Reduce parent-teen conflict

Posted by Phil

Children are not born with instructions. Even if they were, I doubt that many parents would actually read the directions. Most parents, like me, learn from experience. The following four pointers are some principles I’ve used to reduce the parent/teen conflict in my own home and to increase my teen’s involvement in making responsible choices.

Realize your own needs

of teenagers are usually approaching an age of reflection, and this mid-life stage can be a time of personal crisis! Parenting a teen can add to the intensity, as you must face your own issues and those of a budding son or daughter. As a parent, you must come to terms with your own emotions and not transfer these to the challenges of parenting.

Respond productively to emotions

Teens are a bundle of emotions, but never discount the vital role of these emotions. Emotions are at the surface, but they offer parents an open line of communication with their teens. This time can assist you in better understanding your teen’s deeper feelings and thoughts.

Too often, parents discount how seriously their teens desire their opinions. Find out what your teen feels is the source of his emotions and talk about it. The source may be real or imagined, but it is serious to him. Choose one meal each day when the family can gather to talk. Use it to build a lasting family tradition.

Focus on positive behaviors

Conflicts and disagreements offer an opportunity for parents to help their teen talk through a time of difficulty. This can be a teachable moment for your teen, other siblings, and yourself. They will expect you to criticize what’s wrong, so asking questions and listening can catch a teen off-guard.

A turning point in my own life was when I knew my actions deserved punishment, but my dad responded calmly. We talked through my choices and the natural consequences that would result. This became a defining moment in my own life!

Develop a plan of action

Teens have adult bodies with a child’s experience. As a result, they may struggle with knowing how to act on their feelings. The following gives you a way for your teenager to be a partner in developing a plan that you both can agree upon.

Compromise can be a dirty word in theology, but it’s critical in relationships. Parents can move their children toward adulthood by allowing them to negotiate some house rules. This means teaching them to make appropriate choices and weighing rewards and punishments.

Within your expectations, consider what is negotiable: curfews, cell phones, car keys, and so forth. Encourage your teen to begin by praying and to list their wants. You must then explain what you expect. As you talk with your teen, offer possible alternatives and list the punishments for violating the rules.

Once an agreement is reached, put it in writing – signed and dated. This simple exercise can increase communication and reduce conflict.

The front porch may be gone, but the need to talk continues. Allow your experiences and an emphasis on consequences guide you as you guide your teen. Before you know it, you just might have a mature young adult on your hands.

by Dr. Larry Purcell on Tuesday, November 13, 2007

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Are my kids “self-reliant?”

Posted by Phil

At the risk of sounding a bit political, I thought I would share some thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street movement.  While I sympathize with people that are down on their luck, those that don’t have job, and those that are struggling to make ends meet, I don’t think that the answer is to blame Wall Street, or to expect our federal government to give continuous handouts to anyone and everyone.  I believe the “handout” role should be filled by our churches and charitable organizations for the most part, at the community level.  Whenever things happen at the federal level, there is a greater opportunity for mismanagement and corruption.

Our young people today seem to, in general, lack the understanding of what it means to be “self-reliant”.  There is a sense of entitlement among many of them that they “deserve” to get whatever they want.  It’s great to have aspirations and hopes that your “wants” will be fulfilled, but it needs to be backed up by the willingness to put in the time, effort, and hard work it takes to get where you want to be.

One of the benefits of the camp experience, I feel, is that it teaches our campers to be “self-reliant”.  For two or four weeks out of the year, they are “on their own”, many for the first time in their lives.  They don’t have mom and dad to go to for every little thing.  While they have loving counselors to talk with and turn to, they still have to learn to make decisions on their own, try new things on their own, and make new friends on their own.

Hopefully, you can find ways at home to help your children become more “self-reliant”.  Give them opportunities to make positive choices… help them to find answers to their problems without providing the solution to the problem yourself.  And most important of all, help them learn that in their quest for “self-reliance”, they can turn to Jesus to help them as well.  Philippians 4:13 says, “I  can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”  With His help, we certainly can!

Ron Springs
Ridgecrest Summer Camps, Director

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Spiritual mothering

Posted by Phil

by Beth Moore

God created every life to be fruitful and multiply, but this God-given dream represents more than physical offspring. I believe our dreams to have babies represent a desire to have fruitful lives, to invest ourselves in something that matters and makes a difference.

In the Old Testament, God promised great numbers of physical descendants. In the New Testament, His emphasis is clearly on spiritual offspring. God calls us to be fruitful and to multiply until He calls us home. Potential for spiritual offspring is virtually limitless. God desires to empower you to bear spiritual offspring. God created you to bear much fruit. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mommy more than anything in the world. Now my children are almost grown. Recently my older daughter and I were enjoying a time of rich fellowship together when she paused and asked, “Mom, when Melissa and I grow up and perhaps even move far away from you and Daddy, will you be OK?”

A lump welled in my throat, but I still answered confidently: “Yes, darling. Most people just need to feel useful. As long as I have Jesus, I will always feel useful — even if I occasionally feel lonely.”

I have tried my hardest to keep my children from growing up, but all my efforts have failed. Sometimes I think: “What will I ever do? I was born to be a mommy!” Then I remember God has called me primarily to women’s ministry, and I will always have the opportunity to “mother” a few spiritual offspring as long as I am willing to invest myself.

In fact, one of my spiritual daughters has a particularly dry and delightful wit. She is a gifted Bible teacher at only 27 years of age and hardly ever misses an opportunity to affectionately rib me about my age. I introduced her once as a spiritual daughter, and later she said, “Since you led the person to the Lord, who in turn, led me to the Lord, wouldn’t that really make you my spiritual grand-mother?” After that I called her a smart aleck, we had a great laugh, and every card or gift that I have sent to her since that remark have all been signed, “Love, Granny.”

If God chose for you to have physical children, prepare yourself! They will grow up! Then it is time to enlarge your tent and invest in spiritual children! If God chooses for you never to have physical children, He is calling you to a bigger family! God purposely placed the dream of fruitful lives in our hearts. Oh, how I love the paradoxical ways our glorious heavenly Father works. Only He can bring gain from loss. Only He can make us more fruitful in our barrenness!

One final thought. Undoubtedly one of the reasons I wanted children was to bear offspring who were the image of my husband. I wanted little Keiths and Keithettes! I did not want them to look like me. I have always thought Keith was far more beautiful than I. You see, the same is true of our spiritual offspring. Once we fall in love with Christ, we are so taken with His beauty, we want children to look just like Him. That is spiritual parenting in a nutshell; raising spiritual sons and daughters to look just like their Father in Heaven. What could be more important?


This article was adapted from Breaking Free © 2000 (Broadman and Holman). Used by permission.

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Family Connections: Secret Servants

Posted by Phil

In addition to serving other people this fall, what if you could get your family excited about serving one another? Depending on the ages, you could make this really fun as you find tangible ways to serve other people in the home. You could have everyone draw a name out of a hat or partner up, but instruct all family members that their job is to make their special assignment feel encouraged and loved in the coming week. You may say to yourself, it’s not the same when I know I’m someone’s assignment. But I would be willing to bet that you would be proud of your kids as they love each other (or you) well. Set the pace and give positive feedback. Serving is contagious. Once it starts, it has the potential to change your home!

Try it out and share your stories here. We’d love to hear from you…

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