Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Hero: Children and Words of Affirmation

By Phoebe Farag Mikhail

I’ve written about how important it is to discover our children’s primary love languages in a previous post about The Five Love Languages of Children. According to the book, primary love languages don’t emerge until children are a little older, past the preschool years. Until then, parents should share love with their children in all five languages. So this is my first post in a five part series with practical examples of using the five love languages with my own children. 

Love language: Words of Affirmation
My toddler has always been into trains, and particularly Thomas and Friends, both the books and the movies. Lately, he’s also become interested in Fireman Sam, the “hero next door.” When Thomas and his train friends do a good job, they’re told that they are “really useful engines,” and when Fireman Sam puts out a fire, he’s “a real hero.”
Not surprisingly, my son loves it when I tell him he’s a “really useful engine,” or better yet, he’s “my hero,” especially after he’s done something like clean up his toys, or occupies his baby sister with games and songs while I cook dinner. I’ve seen many lists with hundreds of ideas for words of affirmation we can use with our children, but I’ve found that affirming my child using words from my child’s world of favorite stories brings out the happiest response.

Thomas the Tank Engine
When it seems like his younger sister is getting a lot of attention, my husband uses words of affirmation to remind my son we haven’t forgotten about him. So, when little sister pulls herself up to stand, my husband will tell our son, “Look! Your little sister is trying to walk. Let’s help her,” and then they each take one of her hands to help her take some steps. That way, we acknowledge her milestone without forgetting her older brother still needs attention too. It’s very important to do this in a way that doesn’t sow jealousy between them, otherwise it will backfire.

A Teacher at Heart has a wonderful post about affirming children, and recommends that our words of affirmation are “exact, honest, and loving.” My favorite idea from that post: allow your children to hear you praying for them. What a wonderful way to show our children how much we love them – by letting them hear us pray to God for their health, their success, to help them get through their struggles … this I plan to do!

What are some ways you have affirmed your children?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Egypt On My Mind

This week I published an article on EgyptSource with my views on the relationship between Egypt and the United States. You can find it here:

I've also updated my list of favorite media outlets covering Egypt and the Middle East. You can find that post here:

Finally, a reminder - those who subscribe via email to my blog receive a free time management resource. If you are already a subscriber, thank you! If you are not, you can subscribe via email by entering your email address below and following the instructions for verifying your subscription:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Top Websites for (Reliable, Accurate, Thoughtful) Information and Analysis on Egypt and the Middle East

by Phoebe Farag Mikhail

Egypt's Tahrir Square on July 3, 2013, celebrating the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.

As the US and Western-based media (CNN, ABC, BBC, the Guardian, etc.) finally got around to covering Egypt’s historic 2013 revolution that culminated in the impeachment of its president, many of us who follow the events in the region closely knew for weeks that a major political confrontation was brewing. The unfortunate reality is that even when the major western media outlets did start to cover the events in Egypt more extensively (after June 30th marked what may be the largest single political demonstration in recorded history), the analysis is still skewed as they view the events in Egypt through the lens of people living in an established democracy and erroneously frame the events as a military coup. Few want to acknowledge the collective action of millions of Egyptians, and very few are grasping the complexities of the Egyptian situation. There are, however, several resources available, in English, for those who are interested in astute and culturally-versed analysis of the ongoing events. These are the ones I usually check:

Mada Masr (
Before its parent company shut it down, citing economic reasons, Egypt Independent was the best independent English language news and opinion outlet coming out of Egypt. Thankfully, its editorial team regrouped and created Mada Masr. Most of its writers live in Egypt.

Jadaliyya (
This portal provides news and views for all of the Middle East, and provides content in English and Arabic. Some articles are long, but worth it – these issues cannot be covered in sound bytes, and they are rarely black and white. Most of the writers live, or have lived extensively, where they write, and it covers culture and politics. The Egypt portal is

EgyptSource (
The Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East runs a blog on Egypt with many contributors, as well as a news feed with live updates on the current events. Its editors and contributors all have extensive experience in and on Egypt.

The Arabist (
This blog, mainly run by a journalist with a heavy focus on Egypt, is particularly useful in its gathering of relevant articles in English and translating portions of Arabic news as well for those of us with limited Arabic reading proficiency. 

Muftah (
I've only recently been introduced to Muftah and find its articles very thought provoking. It's a resource for analysis moreso than news, and covers the region "from Morocco to Pakistan." The Egypt page is:

Al-Monitor (
This site covers the region and does not have a specific Egypt portal, but does often share thoughtful analysis of major events in Egypt.

Al-Jazeera was initially hailed for its coverage of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions in 2011, but remained just as silent as Western media on the June 30th 2013 events, betraying a clear bias due to its funding from Qatar. There are some good articles written by its analysts on the English language website, however.

I am also particularly appreciative of The Daily Beast (, home of Newsweek) coverage and analysis, which has also refused to use the common clich├ęs plaguing most other Western news media, focusing not on rising gas prices but on the true concerns of the people of Egypt.

What are you favorite outlets? Please share them in the comments below.