Protecting Your Children on Their Smartphone

Posted by Karah

For more information go to:

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Protecting Children’s Privacy Online

Posted by Karah

img_6136Back in 2009 when Ridgecrest Summer Camps first began our Parent Blog, we posted about several ways you can create a cybersafe home. “This generation of parents is the first to face the challenge of helping our children make the most of their virtual space while keeping them safe in it.” (1) This rings more truly today than it did 8 years ago.

The world has rapidly changed since then, and the dangers of online activity apply to more than just what your child searches on the internet. Online bullying, predators, and in-app advertisements are one click away from accessing information about internet users, especially children. Comparitech is an online blog that has recently posted steps you can take to block unwanted contact and advertisements from the websites and apps your child might use. Since we at Ridgecrest Summer Camps want to continue partnering with you the parent as you invest in your child, we are pointing you to some professionals regarding these touchy issues.

This link will take you to a very informative blog posted by Comparitech in 2016. This guide is slightly different because it tackles the issue of online privacy which can span not only protecting children from online predators but also things like preventing identity theft (the FTC estimates that close to 3.5m children have had their SS number stolen for example) and ways to minimize the risks of the household computer becoming compromised. Take the time to read this blog and hear what the professionals have to say.

“Protecting Children’s Privacy Online- A Guide for Parents, Carers, and Educators”


Feel free to refresh your memory on other ways to create a cybersafe home that can still be applicable today. To access the blog posted by Ridgecrest Summer Camps in 2009, click the link here!



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Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

Posted by Phil

a post from Jeff Strong’s blog

It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. Over the next several days I’ll be expanding on each of these in succession, but for now, here is my top ten mistakes Christian parents of teens make:


10. Not spending time with your teen.

A lot of parents make the mistake of not spending time with their teens because they assume their teens don’t want to spend time with them! While that’s true in some contexts, teens still want and need “chunks” of one-on-one time with parents. Despite the fact that teens are transitioning into more independence and often carry a “I don’t need/want you around” attitude, they are longing for the securing and grounding that comes from consistent quality time.

Going for walks together, grabbing a coffee in order to “catch up,” going to the movies together, etc., all all simple investments that teens secretly want and look forward to. When you don’t carve out time to spend with your teen, you’re communicating that you’re not interested in them, and they internalize that message, consciously or unconsciously.

9. Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family.

The number of parents who wrap their lives/schedules around their teen’s activities is mind-boggling to me. I honestly just don’t get it. I know many parents want to provide their children with experiences and opportunities they never had growing up, but something’s gone wrong with our understanding of family and parenting when our teen’s wants/”needs” are allowed to overwhelm the family’s day-to-day routines.

Parents need to prioritize investing in their relationship with God (individually and as a couple), themselves and each other, but sadly all of these are often neglected in the name of “helping the kids get ahead.” “Don’t let the youth sports cartel run your life,” says Jen singer, author of You’re A Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either). I can’t think of many good reasons why families can’t limit teens to one major sport/extra-curricular activity per season. Not only will a frenetic schedule slowly grind down your entire family of time, you’ll be teaching your teen that “the good life” is a hyper-active one. That doesn’t align itself to Jesus’ teaching as it relates to the healthy rhythms of prayer, Sabbath, and down-time, all of which are critical to the larger Christian task of “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

8. Spoiling your teen.

We are all tempted to think that loving our kids means doing all we can to ensure they have all the opportunities and things we didn’t have growing up. This is a terrible assumption to make. It leads to an enormous amount of self-important, petty, and ungrateful kids. A lot of the time parents are well-intentioned in our spoiling, but our continual stream of money and stuff causes teens to never be satisfied and always wanting more. Your teen doesn’t need another piece of crap, what he needs is time and attention from you (that’s one expression of spoiling that actually benefits your teen!).

There are two things that can really set you back in life if we get them too early:

a. Access to too much money.
b. Access to too many opportunities.

Parents need to recognize they’re doing their teens a disservice by spoiling them in either of these ways. Save the spoiling for the grandkids.

7. Permissive parenting.

“Whatever” — It’s not just for teens anymore! The devil-may-care ambivalence that once defined the teenage subculture has now taken root as parents shrug their shoulders, ask, “What can you do?” and let their teens “figure things out for themselves.” I think permissive parenting (i.e., providing little direction, limits, and consequences) is on the rise because many parents don’t know how to dialogue with and discipline their children. Maybe parents don’t have any limits of boundaries within their own life, so they don’t know how to communicate the value of these to their teen. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to, because their own self-esteem is too tied up in their child’s perception of them, and they couldn’t handle having their teen get angry at them for actually trying to parent. Maybe it’s because many parents feel so overwhelmed with their own issues, they can hardly think of pouring more energy into a (potentially) taxing struggle or point of contention.

Whatever the reason, permissive parenting is completely irreconcilable with a Christian worldview. I certainly do not advocate authoritarian parenting styles, but if we practice a permission parenting style we’re abdicating our God-given responsibility to provide guidance, nurture, limits, discipline and consequences to our teen (all of which actually help our teen flourish long-term).

6. Trying to be your teen’s best friend.

Your teen doesn’t need another friend (they have plenty); they need a parent. Even through their teens, your child needs a dependable, confident, godly authority figure in their life. As parents we are called to provide a relational context characterized by wisdom, protection, love, support, and empowerment. As Christian parents we’re called to bring God’s flourishing rule into our family’s life. That can’t happen if we’re busy trying to befriend our teen. Trying to be your teen’s friend actually cheats them out of having these things in their lives.

Sometimes parents think that a strong relationship with their teen means having a strong friendship—but there’s a fine line that shouldn’t be crossed. You should be friendly to your teen but you shouldn’t be your teen’s friend. They have lots of friends, they only have one or two parents—so be the parent your teen needs you to be.

5. Holding low expectations for your teen.

Johann Goethe once wrote, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat as man as he can and should be, and he become as he can and should be.” All of us rise to the unconcious level of expectation we set for ourselves and perceive from others. During the teenage years, it’s especially important to slowly put to death the perception that your teen is still “a kid.” They are emerging leaders, and if you engage them as such, you will find that over time, they unconsciously take on this mantle for themselves. Yes, your teen can be moody, self-absorbed, irresponsible, etc., but your teen can also be brilliant, creative, selfless, and mature. Treating them like “kids” will reinforce the former; treating them as emerging leaders will reinforce the latter.

For an example of how the this difference in perspective plays out, I’ve written an article entitled “The Future of an Illusion” which is available as a free download from (in the Free Downloads section). It specifically looks at my commitment to be involved in “emerging church ministry” as opposed to “youth ministry,” and it you may find some principles within it helpful.

4. Not prioritizing youth group/church involvement.

This one is one of my personal pet peeves (but not just because this is my professional gig). I simply do not understand parents who expect and want their kids to have a dynamic, flourishing faith, and yet don’t move heaven and earth to get them connected to both a youth group and local church.

I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret: no teenager can thrive in their faith without these two support mechanisms. I’m not saying a strong youth group and church community is all they need, but what I am saying that you can have everything else you think your teen needs, but without these two things, don’t expect to have a spiritually healthy and mature teen. Maybe there are teens out there who defy this claim, but honestly, I can’t think of one out of my own experience. As a parent, youth group and church involvement should be a non-negotiable part of your teen’s life, and that means they take priority over homework (do it the night before), sports, or any other extra-curricular commitments.

Don’t be the parent who is soft on these two commitments, but pushes their kid in schooling, sports, etc. In general, what you sow into determines what you reap; if you want to reap a teenager who has a genuine, flourishing faith, don’t expect that to happen if you’re ok with their commitment to youth group/church to be casual and half-hearted.

3. Outsourcing your teen’s spiritual formation.

While youth group and church is very important, another mistake I see Christian parents make is assuming them can completely outsource the spiritual development of their child to these two things. I see the same pattern when it comes to Christian education: parents sometimes choose to send their children/teens to Christian schools, because by doing so they think they’ve done their parental duty to raise their child in a godly way.

As a parent–and especially if you are a Christian yourself–YOU are THE key spiritual role model and mentor for your teen. And that isn’t “if you want to be” either–that’s the way it is. Ultimately, you are charged with teaching and modelling to your teen what follow Jesus means, and while church, youth groups, Christian schools can be a support to that end, they are only that: support mechanisms.

Read Deuteronomy 6 for an overview of what God expects from parents as it relates to the spiritual nurture and development of their children. (Hint: it’s doesn’t say, “Hand them off to the youth pastor and bring them to church on Sunday.”)

2. Not expressing genuine love and like to your teen.

It’s sad that I have to write this one at all, but I’m convinced very few Christian parents actually express genuine love and “like” to their teen. It can become easy for parents to only see how their teen is irresponsible, failing, immature, etc., and become a harping voice instead of an encouraging, empowering one.

Do you intentially set aside time to tell your teen how much you love and admire them? Do you write letters of encouragement to them? Do you have “date nights” where you spend time together and share with them the things you see in them that you are proud of?

Your teen won’t ask you for it, so don’t wait for an invitation. Everyday say something encouraging to your teen that builds them up (they get enough criticism as it is!). Pray everyday for them and ask God to help you become one of the core people in your teen’s life that He uses to affirm them.

1. Expecting your teen to have a devotion to God that you are not
cultivating within yourself.

When I talk to Christian parents, it’s obvious that they want their teen to have a thriving, dynamic, genuine, life-giving faith. What isn’t so clear, however, is whether that parent has one themselves. When it comes to the Christian faith, most of the time what we learn is caught and not taught. This means that even if you have the “right answers” as a parent, if you’re own spiritual walk with God is pathetic and stilted, your teen will unconciously follow suit. Every day you are teaching your teach (explicitely and implicitely) what discipleship to Jesus looks like “in the flesh.”

What are they catching from you? Are you cultivating a deep and mature relationship with God personally, or is your Christian parenting style a Christianized version of “do as I say, not as I do”?

While having a healthy and maturing discipleship walk as a parent does not guarantee your teen will follow in your footsteps, expecting your teen to have a maturing faith while you follow Jesus “from a distance” is an enormous mistake.

You are a Christian before you are a Christian parent (or any other role). Get real with God, share your own struggles and hypocrisy with your entire family, and maybe then God will begin to use your example in a positive and powerful way.

To order a copy of Mere Disciple: a spiritual guide for emerging leaders, click here.

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The Secret to Raising Emotionally Healthy Kids

Posted by Phil


Some interesting thoughts from Tim Elmore…

Yesterday, I shared with the Huffington Post community the following thoughts that I wanted to share with you as well…

We live in complex times. As I work with thousands of parents and faculty each year, I’m increasingly convinced we have a more engaged set of adults who care about kids today than at any time since I began my career in 1979. Simultaneously, however, I am observing a more troubled population of kids, especially by the time they reach their teen years. It appears at first like an oxymoron. How can such a cared-for generation experience such emotional difficulties?

Today, more kids struggle with depression and anxiety than at any time in modern times. In The Price of Privilege, Dr. Madeline Levine argues America’s newly-defined at-risk group is preteens and teens from affluent, well-educated families. In spite of their economic and social advantages, they experience the highest rates of depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders and unhappiness of any group of children in this country. Adolescent suicide has quadrupled since 1950.

Diagnosing the Emotional Health Problem in Many Kids Today

As I speak to psychologists and career counselors, I’ve begun to hear a term over and over, as they describe the emotional state of young people. This term appears to be a paradox, but it aptly defines perhaps millions of adolescents in America:

“High Arrogance, Low Self-esteem”

How can someone be cocky, yet not have a healthy sense of identity? Consider the reality they face. In a recent undergraduate survey, Dr. Art Levine reports that grade inflation has skyrocketed. In 1969, only 7 percent of students said their grade point average was an A- or higher. In 2009, it was 41 percent. In that same time period, students having a C average dropped from 25% to 5%. But with grade inflation at an all-time high, it’s surprising to note that 60 percent of students believe their grades understate the true quality of their work. They believe they deserve a higher mark. One has to wonder — are kids that much smarter than forty years ago, or do we just give them higher grades to keep the customer? The fact is, while student scores continue to decline when compared to other nations, the one statistic that remains constant is that our kids continue to assume they’re awesome.

Sheltered by parents, teachers and coaches who fear that unhappy kids are a poor reflection on them, we have rewarded them quickly, easily and repeatedly. Kids naturally begin believing they are amazing. Case in point: My son recently took part in a theatre arts competition. Parents paid dearly to enable their kid to get on stage, and now I know why. Every single student got a medal, just for showing up. When they performed, they received extra medals. The medal levels were: gold, high gold and platinum. (Did you notice that gold was the lowest award possible?) Here’s the clincher. If your kid didn’t get the award he wanted, trophies were on sale after the competition. This is not uncommon. Kids today have received trophies for ninth place in Little League baseball. They get fourth-runner up medals at competitions. Ribbons and stars are given out routinely. Of course they are arrogant. With little effort, they’ve been awarded a prize.

The problem is, as they age, they begin to suspect this affirmation is skewed. In fact, mom may be the only one telling them they’re “special” or amazing. By college, kids meet all kinds of other “special” students, who are as smart or athletic as they are. Between the ages of 17-24, kids now experience their first real “failure.” They bump up against hardship and difficulty and often aren’t resilient enough to bounce back. Truth be told, when a kid has been told they are “excellent” without working hard or truly adding value to a team, it rings hollow to them. We must realize that our affirmation must match their performance. Low self-esteem hits them at this point (often their freshmen or sophomore year in college) because they suddenly recognize their esteem may be built on a foundation of sand.

Solving the Emotional Health Problem in Many Kids Today

My point is not to suggest your child isn’t special in his own right. My point is that this is only part of the story. In preparing our young people for adulthood, we must give them a sense of the big picture. We must drip doses of reality with all the praise. When I see troubled kids from upper-middle class homes, it makes me wonder:

• Question: Are they fragile because they’ve been sheltered?

• Question: Are they unmotivated because they’ve been praised too quickly?

• Question: Do they get anxious or fearful because they’ve never taken risks?

• Question: Are they self-absorbed because they’ve been rewarded so often?

• Question: Do they move back home after college because they’re ill-prepared?

I believe two sets of messages must be communicated to students during the first two decades of their life. Sadly, very often only one set of messages gets through. The first ten years, we must communicate childhood messages. If we have done this well, they are prepared for necessary adolescent messages that prepare them for a challenging adult world:

Childhood Messages 

1.You are loved.

2. You are unique.

3. You have gifts

4. You are safe.

5. You are valuable.

Adolescent Messages

1. Life is difficult.

2. You are not in control.

3. You are not that important.

4. You are going to die.

5. Your life is not about you.

I recognize this may sound harsh, but I find myself having to communicate the second set of messages far too often to a college student. If we love these students, we will relay both messages. They deserve the truth from us and they deserve a childhood that prepares them for the life that awaits them as adults. Whether they are emotionally ready as they enter adult life… will be up to us.


Want to learn more about how to raise emotionally healthy kids?  Bring home a copy of Artificial Maturity to drill deeper.

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How to Have Hard Conversations with Your Teen

Posted by Phil

Sometimes they don’t realize it yet – that we’re trying to help, that we’re not terribly lost, that we might know something beneficial.

I remember my son looking up from a disappointing test grade, annoyed with my advice and yelling at me, “You don’t understand; math has changed!” I literally laughed out loud.

Then I looked at his study sheets. I didn’t recognize a thing. It was true. Math had changed.

This is not our middle school or high school anymore, folks, and it threatens our ability to relate. But, we can relate to the charged emotions our teens are facing. And we can better enter into the necessary, hard conversations at times by attending to those emotions rather than avoiding them.

I learned this the hard way. I can be a knucklehead as a dad. I’m great at picking up on things with other people, but it took me a little while to begin seeing what I was missing in my own family.

It’s easy to label our teens as acting out, or having attention-seeking behavior, or being manipulative, or focusing on themselves instead of God, and those may be valid issues at times. Still, when it comes time to address these issues and have hard conversations with your child, let’s replace the idea of our kids needing attention with the idea that they need a connection. And we can best connect with them by attending to the emotion before attending to the solution.

In other words, we need to slow down before we try to fix the problem.

OK, but where’s the spiritual part? In fact, a spiritual focus needs to be at the core, and it is, because the spiritual can’t really be separated from the emotional and still be healthy. When we acknowledge our son or daughter’s anger, or sadness, or excitement, or fear, we are with them right in the middle of the Truth. Even if they don’t realize it yet.

Cultivating honesty

So how do we get them to go there with us or let us in to that part of themselves? Basically, we have to cultivate honesty by rewarding honesty. Remember, truth doesn’t taste good unless it’s seasoned with grace. When there has been a breach in the family rules, grace says, “You’ll be in less trouble if you tell me the truth.” Then we have to back that up.

Reward their honesty. If we lower the boom anyway, we just taught them how to not trust us at all.

Cultivate safety in conversation by being safe at other times. So when you hear something inappropriate that your teen’s friend is doing, question out loud the behavior or decision, discuss the possible outcomes, but do so without criticizing the friend. If we model judgment all the time, we’re going to eventually create a lack of safety with our own kids.

Personality considerations

Remember to parent each kid as an individual. In our house when a consequence has to be levied, each child responds differently. One kid cries at the mention of punishment, one kid argues a position against the injustice of it all, one kid chimes “OK” and then skips down the hall, and one kid gets eyes like The Incredible Hulk. Each one is different, responds differently, needs different things. The Hulk calms down with a valid reason. The Actress wants to feel that no one is mad. The Lawyer needs time and music to relax her opinion. The Skipper apparently has her own magical fairy dust, so we just leave her alone with it.

I have found it to be incredibly important to find each kid’s “open window” for conversation. Find the time and place that makes them comfortable. It might be a consistent moment or time of day (bed time, after dinner). It might be an activity (going for a walk, playing catch). It might involve a certain structure (sitting at the table, written in an email first). Or, maybe it’s a location (coffee shop, park, the car). Whatever it is, we need to lean into those natural opportunities for hard conversations.

There are lots of roles we fill when communicating with our teens: Coach, Advocate, Crime Stopper, or Judge. It helps if I pay attention to what role I’m speaking out of in a specific conversation. Am I using the voice I intend? Am I being a Judge when it’s time to be a Coach? Am I being an Advocate when it’s time to be a Crime Stopper?

As parents, we have to concede that there are decisions and influences that we have already put into practice with our kids that didn’t work or missed the mark. It’s already in play. It’s too late for a retraction. It’s not too late for a course correction. When I have blown it, I have to make things right, repair the relationship, and move forward. And we need to give ourselves grace. We need to give our kids grace. We need to extend a love and a trust and an absence of shame to them that we haven’t even necessarily had for ourselves at times.

Death is hard

Death as a topic is unsettling. I could give you pointers on talking only about death, but under the surface of that is loss. And our kids are going to be facing loss for the rest of their lives. The formula is simple: “When there is loss – grieve.” Look at your kids and tell them to cry, shout, make a fist, hit a pillow with a tennis racket, mention who and what has been lost, and don’t avoid it.

Look at them and tell them, “Don’t let anyone rush your grieving process, including yourself.” Grieving a loss won’t hinder their life – it will free it up for the future. The space in my counseling office is regularly filled by people dealing with issues of unresolved grief that linger into adulthood. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Sex frequently makes the ‘tough conversations’ list

And given limited space here I’m going to refer rather than be too brief. There are lots of great resources to help you talk through issues of sex. Kevin Leman and Kathy Flores Bell’s book, A Chicken’s Guide To Talking Turkey With Your Kids About Sex (Zondervan 2009) is right in line with building trust, giving support, and cultivating safety. As far as your emotions, just pray for the ability to be the least anxious person in the room, no matter what.

Self-discipline hinges on understanding responsibility

And responsibility begets responsibility. Just help them bridge the gap between your desire for them to be responsible and how it fits into the greater good, the bigger picture, the endgame. Ask them, “Whose responsibility is that?” Ask to help them problem-solve a better way, or different way, to get something done. Allow them to discover how they are making a contribution, not just following a demand.

Remember, the emotional and spiritual can’t be separated. God created that, not me, not you, not our kids, not culture. God did it. So work with them – use them both to connect to your kids. Move toward emotions for connection. Move toward Scripture for solutions. Attend to both – emotion and solution – when you attend to hard conversations with your teens.

No, they may not rise and call you blessed. They may not understand why you are pouring into their lives in this way. You may feel frustrated and toxic at times. You’re human, you’re normal, I get it. So ask for help. Seriously, I don’t know how anyone does parenting without Jesus.

When I’m in the pit, Psalm 40 reminds me that He’s in the pit with me. When I’m walking the right road, Zephaniah 3:17 reminds me that He’s celebrating me. And when I’m at the top of my game and a bit arrogant, 2 Sam. 22:28 reminds me that He will humble me to keep me healthy and in step with Him.

He attends to me. He loves me well. Even when I don’t realize it yet. That’s our model for parenthood.

This article is courtesy of Parenting Teens Magazine.

Toby Simers is a therapist in private practice in St. Louis, Missouri. He spent 12 years in vocational ministry, graduated from the Willow Creek Internship program, and earned a Masters in Counseling at Covenant Theological Seminary. But more importantly, he’s a devoted and growing husband, father of two, and stepfather of two.

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Good Advice

Posted by Phil

My church is going through some “aging” pains… sometimes I feel like I’m one of the “young people” at the church, and at the age of 56, that’s not a good thing!  Our church has a lot of older folks, and then, surprisingly, a good sized youth group.  That’s because our youth pastor has made a concerted effort to reach out to young people in the community, engage them in their faith, and get them plugged into our church community.  For most of them, it is sad that their parents don’t come as well.  Yet the teenagers continue to come, despite the lack of modeling by the parents.

While church by itself is not the point, it seems clear that God has chosen to use the local church to consistently draw both children and parents to His side.

I am thankful that I had parents that made me go to church, and they went as well.  There were many Sundays during my childhood that I wanted to stay home and watch cartoons, or sleep late, or do anything but go to church.  But our family was consistently there every Sunday, and it was a priority in our family.  Because of that modeling by my parents, I went to church enough to learn about a Savior that changed my life!

If your family has made it a priority to be in church on Sunday mornings, then God bless you, and I’m sure he does!  If your family is like so many families today that try to get to church every now and then, then I would encourage you to consider making church going a priority in the life of your family.  Parenting, and raising children is a daunting challenge if faced alone.  We pray that your family would find a community of believers that wants to pursue our God together… Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Good advice… God bless!

Ron Springs
Camps Director

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Video: Raising Radical Kids!

Posted by Phil

Parents! As we continue to partner with you as you raise your children, we are always on the lookout for solid resources and encouragement from some of the most godly fathers and sons that we know. We hope that you enjoy this 5 minute video with some really great ideas…

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Parenting Teens Is Tough; LifeWay Offers Help

Posted by Phil

Parenting Teens Magazine

Parenting a teenager is terrifying!

“There’s no doubt about it,” said Mike Wakefield. “Even if the teenager is a great kid, it’s still absolutely terrifying to think about all the new skills a parent has to develop to navigate through those years.”

Wakefield leads the team that produces Parenting Teens, a relaunch of LifeWay’s popular Living with Teenagers magazine. The redesign of the magazine has been developed specifically to answer questions, offer advice and provide resource information to help parents be the primary spiritual developers in their families.

“I believe most Christian parents want to be the ones who teach and lead their teenagers; they just don’t know how,” he said.

“When we were redesigning this magazine, we looked at tons of other parenting publications,” he said. “We wanted this one to be different. We asked ourselves, ‘what can we do that would make a parent want to pick up this magazine instead of some of these others?’ What we discovered is that we (LifeWay) are the only ones who look at parenting teens from a Christian perspective. So, when we went to redesign the magazine, we really wanted to highlight that difference. We also wanted to help parents develop their own Christian walk, as well as offer practical advice. I think we have done that.”

Parenting Teens will be divided into three sections: “Know, Grow, Become.”

“We want to help parents know their teens, so we will give lots of information about teen culture and issues related specifically to adolescence,” Wakefield said. “We want them to grow as parents, which is the section where we focus on parenting skills and issues. And, we want to help them become more Christlike, so we’ve added a section specifically for a parent’s spiritual growth as an individual.”

Each issue of the monthly magazine will feature a “Voice of a Teen” column. A teen will write this column and address some struggle, such as the struggle to be perfect: perfect grades, perfect body, perfect talents, etc.

“On the perfection topic, we want the parents to understand their own attempt at perfection – and, yes, parents do that too – may be having a negative influence on their teens,” Wakefield said. “Hearing it straight from the teen will have an impact.”

Bundling option

While Parenting Teens will be available as an individual subscription, Wakefield said there is the option of bundling Parenting Teens with ec magazine, a monthly magazine for teens that offers challenging daily devotions and relevant feature articles designed to help students understand that their relationship with Christ should affect every part of their lives.

“Bundling these two magazines together can be a great benefit for the whole family,” Wakefield said. “The magazines will be aligned thematically to help each one build on the other. The articles won’t be the same, of course, but they will encourage discussion between parents and teens about what they’ve read.”

Parents who choose a bundle option will receive a 15-percent discount on the pair of magazines.

Good value for churches

Parenting Teens will offer four Bible study outlines in each issue of the magazine – for churches that have Sunday school or small groups for parents of teenagers.

“What youth minister doesn’t want to be a hero for the parents of his or her students?” Wakefield asked. “With this resource, he or she can provide a way for parents of youth to be discipled throughout the week. In this way, Parenting Teens is so much more that just a leisure reading or advice magazine.

“We want parents who have issues with their teens to know they are not alone, insane or bad parents,” Wakefield said with a laugh. “Parenting teens can be tough. We want to offer tools to make it a little easier.”

by Polly House on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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Finding the meaning of life

Posted by Phil

Today you are a parent of a precious child living in a world filled with thieves intent on stripping him of his innocence and purpose. Life has a way of providing experiences that can compose a toxic life narrative for a child.

Sometimes what you thought would never happen, happens. Piercing those painful days are moments that alter your child’s views of self, others, and God. And, if you’re not careful, the narrative of your child’s life will contain misplaced punctuation points. Periods instead of conjunctions. Points that stop the flow of life rather than expand passion and connections. Many times a child’s story contains truth with a mixture of misperceptions about self, the world, and God.

The truth is, life is both wonderful and confounding. Much that befalls our children is not preventable. Crises will occur.

How might your child’s view of God be falsely edited by life experiences? How can you as a parent nurture a resilient child who maintains healthy beliefs about life and about God even as he becomes acutely aware of and interacts with a fallen world?

Specific family qualities emerged from research conducted over the past 10 years at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the Psychological Studies Institute in Chattanooga. More than 400 families were examined to determine the family characteristics and behaviors that produce healthy families. The research revealed that children within these families are more likely to emerge with core beliefs that serve as powerful tools to interpret life’s inevitable intrusions in a more constructive, life expanding way – interpretations that are consonant with God’s narrative. Yes, it’s a long list. But each of these characteristics contributes to a child’s resiliency in life.

A healthy family …

1. Exemplifies a strong sense of family

  • Has a sense of family unity, permanency, and history
  • Has family rituals and traditions
  • Shares meals and communicates during meals
  • Engages in leisure activities together

2. Uses clear, honest communication

  • Expresses feelings openly and without judgment
  • Discusses goals and dreams together
  • Listens carefully to one another
  • Does not act out anger physically

3. Is open and affirming

  • Engages in positive forms of touch
  • Attends to the emotional needs of the family
  • Smiles and laughs often; shares hugs and kisses
  • Praises one another in public; says “I love you” often

4. Shares a sense of mutuality and support

  • Expresses appreciation for one another often
  • Takes physical care of one another as needed
  • Accepts the eventual separation of the children

5. Demonstrates trust and accountability

  • Honors agreements and commitments
  • Insists that directives to children be met
  • Takes personal responsibility for actions
  • Admits the need for and seeks help when appropriate

6. Resolves conflict

  • Identifies, communicates, and solves problems
  • Couples complaints with positive affective cues
  • Refrains from reciprocating negative behaviors
  • Has a willingness to forgive and be forgiven
  • Resolves conflict quickly (average of five hours)

7. Has boundaries and organization

  • Evidences a parental subsystem hierarchy
  • Has boundaries that are clear, firm, yet flexible
  • Knows family members whereabouts
  • Agrees on family members roles and responsibilities
  • Outlines and enforces household rules

8. Has a healthy view of sexuality

  • Engages in positive forms of touch
  • Has effective, open communication about sexual issues
  • Is sexually attracted to one another (spouses)
  • Displays affection in front of the children (spouses)
  • Is sexually faithful (spouses)

9. Has a religious core and instills values

  • Provides for the spiritual needs of its members
  • Experiences purpose derived from religious beliefs
  • Has parents who teach a sense of right and wrong
  • Seeks divine assistance with family problems
  • Attends a church together regularly; prays together
  • Hears prayers spoken for one another
  • Views marriage as a sacred, long-term commitment
  • Believes that personal efforts can make a difference
  • Views differences as perspectives rather than mutiny

10. Shares time and interests together

  • Spends quality time together in large quantities
  • Has regular parental involvement in family activities
  • Spends ample time at home alone together (spouses)
  • Shares bedtime stories with children
  • Limits time watching television and playing video games

11. Establishes behavior control

  • Establishes clear, flexible rules
  • Provides opportunities for negotiation and alterations
  • Assigns and ensures the completion of tasks
  • Provides consequences for prohibited behaviors
  • Has routines; encourages good habits
  • Disciplines children when needed with consistency
  • Provides guided responsibility for children
  • Accepts children’s assertiveness

12. Meets basic tasks

  • Maintains a psychologically and physically safe home
  • Acquires and manages financial resources
  • Provides for proper nutrition and moderate exercise
  • Makes provision for relaxation and proper sleep
  • Maintains routine medical and dental checks
  • Has a lifestyle free of chemical addictions or misuse
  • Emphasizes education

13. Connects with the community

  • Encourages healthy relationships outside the family
  • Values service
  • Encourages children to participate in peer groups
  • Supports the child’s school activities

Examine the list in light of your current family routine and characteristic behaviors. Select just one or two items that you could implement this month, and build from that point. Research shows that the actual crises that your child will face someday is not the real problem; the real problem is how the child interprets the crises or what the crises mean to him or her.

A healthy family has the capacity to build resiliency into their children. These family structures and behaviors provide foundational experiences for the child to emerge into adulthood and find true meaning in life. Often the seemingly small patterns, such as regular family mealtimes, create healthy behavioral patterns and healthy beliefs that last a lifetime.

No simple formula exists for raising healthy children or creating a healthy family. We live in a fallen world, and we all face the thieves of the night. Yet the long-term effects of intentional acts of loving give us hope.

by Philip Coyle

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Conversation Starter: Center of My Life

Posted by Phil

Colossians 3:5-10,14-15,17-21; 4:5-6

Christ-centered character, home, and witness

Conversation Starters

How can you keep this conversation going at home? Try bouncing some of these questions around at the dinner table, as you’re driving your kids to school or an activity, or even while you’re shopping together:

For Preschoolers

• How do you know Mommy and Daddy love you?

• How do you let Mommy and Daddy know you love them?

For Children

• What does it mean to obey your parents?

• When is it hardest for you to obey Mom or Dad?

• Why do you think God wants children to obey their parents?

• Who else should you obey besides Mom and Dad?

• Do you think parents are supposed to obey too? If so, whom?

For Students

• What do I do that exasperates you? (This question is only for the strong-hearted parent!)

• How can I be more encouraging to you?

• If you were a parent, how would you handle this specific situation that you and I have been dealing with?

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