Kristen Hatton – How Parenting Out of Weakness Strengthened My Relationship With My Teen

“Can I talk to Dad now?”

Right in mid-sentence, my college daughter interrupted me and asked for the phone to be handed over to my husband. She had called me – upset and stressed out – needing someone to talk to, but then abruptly decided my husband was actually the one she preferred. While not easily offended, I would be lying if I said this didn’t bother me at all. I’m thankful she likes to talk to her dad, but what about me? Couldn’t we just all be on speaker?

I desperately wanted to know what she was thinking, experiencing, and doing, but every time we talked it felt like I was walking a fine line, not knowing what question or comment would push her too far and cause her to retreat. Even before that night I had sensed her shutting me out, and I couldn’t figure out why.

So as you can imagine after my husband hung up with her from my phone, I was anxious to hear her side of the conversation. But before he told me anything about her, he told me something about myself.

To continue reading Kristen Hatton’s article, click here.

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John Angell James – Youth Warned Against Sin

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” Ecclesiastes 11:9

Without pretending to say that the youth of this generation are more corrupt than those of former times were, I will assert that their moral interests are now exposed from various causes to imminent peril. The improvement and diffusion of modern education have produced a bold and independent mode of thinking, which, though it be in itself a benefit, requires a proportionate degree of Christian restraint to prevent it from degenerating into lawless licentiousness. It is also probable that of late years, parents have relaxed the salutary rigor of domestic discipline in compliment to the improved understanding of their children. Trade and commerce are now so widely extended that our youth are more from beneath their parents’ inspection than formerly and consequently more exposed to the contaminating influence of evil company. The habits of society in general are becoming more expensive and luxurious. In addition to all this, the secret but zealous efforts of infidelity to circulate works, which by attempting to undermine revealed religion aim to subvert the whole fabric of morals, have most alarmingly increased irreligion and immorality. But whatever be the causes, the fact to me is indubitable that multitudes of the young people of the present day are exceedingly corrupt and profane. Such a state of things rouses and interests all my feelings as a father, a minister, and a patriot. I am anxious for my own children, as well as for the youth of my flock, my town, and my country.

To continue reading John Angell James’ article, click here.

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Carolyn Lankford – Disciplining Teenagers

My earliest discipline attempt as a parent came when my son was about two years old. He was in my lap and we were playing peekaboo. It was a blissful moment until he slapped me extremely hard across my face. I remember the sting brought tears to my eyes and I was stunned. In an instant I had my “serious mommy” face on and I took his offending little hand into my own. I had learned a trick that you can “spank” without hurting, but still make a loud pop noise. So I did just that, while these very words came out of my mouth: “Don’t hit!!”

Congratulations to me. I had just spanked my two year old’s hand while telling him not to hit.

Thus is my capability as the human disciplinarian to three children. I think this parental responsibility is one of the most challenging for a Christian parent. How do we model and execute forgiveness while correcting and punishing our children’s behavior? I listened to a speaker at our church one time tell the story of his inebriated teenaged son who got behind the wheel of his car and totaled it. The speaker immediately bought his son a new car. He believed that this response would imitate the radical grace of our Heavenly Father, not unlike the response of the Prodigal Son’s father. I left that class even more confused about my role as a parent who is also a believer.

To continue reading Carolyn Lankford’s article, click here.

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Tony Reinke – Should Teens Own Smartphones?

When Silicon Valley’s 20-something techno-prodigies were awing the world with new, shiny, unveilings of iPods and then iPhones and then iPads, many of the inventors didn’t have kids. Few had teens. Now, most of them have kids, and many have teens — teenagers addicted to gadgets their parents birthed into the world years ago.

This is the story of Tony Fadell, a former Senior VP at Apple, known as the grandfather of the iPod, and a key player on the early design team for the iPhone. On the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone in an interview, he made this admission: “I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, what did we bring to the world?”

Fadell, a father of three, has come to see the addictive power of the iPhone, an addiction that cannot be removed. “I know what happens when I take technology away from my kids. They literally feel like you’re tearing a piece of their person away from them — they get emotional about it, very emotional. They go through withdrawal for two to three days.”

“This self-absorbing culture is starting to [really stink],” Fadell said. “Parents didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know this was a thing they needed to teach because we didn’t know for ourselves. We all kind of got absorbed in it.”

Yes — we all got absorbed — techies and teens and parents. All of us. And now we’re trying to figure out how to wisely manage our devices.

To continue reading Tony Reinke’s article, click here.

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Chap Bettis – Three Powerful Questions to Unlock the Heart of Your Teen

I have a hobby you might find unusual. I collect questions.

While some people collect dolls, baseball cards, or antiques, I collect questions. You might wonder why I ever started this; and I’ll tell you: I came to recognize what a powerful teaching tool questions were and how they can really serve as a heart connector.

A quick survey of the gospels reveals that Jesus, our Savior and Teacher, asked 307 questions. He used questions to gather information (“How many loaves do you have?”), to teach (“Whose likeness and image is on this coin?”), and to gain commitment (“Who do you say that I am?”).

Too many times as a parent, I want to lecture my child when in fact a question is a much better tool to teach and to strengthen the relationship.

Realizing the power of questions changed how I communicated with my children. As I interacted with my four teens, I found three questions that powerfully unlocked many fruitful conversations.

To continue reading Chap Bettis’ article, click here.

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Seth Stewart – 5 Reasons to Preach the Book of Micah to Teenagers

For a long time, I have been both intimidated by and nervous to preach any Old Testament Prophet. In my mind, these are the hardest books of the Bible. Not only do I need to be competent in a literary genre foreign to most of my sermon prep and personal experience, but I also needed to be aware of the complicated nuances of Old Testament history and geography. To my shame, I even wondered if the harsh tone and brutal imagery that’s characteristic of the Prophets would be useful to my students. Would they be able to get past the perceived offensiveness of the text?

I say “to my shame,” because all of Scripture is breathed out by God and useful for teaching and discipling teens. But also because I had forgotten, however briefly, that it’s often in brutality and darkness that the grace and brightness of Jesus shines most brightly. So in spite of its difficulties, here are four reasons to preach the book of Micah.

(1) Micah is dark and brutal.

Few books go as deep and as dark as Micah does so quickly. In the first chapter, we are told that Israel’s gods are nothing more than a whore’s change, that the pride of each of her cities will become her downfall, and that God will melt mountains when he comes. As the book progresses, we learn of corrupt leaders, corrupt prophets, corrupt judges, and the oppressed women, children, and families who have been crushed by all of that corruption. Micah presents a dark and brutal description of a world that has forgotten to love God and neighbor.

To continue reading Seth Stewart’s article, click here.

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Chris Martin – Today’s Teens Are Always in the Hallway

In early 20th century America, a revolution in formal public education swept the country. It wasn’t the introduction of the blackboard or the creation of standardized tests.

It was the invention of “secondary education,” known today as “high school.”

Since its introduction into the American educational system about a hundred years ago, the American high school experience has been as defined by its social phenomena as its educational effectiveness.

The high school experience is as defined by what happens in the hallways that connect classrooms as it is by what happens inside the classrooms themselves.

To the average high school student, the high school hallway is as high pressure a performance environment as the catwalk is to a fashion model or the weight room is to the football player.

We live in an age in which the high school hallway is no longer limited to the corridors between classrooms on campus.

Today’s high school hallways are the always-on social media platforms that occupy the pocketed phones of America’s teenagers.

To continue reading Chris Martin’s article, click here.

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Jaquelle Crowe – Seven Habits to Help You Fight Comparison

“If only” are two of the deadliest words in a Christian’s vocabulary. If only I looked like her. If only I had as much money as him. If only my kids were as well-behaved as theirs. If only I could speak, work, cook, travel, think, do, be like someone else.

We are plagued by comparison.

We compare our bodies, our jobs, our families, our skills, our stuff, our intellects, in an ever-increasing desire for complete satisfaction. We want to be attractive, successful, and happy. So we measure ourselves against the people around us. But instead of resulting in contentment, our comparison delivers compulsive jealousy, pride, and shame.

We envy those who are “better” than us, and we look down on those who are “worse” than us. And once we’ve started comparing ourselves, we slide into a bitterly insatiable cycle. The more we compare ourselves, the more we need to compare ourselves. It’s an addiction. We’re on a quest for acceptance and joy, but are paralyzed by the pressure to look, do, and be better than the people around us.

Because of this, we are distracted from our purpose, mission, and need to pursue holiness. This is why comparison is so deadly.

To continue reading Jaquelle Crowe’s article, click here.

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Denny Burk – Standing Against a Destructive Misogyny Threatening our Children

Sexual perversion is firmly entrenched in our cultural mainstream, so it takes a lot these days to astonish me. But I am astonished today. In the span of twenty-four hours, I have come across not one but two separate unrelated articles about teenage girls who agree to be brutalized during sexual encounters with teenage boys. Both articles indicate that this is a growing trend among adolescent children who becoming sexualized at younger and younger ages.

Last week, Teen Vogue published an article instructing teenage girls how to enjoy being sodomized by their boyfriends. The article is so vile that I am not even going to link to it. But among other things, it tells these minor children that such activity is normal. It gives detailed instructions on how they can learn to enjoy it.

To continue reading Denny Burk’s article, click here.

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Kristen Hatton – Social Media Isn’t Your Teens’ Biggest Problem

The fear in the room was palpable. I’d just spoken to a packed room of mothers and daughters on the topic of social media. Many of the girls present were on the cusp of their teen years, and the majority of mothers were just beginning their foray into parenting teens.

After the girls went to a separate room for a follow-up discussion with youth leaders, moms’ hands darted up in the air. The urgency in each mother’s question expressed her anxiety over social media and other teen challenges. It was encouraging to see so many moms who wanted to be better equipped to navigate the teen years. Too often I see the opposite—parents resigned to the false “teens will be teens” notion that they give up trying.

But I’m not sure these moms were anxious for the right reasons.

Trusting in Rules

The moms who were so desperate to control and protect their children wanted me to give them a script to follow, a list of social media and phone do’s and don’ts with a guarantee that all would go well if they just follow the rules. I understand the desire for a script with a guarantee; every parent wants her teen to be safe, happy, and far from the path of destruction. But if we focus primarily on external solutions for raising our teens, we set our hope on something that can’t deliver.

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