// T E E N A N X I E T Y
// A P P L E G O E S M I N I
// 1 5 A B O U T â€˜ 1 5 march 2013
know. grow. become.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Championships, scholarships, and a high-dollar salary. How realistic are teen expectations for life after high school?
march 2013 // USA $3.95
volum e 35, NUMBER 6
18 Off the Wire: Parents
32 Until the Father Calls
Off the Wire: Teens Is your teen getting scammed online? by Jennifer McCaman
Teen Issues: Anxiety Our “Teen Issues” series continues with a look at teen stress. by Gretchen Williams
Where Do We Go From Here? Teens have big dreams for their lives. We crunched the numbers to see just how realistic they are.
12 Media 411 Is the iPad Mini worth it? Definitely. by Randy Williams
14 Anxious About Everything This month’s “Life Stages” article breaks down what has your teen worked up. by Catherine Hickem
16 Teen Voice: Personality Shopping One high schooler explains why teens try on other personalities. by Hannah Smith
The issue of teens and birth control amps up again. by Carol Sallee
20 Unrivaled Sibling rivalries go deeper than what’s on the surface. By Amy Hammond Hagberg
24 The Climb Adolescence is a long climb. Dad, you play a key role in helping your teen get there. by Jason Ellerbrook
26 Single Parenting Are you writing your own expectations, or trusting them to God? by Gayla Grace
27 Blended Families Blending a family means blending expectations. by Dedra Herod
28 Whose Life is it Anyway? You cheer them on the field and press them in the classroom. But are you cheering for your teen, or your own past? by Adam York
God will call your teen into the world. Until then, you’re the one who prepares their Kingdom future. by Mike Glenn
36 On Your Knees Your teen’s expectations should come from Scripture. Here’s how to pray through them. by Kevin Garrett
37 Conversations The Christian life centers on three precepts. Your conversations can, too. by Kevin Garrett
38 Amazing Grace Forget the world. God’s grace has better things in mind. By Julie Fidler
41 Book Reviews More Than A Bucket List can set your life free. by Cheryl Wray
42 In It Together Five Bible studies that look at God’s expectations for families. by David Crim
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Volume 35, Number 6 | March 2013 Vice President, Lifeway Church Resources | Eric Geiger Production & Ministry Team Editor | Scott Latta Graphic Designer | Kaitlin McIntosh Editorial Team Leader | Mike Wakefield Send questions/comments to: Scott Latta, Parenting Teens One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0144; Or make comments on the Web at www.lifeway.com Management Personnel Director, Student Ministry | Ben Trueblood Director, Student Ministry Publishing | Jeff Pratt Advertising One LifeWay Plaza, MSN 136, Nashville, TN 37234 Phone: (615) 251-2289 Fax (615) 251-2039 E-mail: email@example.com Media kits: www.lifeway.com/magazines/media Director, Magazine Advertising & Circulation | Rhonda Edge Buescher Advertising Production | Scott Hancock
encouraging and Equipping Parents with Biblical Solutions to Transform Families
Last summer, one of the greatest joys in my life came to a close: coaching my son, Joshua, in baseball. Counting both spring and fall, he played 24 seasons during his baseball career—and except for two of them, I was in the dugout with him. In the last couple of seasons, I noticed a remarkable difference in the parents of the players who were 16-18 years old versus the parents of 10-12 year old players. The parents of the older players were remarkably calm. They cheered enthusiastically when our guys did well, and encouraged a lot when our guys struggled. In the last couple of years, no parents complained to me about how little playing time their son was getting or constantly nagged me about how their son should be playing a certain position over another player. Instead, I got a lot more “Thanks for what you’re doing. We appreciate you giving your time.” It was different when the guys were younger. During those years, the parents seemed more intense. They took winning the game, playing time, and who played where a lot more seriously. The difference? Expectations.
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Parenting Teens (ISSN 2167-8936; Item 005075228) is published monthly by LifeWay Press®, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234, Thom S. Rainer, President. © 2012, LifeWay Press®. For inquiries visit www.lifeway.com, or write LifeWay Church Resources Customer Service, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0113. For subscriptions or subscription address changes, visit www.lifeway.com/magazines, fax (615) 251-5818, or write to the above address. For bulk orders shipped to one address, visit www.lifeway.com/magazines, fax (615) 251-5933 or write to the above address. Annual individual or gift subscription, $22.50. Bulk orders shipped to one address when ordered with other literature, $1.55 each per month, plus shipping. Please allow six to eight weeks for arrival of first issue. Advertisement Disclaimer: This magazine includes paid advertisements for some products and services not affiliated with LifeWay. The inclusion of the paid advertisements does not constitute an endorsement by LifeWay Christian Resources of the products or services. All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.
You see, when their sons are younger, many parents believe their son is going to be the next Albert Pujols. They can see it: high school baseball records, college scholarships, the major leagues. So, they push their kids hard—perhaps too hard—to meet those expectations . . . and I should know, because I was one of them. It took a wake-up call from my wife to get me to see that I was pushing too hard and expecting too much of my son. My expectations had to change. I lowered the athletic expectations and raised more important ones. My expectations for Joshua became deeper. I wanted him to be a godly young man, to live with integrity, and to be responsible. They also became more meaningful. I wanted him to follow God’s will and make a difference in His kingdom. Maybe this issue of Parenting Teens will be a wake-up call for you. Maybe you need to lower some expectations and raise others. This month, we’ll challenge you to change your expectations for your teen from temporal to eternal. Because, really, which would you rather have: a teen with lots of trophies or one who changes the world?
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Check out our blog at www.parentingteensmag.com
2 Parenting Teens
Mike Wakefield Team Leader, Parenting Teens firstname.lastname@example.org
your teen’s world
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Off the Wire:
Sleazy Club at California High School A “fantasy league” created by male students at a California high school modeled after online fantasy sports leagues has created an uproar. The league “drafts” the students’ female classmates (usually without their knowledge) and awards points for sexual encounters. This kind of club has no place in a school environment, and parents are fed up. The principal admitted the game had been going on for years, usually involving male athletes. Female students participated either unknowingly or because of peer pressure. Just because a “game” or club isn’t endorsed by the school doesn’t mean it’s not a dangerous part of school culture, and you don’t have to tolerate it. Talk to your kids. Talk to school officials and other parents. Insist on serious consequences for bullying and harassing behavior. Source: http://wjla.com
Boys Enter Puberty Earlier Boys are growing up sooner. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, boys are entering puberty an average of six months to two years faster than previous generations. Parents, this is not cause for alarm, just a heads-up that you may need to start those “growing up” conversations sooner than you’d like. This doesn’t mean your 8-year-old will start shaving, but it does mean that pre-teens need to hear God’s design for marriage, dating, and physical changes in an age-appropriate way. Source: http://nytimes.com
Is Your Teen Getting Scammed?
Scam artists know teenagers spend hours online, so that’s where they set their traps, luring them in through several schemes. One is cheap luxury items: An ad pops up for a cheap iPod or designer outfit and teens think they’re getting a deal. Usually the item is never shipped. Creative competitions like art or writing contests can often be scams. Teens give out personal information to enter and are usually asked to pay a lot for the final published book. Additionally, scholarship applications and grants are scams when the applicant is asked to pay a fee to submit the information. Sadly, scammed teens are usually too embarrassed to tell their parents. Teach your teen to spot a scam and remind them that it’s OK to come to you if they feel cheated. Source: http://sfgate.com/business
4 Parenting Teens
Go to Church, Stay in School In a 2012 study, sociologists from Brigham Young University and Rice University found that students who regularly attend church are 70 percent more likely to go to college and 40 percent more likely to graduate high school. One study also cited the power of peer mentors—older students who set a positive example. Encouraging adults, outside of teachers and parents, also play a huge role in helping a student stay in school. Clearly the most important benefit of student ministry is your teen’s growing spiritual life, but that in turn impacts every other area of their lives: social, emotional, educational, and relational. Source: http://phys.org/
15 about ‘15 Below are 15 facts about the Class of 2015 (18-20 year olds):
Why People are so Stinkin’ Rude Online
Hiding behind a screen makes us say things we’d never say in person. One study shows that “likes” on Facebook give us a since of entitlement and the tendency to throw common courtesy out the window. If someone doesn’t share our opinion, we think it’s fine to be rude or post scathing comments. We don’t see the other person’s reaction, so we’re more inclined to bicker—even about our faith in Christ. Parents, it’s important that you model kind behavior online. Be considerate, don’t engage in petty arguing, and for goodness sakes, never complain about your teens online. Teach your kids that they model Christ to a lost world, especially in the social media world. Being rude is never OK.
• They don’t listen to radio. • They stream their TV online. • They never use email except to communicate with professors. • Almost 50 percent find texting as meaningful as an actual phone conversation. • They’re called “digital natives” because technology has always been Source: http://finance.yahoo.com their world. • They love YouTube. • They’ve witnessed national financial meltdown, and almost all of them were impacted directly. • They’ve grown up with Facebook, 76 percent spend an hour on it daily, 59 percent use it during class. • They see their parents as their most important role models. • The most successful ways marketers reach them is online. • They have no problem sharing personal stuff online (except their address). • 50 percent have more than 300 friends on Facebook, but don’t consider them all real friends. • They have no idea how to install a landline or why you would need one. • They strongly believe in giving back to their communities. • They are environmentally conscious. • They aren’t cynical like the previous generation. They think family and values are a good thing.
Jennifer McCaman is a mom and a pastor’s wife who lives in Bangkok, Thailand. She loves to write, teach English, share the gospel with Thai college students, and drink Starbucks—conveniently located only one train stop away from home!
march 2013 5
* T een|| Issues Weight of the World: Teens and Anxiety by Gretchen Williams
6 Parenting Teens
Is your teen anxious? There is a difference between normal, short-lived stress and debilitating anxiety. For example, the stress your daughter feels before a deadline or championship soccer game could actually motivate her toward positive performance. But if anxiety gets in the way of her ability to function, she may need more intervention. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that approximately 8 percent of teens age 13–17 suffer an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can reveal itself through increased heart rate, sleeplessness, sweating, stomach problems, shortness of breath, frequent urination, loss of appetite, and an inability to relax. In order for anxiety to be considered a clinical problem, the person must be experiencing uncontrollable worry and three of the following symptoms for a period of at least six months: ©©Thinkstock
Being a teenager is stressful. “Really?” You might be thinking. “Teenagers don’t have to worry about keeping a job, paying a mortgage, fixing a leaky roof, cooking all the meals…” and so on. That’s true. But teens’ lives can actually be extraordinarily stressful. They navigate long days loaded from beginning to end with demands from parents, requirements from teachers, and social pressure from peers. They are expected to produce the A, make the shot, and win the competition, all while dealing with the blows of rejection and betrayal that are woven into the fabric of adolescent life. Hormonal imbalances make emotions unpredictable, and every day they face a host of decisions on which their identity, popularity, or status hinges. Unique to this generation of teens are also the ever-convenient but endlessly distracting forms of technology at their fingertips, which create opportunities for bullying behavior and relational stress. Many teens then come home to family issues such as divorce, financial struggle, and substance abuse. Adolescents face the same stressors many adults do, yet lack the brain development, life experience, and maturity that adults have to face them. No wonder they feel they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.
• restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge • being easily fatigued • difficulty concentrating or mind going blank • irritability • muscle tension • sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep) Anxious teens may also exhibit self-consciousness, excessive concern about competence, difficulty making decisions, or problems with anger. How to respond If you’re concerned that your teen might have anxiety, talk to her about it. She might not be able to tell you why she feels worried, but she will feel your support. Here are some other ways you can respond: • Help your teen evaluate his stressors. Ask him to list all of his responsibilities—at school, home, work, and with peers. See if he can reduce any part of the load. • Encourage your teen toward healthy eating and exercise. Drinks high in caffeine and sugar can spike anxiety, and highcarb diets lacking fruits and vegetables do a number on brain chemistry. • Teach your teen the value of positive-self talk. Our thoughts impact the way we feel. Help your teen identify the negative “tapes” she plays in her head, and help her come up with positive ones instead. For example, change “I’ll never be good at math” to “With help, I can do better in math.” • Encourage a predictable evening routine. Too much stimulation from electronics or TV can rev up the brain before bed. Encourage your teen to have a set bedtime and start winding down tech-free with a book or a cup of herbal tea at least half an hour before he goes to sleep. • Practice healthy responses to stress as a family. Activities such as gardening, running, cooking, playing games or watching funny movies are great ways to reduce stress together. Keeping a family gratitude journal could help you focus on God’s goodness throughout the week. • Teach them to practice deep breathing. It’s really simple, but taking a few deep abdominal breaths can lower the heart rate and increase oxygen to the brain. The “Breathe2Relax” app for iPhone and Android is a fun tool your teen can use to practice. • Adjust your expectations. Consider the pressure you
Too much stimulation from electronics or TV can rev up the brain before bed. Encourage your teen to have a set bedtime and start winding down tech-free with a book or a cup of herbal tea at least half an hour before he goes to sleep. are putting on your kids. Do they feel that you are expecting them to be perfect? It’s OK to push—not shove—your teens a little in the right direction, but always let them know that your love and acceptance is not contingent on their performance. • Don’t minimize the anxiety. Avoid using phrases such as “Just pray about it.” Dismissing their distress can push teens into isolation and increased emotional pain. • Consider an evaluation by a physician, psychiatrist, or counselor. Some cases of prolonged anxiety may warrant the help of a professional. While some anxiety is normal for teens, they shouldn’t be overwhelmed by it. Take the time to listen to their worries and fears, and then lead them to the cross. As the old hymn says, “Beneath the cross of Jesus/I fain would take my stand/The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land/A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way/From the burning of the noontide heat and the burden of the day.” Teens don’t have to carry the weight of their worries. Thankfully, Jesus can. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful” —John 14:27
Gretchen Williams is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, currently working with middle and high school students as a guidance counselor in Orlando, Fla. She is a freelance musician and also enjoys traveling and photography in her spare time.
march 2013 7
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
8 Parenting Teens
There’s an athlete in your home just waiting to bust through. A singer waiting for her big break. Teenagers are the biggest dreamers on earth. But, statistically speaking, is there such a thing as dreaming too big? PT looked at the numbers, and one thing became clear: If the end of high school is in sight, it’s time to take an honest look at where your teen is heading next.
Tom Brady eats dinner in your kitchen. LeBron walks the dog. If you have a gifted athlete in your home, visions of trophies and scholarships can seem very real—even expected. But what do the numbers say? According to ncaa.org, roughly 843,756 high school seniors competed in men’s and women’s basketball, football, baseball, and men’s soccer last year. That’s a lot of players gunning for the attention of college coaches. The numbers get even tighter in the next level: Only 1,065 NCAA athletes get drafted in those
sports every year from a pool of 158,653 athletes. So the odds aren’t in your favor. To a teen putting in long hours on the court or the field, however, the numbers don’t really matter. What really matters is helping them keep it in perspective: What are they getting out of the activities they put so much in? How are sports making them better people? And what is their alternate plan should things not plan out like they hope?
1 in 30
.08% march 2013 9
Good grades equal big college bucks, right? It may not be that easy. If scholarships are a do-or-die proposition in your house, remember: nothing makes them automatic. Even in the most impressive academic brackets—students with high GPAs, students with high SAT scores, and top athletes—only a fraction of students receive scholarships. It’s dangerous for your teen to measure his or her worth by it.
The importance of staying in school has been long documented, and the numbers back it up. But your teen needs the perspective that a B or a C on a test isn’t going to kill them. They can have a 4.0 GPA and still not get big bucks to college. You can help provide that levity: Keep them motivated, but not obsessed. Are they getting their value from their grades? If so, it may be time to re-assess their priorities and find out what their expectations for college are going to be.
100 Sources: 1. ncaa.org 2. U.S. Department of Education 3. Michelle Singletary, “Get Real on Scholarships,” washingtonpost.com 4. College Board 5. blogs.ajc.com 6. statisticbrain.com
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Unemployment rate for graduates in 2009
2 0 .8
Even through the Great Recession and Recovery, the numbers have held up: More education means more money. On average, college graduates still earn nearly twice as much as high school graduates.
In every family there are teens with incredible artistic, athletic and academic talents. God can use these gifts to accomplish great things for his Kingdom. That might not mean doing them professionally. If your teen is an athlete, prom queen, valedictorian, first chair, or talent show champ, collegiate and professional opportunities may come... or they may not.
The numbers don’t lie: Your teen’s dreams may not work out the way they want. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t keep high expectations for themselves and for the life God wants them to live. God has incredible plans for your teen, even if they can’t see them. You can help lead them there—to a place of excitement and anticipation centered around the question that waits for all of us: Where do we go from here?
march 2013 11
Matt & Toby Matt & Toby tooth & nail
Matt & Toby is a side project from two members of the band Emery. When I heard rumors that a side project was in the works, I readied myself but expected little difference from what I had heard in the past. I was pleasantly surprised when the first tracks I heard were melodic, mellow and—dare I say?—mature. There are definite rock-ish moments, but none of the rawk that Emery fans might expect. Another big plus is the intentionally transparent and thoughtful lyrics. My personal faves are “What Plays in My Head,” a song about fatherhood, and “You Will Sing.” Hopefully this temporary side project will become permanent. Check them out at facebook.com/mattandtoby.
Reviews The odd life of timothy green Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Every now and again, a movie comes along that renews your faith in Hollywood’s ability to tell a story. The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a fable, so don’t wear your reality hat when watching it. Married couple Cindy and Jim have been trying unsuccessfully to have a child. They decide to let go of the idea by writing down on pieces of paper all the characteristics of their hoped-for little one and burying them in a box. The next day, Timothy Green appears with leaves growing from his ankles. The three become a family, each teaching the others life lessons. The movie is a beautiful reminder of the resilience of children and the need for parents to forgive themselves. It’s a rare, sweet movie that invites the entire family to watch it together. PT’s grade: A
The Upside of down Chris August
Lincoln Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field
Chris August was the big winner at the 2011 Dove Awards, where he won three trophies including Male Vocalist of the year. About 18 months later, August is back with The Upside of Down, a collection of perfectly crafted songwriting showcasing his ability to turn a phrase. The decidedly mellow and quiet album may catch some off guard, but shows that the writer of the smash “Starry Sky” is no one-hitwonder. “Amen,” and “This Side of Heaven” are standouts and are representative of the rest of the album—catchy music with weighty lyrics. Discover more at chrisaugustmusic.com.
When Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln was released, many people expected a sweeping bio-pic covering the president from birth to death. The movie, though, could have easily been called “The 13th Amendment.” The year is 1865, the American Civil War has been raging over three years, the Confederate States are worn out and struggling to continue. Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis), we learn, is a natural politician who can bring sides together but is also burdened by doing the right thing, a burden that is indicative of his Faith, which thankfully was not ignored in Spielberg’s treatment of one of our country’s greatest presidents. Lincoln is a masterful film, but the violence and language is too graphic for younger ones. PT’s grade: A-
Randy WilliamS is a GRAMMY-nominated musician and writer who lives in Franklin, Tenn.
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Tech: ipad mini
Tap Tap tap
When Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the newest member of the Apple family, the iPad Mini, last year, it was met with mixed reactions. However, since its release, the new, smaller iPad has proved to be another winner for the company. No, it doesn’t do anything different than a standard iPad or iPod Touch, but the size is about 40 percent smaller than an iPad, making a perfect travel companion though a tad smallish for an e-reader. Typing is faster and the Retina display is still the best among tablets. Like other iOS products, everything feels familiar, fast, and glitch-free, and with Apple’s vast selection of native and third-party apps, there’s not much this little guy can’t do.
Camera+ from Tap Tap Tap has been around for a few years, but with their recent introduction of version 3.6, this Top 10 app is even more a must-have for iOS users. Besides Camera+’s usual editing and quick-fix functions, the new version introduces a feature called Clarity which adjusts contrast and colors, much like the filters in Instagram. Also built in is deep social media integration that is quick and easy to use. The iPhone camera is one of the device’s best features, but the native camera app leaves much to be desired. Tap Tap Tap’s Camera+ takes advantage of iPhone’s processing power to create professional quality photos that compete with highend image editing software.
PT’s grade: A+
PT’s grade: A
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Anxious About Everything What’s stressing out your teen? It probably depends on their stage of adolescence. by Catherine Hickem
Young Teen (13-15) This stage of development surfaces a lot of attention around a child’s physical development. Boys are preoccupied with whether they can hold their own with other males in their circle. Some boys develop later than others, and for those who are late bloomers, this can be extremely difficult. Similarly, girls are incredibly self-conscious about their weight and size, not to mention their appearance. They compare themselves to those they think “have it together” and will
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experience deep feelings of inadequacy. Most adolescent girls in this age range feel invisible and simply want to be liked, noticed and needed. This stage is often when parents will face more struggles with clothing, make-up and boy-girl activities. The early teen years surface behaviors some parents have not previously experienced. Kids are scared of being rejected and misunderstood. They don’t want to disappoint their parents, but they also want to fit in. They don’t know who they are, where they’re going, or whether anyone notices they exist! They can seem grounded one minute and crazy the next. What to Do • Stay calm and consistent amidst their inconsistency. They need a wall to bounce against, and it needs to be you. They will often not have a clue why they do what they do, but they will benefit from knowing you are big enough to handle them. • Set clear boundaries. Most adolescents do not have the maturity to handle unbridled freedom. • Reinforce the qualities of their character and heart. In the end, what really matters is what kind of people they are. ©©Thinkstock
Adolescents are funny creatures. Many parents believe they’d have an easier time pinning Jell-O to the wall than reading their teen. The truth is that most teenagers can be interpreted rather easily if you understand where they are developmentally, especially when it comes to their stress and anxiety issues. In many cases, parents create stress for their teen because they fail to recognize what is going on in their child’s heart and mind. The good news for all of us is that teens do outgrow their adolescent stages, and parents can use this season of life to deepen the trust they share with their ever-changing son or daughter.
Middle Teen (16-17) Teens falling into this age range are in the midst of the academic life, and grades will be at the forefront of their stress. ACTs, SATs, and other major hurdles can overwhelm teens. Regardless of how smart your child may be, the pressure is on, and they become highly anxious during this time. Teens may also experience the stress of managing the complexities of relationships. Many teens begin dating during this time and coping with the dynamics of having a boyfriend or girlfriend can increase their moodiness or stress. Jealousy, insecurity, rejection, and fear are all emotions that can overtake teens, impacting every other area of their lives. This stage of adolescence is when your teen will know someone who has made bad choices. They may have a friend who is sleeping around, getting drunk, or taking drugs. Your teen will want to talk about it but may be scared to do so with you because he is afraid of your reaction or judgment. Believe it or not, the parent-teen relationship itself becomes a source of great stress. Conflict over house rules, boundaries, and driving creates issues for teens. Parents will find this frustrating if they don’t understand that their teens are only doing what kids their age are supposed to do: Test limits. It may seem like an oxymoron, but parents who choose to respond instead of react will reduce their teen’s anxiety.
However, before parents get too disconnected, they need to understand how incredibly scared and inadequate their teens feel at this point in their lives. They are handling the freedom that comes with this new season while also learning the importance of its responsibility. They still need their parents, but often in a way the parents don’t want to be needed. Parents want to have the same power and control, but that is not healthy for the teen. The ambivalence for the parents to let go and allow their teens to experience their consequences or benefits of their choices sends the message to teens that their parents do not trust their judgment and decision-making abilities. I have known many teens and parents whose relationships change significantly during this time, and in most cases, they suffered greatly. While this is not an easy stage to parent, it’s an even more difficult age to lose the connection to the people who supposedly know you best. Teens who have left the nest are often scared, anxious, and overwhelmed by the isolation and abandonment they feel by their parents.
What to Do • Pay attention to your teens’ academics. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help: provide a tutor, help look at colleges, discuss their goals, etc. Many teens are embarrassed to ask for help, so let them know you want to be involved. • Get to know their friends. Make your home a safe environment where your teens will want to bring their friends. Create a relationship where you can talk about their friends and why they like the people they’re dating. • Be careful how you talk about kids who make bad choices. Your teens will decide if they can trust you with their mistakes based upon how they hear you handle or comment on other teens’ poor choices.
What to Do • Stay connected and keep the lines of communication open. Even if you cannot find much to agree about, spend time together getting to know who your child is now. • Remember that this season of life is about them getting to know themselves and who they think they are. It is a complicated time in their lives as they are feeling pressure to get the major questions answered: What am I going to do with my life? How will I take care of myself? • Don’t minimize their issues, struggles, and challenges. Take them seriously and walk alongside them. Don’t try to fix their problems. They will ask for your advice if they know you are safe and will accept them unconditionally. Above all, use this time as an opportunity to communicate your confidence in them to make good decisions. Your belief in them will be a huge gift they are not expecting.
Older Teen (18-20) By this time, most parents are ready for their teens to be out of the house and living on their own. This is in part due to the teens’ stage of development: They are independent, selffocused and very opinionated!
Catherine Hickem, LCSW is a psychotherapist and family coach with over 30 years of experience. She has authored Regret Free Parenting and Heaven Her Arms, both by Thomas Nelson Publishers. She lives in Atlanta where she speaks, coaches, and writes.
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Personality shopping By Hannah Smith
When I started high school, I was confused about who I was. I had a few friends I admired. I wanted to be like them since they seemed to handle adolescence better than I thought I could and they seemed so happy. So I changed my personality and my behaviors. I would copy homework because everyone else was doing it. I gossiped when I knew it was wrong. Becoming like the people who surrounded me helped me fit in better in my own eyes, but made me forget who I really was. It was difficult to talk to my parents about the struggles I was having because I didn’t want to disappoint them. When I was younger, my parents were bigger than life. They were my superheroes. Now that I am growing up and trying to gain independence, my parents sometimes don’t seem to understand. Many teens are like me. We just want to be accepted. We are not children anymore, but we are not adults either (although we
are ready to be). We want someone to be there for us, so we surround ourselves with people our own age who are going through the same things, thinking they will give us the love and approval we’re looking for. We look to our peers to see how they are handling growing up and how we should handle it as well.
When we surround ourselves with peers, what we are doing sometimes is “personality shopping.” We look at our friends and try out different behaviors we see in them—some good and some not-so-good—to try to figure out who we are. I look at one friend who is always on top of her school work,
so I manage my time better to become like her. I look at another friend and see how kind he is to other people and I try to be sweeter and more caring to people. As a teen, I know how quickly we teens can lose who we really are in trying to figure out who to be. We may forget that God will love us no matter what we wear or who our friends are. As a parent, please show us the unconditional love that Christ shows you. You can be the light of Christ by simply loving us and encouraging us. This is a hard time in your teen’s life and they will struggle. You will struggle, too, as you try to guide them. As we are going through this time, our friends become more important. We are influenced by our peers and we will change. We are maturing and sometimes we will mess up. We want your love and guidance. We still need you. We need you to encourage us to be who God made us to be and to gently guide us.
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Hannah Smith is a junior at Bolton High School in Shelby County, Tenn. She is in the International Baccalaureate Program and volunteers often with Habitat for Hope. She loves her two brothers, sister, and parents very much.
your parenting skills
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Off the Wire:
Spring Break Staycation
What Do Teenagers Want? Through Teen Voice research, Search Institute asked teenagers what they want from adults. Here’s the top ten: 1. Look at us 2. Spend time talking with us 3. Listen 4. Be dependable 5. Show appreciation for what we do 6. Relax 7. Show that you’re interested 8. Laugh with us (and at yourself) 9. Ask us to help you 10. Challenge us Source: http://stickyfaith.org/blog
It’s Spring Break time. Usually this week conjures up beach trips, family road trips, and chances to get away. Maybe this year a vacation isn’t in the family budget; that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun. Consider a “staycation”—a relaxing and restful time without the high costs of traveling. Be a tourist in your own city. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or go online and lookup fun things to do near your home. Let this be your only rule: You can’t go anywhere you’ve been before. Source: http://sheknows.com/parenting
Lecrae Whatever music preference your teen has, there’s certain to be a Christian artist who performs it too. In the hip-hop world, an evangelical Christian rapper has taken over. His name is Lecrae, and his lyrics are what set his albums apart from other rappers. When Lecrae raps about going “higher,” he’s referring not to drugs, but to God, saying, “the closer I get to you, the higher I feel.” Megastar athletes Tim Tebow, Bubba Watson, and Jeremy Lin have all praised him for his straightforward, Gospel-inspired message. Check him out at lecrae.com. Source: http://entertainment.time.com
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Teens and Birth Control For the first time, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has issued recommendations that intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implantable contraception be offered as first-line birth control options for teens. An IUD is a small hormone-releasing device placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy that releases small doses of hormones and can last up to 10 years. Implantable contraception uses a flexible, matchstick-sized rod placed under the skin that prevents pregnancy by releasing the progestin hormone used in some birth control pills. Meanwhile, the New York City Department of Education has decided to make the morning-after pill available to teenage girls at 13 public schools. Although New York City schools already provide free condoms to students, the program is intended to further reduce teen pregnancy. NYC officials estimate that last year alone, more than 7,000 teenage girls in their district became pregnant. Sources: http://christianpost.com/news; http://abcnews.go.com/health
“Our research shows that typical parents are just as ‘addicted’ to media and technology as are their teenagers, just in different ways. In an ironic and telling shift, the teenagers we interviewed complained that their parents’ use of technology was inhibiting quality family time.” —David Kinnaman, Barna Group
SAT, ACT, OMG It’s time for those six letters your teen may be dreading: SAT and ACT. It’s recommended that students take either of these major college admissions tests in the spring semester of their junior year. This gives students time to retake the tests if their scores aren’t as high as they hoped. The latest the tests can be taken and still have the scores appear on college application is in December of a student’s senior year. Don’t take these tests lightly. According to a pair of recent reports, more than half of 2012 high school graduates who took a college entrance exam did not have all of the skills needed to succeed in college or a career. The non-profit College Board study indicates 57 percent of 2012 graduating seniors who took the SAT earned a combined score below what it says is necessary to show students can earn a B-minus or better in the first year of college. A separate report found that at least 60 percent of 2012 high school graduates who took the ACT are similarly at risk of not succeeding in college. Sources: http://usatoday.com; http://universitylanguage.com
Carol Sallee is an author and speaker who lives in Bixby, Okla. where her husband, Phil, has been a pastor for more than 17 years. You can contact Carol through Twitter, Facebook, or on her website at thesalleegroup.com.
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Sibling rivalry goes deeper than brother-sister squabbles. To know why they happen, first you have to know your child.
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by Amy Hammond Hagberg
Dennis Grant grew up in a staunch, proud family with one sister and three brothers. Their home was constantly in a state of distributed chaos. Mom worked her fingers to the bone to keep the home clean while the five kids tore through the place breaking windows, doors, furniture, and anything that wasn’t nailed down. Dad managed other people’s financial affairs. Dad spent much of his time at home in the den. If the children wanted to see him, they had to ask permission to step across the threshold. Nearly every visit in the hallowed space turned into a two-hour lecture. For Dennis, now 40 and a successful business owner, the den became a prison; his father used his youngest son as a captive audience to expound upon all the things his older siblings were doing wrong—and then ask him how they should be punished. They did not appreciate his input. An Age-Old Problem Since there have been families, there have been sibling rivalries. They run rampant throughout the Old Testament: first there were Cain and Abel, then came Jacob and Esau. Of course, we can’t forget one of most infamous of all dysfunctional families, the woeful tale of Joseph and his brothers. Today, if you have more than one teenager in your home, the sibling rivalries of the Bible may seem like some of the most relatable passages. Dennis first witnessed the painful rivalry that plagued his home when he was a preteen. His two oldest brothers fought over everything, from which room was theirs to who was dating a girl and who wasn’t. One day his parents couldn’t bear to hear the bickering any longer so his father moved the boys to the basement. He pinned bed sheets around the ceiling, creating four walls so each could have their own room. “This just created more chaos as they would soon have a battle of the stereos, playing louder and louder until the first floor would shake and my dad would storm downstairs blasting them with a rage of words to silence their noise,” he remembers. “These tactics only created resentment in each of my brothers toward one another and my parents.”
Families are a hodgepodge of different temperaments, personalities, and levels of maturity. When you put a variety of children together in a close environment there are bound to be problems—especially as they become independently minded teens. The rivalry compounded year after year as Dennis’ parents pitted the kids against each other and eagerly pointed out their differences to everyone in the family. “If you didn’t like the same things as my dad, you were seen as an alien,” he says. “Slowly I kept all my true interests—like writing, photography, and movies—to myself and dove deeper into trying to please my father through perpetually overachieving in sports and school.” Unfortunately, Dennis’s success was never enough for his dad. Celebrating Individuality Rivalries like Dennis’s can bubble over from expectations that come from parents. If your child doesn’t turn out to be the all-conference, academic all-star you’d envisioned, you may need to take a look at your own motives. Are your standards too high? Are you trying to live vicariously through your kids? Do you want your kids to be just like you? Are you inflicting your wishes onto them without considering their own special gifts? God made us all different—we have different personalities, different hearts, and different souls. One of the most damaging parenting faux-pas is comparing our kids to each another. I have two children, a 24-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son who are as different as night and day. Our daughter has always been a sweet overachiever. The sensitive artistic type, she would start crying before we even looked at her. Now a professional photographer, she dreams of someday writing and shooting for National Geographic. Not surprisingly, she married a musician. (Now if they’d
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only give me a grandchild. Oh wait, that’s another article…) Our son, on the other hand, has long dreamed of living a wilder life than taking pictures of brides and babies. An adventurer at heart, his list of potential occupations has included being a stuntman, sky diving instructor, treasure hunter, professional Scuba diver, and snowboarder. These days, he is focused on living on the frontier of Alaska and sustaining himself with an ax and a two-seater plane. For now he is living with us. In their own ways, my kids are lovable and aggravating and it can be difficult to navigate their adult relationship. They don’t necessarily approve of the way we parented the other, but we recognized their individuality and did our best to encourage them on even small achievements. Our goal for them is to live the life God created them to, full of life and on mission for His kingdom. A Winning Defense As the old saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. Rather than simply learning how to referee sibling conflicts, let’s try preventing them altogether. For many parents, that’s easier said than done. We all know that parenting teenagers can be a tough gig; their temper tantrums often involve stress and hormones— both of which can be very tricky. They no longer think they need to be parented—until they wreck the car. Parenting should be more than a series of breaking up squabbles and issuing ultimatums; we need to learn to parent with purpose. Our most important objective is to lead our kids to a strong personal faith. In order to do that, however, we must authentically live our own spiritual journeys. Without question, the best offensive weapon in our parenting arsenal is prayer; it impacts our parenting journey more than all of the support groups and parenting books combined. God had a plan in mind when He gave our two unique children to my wonderful husband and me, because we are polar opposites, too. Somehow God thought we were just the perfect parents for bundles of joy. He has been our partner ever since. Sibling rivalries are perfectly normal. Families are a hodgepodge of different temperaments, personalities, and levels of maturity. When you put a variety of children together in a close environment there are bound to be problems— especially as they become independently minded teens.
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Many parents have definite ideas about what they want out of their child’s life: athlete, doctor, lawyer, musician, president, youth group leader, straight-A student, etc. So the question becomes, what happens when your teen doesn’t become the person you want him or her to become? How do you respond if your athlete would rather write music or your business school graduate chooses not to follow you in the family business? It is important to rely on God’s plan for your teens instead of trying to force a square peg in a round hole. GRAMMYwinning recording artist Charlie Daniels told me a few years ago that his dad wanted him to be a forest ranger, an idea that was a big turnoff to the aspiring young musician. “Had I pursued that I would have been miserable,” he said. “Dreams are elusive. You’ve got to chase them and bring them down and hold onto them. I would have spent years marking time; it wouldn’t have meant anything.” Can you fathom what the world would be like if the Charlie Daniels Band didn’t exist? I don’t imagine his dad was disappointed for very long! Healthy relationships can be fostered amongst children if we do a few key things: Teach them about Jesus, spend special one-on-one time with each child, tell each child how proud you are and how much you love them every day, encourage a sense of team spirit within the family, and avoid favoritism. No child should be criticized because he or she is different from you. After all, it’s the differences that make a family.
Amy Hagberg is the author/ coauthor of eight books, an editor, and a popular speaker. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and a son with one foot out of the nest.
Go Deeper This month’s ec magazine has five tips for your teen if he or she is battling their brother or sister under the same roof. Have them check out the article on p. 18 for ways they can help stem sibling rivalries before they begin:
1. Pursue your own interests. Instead of trying to make yourself into version 2.0 of your sibling, figure out what interests you and invest your time and effort there.
4. Let go of bitterness. It’s hard to live in a sibling’s shadow, especially when he or she didn’t have a very good reputation. The easiest thing to do would be to hold on to those bitter feelings and let them define who you are. But as a Christian, bitterness shouldn’t be one of your defining characteristics. Learn to forgive and focus your worth on who you are in Christ.
2. Focus on your strengths. Don’t beat yourself up for not being as good at something as your sibling. You’re each unique—and that’s a good thing! 3. Think outside the box. We’re not all wired the same way. Your siblings may be extroverts who thrive on crowds of people and lots of friends, while you’re an introvert who cherishes a few, deep friendships with people who really get you. Instead of hating your differences, learn to celebrate them!
5. Identify what’s really important. If you spend all your time trying to outshine your sibling, it may be time to realign your values. Jealousy and constant comparison are not the way God has called you to live. Focus your purpose and your worth in Christ, then let Him define what’s really important. And don’t be surprised if your priorities shift! Adapted from an article by Gretchen Williams.
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by Jason Ellerbrook Years ago I worked at retreat center called Jonathan Creek Camp and Conference Center. One of my primary responsibilities was organizing outdoor recreation for groups that came through. My first year on the job we added some high ropes elements that included an Alpine Tower—a 50-foot tall, self-supporting structure. A good portion of my responsibility was to train climbers for the best experience possible. The first step was to make sure that the climber had the right tools. Each climber needed a climbing harness, carabiner, helmet, rope, and a facilitator, whose responsibility was to belay (or secure) the climber from the ground. A good facilitator is in constant communication, using commands that will keep him in sync with the climber at all times. Once the climber was suited up and ready, my job as a facilitator was to explain the safety rules and commands. There are many ways a person can get injured while on a climb, so it was very important that they understand the risks and how to best avoid putting themselves and others at risk. All of the preparation, training and effort that go into preparing for a climb are rewarded by the experience itself.
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jason Ellerbrook is the Men’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Men. He is a regular contributor for the Stand Firm devotional for men and Home Life magazine’s “Men of Honor” section.
One of the greatest thrills is reaching the top of an Alpine Tower and catching a view of all that is below you. It is quite an accomplishment. We all want our students to experience the view from the top of the tower. We want them to succeed. The problem is that we live in such a fast-pace, “I want it now” culture that they often begin the climb with unclear expectations and a lack of preparation that will help them along the way and keep them safe. Thankfully, there are ways to help your teen prepare for the climb. 1. Communicate clear expectations. Help your student know where they are going, how they can get there, and what will be waiting for them when they arrive. The Word of God provides everything you need. Make Deuteronomy 11:18-25 the keystone of your training! 2. Provide appropriate tools. Equip your students for the journey with tools that will keep them safe and allow them to accomplish the task in front of them. Ephesians 6 :10–17 covers what they will need. 3. Create necessary boundaries. From the beginning of time God created boundaries that would help mankind live to the fullest. The one rule of the Garden of Eden was set in place to ensure freedom, not to restrict it. Boundaries are the wings that give flight to freedom and independence. 4. Offer invaluable encouragement. Once you have provided clear expectations, tools, and boundaries, you have to let your child climb. Cheer them on and give them help when needed. Most importantly, encourage them every day (Hebrews 3:13) and let them know how proud you are of them along the way. I once heard someone say, “If you don’t have a target, you will miss every time.” Your son or daughter wants and needs to be challenged. They have the ability to exceed your expectations and accomplish more than you can imagine. Give them something to shoot at, help them take aim, and let go so they can fire. Your child’s ability to achieve the goals that they set will be directly influenced by the amount of time you invest in preparing them for life. Don’t give up, and enjoy the climb!
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A Different Angle:
Expecting something from God that He might not produce only results in anger and frustration. We create a god around our expectation when we dwell on our want—a god who gives us what we think is best for us.
by Gayla Grace
Expectations of a new husband. The burden of parenting alone. The desire for a complete home. We all expect God to meet our needs. But what if His plan is different than ours? How often do we tell God what we want and expect Him to fulfill our desires just as we’ve described, in the time frame we’ve determined? Expecting something from God that He might not produce only results in anger and frustration. It diverts our attention from reality onto what we expect or wish to happen in the future. We create a god around our expectation when we dwell on our want—a god who gives us what we think is best for us. Romans 8:5-6 says, “For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.” It’s not easy, but if we desire peace, we must allow our minds to be controlled by the Spirit, not our fleshly desires. Two years ago, my husband lost his job as we were facing a school year with three children in college. Our circumstances appeared desperate and uncertain, but I trusted God would meet our need. I expected God’s plan to include a new job that would carry us into another year with perhaps a few
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Gayla Grace is a mom and step-mom to five children, ages 11-28. She ministers to step-families at her website, stepparentingwithgrace.com.
Trusting the Wrong Expectations
bumps and bruises. What I didn’t expect was a plan that would relocate us to a different state, four hours from our children in college. My fleshly desire and expectation hadn’t come true. I had to make a choice: would I resent God for not answering my prayer the way I expected, or would I trust His plan? I can tell you it was a struggle for me. But choosing to trust God’s sovereignty was the only answer to peace in my circumstances. Perhaps you’re facing the same dilemma. Your expectations haven’t been met. Your single parenting struggles with a troubled teen drag on. But if you stop focusing on a projected expectation and instead choose to live within your reality, you find peace— through trusting God’s sovereignty. The Apostle Paul talks about learning to be content in Philippians 4:11 when he says, “…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Contentment is not based on our situations; it comes through our relationship with the Lord. Contentment can be learned when we stop focusing on our expectations and trust God to give us strength for our present reality. Does that mean you give up on your expectations? Not necessarily. But you evaluate them based on “a mind controlled by the Spirit.” When we align our spirit with the Lord, our desires become parallel to His and our frustrations from unmet expectations abate. The psalm of David says it best: “Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7).
A Different Angle:
Biblical expectations are healthy and necessary if we desire for our blended families to have a Christ-focused foundation. Expecting that each family member will participate in how the family home functions is just one example.
by Dedra Herod
Expectations are a killer. At least they have been in my life. We often hold them but never communicate them. I tend to think everyone around me should know me well enough to understand the expectations of our relationship. What a big fat lie. More hurt has taken place concerning expectations in my family relationships than any other area. I expect a lot from others in my life. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad, unless my flesh is driving the expectation. It’s taken me a long time, but understanding that expectations need to be Biblically based has been one of the most victorious areas of my life. Biblical expectations are healthy and necessary if we desire for our blended families to have a Christ-focused foundation. Expecting that each family member will participate in how the family home functions is just one example. My job is to train my children up in a way that glorifies God. How glorifying is it if my children reach their senior year in high school and they don’t know how to wash their own clothes or fix their own meals? Neither my husband nor I were created to foster a sense of selfishness, entitlement, or dependency in our children. We were created to know
God, have an intimate relationship with Him, and teach that same model to our children. I am not their handmaid. Don’t misunderstand me, I love to serve my family. It brings me such joy to love and nurture them. Setting healthy and Biblical expectations is nurturing. Here are a few examples that have served our family well: • Make sure you and your spouse take the time to communicate expectations to each other and your family. • Have a Scriptural basis for expectations. Measure everything against God’s Word. • Choose flexibility and be open to change when creating and setting expectations. • As children grow and your marriage matures, remain surrendered to God’s will. • Expectations aren’t necessarily inflexible. Resist it. Steer away from creating an environment of legalism. • As your children mature, let them participate in setting expectations and goals for your family. It’s such a joy to watch their personalities mature as they take ownership of their role in the family. • Above all else, pray! I pray that your family time is richer and more loving as you seek to serve God more intimately as a unit. Don’t forget, biblical, healthy expectations are hard, but they are so very good. Dedra Herod is wife to a husband that refuses to be tamed, mom to three college kids that make her laugh, and whose desire is a home where everyone loves to hang out, as long as they clean up after themselves.
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You’ve always been your teen’s biggest fan. But are you pulling for them, or yourself? by Adam York
When you love your children, you want the best for them. You want to protect them from harm. You want them to have and experience the things you missed out on. Ultimately, you sacrifice much for them to live the most comfortable lives possible. But, much too often, parents desire to be so invested in the lives of their teens that they struggle to maintain
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healthy parental boundaries. This usually comes in the form of vicarious living. Our culture has also referred to such scenarios as “toxic parenting.” “Toxic parenting” comes in several forms. We see it when that passionate sports dad pushes hard for his son to be the athlete he never was. We see it in the stage mom who questions the pageant judges when her daughter doesn’t get as far in the competition as she once did. We even see it in the wellintentioned parents who petition the teacher for extra credit when their son or daughter is only a digit shy of that 4.0 grade point average. “But is this wrong,” you ask? The answer doesn’t lie in whether it’s right or wrong to want your teen to be successful in the way you desire as a parent. The larger issue involves
questioning your true motives. If faced with this scenario, ask yourself, “Is this what my teen wants, or is this what I want?” Ultimately, keep in mind that your son or daughter’s individuality is important to their future sense of accomplishment.
Vicarious living is more evident today than in previous generations. Just take a good look at your surroundings, and you’ll quickly identify its presence. Whether it’s at the Friday night football game, the regional choral competition, or the weekly broadcast of your favorite television show, the temptation to live in and through your teen is everywhere. The reality of such behavior makes it both urgent and imperative to
The teen years. For some, they can be awkward. For others, they can be the best days of our lives. Regardless of your teenage experience, being a parent through the teenage years requires the utmost care—especially when the temptation to live vicariously through your son or daughter creeps in.
set proper boundaries in your teenparenting journey. Pay close attention to how your teen reacts when you push hard for them to do something you are highly passionate about. If you notice in them an expression of disinterest, maybe it’s worth a good, healthy conversation about what makes them hesitate to fulfill your wishes. It could be that you find he or she has a whole different set of interests from your own. Even more, you might discover that your teen finds greater accomplishment in making his or her own way toward a specific skill or mission. Ultimately, remember your own experience as a teen. Were your parents insistent that you achieve or accomplish specific things against your own wishes or desires? Did they interfere too often, or even not enough? Reflecting on your own teen experience could reveal much about how you’re parenting today.
Instead of innocently trying to re-live or re-play your own teenage saga, consider shifting the gears of parenthood toward identifying the uniqueness of your own son or daughter. Does he or she have interests outside of your comfort zone? If so, make an effort to learn more about whatever your teen is pouring his or her passion into. Though it might be uncomfortable, your effort to find interest in these passions will send them a beautiful message of encouragement. Your support and non-threatening approach will likely help steer your teen more carefully toward positive accomplishment and achievement, rather than drive him
or her away from something forced or manipulated. Far too many young adults today are dealing with issues of depression, bitterness, low self-esteem, and pressures of perfectionism because of parents who innocently wanted the best for them yet didn’t invest in their unique individuality. God has a plan for each of His children. We must carefully steer and support our own teenagers toward finding His will and purpose. Leading your teen toward Christ will be the best possible way to help them discover who they truly are and where that unique purpose is found.
As parents, your best source of wisdom and knowledge for parenting teens is found in God’s Word. When in doubt, consult Scripture. When you struggle, ask God to reveal some practical wisdom through His Word. Whether you open up the Bible and find it yourself, or whether God leads someone into your path to share biblical wisdom, always trust that He will lead you. It’s evident that teens learn much
through observation. If they’re observing strong spiritual leadership at home, chances are high that they’ll place high value on the same priorities as they step into adulthood. Consider Paul’s charge to Titus, “Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching” (Titus 2:7). Above all, as you carefully lead your son or daughter through the winding road of the teenage journey, watch for the dangers that entail “toxic parenting.” Rather than living his or her life for them, allow your teen to come in second place, to choosing a path of interest that might not seamlessly match yours, and to pursue God’s unique plan and purpose. In James 1:19, we find some wonderful advice that can apply very well to parenting teens: “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Let this be your parenting plan. Listen well, choose your words carefully and wisely, and allow patience to overshadow frustration. Love and encourage your teen to use the incredible gifts God has given to do great things for His glory.
ADAM YORK is the editor of Collegiate magazine. He’s a theological studies graduate of Belmont University (B.A.), and he received a Master of Christian Studies from Union University. He served in full-time student ministry for five years before entering into the world of college ministry with LifeWay’s young adult initiative, Threads.
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more like Christ
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Until the Father Calls You only have a limited time with your teens at home. How are you preparing them for their Kingdom calling? by Mike Glenn
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I remember when I held my twin sons for the first time and I’d never been so scared in my life. I was holding two little human beings who were totally dependent on my wife and me. We would have to feed them and dress them, get them to the doctor, teach them how to throw a ball and drive a car, and pay for college! I went from ultimate joy in one moment (the safe birth of two healthy boys) to ultimate despair. (What did I know about raising kids? I was a kid myself!) And that was the panic I felt with just two normal boys. Imagine how Joseph must have felt. After all, he had been told by an angel in a dream that Mary was going to give birth to a son, which wasn’t Joseph’s, and this child would save His people from their sins. We don’t know a lot of details of Joseph’s life. We do know he was there at the Temple when Jesus was 12. After that, we don’t hear anything about Joseph. We can only assume he died sometime later and therefore Jesus would have been obligated as the first born son to care for His mother and siblings. This may have been one of the reasons Jesus waited until He was 30 to begin His public ministry. In his role as father to Jesus, Joseph would have been deeply involved in Jesus’s religious training. There’s probably a reason Jesus quoted Deuteronomy so much. It would have been the book of the Bible used in the daily Bible training. Can you imagine the pressure? How would you feel if God had told you, “This is my Son. Watch over Him and prepare Him for the moment I will call for Him”? But isn’t this the same pressure every parent has? God entrusts His children to us (our children are gifts) and tells us to watch over His children until He calls for them. This means as parents we are stewards of our children. That is, our children don’t belong to us; they belong to God. God entrusts them to us to protect, teach, and prepare them for the time they will be called to join God in His Kingdom work. The role of the steward is to maximize the investment of the Master. As parents, we’re called
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In the daily moments of doing life together, children will tell us who they are, what they’re good at, and where their passions are. As parents, we are invited to work with the Spirit in their lives to channel, focus, and affirm the unique design that reveals the Imago Dei each one of these children uniquely bears. to maximize the potential God has placed in each of our children. This was the same expectation for the parents of Moses and for Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Zachariah and Elizabeth would have also understood they were preparing their son John for a mission for which God would call him. Timothy’s grandmother and mother, Lois and Eunice, had raised him in the faith so that when Paul asked young Timothy to join him on his missionary work, Timothy was ready. In the oft-quoted passage in Proverbs, parents are encouraged to raise their children in the way they should go and when they are old, they won’t depart from it. When most of us read this passage, we always put the emphasis on “the way.” But what if we’re emphasizing the wrong word? What if we put the emphasis should be put on “the child”? What if parents understand we are to raise our children in the way the child should go? Looking at parenting through the lens of stewardship allows us to see our roles a little differently. For one thing, this model insists we begin with the child. As parents, we’re called to work with and encourage our children so
their true essence is revealed and flourishes. Each child is unique. There is no “one size fits all” parenting plan. Each child will require unique attention from his or her parents. In the daily moments of doing life together, children will tell us who they are, what they’re good at, and where their passions are. As parents, we are invited to work with the Spirit in their lives to channel, focus, and affirm the unique design that reveals the Imago Dei each one of these children uniquely bears. How do we do that? First, talk to them. Deuteronomy 6 reminds us as parents that the great stories of God’s salvation are to be the stories we tell around the family table, riding in the car, or waiting for appointments. Conversations with our children are to be focused on those God moments in our lives and especially in our children’s lives. This way, they learn to recognize the presence of God in the world around them. Tell them how you pray for them. Tell them what you see in them in real, concrete ways. Affirmations have to be grounded in reality or the child simply won’t believe them. How many times do you think Hannah told Samuel she prayed for him? How many times did Moses hear the stories of Joseph and Abraham, Jacob and Isaac? We don’t know, but we do know this: When Moses saw an Egyptian taskmaster abusing a Jewish slave, Moses sided with the Jewish slave. From the early education of his mother, Moses knew his real identity was found in his being a Jew. When God called Moses from the burning bush, Moses knew who God was. Moses had heard the stories. Second, help your children understand their place in God’s great story. All of us are gifted and designed to serve in the Kingdom work of God. Every child of God has a gift. No one has all of the gifts. Why? Because there is something about all of us using our gifts together—the great diversity of the Body of Christ—
that reveals the glory of God in a way no one can do individually. All of us have a place in this story. Parents have the great honor of helping their children find their place in God’s great kingdom work. Lastly, fully commit yourself as parent to the Kingdom success of your child. I trust it goes without saying there is a great difference between Kingdom success and secular success. In our culture, successful parents are judged by what school their children have graduated from and the status of the job they received after graduation. There is so much more to life. Our children were not created to be cogs in the grinding machinery of capitalism. They were created to be in a life-transforming relationship with Christ that is so radical, it ends up transforming the world around them. The success of Kingdom parents is not determined by how materially wealthy their children become, but by how much their children resemble Christ. Like Moses and Samuel, our children are called to do great things. Like their parents, we are tasked to prepare them for the time when God calls them. Our children don’t belong to us. They never have. They have always belonged to the Father. Our job—our privilege—as parents is to make sure our children are ready for the moment when, like Jesus, the Father calls for them.
Mike Glenn is senior pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn. Mike is a graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He and his wife, Jeannie, have two married sons. He can be found on Twitter @ mikeglenn and on his website at www.mikeglennonline. com. He blogs at truthfulconversations.com.
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On Your Knees
L o v ing and Li v ing
Praying through the month for your teen
Loving God • To love God only (Matthew 4:10) • To follow His commands (John 14:15; 21) • To depend upon Him (John 15:5) • To remain pure and live in reverence of God (2 Cor. 7:1) Loving People • To love everyone, even persecutors (Matt. 5:43-45) • To do good for others (Galatians 6:9-10) • To share with others (Hebrews 13:16) • To love other believers (1 John 4:7-8) Living Relationally • To serve God by serving others (Matthew 25:31-40) • To serve God by proclaiming His Word (2 Tim. 2:15)
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• To serve God by living righteously (1 Peter 3:8-12) • To serve God and others in gratitude (1 John 5:1-5) Loving God with all of one’s being, loving others as oneself, and living life in light of God’s Word in front of Him and others are the keys to going through life as a believer. Without this understanding, peace is difficult to attain. How can you lead your teenager in this manner? By contemplating and discussing God’s precepts. We are to bathe in His words in order to grasp them. “Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut 6:7-9). We should constantly think upon and discuss God’s Word and His will for our lives. As you are at home, traveling, getting ready for bed, and getting the day started, make sure that your discussion and attitude is not only pleasing to God, but includes discussion about following God. If you have difficulty in these areas, take heart. Pray the same for you as you would pray for your teen. Ask God to make you a better example for him or her. It is not easy to meet the world’s expectations. Maybe you, and your teen, have been trying too hard to meet the wrong expectations. With a grateful heart, shift your understanding to meet God’s expectations.
There’s more to loving God, loving people, and living in relationship than obeying rules. Truly motivating yourself (and your teen) to love others must come from understanding whose we are. Your teenager’s expectations of himself must come from this deep truth. As you read each of these Scriptures, spend time praying specifically for these attributes to grow in your teenager’s life. Ask the Lord to enable him or her to begin living every day as a “thank you” to the Lord.
Tal k i n g T h r o ugh the Big T h r ee
Starting points for connecting with your teen As a husband, father, son, brother, and minister (among other roles), I often find it difficult to meet the expectations of those around me. I imagine that you often feel the same way with the many hats that life requires you to wear. There is a need for something deeper to drive our understanding of ourselves and our behaviors as we walk through life. Teenagers often have a hard time meeting life’s expectations, too. What should drive your teen’s selfexpectations as a believer? Three things: Loving God, loving people, and living relationally. Here’s what Jesus said: “One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ ‘This is the most important,’ Jesus answered: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. ‘The second is: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’ “ —Mark 12:28-31 The next time your teenager faces a problem at school, ask if he has prayed about it. Ask him what the Bible says and spend time helping him find out. Utilizing God’s Word, worshiping Him, and spending time in prayer will help your teen understand who God would have Him be within the current culture.
In his treatment of others, help your teen realize that he should desire salvation and God’s blessings upon everyone…even those who mistreat him. Is there someone your teenager seems to hate? Instead of wishing ill for the offending party, help your son pray for him. Challenge him to think of that person in the same way God does…as a person in need of salvation. Spend time praying together for that person and discussing how to better the relationship. Loving people involves desiring God’s will and His best for them, as you would for yourself. The next time your teenager struggles with disobedience or laziness at school, take time to discuss whether or not his attitudes reflect an attempt to live relationally with God and others. Encourage him to realize that a bad attitude is not from God, and he should expect more of himself as a believer. Living relationally involves remembering God’s love and living consistently before God and others. With all of the confusion in the world of a teen, understanding these truths will help him know what to expect of himself and his behaviors. Kevin Garrett has served in music ministry, collegiate ministry, and student ministry. He currently serves as associate pastor for education and outreach at Parker Memorial Baptist Church in Anniston, Ala.
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f beautiful r e GRACE e
a m a z i n g
It’s easy to base your expectations on rules. God has something else in mind.
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by Julie Fidler
Grace is messy. It’s the glue that holds us together when everything in our lives is falling apart. It’s the hand that helps you to your feet when you’ve fallen down and messed up. It’s what helps you give your teenager another shot after he has lied to you, or disrespected you, or chosen to go out with someone you never would have picked for him. God’s ocean of grace always overflows, and we need it, because we don’t always have a lot of grace for ourselves or with each other. We don’t always feel grace, but it works a lot like any other gift—it’s not really yours unless you accept it. You can forget it’s there, too, if you’re not careful. How much you’ve allowed into your heart can often be gauged by the state of your heart. After all, it exists because God knew that fallen people living in a fallen world would never be able to reach the perfection of Christ. Playwright Eugene O’Neill once said, “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.” When I was in my early 20s, I believed I had completely failed at life. I was unemployed, severely depressed, and my marriage was on the verge of total collapse. I’d had many brushes with God’s amazing grace before that, but that was the first time I understood what grace meant for me personally. God picked up the shards of my young life and I could practically hear him say, “It’s OK, kid. Let’s give it another go.” It is
by grace that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). Grace saved me from the fires of Hell, but at that moment in my life, it also saved me from a pile of guilt, shame, bitterness, and most of all hopelessness. But I also had to learn what it meant to accept grace and live in it, and this is where it gets messy. Grace requires us to let go. We know we can’t earn salvation. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we let go of the notion that if we’re “good enough,” we can get into Heaven. For some reason, it’s harder for us to let go of other things—like our mission to be perfect parents, to be the company’s highest earning executive, or our drive to make our friends at church think we have a trouble-free family. My life-renewing brush with grace taught me something very important: so much of our torment in life exists because we don’t know how to let go of our death grip on control and recognize that the life worth living comes from above. That overwhelmed feeling you’ve been dealing with lately? Check your hands. You might have a whiteknuckle grip on your life, but believe it or not, the hands with nail holes in them are a lot stronger. Healthy Grace I have one friend that grew up in a Christian home. The daughter of a conservative Presbyterian pastor, Angie had a list of rules and
So much of our torment in life exists because we don’t know how to let go of our death grip on control and recognize that the life worth living comes from above. regulations she had to live by, both because her parents were very overprotective, and because her family was the face of a large and wellrespected congregation. Because her family was so intent on presenting themselves as the perfect family to the community, Angie knew her Bible well, but didn’t have a relationship with Christ. Instead of getting to know God and being transformed into the likeness of Christ, she spent all her time desperately trying not to make Him—and her family—angry. Another friend grew up in a family that threw grace around as an excuse to misbehave. She grew up hearing about God’s forgiveness and undying love, with no emphasis on true repentance or submitting one’s life to the Lord. She grew up in a world of, “Sin now, ask for forgiveness later.” Like Angie, she was unable to have a real walk with Jesus because she didn’t understand that faith was about relationship, not just covering your tracks.
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Personal Space Both girls did the same thing in their late teens—they completely rebelled and threw away what little foundation in Truth they had. The beauty of grace is that sinners can come on home whenever they choose; God is waiting with open arms. He doesn’t just understand our battles; He understands why we have them in the first place. Married Life Raise your hand if you believed marriage would always be fun and relatively trouble-free. I walked down the aisle at the age of 21, and against all logic, I believed that the rest of my life would be one big romantic adventure. I worked at a bank when my now-husband and I were engaged, and I vividly recall a coworker and a customer laughing when I told them I was excited about being married. I remember being hurt and confused. There are some really good marriages in this world, but not a single one of them is perfect. We all experience different levels of turmoil, but no relationship is without conflict—no healthy one, anyway. I recently spoke to a counselor who said, “Conflict is necessary in marriage. It’s how two people figure out the enormous role Christ plays in the cord of three strands.” Some marriages are wrought with health problems, financial strain, rebellious children, or past baggage that was never unpacked
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and sorted out. Stories of spouses falling out of love are not uncommon. A husband and wife that are living in grace understand the purpose of marriage. It’s not about being highly respected in church. It’s not about paying off debt so you can save for your retirement. It’s not about convincing your kid to stop running wild. It’s not even about being happy. A grace-filled marriage is one that is focused on glorifying the Lord. Any successful venture has a mission statement, so why should marriage be any different? If the goal of your marriage is to glorify God, to help other struggling couples, and to guide others toward the Good News of Jesus Christ, you will naturally be less inclined to pour your energy into things with no eternal purpose. A grace-filled marriage stops saying, “I have to fix this” and says, “Lord, mold us into the couple you planned for us to be.” Release your grip, because God doesn’t need perfect or even good circumstances to do a major transformation in your relationship.
hoping Facebook won’t become his social life, but you know he has it on his phone, too. You hope and pray you’ve raised them to become godly adults by example. After all, you can take someone to church for 18 years, but that doesn’t mean they understand the concept of a relationship with Jesus. How much grace do you extend to yourself? Do you seek a great relationship with your best friend, Jesus, or do you feel trapped by having to constantly “do”? Pressure to attend constant church activities, stale devotions at the dinner table, and doing the very things you pray your own children don’t do can entrap you. Grace is about freedom, and being able to breathe. Jesus fulfilled the law. We don’t have to constantly be on guard, always aware of every infraction. Allow yourself to rest in God’s promises to forgive and love you unconditionally. He wants us—all of us. The good and the bad, not just the half-hearted attempts at perfection.
Grace-Filled Parenting There are many “gasp” moments in the life of a parent of a teenager— the day your child gets his driver’s license, the first time he grabs your keys and goes out on his own, that moment where you realize he’s taller than you are and he has a few scraggly chin hairs. You limit the Internet,
Julie Anne Fidler is a freelance writer and the author of Adventures In Holy Matrimony: For Better Or The Absolute Worst (2005, Relevant Books). She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and is working on her second book. Her blog is fotr2. blogspot.com.
When Life’s Not Working Bob Merritt
More than a bucket list Toni Birdsong
Our lives are filled with expectations—of what sort of people we should be, how our lives should go, how we should fulfill our roles, what we should “do” to be a success. As everyone knows, however, things rarely go as planned. In his book, When Life’s Not Working (7 Simple Choices for a Better Tomorrow), Bob Merritt tackles those expectations from a Christian view and gives practical suggestions to lighten the load. The book’s first chapter, “Free Fall,” tells the story of Bob going skydiving for the first (and only) time of his life. In looking back at the experience, he writes: “People have asked me if it was fun and if I’d do it again. It wasn’t, and I wouldn’t. But I did learn some things. When you’re plunging toward the earth with nothing but a backpack and a rip cord, there’s no room for error. And you pray that whoever packed your chute did it with precision and that the ‘professional’ on your back didn’t go through a bad breakup with his girlfriend the night before.” The lesson? Life is filled with uncertainties, fearful experiences, and plenty of “free fall” moments, but with Christ by your side as your flying (or falling) partner life is much easier to handle. Jesus helps manage your expectations, giving you a freedom in knowing that you are loved and accepted as you are. Chapter 7 provides some of the best pieces of advice for when expectations are jumbled up and you’re not sure where to go. Merritt’s four points in this chapter—to fast and pray, assess the condition, take ownership, and add a little bit of faith to a little bit of action—inspired and motivated me to make changes in some of my own misguided expectation. That chapter, and the entire book, are helpful and inspiring.
An inspirational answer to such bestsellers as the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die and the movie The Bucket List, Toni Birdsong’s new book is an entertaining, yet thoughtprovoking read. More Than a Bucket List (Making your dreams, passions, and faith a reality) is a handy guide to finding purpose in your life—in practical ways, but also on a bigger, spiritual stage. The book is divided up into lists and short narrative challenges on a variety of topics. The suggestions are diverse, providing exotic ideas (“visit the Holy Land”) next to more practical ones (“cut down a Christmas tree on a snowy night”). They will challenge your inner artist and touch your inner romantic; they will help you become a better parent, friend, adventurer, life-experiencer, and Christian. My favorite sections are the ones labeled “Live Your Dreams,” which are sprinkled throughout the book and challenge you to do something you’ve always dreamed of doing but never have. They might help you finally write that novel, learn to play the guitar, or read the Bible through. The lists are balanced with Bible verses, personal stories, and “Real Life Challenges” to make yourself do something right now. That focus on faith-based activities in your life make it different from other similar books on the market. If you’ve always felt like you’re not quite living up to what you could be or that your expectations for yourself have become stagnant, this is the book for you. You just may be trekking through the rainforest or starting a charitable foundation in no time.
Cheryl Sloan Wray is a freelance writer who lives in Alabama with her husband, Gary. She is the mother of 20-year-old McKenna, 16-year-old Delaney, and 8-year-old Sydney.
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In it together A parents of teens Bible study.
God has great expectations for Christians and their families. It’s difficult to summarize the centuries of inspiration and writing we call Scripture, but it seems that what God expects of us, and our families, is pretty simple: to worship Him exclusively, to live a holy life, to love Him and others, to serve Him faithfully, and to participate in His mission to redeem people from sin. These five values—worship, love, service, holiness, and mission—are God’s great expectations for our lives and for our families.
Included in these Teaching Plans is a Devotional MAP (Meditation, Application, and Prayer) supplement for each teaching point. Use the Scripture from each teaching point with each corresponding MAP suggestion to build your own five-day devotional plan. Meditate on the words of Scripture, Apply them to your daily life, and Pray for yourself and your family as you continue in your daily walk with Christ.
1. God expects my family to worship. 2. God expects my family to love. 3. God expects my family to serve. 4. God expects my family to be holy 5. God expects my family to be on mission.
David Crim and his wife, Cindy, are the mission coordinators of the Two-Thirds World Network. They live in Manila, Philippines, where he also serves as Senior Teaching Pastor at the International Baptist Church of Manila.
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The Expectation of Worship Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Getting Started: Enlist a senior adult whose family was devoted to worshiping together. Invite him or her to begin the Bible study by sharing a five-minute testimony of the different ways worshiping God as a family shaped their lives.
The first act of worship (Deut. 6:4). • Ask: To what is the first action this passage calls us? (To listen.) To what or whom are we to listen? Why does worship start with listening? (God must reveal Himself to us before we can worship Him.) • Lead the class to discuss active listening. Call on members to share ways they know if a person is actively listening or not. Ask: What is the evidence that we are actively listening to God? • Lead the class to discuss ways they can lead their family and teach their children to listen to God.
The heart of worship (Deut. 6:5-6). • Call on members to share household items or traditions in their families that give evidence that they love the Lord. Ask: Why is loving God the heart of worship? • Ask: What item in your home or routine in your family is competition to you loving God? How does this impact your worship of God? • Write the words heart, soul and strength on a large sheet of paper. Lead members to list under each word ways they can lead their families to love God. Ask: How will these actions of love impact your worshiping God? What does it mean to put “these words” in our hearts?
Our response in worship (Deut. 6:7-9). • Ask: What are the four actions of worship these verses call us to perform? (Repeat, talk, bind, write.) How are these actions of worship? • Lead members to discuss ways they can shape their conversations at home to teach their children how to worship God. Ask: What is a practical application of verse 8? Emphasize that it means more than wearing jewelry. What are some other ways to bind God’s words in our lives? How can our physical homes communicate that we worship God? • Lead members to understand that obedience is the true measure of our worship.
MAP: Apply this component of worship by spending the day in silence. Do not say a word; just listen.
The Point God expects every aspect of my family to be an expression of worship.
Personal application MAP: Meditate on the words heart, soul and strength. Evaluate the passions of your heart and the values of your soul. Are they devoted to God in worship? Think about the issues in your life that sap your spiritual strength. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for power to worship God with all your strength.
MAP: Apply this component of worship by planning an intentional conversation with your family to talk about God—His love for you and your love for Him. Write a list of topics and questions you’ll use to guide the family conversation. Lead your family to agree to set a date and time for your conversation. Pray that God will inspire your family to set and keep the date. Pray that the Holy Spirit will be your Prompter in worship.
I will worship God will all of my heart, soul, and strength.
family application We will provide worship experiences in our family life and lead and inspire our children to worship God and God alone.
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The Expectation of Love 1 John 4:7-19
Getting Started: Discuss the ways God loves us. Think about songs and Scripture that talk about the ways we receive His love. Why does God choose to love us? What does He expect in return?
The Initiator of love (1 John 4:7-12). • Read aloud 1 John 4:7-12. Lead the class to name ways people appropriately express and receive genuine love. Ask: According to verse 7, who initiates love? How do you see God in the expressions of love we mentioned? What makes us able to receive love from others? • Lead the class to discuss what verses 8-10 teach us about how God reveals His love. Ask: What did it cost God to express His love for us? According to verses 11-12, what should it cost us to love? How can your family initiate loving relationships?
A dwelling place of love (1 John 4:13-16). • Enlist a member to read aloud 1 John 4:13-16. Point out that verse 12 is a bridge between the two sections and that the word remain serves as the bridge. Explain that the word means “to make a dwelling place.” • Ask: What are the evidences that a person is a dwelling place for God and that the person dwells in God? Emphasize that confessing Jesus is the Son of God and love are the evidence. Ask: How does God provide assurance that our lives are a dwelling place for God? (He gave us the Holy Spirit.) • Lead the class to discuss ways that our lives and families are a dwelling place for God’s love. • Ask: How can we teach and inspire our families to love God and love others in the same way that God loves us?
The perfection of love (1 John 4:17-19). • Lead the class to read in unison 1 John 4:17-19. Ask: How is love perfected in us? (“Perfect love drives out fear”; so when we escape and overcome our fears, love is perfected—made complete—in us.) • Lead the class to discuss the fears that are at work in their lives and in their families. Ask: How can we provoke fear in our children? How can we inspire confidence? How can our families be a place where love is perfected?
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MAP: Pray, asking God to teach you His great love and to inspire you to love others sacrificially.
The Point God expects to manifest His love in and through my family.
MAP: Meditate on the items in your life and in your family that take up room that the love of Christ could occupy. Consider ways that you and your family can complete a “spring cleaning” in your lives, removing anything that hinders you from being a dwelling place of God’s love.
I surrender my life to God’s love. I repent of denying others the love they need. I ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse me of hatred and fear and selfishness so that I can be a dwelling place of His love.
MAP: Apply these verses by giving your fears to God. Meditate on how God’s love can give you confidence and drive away your fears. Pray, asking the Holy Spirit to identify fears that you are provoking in your family. How can God’s love in you drive away their fears?
We will love our children unconditionally and consistently. We will lead and inspire them to express God’s love to others. We will pray as a family that we will become a dwelling place of God’s love.
The Expectation of Service Mark 10:35-45
Getting Started: Prepare a table of snacks and place it in a prominent location. As members
arrive, give no instructions and don’t make mention of the snacks. Observe whether members help themselves and if any offer to serve others. Share your observations with the class. Did anyone help themselves? Did anyone offer to bring others a snack? Explain the context of today’s lesson.
The enemy of service (Mark 10:35-41). • Enlist a person to read Mark 10:35. Ask: What was wrong with the question that James and John asked of Jesus? Point out the implications of the question. James and John were seeking seats of high honor and ruling positions in Jesus’ kingdom. Ask: What does this reveal about the disciples’ understanding of Jesus’ kingdom? What was the reason Jesus gave for not granting their request? (It was not His to grant, but the Father’s.) • Ask: What was the other 10 disciples’ response to James and John? (They were indignant.) What is the enemy of service in God’s kingdom? (Pride.)
MAP: Pray, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any trace of pride that hinders you from serving in Jesus’ kingdom.
MAP: Meditate on the words servant and slave. What emotions arise in your heart as you meditate? In what ways do you resist being a servant and a slave?
I will surrender my pride to Jesus and devote my life to serving others in His kingdom.
The paradigm of service (Mark 10:45). • Call on volunteers to share experiences they’ve had in learning by observing and imitating someone else do something. (Examples: baking a cake, playing an instrument, repairing a car, hitting a golf shot, etc.) • Read aloud Mark 10:45. Ask: How is Jesus our paradigm for living out the paradox of service? Since we are followers of Christ, how do we imitate His life? In what ways can we model service for our children? • Lead the class to discuss ways that their family can be a service station. What are some acts of service you can perform? What are the contexts where you can serve? How can you maintain a servant’s heart?
When we follow Jesus we will be a servant to others.
The paradox of service (Mark 10:42-44). • Enlist a person to read Mark 10:42-44. Ask: How did Jesus describe the world’s idea of leadership? (Domination and power.) What words did Jesus use to emphasize that His followers do not lead like the world leads? • Emphasize the paradox in verses 43, noting that in the world’s view it is absurd or contradictory that greatness and honor are found in becoming the least. Lead the class to discuss how we can practically live out the paradox of service in Jesus’ kingdom.
MAP: Apply the model of Jesus’ servanthood to your life. In what ways can you die to self to be a servant to others? What are the resources God has given you for service?
We will become a paradigm of Jesus’ servant heart to our children. We will lead by serving. We will provide opportunities for our family to serve others in Jesus’ kingdom.
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The Expectation of Holiness 1 Peter 1:13-16; 2:9-10
Getting Started: Call on volunteers to share definitions of the word holy. Ask: What type of persons come to mind when you think of holy people? What type of behaviors do you relate with holiness? God expects parents to nurture holy living in their families.
Holy Mindset (1 Peter 1:13-14). • Read aloud 1 Peter 1:13-14. Write the heading “Holy Living” and the words “Positive Actions” and “Do Not” in two columns on a large sheet of paper. Direct the class to list under each heading the preparations we must take to live a holy life. • Ask: What is the mindset needed for holy living? What is our hope for holy living? What is the barrier to holy living? • Lead the class to discuss why our former desires were ignorant. Ask: How do we sometimes allow ourselves to be conformed to those ignorant desires? In what ways are these desires unholy?
Holy Conduct (1 Peter 1:15-16). • Enlist a person to read aloud 1 Peter 1:15-16. Ask: What is the reason that Peter exhorts us to live a holy life? What are some reasons we don’t do it? • Point out the phrase “all your conduct “in verse 15 (“behavior” or “manner of conversation” in other translations). Lead the class to list the specific areas of life this phrase encompasses. Direct them to make direct application by discussing how we are holy in: our thoughts, our words, our attitudes, our priorities, our recreation, our business, the disciplining of our children, and more. • Emphasize the holy living means that our conduct reflects God’s conduct.
Holy People (1 Peter 2:9-10). • Enlist a person to share how their life was shaped by the positive expectations and hopes a parent or other important adult communicated to them when they were a child. • Read aloud 1 Peter 2:9-10. Ask: What words did Peter use to inform us of our value as a people? • Lead the class to discuss ways that they can nurture their children to understand that God expects us to be and even pronounces us as holy people. Ask: How can we nurture holy living in our families?
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MAP: Is your mind ready for holy action? Pray that the Holy Spirit will transform your mind so that you are ready to be serious in rooting out all unholy conduct from your life and being filled with God’s holiness.
MAP: List the ways you will Apply God’s expectations of holy living in your life. How will others in your family be impacted by the changes in your life? Meditate on ways your family can be a holy family.
The Point God demands that we live a life that is completely distinct in this world in every area of our conduct. This is the meaning of holy living: our conduct reflects God’s conduct.
Personal application I will prepare my mind and my entire life for the action to be God’s holy person. I will set my hopes on Jesus’ grace that conforms me into His holy life.
family application MAP: Pray, asking God to forgive you for nurturing unholy expectations in your children. Ask Him to reveal to you ways that you and your family can be transformed. How will you begin communicating to your children that they can be God’s holy people?
We will nurture holy living in our family, first by living a holy life ourselves, then by communicating and teaching our children God’s desire for them to be His holy people.
The Expectation of Mission 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Getting Started: Display a photograph of a U. S. Embassy. Ask: What happens at an embassy? What does an ambassador accomplish in a foreign nation? Explain that in today’s study, we will discover that God expects us and our families to be on His mission in the world, an embassy of His reconciliation.
A new perspective (2 Cor. 5:16). • Enlist a person to read aloud 2 Corinthians 5:16. Point out that Paul was challenging his readers to have a new perspective about Christ, about life, and about other people. Rather than perceiving things from merely a human perspective, we need a spiritual perspective about Christ, life, and others. • Ask: When we view all of life in a spiritual perspective, what changes in our perception of Christ, life, and those around us?
A new person (2 Cor. 5:17).
A new priority (2 Cor. 5:20-21).
• Direct members to mark key words or phrases in their Bibles as you read aloud 2 Cor. 5:17. Have volunteers share the words and key phrases they marked. Point out the words new and old. Ask: What becomes new and old when we follow Christ? • Lead the class to discuss how their lives became new in Christ and how they distinguish their old life patterns from today’s. Ask: What is the evidence that others who know you well see that you are a new creation in Christ?
• Have a volunteer recall how Peter described us in 1 Peter 2:9-10. Direct the class to read 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 to discover how Paul described us. Ask: What two words did Paul use to describe who we are in Christ? (Ambassadors and righteousness.) • Ask: What does an ambassador do? What does this imply about our new priority as God’s new person in Christ? (Our highest priority is to be on God’s mission.) What is the message that Jesus wants us to communicate to the world? • Note the words appealing and plead in verse 20. Ask: What do these words reveal about the intensity and the urgency we have to be Christ’s ambassadors? What are ways that your family can serve as an embassy for Christ and be on His mission?
MAP: Pray for Jesus to give you His perspective on life.
The Point God has delegated the message of reconciliation to all believers and commands us to be on His mission in the world.
Personal application MAP: Have you truly followed Jesus as your Savior? If not, Apply this verse by confessing and repenting of your sins, trusting in Jesus alone who died on the cross for your sins, and committing to follow Jesus as the Lord of your life. If you are, Meditate on and thank Jesus for the new person He has created you to be.
I will gratefully enjoy my new perspective in life, my new position and purpose in life, and will faithfully engage in God’s mission in the world by living as Christ’s ambassador.
family application MAP: Pray, asking the Holy Spirit to reset your priorities and to reveal to you how you and your family can serve as God’s embassy in your neighborhood. Apply the passage by identifying specific actions you can take to participate in God’s ministry of reconciliation.
We will demonstrate to and teach our children to live as new creatures in God’s world by being on God’s mission in the world and by making our family His embassy of reconciliation to the world.
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“Wait for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait for the LORD.” ©©Thinkstock
-Psalm 27:14 48 Parenting Teens