Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

ID-100237853My father has type 2 diabetes. His mother had it as well. Does this mean I will get it too?

Most of us look at our family history of disease and wonder if we inherited our parents’ illnesses. We worry that because our parents had cancer, diabetes or some other type of illness, that we will get it too. Well, the good news is that you may or may not!

And there may be something you can do to lower the risk of that problematic genetic information.

For some diseases, inherited genes up your risk of getting the disease, e.g., Huntington’s, ALS, etc. But for others, like type 2 diabetes, lifestyle can activate or inactivate those genes. In other words, our behavioral choices matter.

What are those lifestyle behaviors? The usual suspects:

1) Healthy diet

2) Exercise

3) No smoking

4) Weight control

5) Stress reduction

So while we can’t control our inherited genes (you get what you get), we can control our behavior, which can reduce our risk of getting certain diseases. The genes do not change, but our behavior changes the way the genetic information is used.

So stop worrying! That creates# 5 on the list! Instead, take action and do what you can to lower your risk!

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie finally tied the knot. After nine years and six children, something prompted them to become a legitimately married couple. Only they know the real reason they waited so long. Perezhilton.com reported the marriage was to honor a promise Angelina made to her mom. Or was it the kids, the surgeries, the failed prior marriages, etc.?

Like I said, we don’t really know the reason for this nine-year delay, but this couple does represent the new normal for raising children in America.

More Americans feel like marriage isn’t a necessity to raise kids. Cohabiting with children is more popular than ever. Interestingly, though, we still frown on single parenting.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of cohabiting couples raising children has risen significantly. From 2006 – to 2010, 58% of births were to unmarried couples living together.

Child Trend senior research scientist, Elizabeth Wildsmith, thinks the reason is that couples may delay marriage in order to be more economically secure. That one certainly doesn’t apply to Brangelina.

Part of this change is related to new cultural ideas about what constitutes a family. Pew Research surveys confirm that marriage is no longer seen as the only way to create a family. When they asked adults about marriage becoming obsolete, 4 in 10 said, YES, marriage isn’t necessary to raise a family.

Data confirm that marriage has declined and new forms of making a family have emerged. However, those with a college education and a good income still prefer marriage over living together. And we certainly know that married couples are healthier, have better sex, and are better off economically than those who cohabitate (National Marriage Project).

Married adults say lifelong commitment, love and and companionship are reasons to marry. Unmarried couples agree, but don’t feel there is only one true love for every person.

And couples who “slide” vs. “decide” to marry after co-habiting don’t do as well in the long run (National Marriage Project). So perhaps, the fact that Brad and Angelina DECIDED to get married after all these years will increase their chances of success. We can only hope that this is so! For the rest of us, the culture may continue to define the new normal, but marriage is still God’s way to benefit both adults and children.

 

discouragedOne good thing that came out of Robin William’s death is that we are once again talking about depression. Depression can be a silent killer and still has a stigma despite the numbers of people who struggle with it in any give year. We don’t like to talk about it, mostly because we don’t know what to say or worry we might say the wrong thing.

So we avoid or stay silent. Worse, we offer platitudes that make the depressed person feel even worse.

No one likes to hear, “Snap out of it,” Think of all the good things in your life,” or the classic, “Time heals all wounds.” Those phrases accentuate powerlessness, guilt and hopelessness because at the moment, none of it feels true.

So how do you respond when someone tells you he/she isn’t having a good day or is depressed?

Don’t:

1. Try to talk the person out of being depressed. This is like trying to talk someone out of having high blood pressure.

2. Minimize their pain.

3. Tell them you know just how they feel. You really don’t.

Do:

1. Comfort with a statement of empathy, “It must be difficult,” or “I see you are really struggling.”

2. Encourage the person to get through the moment, not the entire day.

3. Listen a lot. Be in the moment with the person.

4. Stay connected with the person via text or short messages. A brief, “Praying for you” is good.

5. Offer help if the person seems receptive–depression is treatable.

6. Be available when the person is ready to talk. Isolation plays on the mind in negative ways.

7. If someone confides in you that he/she is suicidal, stay with the person and tell someone. Immediate assessment is needed.

8. Phrases like, “I don’t really know what to say, but I am here” are helpful.

9. Pray with the person and assure him or her of God’s presence. He doesn’t avoid us when we are depressed. He does know our sorrow and pain.

10. Read Scripture that assures of God’s presence, comfort and hope in Him. The Word is powerful!

ID-10091446It’s late afternoon. You are sitting in a meeting. Three people at the table yawn and you do the same.

Are you bored? Tired? Or what?

Need more coffee? Need more sleep? Or maybe you need a nice cool air-conditioned room!

Even though we do yawn more when we are tired, tired may not be the reason.

You may be yawning so your brain can keep you alert during stress. And that contagious effect seen at the table may be because the entire group needs to stay alert! Here is why.

Yawning is triggered by changes in the brain chemistry. The brain may be trying to keep itself cool.  Apparently our brains can overheat. When they do, reaction times slow as does memory. One theory is that when we yawn, the brain cools down.

Stressed? Anxious? Your brain heats up and yawning cools it down so it can function properly. So if Dr. Gallup at the State University of New York at Oneonta is correct, we need to keep it cool in our meetings and the yawning might just diminish.