LifeSpan spiritual growth strategy for parents

Posted by Phil

Parents, do you have a plan for your kids’ spiritual growth? At LifeWay, we’ve developed the LifeSpan spiritual growth strategy for children, from infants to high school seniors. Regardless of your kids’ ages, you can be confident that LifeWay curricula, events, and other resources provide targeted objectives that encourage spiritual growth with a strong biblical foundation. Bret Robbe explains how you can do all of this while keeping your family worshiping and growing together.

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Blessing your children – what does that mean?

Posted by Phil

Following is an excerpt from the Leader Kit of Honor Begins at Home: The Courageous Bible Study.

Jacob provides the most descriptive example in Scripture of a father blessing his children (see Heb. 11:21). Nearing death, he gathered his family together and blessed each of his sons and also his grandsons who were fathered by Joseph. In this time, men would bless others by prophesying over them concerning future blessings. This could include praying to God on behalf of the person being blessed.

Courageous: Honor Begins at HomeMost of the time, the future blessing was given in regard to past behavior. Often, a faithful son received a promising blessing. An ungodly son received a dreadful blessing.

When a father gathered the family together to pronounce blessings, both positive and negative moments were relived. In the case of Jacob, he reminded Reuben of his sexual immorality and Simeon and Levi of their violent anger (see Gen. 49:3-4, 5-7). He praised Joseph for his fruitfulness and steadiness (see vv. 22-24). With such verbal blessings, a gift of land was often distributed. The weight of these blessings was felt deeply because the prophecy surpassed the son’s life, on to his descendants.

While biblical prophecy occasionally ventured into set days or events, the prophets usually presented messages similar to those a parent would deliver to a child. “If you continue to do this, your future will look like . . .” “If you don’t stop, I’m going to have to discipline you.” Prophecy usually addressed the natural progression of a person or people concerning their obedience or disobedience.

Apply that to Jacob’s blessing, and we understand more clearly. Simeon was a violent man. Jacob discerned that in his son and prophesied that violence was in Simeon’s future (see v. 7). From Jacob’s example, we learn that fathers are to bless children with appropriate words and gifts.

Appropriate words

Blessing a child with appropriate words means telling the truth. “Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right, but a false witness, deceit” (Prov. 12:17). Fathers are not to enable children for continual disobedience.

If your children are walking down a path that leads to destruction, the best blessing you can give them is to tell them of looming danger. Conversely, if your children are walking faithfully in the Lord tell them of the great joy they give you (see Prov. 10:1).

Appropriate gifts

Jacob played favorites with his sons. While his extreme favoritism with Joseph caused family drama (see Gen. 37:3-4), Jacob still resolved to give gifts of land to his sons in a way he deemed appropriate. Normally, the more trustworthy the son, the more generous the gift. Jacob had experienced so much of God’s gracious provision that he did not want to see it thrown away by unreliable sons.

The blessing on Jesus

The idea of a father’s blessing is not as prominent in the New Testament due to the church’s functioning as the people of God. In these pages the best example of a father blessing his son is evident in Jesus’ baptism.

Within the pages of Scripture, biblical blessings happened at pivotal moments (near a father’s death, baptism, etc.). God chose to bless His Son at a pivotal time. Coinciding with His inauguration into ministry, Jesus traveled to the Jordan River so John the Baptist, His cousin, could baptize Him (see Matt. 3:13). “After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (Matt. 3:16-17). At the transfiguration, the disciples heard the Father say, “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to Him!” (Matt. 17:5).

Through the Father’s words, we see how a father should bless his child in three specific ways.

Acceptance – The Father wanted listeners to know that Jesus was His Son. Fathers show their acceptance by addressing children according to who they really are, not who they desire them to be.

Adoration – God had no problem telling the world that He adored Jesus. As a beloved Son, Jesus knew that His Father was crazy about Him and didn’t care who knew it. Fathers should express the type of love that treasures their children and delights in them.

Approval – Not only did God tell people that He accepted and adored Jesus, He also wanted all to know that He approved of Him. He told the disciples to listen to what His Son had to say. When a father tells a child that he is good at something and everyone should know and benefit from it, few compliments in this life will ever surpass this one.

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Invading teen’s privacy – how far is too far?

Posted by Phil

by Sandi Black on Thursday, December 29, 2011

This article is courtesy of Living with Teenagers magazine.

Most parents want their teens to have some freedom. But in today’s world, some freedoms can be unhealthy, harmful, and even dangerous. Without a doubt, parents need to establish proper boundaries for their teens. And, at the same time, kids want and actually need some privacy. So how can you balance independence with your parental right to invade their space?

Here are some facts about today’s teens that can serve as foundational points:

  • If your son is on a computer without an Internet filter to block porn sites, he’s probably “taking a peek” at sexual Web sites. Guys are wired that way because God created males to be visual creatures.
  • Teens are curious. They naturally want to know about things their parents consider unacceptable. In some cases, telling them not to do something may actually be taken as a dare.
  • Media exposes girls to various morals, cultural messages, and lifestyles. Images and sexual ideas that were once taboo are now perfectly acceptable in a secular world.
  • Adolescents get mixed messages as they process what the church says, what their parents say, and what the media says. They long to fit in socially with their friends, which adds to their confusion.

Early adolescence is a time of concrete thinking. Acting on impulse is the norm, and little thought goes into evaluating consequences. Media reports highlight many of the problems and dangers teens (and parents) might face.

So, how far is too far when it comes to spying on your teenagers’ habits? How can you know the difference between “what you need to know” and when to give your kid more space? Here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Follow your instincts. If you suspect something’s wrong, you are usually right. Even if you are wrong, it’s always best to err on the side of safety. In addition to Internet issues, this would include cell phone usage and searching rooms or personal items.
  2. It is important to have a good handle on the Internet-even if there are no signs of a problem. Parents should know all their teens’ passwords and should monitor their social networking randomly. If they show a lack of responsibility, take them off all networks for a month or so.
  3. Insist that you be added as a “friend” so you can view their status, the language they use, and the pictures they post. Again, if they show a lack of maturity, do not pay for their Internet access.
  4. Invest in good Internet filtering/blocking software for the computer. Make sure the computer is in a common room with the screen visible from different angles.
  5. Occasionally, view their browser history. Do your homework by becoming savvy regarding all the computer commands, networks, and Web sites that you allow your teen to use.
  6. Let your teens know you are on their side. You want to let them have some privacy, but God has entrusted their safety to you. Say something like, “I really don’t want to control you. I truly want to trust you, but you have to show me that I can trust you.”

Someone has said that parents spend too much time “correcting and too little time connecting” with their kids. Be intentional about giving affirmation and encouragement for every correction.

Bite your tongue when you’re tempted to lecture and learn to listen a little better. You can learn about their world best by listening more than talking. Plus, taking time out to be with them says, “You are important in my life, and I enjoy being with you.”

Finally, if you sense that your teen’s actions might be out of control, seek help. Consult a trusted pastor, a professional Christian counselor, or an0ther community resource. Often God speaks through sermons, through His Word, through a youth pastor, or other godly adults. Don’t hesitate to get an assessment of your situation. When necessary, consult a doctor who specializes in adolescents because God also can work through doctors and medication.

Above all, pray for guidance and direction in choosing the best help for your teen. Hopefully you will find a good balance regarding privacy and healthy parental “snooping” so you can lead your teen toward a healthier future.

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Sexting: A growing problem among teens

Posted by Phil


by Polly House on Monday, December 19, 2011

If parents and student leaders think their precious teens aren’t sending naked pictures of themselves to their boyfriends and girlfriends, they need to think again. It’s happening.

Students (teens age 12-17) are using their mobile phones as portable pornography devices.

There’s a name for this: sexting. It’s defined as sending sexually suggestive messages or photos via text messaging on mobile phones.

Sexting went mainstream in June 2011 when the national news outlets reported New York Representative Anthony D. Weiner sent suggestive photographs of himself to women he met over the Internet. Some of them returned the “favor,” setting off a firestorm of controversy. Calls for his resignation from Congress came from both Democrats and Republicans.

While Weiner was adamant that he would not resign his seat, claiming he had broken no laws, pressure from his Democratic colleagues led to his June 16 resignation.

This was an adult who certainly should use better judgment, but teens need a good dose of judgment as well. They are old enough to know better, but sadly, studies show they aren’t doing better.

A survey conducted by The Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2009 including only minors (age 12-17) said 4 percent of mobile phone-owning teens say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves to someone else via text message, and 15 percent have received such messages.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy* and* commissioned a survey of teenagers age 13-19 to explore electronic activity in 2008. (Note this study was more than three years ago.)

This survey said that 22 percent of girls and 18 percent of boys have sent nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves via mobile phone. The survey also said that 37 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys said they had sent sexually suggestive messages to someone.

Mandy Crow, editor of EC, a student devotional magazine published by LifeWay, said church kids are not immune.

“We talk with teens and student leaders often,” she said. “We hear this everywhere. It’s happening with church kids just like unchurched kids.

“They seem to think it’s flirty or funny,” Crow said. “They just don’t see the long-term consequences.”

A panel of girls’ ministry leaders talked about sexting during a large group session at the 2011 Girls’ Ministry Forum. LifeWay’s Girls Ministry Director Pam Gibbs acknowledged it’s a conversation church leaders must be involved in.

“These young girls are sometimes naïve,” Gibbs said. “Often, they are good kids and just want to be popular. They don’t get it that this is something that can follow them for the rest of their lives.”

The panel agreed that sexting is happening with church kids. It often comes out of peer pressure or boyfriend/girlfriend insistence.

According to the NCPTUP study (relating to those who admitted to having sent or posted sexually suggestive content):

  • 71 percent of teenage girls and 67 percent of teenage guys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent or posted this content to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 21 percent of teenage girls and 39 percent of teenage boys say they have sent such content to someone they wanted to date or “hook up with” (euphemism for casual sexual encounter).
  • 44 percent of both teenage girls and teenage boys say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to be shared with people other than the intended recipient.
  • 36 percent of teenage girls and 39 percent of teenage boys say it is common for nude or seminude photos to be shared with people other than the intended recipient.

MTV,* a television network known for programming related to youth culture, aired “Sexting In America: When Privates Go Public.”

Two young adults were profiled. At the time of the program, one was a 19-year-old girl who, at age 16, sent a nude photograph of herself to an ex-boyfriend who said he would get back together with her if she would send it. The boy instead sent the photo to everybody in his contact list and soon her photo was all over the school.

She said she not only felt betrayed but experienced “brutal and terrible harassment” from classmates that included vulgar name-calling.

A young man,** 20 when the program was made, received naked pictures from his girlfriend when he was 17. They had a fight and he retaliated by calling up the picture on his cell phone and hitting the “send all” on his contact list. The girl’s picture went out to more than 70 people, including friends, teachers, parents and grandparents.

But by that time, he’d had his 18th birthday — still in high school but legally an adult.

He was arrested for distributing child pornography — she was still 17 — and put on five years’ probation. In addition, he was required to register on the public sex offender list.

He said he was kicked out of college, can’t find a job and can’t live with his dad because his dad’s house is near a school. He is required to attend a class for sex offenders, where, as he said, he’s sitting in a room with “perverts and rapists.”

Unless his attorney is successful in getting him taken off the list, he could remain on the sex offender list until he is in his 40s.

Depending on state laws, being on a sex offender list places limits on where a person can live and with whom they can associate. It also can limit the activities they can legally do.

These two young adults profiled on the MTV program didn’t claim to be Christians or profess involvement in a church, but “good church kids” are not immune to the pressure of sexting.

Crow said it’s important that student leaders and parents be proactive in dealing with sexting.

“Bottom line, it’s child pornography,” she said.

“Student leaders need to help parents know what to do and how to talk to their teenagers about sexting,” she said. “Parents need to be empowered to speak out. The issue isn’t going away.”

While laws vary from state to state, the person creating and sending the image is possibly looking at charges of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a minor. Being convicted of those charges can carry up to 20 years in prison.

While almost two dozen states are considering changes to laws that would separate sexting from the same category as child pornography, that hasn’t happened yet.

Crow said, “Helping students understand that once they hit ‘send’ they have lost all control of where that photo or video goes is a place to begin the conversation.”

Starting the conversation on sexting

Mandy Crow, editor of LifeWay’s EC magazine, and Pam Gibbs, girls ministry director, suggested parents and youth ministry leaders ask questions such as these to get the conversation started on sexting:

  • Do you know anyone who has posted or sent an inappropriate photo to a website or mobile phone?
  • How would you feel if your nude photo were sent to your parents or grandparents?
  • How would you feel if your nude photo were sent to your youth minister or pastor?
  • How would you feel if your picture were printed out and hung up all over your school?
  • Do you understand that once in cyberspace, a picture will never go away?
  • Do you honestly believe that anyone who would ask you to send an inappropriate photo of yourself on your mobile phone respects you enough to keep it private?
  • Do you understand that you must assume you are always in a place where mobile phones are present and at any time you may be photographed or videoed without your knowledge or permission?
  • Do you understand that you must have absolutely no expectation of privacy anywhere you go?


*Reader/Viewer discretion is highly recommended ** ABC News Nightline article on the same young man

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6 Reasons Young Christians Leave Church

Posted by Phil

Here at Ridgecrest Summer Camps, we want to partner with you as the parent of these young men and women that we have grown to love here at Camp. During their 2+ weeks they spend with us lots of cool things happen. We get to see them grow in awesome ways. And when they go home, back into the real world, the pressures and difficult influences will always be there. We know that having a Church with a group of other young believers to walk through life with them is crucial. So, it’s hard when we hear stories of kids giving up on Church…

Below is an interesting article that I ran across recently put out by the Barna Group. It’s worth the quick read, even if you don’t agree with all of it.


Many parents and church leaders wonder how to most effectively cultivate durable faith in the lives of young people. A five-year project headed by Barna Group president David Kinnaman explores the opportunities and challenges of faith development among teens and young adults within a rapidly shifting culture. The findings of the research are included in a new book by Kinnaman titled You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church.

The research project was comprised of eight national studies, including interviews with teenagers, young adults, parents, youth pastors, and senior pastors. The study of young adults focused on those who were regular churchgoers Christian church during their teen years and explored their reasons for disconnection from church life after age 15.

No single reason dominated the break-up between church and young adults. Instead, a variety of reasons emerged. Overall, the research uncovered six significant themes why nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
A few of the defining characteristics of today’s teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. As Christians, they express the desire for their faith in Christ to connect to the world they live in. However, much of their experience of Christianity feels stifling, fear-based and risk-averse. One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%).

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.

Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
With unfettered access to digital pornography and immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness, teen and twentysometing Christians are struggling with how to live meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality. One-sixth of young Christians (17%) said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” The issue of sexuality is particularly salient among 18- to 29-year-old Catholics, among whom two out of five (40%) said the church’s “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.”

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).

Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense. In addition, many feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36%) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23%). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background said their faith “does not help with depression or other emotional problems” they experience (18%).

Read the rest of the article here…

I’m not making an argument that these finding are 100% correct. But hearing their perspective only helps me relate to young Christian men and women.

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Allowing Teenage Boys to Love Their Friends

Posted by Phil

As a youth development professional at Ridgecrest Summer Camps who spends most of his time focusing on the growth of boys into young men, this is an interesting article that any mom with a son should read. There are a number of points that I can relate to, as well as examples that I have seen over and over again in my career. This article was published in the New York Times, written by Jan Hoffman.

Enjoy the read…

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My parents don’t trust me

Posted by Phil

This is an interesting exchange between a teenager speaking on behalf of other teens and a parent who is also a counselor.They are discussing the issue of parents trusting their kids… Check it out…

“Hi. I’m John, and thanks for coming to this site. I hope you are ready to hear some things about an important area of our lives — how we get along with our parents when they don’t seem to trust us.

Almost every teenager in the world at one time or another has felt like his parents don’t trust him. I have had that feeling since the sixth grade! My parents are neat people. But when I feel distrusted, I need help. When I am the one caught in the crunch, I need some answers.

That’s the whole idea behind this web site: it’s for teenagers like you and me to be able to hear someone who can help with our everyday questions and problems.

There is someone I would like for you to meet who is qualified on this subject from two standpoints. He is a parent. He has had two teenagers of his own. And he has admitted that there have been some times when he had to deal with this question of trust in his home.

His name is Pat Clendinning. He is a professional counselor who talks with parents and youth about their relationships. And I believe he can help us think through some of these issues.

Pat, I get so confused sometimes as to what part of this is my imagination and what part of it is real. And if it is real, is it my parents’ imagination, or do they have a legitimate complaint? Does that make sense?

Pat: I think all of those possibilities are real from time to time, John. Maybe you think they don’t trust you when that is really not the case. But there is no doubt that there are times when they probably don’t. Right or wrong, they just don’t trust you.

John: Sometimes I know I have done something that caused them not to trust me, but there are also times when I don’t think I have done anything at all and I feel like they are not trusting me. It might be good to know some of the legitimate causes of parents not trusting their kids.

Pat: I think this is one you could answer for yourself. Tell me what issues of trust really bother you.”

Read more of this article by Pat Clendinning

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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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Standing in the Gap

Posted 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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