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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Heart for Mental Health Event

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Speaking Event

Christian Family Institute is honored to take part in the Heart for Mental Health event Friday, March 10, 2017.

Come support efforts to educate, raise awareness, learn about resources, and experience training in mental health.

Register your attendance with Dr. Roddy of Advanced Eye Care, Inc. 

Participating partners:

Southern Hills Baptist Church – Celebrate Recovery

Bright Tomorrows

Hope is Alive Mentoring Homes

Teen Challenge

Heart for Mental Health flyer

Stronger Marriages

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

CFI is going to be teaching at The Church at Battle Creek this June and July.  We look forward to educating the community and getting to know you.


Stronger-MarriageAbout the Stronger Marriage series at The Church at Battle Creek:

This series is for anyone who is married or thinking about getting married.  If your spouse is unable to attend for any reason, we encourage to come by yourself.  Young marrieds, emptynesters, and seniors will all find help in this series.  This series of topics will touch on biblical and sound family systems principles relevant to your situation.

These sessions will be provided by members of the staff of Christian Family Institute, Tulsa’s oldest and largest Christian counseling center.  You can find out more about this group at.

6 Sessions – June  17, 24,  and July 1, 8, 15, 22 (2015)

  • June 17: Improving Couple Communication
  • June 24: Learning to Manage Conflict in Marriage
  • July 1: Making a Good Marriage
  • July 8: Helping Your Child – or Grandchild – Win (birth through age 12)
  • July 15: Helping Teens Through the Challenges of Growing Up
  • July 22: Strengthening the Family Connection

Throughout, this series will emphasize the character of effective couples, and the objective character traits in those in healthy, godly relationships.

Build Intimacy in Your Marriage through Forgiveness

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Give-ForgivenessIntimacy is, by definition, a close, familiar and affectionate personal relationship.  Intimacy in marriage is established and deepened as you increase your openness and vulnerability with your spouse.

As you draw nearer in relationship to your spouse, you will experience great joy in intimacy.  But you also become more vulnerable and more open to being wounded.  No human relationship is perfect.  Whether intentional or unintentional, we all have the propensity to cause harm to one another.   Ecclesiastes 7:20 (MSG) tells us “there’s not one totally good person on earth, not one who is truly pure and sinless”.  There will be times in your marriage when you are the offend-ed and there will be times when you are the offend-erThere will be times when you need to seek forgiveness and times when you need to grant forgiveness.  When an offense takes place in marriage, the offense damages the intimacy of the relationship and the offended often reacts with feelings of hurt, sadness, anger and distrust.  These emotional reactions are normal.  But you always have a choice about how you’ll respond.  The acts of seeking and granting forgiveness provide opportunities to become truly authentic, to practice grace, to reconcile and to deepen the intimacy of your relationship.

When you are the offender, SEEKING FORGIVENESS involves:

  • Acknowledging to your spouse what your specific offense was
  • Admitting to your spouse that the offense was hurtful and damaging to the relationship
  • Attempting to understand the pain that you’ve caused your spouse
  • Taking responsibility for the offense and offering to make amends, if possible
  • Vowing to your spouse that you will not repeat the offense
  • Apologizing to your spouse and asking for forgiveness
  • Forgiving yourself and creating a plan for avoiding future offense

When you have been offended by your spouse, offering forgiveness provides an opportunity to heal your own hurt and, often, to mend the broken relationship.

Did you know that you can choose to forgive your spouse even when he or she has not admitted fault and sought your forgiveness?  Of course, ideally, we would all love for our spouses to admit they were wrong and beg us for forgiveness. But even if you never see repentance or sorrow from your spouse, you have a choice to make – To Forgive or Not To Forgive.

Unforgiveness, or refusal to offer forgiveness, creates:

  • bitterness
  • resentment
  • distancing or pushing away from the offender
  • a power struggle because it puts you in a position of being superior to your spouse and presumes that your spouse owes you something
  • warfare when you use the offense as a weapon to continually jab at or shame your spouse
  • a judgmental attitude because you presume that you can determine whether your spouse feels guilty enough or has compensated enough to be “let off the hook”

In ALL cases, unforgiveness is a destroyer of intimacy.  Unforgiveness causes marital partners to be adversaries, at a face-off against one another.  Unforgiveness breeds criticism and contempt which ultimately will erode all closeness in a relationship.  And unforgiveness damages the life of the one who harbors it.

Forgiveness is a process that takes time and energy.  Forgiveness is not easy but it is highly rewarding.  Please know that forgiveness does NOT mean that you are excusing the offense, condoning the offense OR forgetting the offense.  Forgiveness is choosing to surrender the “right” to punish or think negatively about the offender so that you can be free from anger and resentment.


  • Taking stock of the specific offenses that have occurred
  • Acknowledging the emotions that you experience as a result of the offense
  • Admitting to yourself and your spouse that you feel hurt and disrespected
  • Stating your specific expectations for the future
  • Giving up your right to punish or retaliate against your spouse
  • Choosing to discontinue bitter, resentful or critical thoughts and actions toward your spouse
  • Communicating your forgiveness to your spouse
  • Working collaboratively with your spouse toward reconciliation and intimacy (when reconciliation is safe)

There are times when reconciliation is not safe.  In those cases, stating your expectations for the future may mean creating boundaries in the relationship or even ending a relationship completely.  But even in those cases where reconciliation is not safe, you would be wise to work through the process of forgiveness independently in order to free yourself from the bitterness, anger and resentment.

Forgiveness is important in all relationships but especially in the marital relationship.  If you find that you are critical or harboring resentment toward your spouse, consider whether there might be some offenses that you need to forgive.  The counselors at Christian Family Institute can be excellent guides on your journey of forgiveness.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prison was you.”  Lewis Smedes

JennGiles headshot

 Jennifer Giles, M.S.

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Monday, October 15th, 2012

October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  We wanted to share this meaningful quote as an encouragement to reach out and help those who have lost a child.

“If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who’s important to them, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn’t forget they died. You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that’s a great, great gift.” -Elizabeth Edwards

To learn more about this awareness day and to seek ideas of how to help, take a look at:

Amanda Harrington, Ph.D.


How To Prevent Conflict With Your Child Over Homework, Part 2

Monday, October 24th, 2011

In Part 1 of this topic (See August CFI newsletter: How To Prevent Conflict With Your Child Over Homework | Christian Family Institute), we looked at a strategy for redefining “homework” as a combination of assignments made by teachers and parents.  Even though your child reports there were no assignments made by teachers there will still be time set aside at home to complete assignment made by their parents. So, there will always be some form of homework to complete.  This installment will address how to best structure the homework experience.
First, verify exactly what assignments, if any actually have been made by teachers.  Then, set up a homework-completion strategy:

  1. Attend an open house, “meet the teacher” or parent-teacher conference and ask specific questions regarding typical assignments such as how frequent will they typically be made and approximately how much time should it typically take.
  2. Learn about which teachers have made assignment information available over the Internet and review it with your child before they begin.
  3. Create a homework space designed with limited distractions and equipped with all necessary materials and supplies.
  4. Discover your child’s maximum attention span for sustaining their highest performance.  Then, established break periods before that point is reached. For example, if your child will be doing 60 minutes of homework but their attention span and productivity rapidly declines after 20 minutes, you can create 4 separate 15 minute homework times between coming home and going to bed.
  5.  Be sure to leave some time for nurturing your child and enjoying them.

The professional staff at Christian Family Institute is uniquely trained to help families with parenting concerns.  We are here for you if you need us.

Dr. William Berman

School Do’s and Don’ts

Monday, October 24th, 2011

…or, how to be a concerned parent and be heard

As a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice I often work with parents who express frustration with their child’s school experience. The parents know things aren’t going well, they want their child to succeed in school, and they can feel unheard by the teacher or school administrators.

There are many things I can do as a counselor: family therapy, individual therapy with the child, teach parenting skills, refer for testing for learning disabilities, etc. One thing I often do is help parents navigate their way through the school system by acting as an advocate and by teaching conflict-resolution and negotiation skills.

Put simply, you really can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Or as my wife – a public school teacher – puts it: the “problem parents” aren’t the ones who are voicing problems or demanding solutions. “Problem parents” are the ones who do so in an obnoxious manner. Being labeled an obnoxious parent won’t help your child and may slow down the process of finding solutions.

  1.  Do read all the notes sent home by the teacher. Most teachers have access to all kinds of technologies from websites listing homework assignments to email and newsletters. But many teachers still do things the old-fashioned way: they send notes home. Go through your child’s backpack and folders and make sure you have read all the notes. Nothing is more embarrassing than raising a stink only to find the information was available to you all along.
  2. Don’t call the teacher 20 times a day. Call once and leave a brief message (perhaps directing them to a more detailed email you just sent) with both day-time and evening phone numbers.
  3. Don’t expect a call back until after the kids have left for the day. Just because the teacher has a phone in the classroom (something unheard of when I was teaching 30+ years ago) doesn’t mean s/he has time to talk.
  4. Do attend all of the meetings, parent conferences, and activities you possibly can. It is human nature to look more favorably on someone with whom we have a relationship than a person we’ve never met before. Who would you go out of your way to help? The angry person you’ve just met or the one you know? If your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend meetings or activities then send the teacher a nice email describing your limitations and asking to be kept informed.
  5. Do get both sides of the story before you rush to complain to the teacher. Some kids leave out vital details. Just because your child would NEVER tell a lie doesn’t mean she has all the facts. I expect parents to support their children; I also expect them to gather all the relevant data before rushing to their child’s defense.
  6. Do understand the school system. Teachers are responsible for what happens in their classroom. They are not responsible for school policies or district-wide decisions.
  7. Don’t skip over the chain-of-command. If you have a complaint or a concern then start with the teacher before going to the Principal. If you still aren’t satisfied then the next step is the Superintendent followed by the Board Members.
  8. Do expect a solution to your child’s learning or behavioral difficulties. But don’t expect it to occur without your helpful input.


Bowden McElroy, M.Ed. | Twitter

ADHD and Mental Health as it Relates to Your Child’s Education

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Parents, teachers, and school administrators work collaboratively to provide the best educational opportunities and accommodations for children/adolescents in the classroom.  Many parents are not aware that school systems are not able to adequately diagnose ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) or mental health disorders that impact students’ ability to perform to their best academically and behaviorally.

Where should parents turn to seek out appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and assistance in navigating the educational system to provide the best opportunities for their children?

Often students with emotional concerns and/or attention deficit disorders come to the awareness of teachers or school administrators when behavior becomes problematic, when grades suffer, or when academic benchmarks fall behind their peers developmentally.

Students who struggle with diagnosable mental health concerns can experience significant difficulty performing to the best of their ability in a traditional classroom setting.  Accommodation is sometimes necessary to help students with extra time to complete tasks and tests, work in smaller groups, or benefit from individualized attention and learning opportunities.

Teachers and school administrators are often overburdened with large classrooms and demands on their time.  Many schools have had to cut testing psychologists or special education teachers due to budget shortfalls.  Thus, when a student is pointed out as having behavioral, emotional, or attention problems, even if testing is available within the school, the waitlist may be significant (often 6-18 months).  If you are a taxpayer and live in a school district (most of us) you have the right to educational resources even if your child attends private school.  However, due to limited resources in many school districts, your child may be at the bottom of a lengthy list of educational test-takers.  Schools are sometimes able to test children for educational diagnoses (such as learning disorders) which may qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) based on the definitions of learning disabilities set up by Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

An educational plan, such as a 504 plan or IEP may help your child academically, but concerned parents will also want to intervene behaviorally at home for consistency and effective life skills and organizational help.  Working with a counselor, therapist, academic coach, or private professional can provide your family with the executive functioning assistance your child may need. A family approach to helping your student, in our experience, offers the most successful systemic intervention.

Even when schools believe that ADHD or another mental health disorder is present in a student, they are legally limited in their ability to make that diagnosis.  For instance, in Oklahoma, if a school does make a mental health diagnosis, they become liable for the treatment.

Instead of going through the school district, many parents choose to seek out private educational, emotional health, and/or behavioral assessments.  At Christian Family Institute, we offer these assessments and evaluations in an individualized manner.  We take the time to get to know your family, and your child’s needs.  Our process includes taking a detailed history of the concern, customizing an evaluation process that includes psychological tests and data, gathering behavioral observations from multiple sources, and sitting down with the family to provide feedback—including developing a treatment plan that can include helping your family advocate for accommodation needs within the educational system.

Dr. Tim Doty | Twitter

Back-to-School for Single Dads

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011


I see many newly divorced or separated fathers in my office who are good dads.  They have been involved in their child’s life attending parent-teacher conferences and all of the holiday parties at the grade school.  They went because their wife had informed them of the school schedule and they made it a priority to show up.

And then they stop.  Not because they are suddenly bad fathers or they stopped caring about their children but because they lost their in-home secretary.

Newly divorce dads need to remember:

  1. Your ex-wife is no longer responsible for keeping you apprised of your child’s schedule.  Neither are young children.  That’s why teachers send notes to parents.
  2. Give the school office and your child’s teacher your email address and phone numbers.  Many teachers communicate by email and it is easy to add your address to their email list.
  3. Many schools have implemented websites where a parent can check grades and homework assignments for each child.  Make a practice of checking in regularly.
  4. Look in your student’s backpack for notes sent home by the teacher.  Don’t assume that this is your ex-wife’s job.  If your ex-wife has had the kids for a few days make a point of asking specifically about notes and communication from the school.
  5. Show up at every event you can: your children need re-assurance that you and their mother divorced each other…  not that you divorced them!

Bowden McElroy



How To Prevent Conflict With Your Child Over Homework

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

An all too common problem that we address in family therapy is when children are less than completely honest about whether they have homework.  The problem typically begins with the parent simply asking “Do you have any homework tonight?” or the even more presumptive question “How much homework do you have tonight?”   Such questions create countless opportunities for children to offer partially truthful answers, sometimes intended to be deceptive to their parent or just being unrealistic with themselves.

The child who incorrectly believes they will have plenty of time tomorrow before 5th hour to review their spelling words or the child who reasons that a project due on Friday doesn’t count when answering the homework question on Tuesday night doesn’t see themselves as blatantly lying to their parent.  Still others will outright lie to their parent to avoid doing homework no matter what the consequence may be.

One of the most effective strategies in preventing this form of parent-child conflict is to never ask the question!  Instead, let’s consider “homework” as really being a combination of assignments given by a teacher plus assignments given by a parent.  Your child may or may not have assignments from their teachers but should always have assignments given by their parent.  So, they always have homework.

Parent assignments may include review of previous teacher assignments, copying over notes, answering study questions or working math problems at the end of a chapter, reading a chapter of a book for a book report due next week, playing an educational game, etc.  Once the parent has determined an appropriate amount of homework, given the child’s age and ability, then the parent simply adds to the amount of teacher assignments until the total amount is reached.  Most children and teens catch on quickly that they might as well complete the teacher assignments because they will be doing homework one way or the other.

 If you are anticipating that problems are likely to emerge as the fall semester begins, we can help.  Our licensed professional staff are skilled in working with children and their families when ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, oppositional and defiant attitudes, depression, anxiety, or other issues that interfere with academic success and joyful family life.

Dr. William Berman

ADHD help for the Holidays, or anytime!

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

We all know parenting kids during school breaks can be challenging.  It can be even more difficult if you have a child who deals with distractibility and hyperactivity.  Here are a few ideas to help keep you sane over the holiday season.

Continue to set appropriate limits with the kids.  Sometimes it is easy to let things slide during holidays and breaks, but kids must have consistency to feel safe in their environment.  Inconsistency often breeds chaos.  Kids will behave much better when they understand the expectations and the rules.  Our expectations for our kids should not change.  We can’t have one set of expectations that we enforce through the school routine months and then throw them out the window when holidays arrive.  Expectations like obedience (doing what you are asked to do, when you are asked to do it, without complaining), respect for self and others (don’t hurt yourself, others or property), and responsibility (take care of your things and always tell me where you are going) must continue.  We can change the bedtime rule to an hour later or give extra treats, but let the kids know these rule changes, additions and rewards are privileges earned for following the basic expectations.  When your kids misbehave or push the limits, be kind, but do enforce the limit.  You are the boss.  Set kind, firm limits with your kids and you will be surprised at their compliance.  Above all, they want to know you love them.  Setting limits is one way you show your child you care about them too much to let them misbehave.

If you have a distractible child, give short commands and reminders.  Example, “Go upstairs, get dressed, put on your shoes, and come downstairs.”  Then repeat, “Up, dressed, shoes, down,” or, “teeth, hair, shoes, down”.  If you repeat the basics of the command, and they repeat it back to you, they are much more likely to remember.  Give three to four commands at most.  You will also get a better response if they maintain eye contact with you when they repeat the command.

Post reminders around the house.  Type daily reminders and post them around the house.  For example, on the bathroom mirror, “STOP:  Things to do before you leave the bathroom”.  List brush teeth (with toothpaste and water), brush hair (with hairbrush), put your stuff away.  Mount a small wipe off board next to the door you use to leave the house, write reminders on the board.  Example, “STOP:  Backpack, homework, lunch”.  In the winter that list might be, “STOP:  Jacket, gloves, shoes, hat.”  Kids need reminders and sometimes so do we.

Have fun with your kids this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  Spend time with them.  Build forts in the living room.  Read to them.  Listen to books on tape together. Play games inside or out.  Take lots and lots of pictures.  Show them they are a priority to you and you love them.  Have a great holiday season!

Jamie Brandon, M.S.