Monday, October 27, 2014

Parent Advice: I.Q. and Emotional Intelligence

Q. I’m concerned about educating my children so they will be smart enough to do well in today’s world. A friend disagrees with me about the importance of I.Q. in predicting who will do well in life. How important is I.Q. in determining success? What characteristics lead to achievement in life? Can these traits be learned or are they fixed at birth or early in childhood?

A. In recent decades parents have been urged to teach and stimulate their infants and children from a young age. Flash cards, educational toys, playing classical music and providing lots of attention to infants is used with the expectation this will increase a child’s I.Q. and assure a child’s success in life.

While early education and stimulation may increase I.Q. slightly and infants and children do flourish with attention, new research indicates that I.Q is not the most important factor leading to health, happiness, and achievement. I.Q. is now believed to contribute only 20 percent to a person’s life success.

“Emotional intelligence” is now touted as more essential to success than I.Q. This concept is described and a wealth of research explored in Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. The term “emotional intelligence” includes characteristics like self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, self-motivation, empathy for others and hope. 
People with “emotional intelligence” are able to motivate themselves and they persist in completing tasks even when they face frustrations. They are able to delay gratification and to regulate their moods. They are able to think even in emotion packed situations. They also are optimistic about themselves and about life. These are the characteristics that successful individuals possess.

These skills lead to happier relationships, increased physical health and greater career success. They also correlate with lower incidences of delinquency and drug use in children. Goleman says that children who improve their emotional skills also do better on achievement tests.
A key to “emotional intelligence” is being able to recognize your emotions. Someone who has a bad day may arrive home in an irritable mood and lash out at others without knowing why. When we’re able to recognize our feelings we’re able to use reason to decide how we will handle ourselves. We can control our emotions rather than being controlled by them. Self awareness enables us to use self control without repressing our emotions.
Another significant trait Goleman explores is optimism. Research shows when optimists fail at something they view the failure as temporary and attribute it to something they can change rather than to some lack in themselves impossible to overcome. In contrast, pessimists view failure as permanent and blame themselves.

Another trait of major importance is empathy or the ability to recognize the feelings of others. Goleman tells of a think tank for engineers where the top performers were not the ones with the highest I.Q.s, but those who were popular and good at collaborating with their co-workers. These are the people who got promoted.
The recognition that “emotional intelligence” is more important than I.Q. is good news. These traits can be learned whereas I.Q. is relatively fixed from a young age. We can increase our “emotional intelligence” throughout life!    

How can we teach our children “emotional intelligence”? Children learn from our behavior as well as from our words. If we model emotional intelligence they will learn this from us. We must understand that their growth toward maturity is a slow process.  We must be patient and accept their immaturity while applauding each sign that they are becoming more emotionally mature. We need to be realistic about their abilities or lacks but also optimistic and loving about them also. Our optimism greatly affects their belief in themselves.

Dr. Goleman doesn’t address “spiritual intelligence”. I dare say that a child who grows up in a loving church and develops a strong faith in God and His Word will be even more mature, intelligent and optimistic.

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Matthew 7:7-8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Luke 11:9 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

John 14:13-14 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may give glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.

John 16:23-24 I tell you the truth, my father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Everyone who asks, receives? Is this true? Jesus compares our asking things of God to that of a child asking his or her father. Our God is a very good Father. He will listen to us. He wants us to come to him, to know him, to be persistent. A good father will not give a child his every request or he would not be good. A child doesn’t see the big picture. God gives what is best for us – not what we think is best for us.

John repeats several times above that we should ask in Jesus name and that we can ask anything in His name and he will do it. John MacArthur says this isn’t a formula that will assure us our prayers are answered. Rather it means we want our prayers to be in line with his kingdom, based on his merits, and for his glory. The Holy Spirit will translate our selfish prayers for his glory.

Dear Father,
Lord, increase our faith in you. When we seek you our faith grows. It’s reassuring to know from Scripture that you want us to pray; you want us to ask of you, seek you, and knock on doors, persistently.

As I was writing this I ran across these verses from Jeremiah 29:12-13: “You will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Thank you for the assurance that you hear us and will give us good gifts, whatever is best for us. Help us keep your will in mind when we ask. Help us ask, seek and knock in keeping with your kingdom. Help us persist in seeking you. Help us pray with intensity. Help us understand that if we don’t receive what we pray for, it’s because you have something better for us.

It’s awesome to think that our faith in you can move mountains. It’s amazing to realize that in some mysterious way our prayers release your power into the lives of others, even those who don’t know you - healing or saving them. Increase our faith, Lord.
In Jesus name, I pray. Amen

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Q.  In recent years I’ve been remembering things from my childhood that I had totally forgotten. I’m having flashbacks and nightmares about being sexually abused by my step-father. I went to counseling but it made me feel worse. The counselor wanted me to confront my step-father. I quit treatment because I couldn’t do this. All this has affected my marriage, too.

What can I do to get over the sexual abuse? I’m depressed, I have horrible nightmares and I’ve almost lost faith in God. I go to church but I’m just going through the motions.

A. You need to find a Christian counselor you can trust. Most counselors will allow you to move at your own pace. You had no control over what happened to you as a child. To feel safe in counseling you need to have some control over the process.  A Christian counselor is also very important for you. A Christian counselor will help you lean on God through the pain. You need to revive your relationship with God in order to in regain confidence and peace of mind.
You do not have to do anything in counseling unless and until you want to and are ready to do so. Some survivors of sexual abuse find it helpful and necessary to confront their abusers - but not all do. We are each unique. 

Counseling about sexual abuse of necessity involves some pain. It is essential to face some of the buried hurt and anger about the abuse. However, I don’t believe it is necessary to recover and explore every memory of every instance of abuse. 
In addition to counseling there are a couple of things you can do. Select a small object, such as keys or a stone that represent the here and now. Use this object to remind yourself that you are safe now. You could hold this object in your hands as you talk with your counselor or whenever you feel threatened.
Make a list of the qualities you like about yourself and of the things or relationships that you want to continue in your life. These should be written down and can include qualities such as a sense of humor, kindness to others, competence at work, enjoyment of reading, etc. Under relationships list your husband, children, dog, friends, co-workers, etc. Objects you want to keep can include your house, favorite clothing, books, etc. 

Keep this list with you at all times and use it to help balance the focus on the abuse. Remind yourself that this is where you are now. This list gives you a bridge back to the present when you have a flashback or a nightmare. 
Persons who have been sexually abused have learned to dissociate their feelings from what is happening. This is how they survived the abuse without being overwhelmed. A child’s fragile ego could not withstand the abuse otherwise. Rigid compartmentalization may have saved your life. 
Now you are grownup and are a stronger, more competent person. Even though it feels scary and overwhelming you will be able to gradually face the feelings that could have destroyed you before.
To become healthy you need to build bridges between the past, present and future so that you have access to all three. You need to be able to remember and let go of the past. You need to feel safe in the present and have hope for the future. And your relationship with God will change your life in every way as you grow in knowing Him.
Many pastors are skilled in counseling. Ask your pastor if he can help with this or ask for a recommendation to a Christian counselor who can help you. Two books can be helpful for you and your husband. Healing Memories by David A. Seamands and When Victims Marry by Don and Jan Frank.

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Books to Deepen Faith

Here are two of the best books I know of to deepen our faith in God and to grow in knowing him. Enjoy!

One Thousand Gifts
by Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts is beautifully, exquisitely written - even poetic. Ann Voskamp transparently reveals her own struggles, traumas and failures but teaches us to look for a gift in all things. She learns to look for blessings even in the mundane events of her life. She teaches us to let go of control and trust God. This is a book to read over and over again. Some reviewers found it difficult to read. I did, too, at first. Until I slowed down and took my time. It's not a book to speed read. It is a book to slow down and enjoy every word, each so well chosen.

Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by Sight 
By Jennifer Rothschild

Lessons I Learned in the Dark is a profound book about living by faith. The author is afflicted with an eye disease in her teens which leads to blindness. She realizes she will never be able to drive. She wonders, will I be able to finish high school? What about college? Will I have a boyfriend? Will I ever marry?

Rothschild learns how to navigate with a white cane so she can be self-sufficient away at college. Two weeks before going to college she is gripped by fear. Her parents insist she go for two weeks. She goes and stays. In the book she gives twelve lessons she learned through high school, college, marriage and having a child. Her lessons are practical as well as faith filled, profound as well as simple.

For example in the chapter titled Remember What Matters she gives a method that taught her to memorize. This method has helped her on a daily basis to remember where things are. She learned that memory is more reliable than sight! She winsomely shows that we all need to memorize the truths of scripture for our dark times and the daily grind.

Walking in the Dark is full of wisdom and light for walking in a dark world. Jennifer Rothschild has overcome a tragic life-long affliction to become a beacon for others. She is a nationally known speaker and author both because of and in spite of the loss of her sight. Most of us have easier hurdles in life – but we all have some. Applying the lessons in the book will help you run the race and jump over or accept life’s hurdles.

She says “Sometimes it’s only in the adversity we dread that we begin to discover the kind of life we’ve only dreamed of.” Pg 16

“We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


In 1992 I joined a Christian Twelve Step group at my church. We worked through the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I learned, personally, that these are Twelve Steps to healing. Twelve Step groups offer a healing process that works, a process that even transforms. This process has been the basis of Alcoholics Anonymous success. The Twelve Steps were adapted by Alcoholics Anonymous from the Oxford Group, an early church fellowship that used similar steps to enable spiritual growth.
The Twelve Steps to healing are powerful. They heal our wounded selves. They heal us spiritually and emotionally. Many of us are in denial about addictions that are not obvious. We are addicted to work, to shopping, to eating, to exercise, to being in control. 

The Twelve Steps to healing provide a way for us to face inner pain and shame and make things right. They provide a way to let down our pretenses and drop our role playing. We learn in the group that we aren’t the only one who has felt unworthy or has done shameful things. We aren’t the only one who has had difficulty being authentic.

The Steps Described      
The first three steps are steps of surrender. Since we deny our addictions, our codependence, or our inner pain, these steps are essential to break through our denial, to break through our pretensions.

Step One: We admit we are powerless and that our lives have become unmanageable. We are powerless over our addictions, our codependence, our shameful pasts, our emotions. We have tried over and over to change and have been unable to do so. Your first reaction may be, “This isn’t me.” Read it again. Think and pray about it. It took me a while to see that I was powerless over my emotions at times and over my need for control.
Step Two: We come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. This helps us let go of control. We don’t have to do it all ourselves, in fact, we can’t. We can turn our problems over to “a Higher Power.”

Step Three: We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
Steps Four through Seven are growth steps. In these steps we prepare a “searching and fearless moral inventory” which helps us see ourselves honestly. This inventory reveals issues we have denied.  We explore resentments, fears, control, addiction, approval seeking, frozen feelings, low self esteem, repressed anger and so forth.
Steps Eight and Nine are restitution steps. In Step Eight we make a list of all the people we have harmed - in our entire life. We also list the ways we have harmed ourselves. In Step Nine we make direct amends where this would not be harmful to anyone. We do this with the assistance of a leader, sponsor or counselor and with God’s guidance and help. These are scary steps for most people but also very freeing. 
Steps Ten and Eleven are maintenance steps. In Step Ten we continue to take an inventory and admit our wrongs on a daily basis. In Step Eleven we seek to improve our contact with and knowledge of God through prayer and meditation and seeking his will for our lives.
Step Twelve involves sharing with others the spiritual awakening we have experienced.  Unless we help others and unless we share what we have learned we will lose it.   
For more information about the twelve steps read CodependentsGuide to The Twelve Steps by Melody Beattie.  For a Christian perspective on the twelve steps read
A Hunger for Healing by J. Keith Miller and The Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey published by Recovery Publications. Twelve Step groups are available in every community sponsored by Alcoholics Anonymous. Celebrate Recovery is a Christian version of the twelve steps available at local churches. The twelve steps to healing are powerful.

God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Reinhold Niebuhr

Blessings, Dottie