Parenting Mistakes to Avoid

Parenting Mistakes to Avoid

I saw this article and thought that it was worth sharing.  It lists the top 10 mistakes that Christian parents make in raising teens. Most of these I wholeheartedly agree with and have seen damage families. 

Some of the highlights are:

#9: Letting your teens activities take top priority for your family.
#5: Holding low expectations for your teen.
#3: Outsourcing your teen’s spiritual formation.

Each of these are expanded with some good information.  You should definitely take a look and see what you think.  Are there any problems that you see in your approach to parenting?  Keep up the good work.

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Instagram Safety

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When I entered into youth ministry social media wasn’t a big deal.  Then myspace came in and changed everything.  Facebook took over the mantle as the best platform, and twitter has a unique viral sort of following.  With the rise of the smartphone and the increasing quality of the cameras attached to them, it was only a matter of time until Instagram (a photo sharing app) entered the scene.  Instagram is insanely popular with teenagers.  If your kid isn’t on Instagram, most of their friends still are, so it matters.  As with all social media there are some dangerous ways that it can be used if privacy isn’t kept tight.

Jonathan McKee is a youth culture expert and he has recently posted an article about Keeping Instagram Safe.  In this article he writes:

Instagram can be a fun and innocent app, but like all social media, it requires responsibility by the user. As Instagram’s own faq page states:
“All photos are public by default which means they are visible to anyone using Instagram or on the instagram.com website. If you choose to make your account private, then only people who follow you on Instagram will be able to see your photos.”
This might not sound like a big deal, and most of the time, it’s not. But I’ve witnessed the horror stories when parents didn’t talk with their kids about social media responsibility.

McKee goes on to list some suggestions for how to use Instagram safely.  I encourage you to check out the rest of his blog post here.  Then have a conversation with your kid about how they use Instagram.

Helping Students Navigate Technology

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The world is changing. Technological upgrades are coming at a faster and faster clip, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign that the progress will slow down.  As technology shifts, students continue to stay on the cutting edge while parents fall behind on knowing what is available.  Part of being a parent today is working to stay current with what your teenagers are exposed to.  With that in mind I commend the following websites:

Parent Tech Guide: They are the authors of the handout I gave to parents at the youth parent meeting
CPYU: A great site that can send you weekly updates
The Source for Parents: Another handy resource to check out.

I hope you put these resources to good use.  Also, feel free to talk to me about any youth culture questions that you might have as well.  Let me be a resource for you, as well!

Do you remember?

Remember when you were a teenager?  I do.  I remember the late 90’s.  I remember the rise of the internet, and the dangers of AOL chatrooms.  I even knew that there were places worse than that on the internet.  I remember having my own landline in my bedroom and I could talk on the phone until I fell asleep.  I knew that some people had cell phones, but not me…there just wasn’t any need for one.

Fast forward to today.  The world has changed dramatically.  The internet has gone crazy huge, and social media has become about the biggest thing ever.  Now the vast majority of teens have a cell phone (and a smartphone at that).  It all changed so rapidly.

Do you remember what you were like as a teenager?  Do you remember making poor choices because you didn’t have enough life experience, common sense, or character?  I do.

Fast forward to today.  Teens still make bad choices.  Teens still don’t have a long-term view of life, but the decisions they make in an instant can change their lives for a lifetime. As a society, we have created new ways for kids to make these bad decisions.  With the rise of camera phones came the rise of sexting and the new app Snapchat.  With the rise of social media comes the rise of cyberbullying and other such misuses of the medium.

So what can you do?

First, understand that what you see professed in the media as the end of the world may be a bit sensationalized.  If you watched the news only, you would believe 90% or more of teens are sexting, but the best numbers we have put the actual number around 28%.  Now that’s a lot of teens to be sure, but it not everyone…it’s not even a majority.

Second, talk with your teen.  Consistently talk about the long-term impact of decisions.  The internet is a permanent place.  What they post on Facebook doesn’t just disappear when it scrolls off the newsfeed.

Third, help your teen understand the proper way to use their phone to enhance the kingdom of God.  The cell phone is a great device, with great potential to link students with their peers.  Harness it and use it for God’s glory.  It is possible.

Keep on keeping on.  I know it’s tough out their on the front lines. How are you helping your teen make wise choices.  Have you discussed the long-term impact of online decisions?  Do you have open dialogue with your teen about these issues?

Tough Questions Final Week

We began this week with a game where the group was divided into three teams and each team received: a roll of wrapping paper and a roll of scotch tape. The object of the game was to use the wrapping paper as a ninja costume, the tube as a ninja sword, and the tape to keep the costume together. Also, five 2.5′ lengths of tape were allowed to be used to strengthen the sword. We had one team that just totally dominated.

Good Fun!

We looked at a few specific issues that the students had submitted for the Tough Questions series finale.

1. When I pray what name should I call God?
There are a number of names of God in Scripture.  Generally when someone prays it can be helpful to think of the attribute of God that they are seeking (Father, Judge, Healer, etc) and then use that particular name to address God.  Here is a list of names of God that are found in the Bible:
Abba – Father
Elohim – The Strong, faithful, and only true God
El Shaddai – Almighty, All-sufficient God
El Elyon – Most High God
El Olam – The Everlasting God
Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will Provide
Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is my Banner
Jehovah Shalom – The Lord is Peace
Jehovah Sabbaoth – The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah Ro’i – The Lord is my Shepherd
Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is There
Jehovah Rapha – The Lord who Heals
The Light of the World
The Bread of Life
Lamb of God
Emmanuel: God with Us

It may be beneficial to take a look at this list of names of God and others that are used throughout Scripture (if you’d like a more in-depth look at this subject click here) and discuss with your child a few that have meant more to you at certain times in your life.  This sort of discussion gives your teenager a valuable glimpse into your spiritual life your walk with the Lord through the years.

2. Are my pets going to heaven?
The Bible doesn’t truly discuss this.  I have heard from many people that heaven wouldn’t be heaven without their pets there, and while I think the sentiment is nice, I believe that God is totally able to make heaven awesome with just his presence.  There does appear to be animals in heaven (lion laying down with the lamb), but this would not necessarily mean that your pet is kept around.

Regardless of your view on the souls of pets eternal home, I encourage you to think on the eternal home of the people you come in contact with daily.  They certainly have eternal souls, and they can live with you forever in heaven, but we need to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who are lost.  Pray for your neighbors as often as you think and care for your pets.  God will sort out the details and make our joy complete when we reach our heavenly home.

Tough Questions

At Frontline we have been exploring a series of youth offered questions.  Last week we had a guest speaker walk through an overview of the end times, good stuff.  I would like to highlight a few below that were of particular interest to the youth.  These are the sorts of questions that as a parent your child is asking.  At the bottom of each section I give some ideas of how a parent might want to discuss each issue with their child.

1. Is it okay that I don’t read the Bible?
This question is a little more complicated than it may seem at first blush.  As a pastor at a Bible church, the obvious answer is no.  However, as I began to think more and more on this subject I sort of struck a middle ground.  Is it sin not to read the Bible, no.  However, a consistent time with God in his Word will keep you from falling into sin.  The real point that needs to be understood is why is it best to read the Bible.  The answer to that is found in 2 Tim 3:16 and Psalm 119:11.  The Bible is God’s word to his beloved creation.  If we say that we love the Lord it is ideal that we know and understand what he has already communicated to us.
How do you encourage your children to read the Bible?  Do you shame them into spending time with the Lord?  Do you encourage them with the benefits of personal time in the Word?  Do your children know about your personal devotions? This is a good discussion to have.
Here is a blog post that I thought was interesting from a youth pastor on this topic.

2. Can I listen to rock music even if the lyrics are clean, even though my parents say no?
A pretty quick answer to this is no.  The issue at hand is obedience to parents not whether or not a certain type of music is clean.  The command is simple in Exodus 20:12 to honor your father and mother.  Also in Ephesians 6:1-3 the command is repeated to children to obey their parents in all things.
As an aside, parents, you need to be consistent in your rules and be willing to discuss them with your children.  An open dialog is important to a healthy parent child relationship.  If you have a rule that your child despises you should discuss it with them in a calm setting to let them know your reasons for the rule.  One website that may be helpful in this area of parenting along with many other is www.thesource4parents.com.  Take a look when you have a few minutes.

3. If God is good why is there evil in the world?
Tough question that is philosophical in nature.  I find two compelling arguments about this subject, one is the Augustinian Theodicy and the other is Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense.
The Augustinian Theodicy is an explaining away of evil as the result of man’s sin.  This seems logical enough though it leads to some issues with why man was ever given the opportunity to sin in the first place if evil is the consequence.  It also has been further developed by Thomas Aquinas to describe evil as a lack of good (compare: darkness is just an absence of light).
Alvin Plantinga has developed his freewill defense is summarized thus:

A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.

As a parent you probably have wrestled with this exact issue before.  Your teens are struggling with it for the first time.  They need to be able to discuss issues like this with you, so that it saves them from googling the answer which will likely take them to a variety of atheist websites.  Give them a foundation for knowledge and a platform for discussion.  Don’t force them to agree with you, but allow them to struggle with you helping them along the way.

4. What are the differences between Christians, Jehovah Witnesses, and Mormons?
There are many different views in these areas.  I referred to this website for a lot of information.  It’s good to have at least a basic handle on other religions that your child is bumping into, so be proactive in talking with your teen about friends who may be a part of another religion.  This is a great conversation starter, I get to discuss Islam with my son often as one of his friends at school is a Muslim.