MONTHLY ARCHIVES: September 2011

Get a parenting makeover

Posted on September 28, 2011 by Phil

You’ve seen TV shows where a makeover is done on a house or a person. Well, you can now do a parenting “character makeover!” After all, we serve a God of fresh starts, second chances, and rebirths. Anytime is a great time to let Him remake us into the parents He wants us to be!

Prideful parents need humility

We’ve all seen prideful parents. They take all the credit for how amazing their kids are turning out! They may also push their kids to perform so they can live out their dreams through their kids’ accomplishments.

Pride leaves us delusional. We think we are the reason our kids are capable, attractive, popular, or successful. At the same time, we are oblivious to the reality that everything our kids are is from God. We, as parents, are simply stewards of His treasure!

In contrast, humility focuses on God. To get rid of pride, it’s as simple as applying John 3:30: He must increase, but I must decrease. Focus more on God. Look for Him, thank Him, give Him credit, and praise Him. As you do, your prideful self-focus will naturally decrease.

Insecure parents need confidence

An insecure parent second-guesses her decisions, feels inferior to her kids or to other parents, or needs constant reassurance that she’s doing the right thing.

Confidence is that inner self-assurance that lets us interact effectively with others-even our teens! Usually we think of “self-confidence” as believing in ourselves, but it’s really “God-confidence” because your confidence is only as strong as the One in whom you trust.

To start building God-confidence, try doing a Scripture study of what God thinks of you. You can start with passages like Ephesians 1:4: For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.

Fearful parents need courage

Raising teens can fill us with fear. Between worries about peer pressure, drunk drivers, social networking, and driver’s ed, anxiety can be crippling. It not only keeps you on high-alert, but it also causes you to hold your teen way too tightly.

Courage means being filled with God’s strength, which frees you to take risks, endure difficulty, or withstand fear. Parental courage is not an absence of fear, but it trusts God and keeps going.

Second Timothy 1:7 says that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound thinking. If you are haunted by a spirit of fear, it’s not from God! Ask Him to release you from it. To practice courage, say yes to an experience that you would normally avoid, such as taking your teen out for driving practice!

Stressed parents need self-control

I (Katie) have a confession: As a stressed-out, single mom in the late 80’s, I was a rageaholic. Anything could send me flying into a verbal rampage. One minute I’d be sweet and kind and charming. The next minute-well, you know the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde drill.

Self-control is what I needed: Self-Under-God’s-Control! It draws on God’s power to exercise restraint and to avoid overindulgence, over-reactions, or even laziness (Prov. 25:28).

To move toward more self-control in your life, take a Sabbath. Clear some commitments and devote one day a week to God and rest.

Impatient parents need patience

Parenting teens is a breeding ground for impatience. Cluttered rooms, words mumbled under their breath, disrespect, forgetfulness, unkindness, and mood swings work in harmony to push us past a point of no return. But patience is about selflessness since love does not demand its own way (1 Cor. 13:5).

You can increase your patience by practicing flexibility, listening, and seeking first to understand rather than to be understood. In other words, don’t rigidly demand things be done your way. Instead, try listening more than you speak. And before you tell them what you think, get to know what’s going on with them first.

Envious parents need contentment

Benjamin Franklin wisely said: “Contentment makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.” In order to be content, we need to rid our hearts of envy. We also need to stop comparing our kids to anyone else’s. Comparisons ignite envy, insecurity, and pride.

Contentment rests in thankfulness (Eph. 5:20). To tackle envy, keep a “Thankful List,” looking for things in your teens for which you can be grateful: their health, their disposition, their kindness, their intelligence, their abilities, and the areas where they take after you!

Greedy parents need generosity

I (Shelley) am a food hoarder. I never shared my candy as a child; and to this day, I hide secret stashes of my favorite chips and cookies from my kids. I’ll make my special tuna with boiled eggs, pickles, and onions, only to get frustrated when my kids have the nerve to eat it!

Generosity means being able to hold your time, your house, your personal space-even your tuna-loosely. Paul told Timothy that believers need to be rich in good deeds and always ready to share (1 Tim. 6:18). Watch what you hoard as a parent.

One great way to be generous is allowing yourself to be interruptible. To help remind yourself of this commitment, use the slogan: stop, drop, and roll. In other words, stop to really listen to what your teenager is saying, drop what you’re doing to give him your full attention, and roll with whatever your teen needs.

‘Quitters’ need perseverance

One of the most challenging aspects of parenting teens is seeing things through. It can get be difficult to follow through on consequences or to stick with your teen and believe in them when they disappoint you.

Perseverance is all about persistence and diligence. James 1:4 tells us to let perseverance run its course, so we can be all God wants us to be. Develop perseverance by igniting your heart for your kids. Ask God to restore your passion to see them grow up right, and use that to persevere when you feel like quitting.

Your parenting character traits are like windows into your life. Your teens can look into them and see what Christ is like. Partner with the Spirit to complete a makeover on your character. Start fresh today by admitting the truth about the strongholds in your life. Only then can you truly develop and strengthen your character.

by Shelley Leith and Katie Brazelton on Wednesday, February 10, 2010


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Standing in the Gap

Posted on September 21, 2011 by Phil

I’ve worked closely with teenagers for the past 11 years. I have considered it my job to know and understand teenagers the best I can. Perhaps the best way to do that, in my opinion, is to be with them. Most would agree that it’s hard to understand a culture that you are not a part of. You can study it, read books about it (or articles like this one), hear first hand accounts of it, and still not have a clear understanding of why things are the way they are. You have to actually be a part of the culture, live with them, experience what they experience, listen to what they listen to, see what they see, and show up in their space….if you want to actually understand them. I considered it a privilege to get to be a part of this culture for many years!

The Parent Factor

Here’s the problem. Eventually, as a parent, you experience that separation from your teenager. You feel as if you can’t show up in their space as you once did, or you will be crowding them. They stop telling you everything. You stop understanding their jokes. And you find yourself missing out, and not a part of their culture anymore. Yes, this is hard.

First, never stop pursuing your kids! Continue to show up in their life and communicate that you love them no matter what they do. When nothing else works, keep showing up.

Standing in the gap

We pray for another caring adult. I am a huge believer in praying for another caring adult who can come along side your teenager. Another follower of Jesus, who can earn the right to be heard by your child. Through shared experiences, this young (or old) adult can break through barriers that seem impossible for a parent. Somehow its just different. Some of you are lucky enough to have incredibly open relationships with your teens. Even for you, the value of these other non-parent relationships with your child is enormous. Pray for these people as they walk along side your child in some of the most difficult years of their life. And remember, as great a relationship as these other folks can have with your babies…they will never replace you as a parent. That is a role just for you.

Be thankful for your youth leaders at your church, or your YoungLife and WyldLife leaders, or even your camp counselors. The Lord uses them in great ways! More than anything else, pray for them and support them. Pray for wisdom and for favor in the eyes of the teenagers they work with…

And while you pray, never stop pursuing your kids and showing up in their space, at their practices, at their games, where they work, wherever they are…

Where do you show up in your child’s space? How do you support them and love them by “just showing up?” Share your thoughts or stories below…

Phil Berry
Camp Director, YoungLife leader and Father


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Right turns on the road to better parenting

Posted on September 14, 2011 by Phil

Let’s take a look at the steps we can take to get started on the road to better parenting.

1. Teach Christian values. As parents we need to identify, live, and communicate our values. If we value truth and honesty, we must be honest and adhere to biblical standards. We need to believe and teach our teens that the only truth in the world that matters is in the Scriptures. You are deceived, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God (Matt. 22:29).

2. Express love and acceptance of our children. Even when their behavior disappoints us, we must continue to let them know that we love them. Genuine love for our children will grow out of our awareness that we are genuinely loved by God. It’s not always easy, but unconditional love is necessary. We also need to teach our children about God’s love. God’s love is solid and secure. He adopted us into His family, and He knows our needs and will provide them. Your teens need to know and accept these truths.

3. Be consistent with discipline. Our goal is that our children will ultimately become self-disciplined and self-controlled. If discipline does not eventually become internal, no amount of outside pressure to conform will make a teenager a spiritually healthy person.

4. Pray continually for and about our children. God is more concerned for them than we possibly can be, so He welcomes our conversations with Him about them. With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints (Eph. 6:18).

5. Worship together as a family. Participating in regular worship, both corporately and personally, will move us all toward spiritual health. Again, I cannot hope that my child will grow to be a faithful worshiper of the Lord if I refuse to do so myself. Let worship become a lifestyle for you, and your teens will likely catch it from you. Also, remember that personal and family worship are important as well.

6. Be active participants in the work of the church. Remember to balance your time with your family and in your church activities; but, again, if you want your youth to participate in church activities, you must do the same. Dropping them off at youth activities will not teach them to be faithful church members.

7. Participate in ministries that are designed for you as a parent. Not every church does this, but when a seminar or class is offered to help parents be better at their jobs, be sure to go. It will communicate volumes to your teen when they see that you are trying to improve in your parenting skills.

by Chuck Gartman


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Conversation Starters: Protective Rules

Posted on September 7, 2011 by Phil

Now that Camp is over, it’s the perfect time to make sure that you aren’t missing opportunities to talk with you kids! We encourage you to always ask you kids questions. In case you hadn’t picked up it, kids love to talk about themselves. Create a culture in your family of talking. The earlier you start, the easier it will be. Here are a few questions we invite you to use…

For Preschoolers:
Help your children know that when they disobey you, they are disobeying God. Very early on, begin to teach your children that your authority comes from God. When they disobey, reinforce the spiritual aspect of their choices.

For Children:
Start teaching your elementary-aged children the Ten Commandments. Let them see these are protective rules God gives to His children. Ask them how these rules are meant to protect us, and connect this to the rules you as a parent give to protect them.

For Students:
Give your teens opportunities to show they can be responsible. As you give them more freedom, ask them how they think your home could be more conducive to spiritual growth. See if they will offer ideas of things the family could do or not do to grow. They may surprise you!

Share with all of us how it went….


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