. Check in with your tween every single day by spending some private time together; many parents find that fifteen minutes at bedtime is grounding and most intimate. But car rides run a close second, probably because kids feel less threatened when you aren’t looking directly at them. Schedule regular longer alone-time with each parent, such as monthly brunch with Dad or weekly walks with Mom. Don’t expect your son or daughter to invite closeness or volunteer vulnerable emotions at each interaction, or when you expect it. But if you set up enough regular opportunities to be together, and you mostly listen and love (rather than lecturing or quizzing) it will happen.

2. To reduce rebelliousness, recognize and work with your tween’s need for independence.

Be aware that as we feel less powerful as parents we often compensate by becoming overprotective. Instead of breathing down his neck, agree on and enforce standards. Set reasonable limits (no texting during dinner and after 8pm, no online chatting or TV until homework is finished) and be sure to offer empathy when they hate your limits. It’s their job to test limits, and yours to set limits based on your values.

3. Re-think your previous ideas about discipline.

Power-based punishment strategies stop working as soon as your child gets big enough to say “You can’t make me.” Even consequences will only work a short time longer, because many teens simply refuse them, and any kind of punishment makes them better liars. You never win a power struggle with your child. The only leverage we really have with our preteens and teens is their love for us, which becomes a more potent motivator over time. That means the best way to get your tween to follow your rules is to maintain a strong bond with him.

4. Don’t underestimate hormones.

Your child’s body is changing, creating mood swings, distractibility, competitiveness, and preoccupation with the opposite sex. What’s more, their brains are undergoing an extensive re-wiring, which can make them emotionally volatile. Tweens can even find themselves in a full-blown tantrum without understanding how it happened. Kindly tell your tantrumming preteen that you see how upset they are and you want to give them time to pull themselves together before you discuss whatever the issue is. Ask them if they want you to stay, or to leave the room to let everyone calm down. Your preteen doesn’t understand his or her moods any more than you do right now. Later, give them a big hug, and really listen to what they have to say. Even if you can’t agree with their position, acknowledge your child’s perspective, and work to find a win/win solution.

5. Don’t take it personally!

When your tween yells at you to drop dead, don’t over-react. When they hurt your feelings and you’re tempted to withdraw, take a deep breath and stand your ground calmly. That doesn’t mean you don’t kindly demand civility, and it doesn’t mean you can’t use strategic withdrawals as a chance to regroup, but that you continue to reinforce your love for and connection to your child. Your best way to get your tween to act respectfully towards you is to extend respect to her, and to calmly expect it in return.

6. The tween years are the perfect time to teach values

… which is best done not by lecturing, but by asking questions. To get your child talking, become a brilliant listener, empathizer, and question asker. Preteens are usually curious about your own early years; those can be great opportunities to reassure them that even their parents were insecure, as all tweens are. It’s also an opportunity to teach; don’t be afraid to share real life examples of teens who died from drinking and driving, or became addicted to drugs. It’s best, though, if stories about your own life set a positive, rather than negative example, such as having struggled and overcome obstacles.

7. Be aware that the more popular culture your child is exposed to, the more risk she runs

…of drug and alcohol use, depression and early sexual experimentation. Tweens want to feel grown up, so naturally they ape adult popular culture. Yes, they have to fit in with their friends, but they count on their parents to keep them safe and let them know what’s age appropriate. They aren’t ready for the attention they’ll get when they wear that revealing top or sing that inappropriate song at the recital. They need you to enforce strict rules regarding internet use and what movies are appropriate. Tweens want and need your guidance, even if they can’t show it.

8. Preteens are actively shaping their identity.

Support their experimenting and exploring, even when they’re into a new fad every few weeks. Don’t comment on their fashions as long as their body coverage is appropriate, and keep an open mind about their music. Especially support the deep passions into which they really pour themselves; those are protective during the tween and teen years.

9. Stay aware of your tween’s schoolwork

…offering help as necessary in developing time management skills, insuring that homework gets done and big projects are worked on over time. Be aware that how hard your tween works at school will depend on whether his peers do, and try to have him attend a school where the kids consider good grades cool, for both boys and girls. Maintaining high expectations and insuring that homework doesn’t get neglected in favor of evening screen and social time is critical.

10. Teach your tween good physical self-management:

at least nine hours of sleep every night, regular protein and low glycemic snacks, regular exercise. Instilling these habits can take real creativity on the part of parents, but they greatly reduce moodiness and you’ll be happy they’re well-established when your child hits the teen years.

11. Don’t be surprised if your preteen son or daughter develops some anxiety or dependency.

It’s not at all unusual for preteens to get scared by all the changes in their bodies, the peer pressures to grow up, or the fear of separating from mom and dad. This is most often expressed as separation or sleep anxiety, and if you empathize and let them cling to you a bit, it probably will not last long.

12. Be aware of the special needs of your son or daughter as they grow into adults in a culture that perpetuates unhealthy attitudes about men, women, and sexuality.

Girls will need your help handling media images of women, cultural expectations about attractiveness, the pressure to be sexy, her relationship with food, the concept of consent, and her body. Remember that girls naturally fill out before they shoot up, and be careful not to impose society’s insistence that only thin is attractive. Notice any issues you have as her body blossoms. Be aware of the research showing that most tween girls are very anxious about the bodily changes ahead and the sense they have from the media that becoming a woman puts them in danger from men. Girls particularly need their fathers to continue offering physical hugs and open admiration for what a beautiful daughter they have, in an atmosphere of total safety and appropriate boundaries. Boys need help integrating their sense of connection, tenderness and vulnerability — which are a part of all human relationships — with societal images of manliness. It’s normal for boys approaching their teen years to act cool, indifferent, and invulnerable with their peers, even when they’re actually highly sensitive kids. A responsible, affectionate father or uncle can be a critical teacher as a boy learns how to be a good man — while fitting in with the guys. It’s particularly valuable for Dads or male role models to talk with sons about the idea of consent and respect for women. And Mom needs to keep warmly talking and listening with her son about his experiences and interests, without jumping in to solve his problems.…