Expectation Problems

Ranger GameI love Texas Rangers baseball. I love TobyMac’s Christian music.

A couple of years ago, TobyMac did a concert after the Texas Rangers game. It just couldn’t get any better, right?

After the game, we’re told we have to move to the lower bowl for the concert. We struggle through the crowds to get to the elevator. The elevator is broken! I hear the concert begin just as the elevator becomes operational.

On the lower level, we can only find obstructed-view seats from behind the stage. At times we can’t hear because the Rangers’ ground crew is using a tractor on the outfield grass!

As my anger builds, I look up at our original seats on the top deck and there are lots of people seated there! I am furious!

What happened? I saw a Rangers victory. I am at a TobyMac concert. I have a chance to worship God with thousands of people in Rangers Ballpark led by TobyMac. AND. I. AM. MISERABLE!

The problem was expectations. My expectations were so high that all I could see were my expectations failing to be met.

As we work with young people, be aware of expectations. Music, novels, television, and movies set lofty expectations for romance, marriage, and sex.

Even Bible classes, sermons, and sex education set lofty expectations.

  • “Save sex for marriage to have the best sex.”
  • “Marry a Christian to avoid divorce.”
  • “God has chosen the perfect person for you to marry.”
  • “My spouse will be my best friend and soul mate.

When our actual romance, marriage, and sex happen, it doesn’t meet expectations. It must be wrong then. So we break up or divorce to continue the quest to meet those expectations. We cannot see how good we have it because we are too focused on the unmet expectations.

You see blessing is not the absence of struggles. It is because of the struggles.

“Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4.

Six Things to Check at Your Teen’s Job

My first job as a teenager was at McDonald’s. I remember being so proud to drive myself to work, get a pay check, and have real responsibilities.

I also was amazingly naive and my new boss (who was very young himself) was quick to take advantage of me. I kept getting scheduled at times I said I wasn’t available and was asked to work after hours almost every shift.

Then abruptly it stopped. I wouldn’t know until I was an adult that my father talked to my boss. Dad didn’t tell me he did this and swore my boss to secrecy as well so my pride would be maintained.

Regardless of whether you agree with my father’s tactics, are you involved in the working life of your teenager? You need to be.

According to a recent study, the majority of parents do not help their teen ask questions about workplace safety or help their child learn about youth work restrictions.

How many U.S. teens each year experience death, injury or illness at their job? 146,000. The stakes are high.

Ask your working teens:
• How much training did you receive?
• Have you been trained about what to do if there is a robbery?
• Are you ever alone in the workplace?
• Are there hazardous machinery or tools?
• Have you been trained on how to deal with an angry customer?
• Is there an adult manager always on site?

(“Parental Involvement With Their Working Teens.” Runyan, et al. Journal of Adolescent Health, July 2011, Volume 49, Issue 1 , Pages 84-86.)

Teens and Sleep

Sleeping_while_studyingParents today have to deal with so many issues when parenting teens that it is easy to lose track of the basics, sleep for example.

Did you know that a lack of sleep in teenagers is linked to:
• suicide
• high blood pressure
• heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• depression
• sexual activities
• car accidents
• poor school performance
• mental health issues
• risk-taking behavior
• substance abuse
• binge drinking
• obesity
• social inhibition
• sedentary behavior
• low socioeconomic status

The CDC reports that the recommended amount of sleep for teens is nine to ten hours. A recent study found that 60% of high schoolers report they do not get over seven hours. The majority of high school teens are falling at least two hours short! This shortfall results in a
• 47% greater likelihood to binge drink
• 80% greater likelihood to have regretted sexual activity

What can parents do?

1. Do what you can. Increasing sleep just one hour results in a ten percent improvement in most of the consequences.
2. Make adequate sleep a condition to drive. If your teen doesn’t get enough sleep, take their keys. You wouldn’t let them drive drunk. Why would you let them drive drowsy?
3. Remove electronics (televisions, cell phones, video games, tablets, computers, etc.) from the bedroom. Some studies show that the light of a screen makes us think it is daytime and makes it difficult to sleep. Many studies show that incoming texts and social media posts interrupt teen sleep. Other show that these items just keep teens awake longer due to their participation.
4. Regulate caffeine consumption. Energy drinks and specialty coffee drinks can have as much caffeine as ten cups of coffee!
5. Set a bedtime. Studies show that teens with a set bedtime have a much more positive sleep pattern.
6. Establish a quiet time of one hour before bedtime. Teens who do not use electronic devices or do school work an hour before bedtime got more sleep.
7. Set a good example. The CDC says adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Model the suggestions above in your own life.

Brody, J. (2014, October 21). Hard Lesson in Sleep for Teenagers. The New York Times, p. D5.
CDC. (2013). How Much Sleep Do I Need? Retrieved from Sleep and Sleep Disorders: http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.htm
Keyes, K., Maslowsky, j., Hamilton, A., & Schulenberg, J. (2015, March). The Great Sleep Recession: Changes in Sleep Duration Among US Adolescents, 1991-2012. PEDIATRICS, 460-468. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-2707
National Seep Foundation. (2006). Sleep in America Poll – Summary of Findings. Retrieved from Teens and Sleep: http://sleepfoundation.org/sites/default/files/2006_summary_of_findings.pdf
Wong, M., Robertson, G., & Dyson, R. (2015, February 16). Prospective Relationship Between Poor Sleep and Substance-Related Problems in a National Sample of Adolescents. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 335-362.

Teen Texting Rules

Texting girlWhat is the number one way people use their cell phones?

Checking the time.

Number two? Texting.

In fact the average teenager will send a text every ten minutes they are awake. That’s over 3100 texts per month! This isn’t even counting the number of texts they receive.

Here is some advice for parents regarding texting.
1. Get an unlimited texting plan. Teens will likely text far more than the minutes they will use on phone calls.
2. Use parent-controls. These can not only help to avoid going over any limits but also can make sure texting is not done at inappropriate times.
3. No texting in class.
4. No texting at meals.
5. No texting overnight.Be sure to set the specific time each night when texting is no longer allowed as well as the time each morning when it can begin.
6. No texting while driving.
7. No texting while walking, Search this in YouTube for video evidence of why this is a bad idea.
8. No texting to cheat in class.
9. Texting rules include reading texts as well as sending.
10. Establish clear consequences for misuse. Confiscate the phone for a period of time. Then limited use for a period after they get it back.
11. Monitor messages. Text messages can go viral. Therefore, they are not private. You are not invading privacy by reading them. Have your teen give you their phone every night at least one hour before bedtime. This is your time to monitor their messages and phone use. Return their phone to them the next morning.
12. No sexting.Teach that sexting by teenagers is a crime. It is child pornography and is a prosecutable crime even if they are voluntarily taking the picture of themselves. Therefore it will not be tolerated whether they are the sender or receiver.
13. Embrace the technology yourself. 63% of parents believe texting improved their relationship with their teen. Quickly check in with your teen with a “How are you?” “Where are you?” or “Need anything?” text.
14. Set a good example. Follow your own rules. Don’t text while driving. Don’t text your child in class if you don’t allow them to look at texts in class.

(“Responsible Text Messaging Tips” by Common Sense Media. December 21, 2011. San Francisco, CA: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/responsible-text-messaging-tips)

Why People Have Sex

About SexWhen we teach our young people about sex we usually start with “how.” This is commonly referred to as “the talk.”

We usually cover the “who” and the “when” by saying husbands and wives who love each other.

We never really address the “why.” By context our young people are left to determine that it is for the purpose of having children.

From a Biblical stand point, sex for the purpose of having children is pretty obvious. Genesis 4:1 says, “Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.” Later in Genesis 38, that is the motivation for Tamar but not for Judah who thought she was a prostitute. In the next chapter, Potiphar’s wife has a different motive for begging Joseph to go to bed with her. Genesis 39:6-7 explains “Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice.”

A recent study set out to find out the reasons people have sex today. They found the following top 21 reasons people engage in sex:

  • Boosting mood and relieving depression
  • Duty
  • Enhancement of power
  • Enhancement of self-concept
  • Experiencing the power of one’s partner
  • Feeling loved by your partner
  • Fostering jealousy
  • Improving reputation or social status
  • Making money
  • Making babies
  • Need for affection
  • Nurturance
  • Partner novelty
  • Peer pressure or pressure from partner
  • Pleasure
  • Reducing sex drive
  • Revenge
  • Sexual curiosity
  • Showing love to your partner
  • Spiritual transcendence
  • Stress Reduction

Go over this list with your teenagers and ask them which of these reasons are Biblical and which are wrong. This is a great exercise in applying the Bible to real world situations.

To make the exercise a little more challenging evaluate these reasons from the context of a married couple.

Which of these reasons are acceptable for a married couple to have sex? Which of them fit under the Biblical reasons of having children (Genesis 4:1), intimacy (Genesis 2:24, “the two will become one flesh”), attraction (Genesis 39:6-7), and love (Song of Songs 1:2, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth-for your love is more delightful than wine”).

Carroll, R. (2012). The Top 20 Reasons People Have Sex. , Cited in WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/why-people-have-sex

The Premarital Affair

Despite our culture that seems to ever increase its promotion of sexual pleasure, the vast majority of Americans (85%) still disapprove of extramarital affairs.

I believe the reason is because we feel for the betrayed spouse. Many of my coaching clients are betrayed spouses who are devastated but still want to save their marriage. If you have heard me speak, you know that my first wife had an online affair. I know that pain and devastation personally.

Dr. Shirley Glass did extensive research on infidelity. She describes the following vulnerabilities to having an affair.

You are more likely to be unfaithful if:

  1. Your friends and professional colleagues are unfaithful
  2. You work in entertainment or sports
  3. Your work or social environments condone affairs
  4. You believe that infidelity is common
  5. Your parents had an affair
  6. You are successful at work with a greater income
  7. You live in or near large metropolitan centers
  8. You travel for work
  9. You had an affair before
  10. You hold a high-status or powerful position
  11. You over indulge in alcohol and/or drugs
  12. You were the victim of sexual abuse
  13. You had premarital sex with multiple partners

Please note that Dr. Glass was quick to point out that none of these was an absolute predictor of an affair. She notes exceptions to each one. They are simply areas of vulnerability.

Besides protecting your own marriage (#5), this list gives great guidelines for parenting teenagers. Notice the link to premarital sex (#13). This is one more reason to give our teens to save sex for marriage.

We also need to teach our teens to choose good friends (#1, #3), avoid alcohol and drugs (#11), and choose a supportive work environment (#2, #3). We also need to make sure we continually battle the teens perception that “everyone is doing it [sex].” (#4)

This list can also guide our teens in the selection of who they should date or eventually marry. No one who is getting married wants or expects their marriage to deal with an affair. The real work of affair prevention may start long before we even know who we will marry.

Glass, S. P. (2003). Not “Just Friends”. New York: The Free Press.

Interest in Sex is Dropping

I have written several times how pornography is bad for your sex life. It can cause loss of sexual performance. It can cause lack of satisfaction with sex even with the most attractive partners. It can even lead to preferring pornography over real sex with a person.

Now we are starting to see these effects on a much wider scale. Recent studies are showing that interest in sex across the population of two countries is dropping.

Great Britain showed a 25% drop in the sex rates of people aged 16-44 than the same age group just ten years earlier. One of the most commonly reported sexual problems was simply, “Lack of interest in sex.” The study’s authors list the following reasons for this drop in sexual activity:

  • online pornography,
  • modern technology: Twitter, Facebook, email,
  • worry about jobs,
  • worry about money.

A series of studies in Japan reveals an even worse loss of interest in sex. 45% of women and over 25% of men aged 16-24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact”. 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship, 10% more than five years earlier. 33% of people under 30 had never dated at all.

People explained their attitudes with

  • “don’t see the point of love.”
  • “don’t believe it can lead anywhere.”
  • “Relationships have become too hard.”

Many are turning to easy or instant gratification, in the form of online porn, virtual-reality “girlfriends”, anime cartoons. Or else they’re opting out altogether and replacing love and sex with other urban pastimes.

American rock star, John Mayer, shows we’re likely not far behind Great Britain and Japan when he said,

“I equate sex with tension. Once I have to deal with someone else’s desires, I cut and run. I mean, I have unbelievable [sex] alone. They’re always the best. They always end the way I want them to end. This is my problem now: Rather than meet somebody new, I would rather go home and replay the … experiences I’ve already had. …I’m more comfortable in my imagination than I am in actual human discovery.”

(Haworth, A. (2013, October 19). Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? The Observer. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/20/young-people-japan-stopped-having-sex)
(Mercer, C. H., Tanton, C., Prah, P., Erens, B., Sonnenberg, P., Clifton, S., . . . Johnson, A. M. (2013, November 30). Changes in sexual attitudes and lifestyles in Britain through the life course and over time: findings from the National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal). The Lancet, 382(9907), 1781-1794. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62035-8)
(Triggle, N. (2013, November 26). Modern life ‘turning people off sex’. Retrieved from BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25094142)

Age to Teach Kids About Sex

CB016218I do not remember the exact age when my parents told me smoking was bad for you. It was very young though. When we saw people smoking, my dad said they were making stupid choices.

I do remember the exact age when I was offered cigarettes. I was ten years old. I was playing with some friends down the street. They started smoking, offered me some, and gave me the typical peer pressure when I refused. I went home and told my parents immediately.

My parents had prepared me for that moment. I knew what to do. To this day I have never smoked.

What is the best age to have the porn-talk? or the sex-talk? It is the same as smoking. You need to do it BEFORE your child is faced with making a decision about it.

You’ll hear everywhere that the average age a child first is exposed to porn is eleven. I researched the source of this quote and found it in a study dated 1969! You think the average age might be lower now? Yeah, me too.

Can you have the porn-talk too early and create curiosity or spoil innocence? There is not a single research study that shows talking about it too early increases it. Most studies show a decrease.

I never seem to hear parents having the same worry about other dangers: crossing the street, talking to strangers, or smoking. We shouldn’t about pornography or sex either.

I do not remember the exact age when my parents told me pornography was bad for you. Because they never did.

I do remember the exact age when I was offered pornography. I was ten years old. My parents did not prepare me for that moment. To this day I fight a daily battle not to use pornography.

Parent’s Biggest Fears

Child - NoWhat are our biggest worries regarding our kids?

A recent study of over 2,000 American adults revealed the following list:
1. Childhood obesity
2. Smoking
3. Drug abuse
4. Bullying
5. Stress
6. Alcohol abuse
7. Internet safety
8. Child abuse and neglect
9. Teen pregnancy
10. Not enough physical activity
Very good list. Several of them are main focuses of our work at Noble Choices.

What do these worries all have in common?

The need for our children to say, “No.”
Do you teach your children to say, “no”?

Many parents actually do the opposite. They will respond to their child’s “no” with
• hurt
• withdrawal
• guilt
• anger
• threats
• punishment

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer the following examples of parents not allowing their children to say “no.”
• “Mommy needs to hold you now.”
• “How can you say ‘no’ to your parents who love you?”
• “Don’t talk back to me.”
• “Someday you’ll feel sorry for hurting your parents’ feelings like that.”

Do you allow your child to disagree with you? When your child wants distance or to play something else, do you allow it? If your child argues about bedtime, do you listen, consider, and even change your mind occasionally? Even if you enforce the bedtime, do you do it without withdrawing love? If your child doesn’t want to give affection, do you force it?

How can we expect our teens to say no to smoking, drugs, alcohol, pornography, or teen sex if we haven’t allowed them to say no to anything else while growing up? However, if you teach them it is safe to say “no” and allow them to practice it, they will have ten years of practice before hitting their teen years.

Don’t be a NO NO parent. Be a KNOW NO parent.

Cloud, D. H., & Townsend, D. (1992). Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life.Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. (2014, August 11). School violence, gun-related injuries in top 10 child health concerns in U.S. Retrieved from National Poll on Children’s Health: http://mottnpch.org/sites/default/files/documents/081114_top10.pdf

Best. Kiss. Ever.

Bride and groom kissing.One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. It ends with this quote,

“Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”

That was the movies. Let me tell you about one that was real.

Kelly and Doug got married and had two sons. They were pretty new Christians but very dedicated. Kelly quit her job so she could homeschool her sons.

The boys were taught to trust their faith in God and allow it to guide them. When the oldest son turned 14, he promised himself that he would not kiss a girl until his wedding day. In college, he was seen at a bar, eating a burger called the “Resist Temptation,” and drinking water with lemon.

He got engaged at age 21 BEFORE he formally had his first date. Five months later he had his first kiss on his wedding day.

You may call him extreme or even unbelievable but you better think twice before you call him a wimp or a loser. Collin Klein is six-foot-five and weighs 226. He was the starting quarterback for the Kansas State Wildcats in 2012 who were ranked as high as number two. Klein was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy which is given to college football’s outstanding player who best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.

Why would someone not even kiss until marriage? Fear? Arrogance?

Sports Illustrated explained that Klein believes “there is a kind of comfort in obedience, in the certainty that to do right you need only do what you’re told-by your father, your coach or God, or perhaps all three. This is how Collin Klein lives, in constant prayer, searching for the will of God.”

Klein’s wife says “they were ‘two broken, humble people,’ completely undeserving of love, grateful recipients of a miracle.”

When her husband simply gives her a kiss, she knows he loves her so much he that he saved all of his kisses for her. For Collin Klein, his wife is the

Best. Kiss. Ever.

(Dodd, D. (2012, October 18). Klein a legit Heisman contender, carrying K-State on broad, bruised shoulders. Retrieved from CBS Sports: http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/story/20594928/klein-a-legit-heisman-contender-carrying-kstate-on-broad-bruised-shoulders)
(Heisman Trophy. (n.d.). Heisman trust mission statement. Retrieved from http://www.heisman.com/trust/mission_statement.php)
(Lake, T. (2012, November 19). Collin Klein first kissed his wife at the altar. Collin Klein is also one bad dude. Sports Illustrated, pp. 38-44. Retrieved from http://www.sportsillustratedeverywhere.com/issues/protected/com.timeinc.si.web.inapp.11192012/collin-klein-first-kissed-his-wife-at-the-altar-collin-klein-is-also-one-bad-dude-19434.html)
(Watson, G. (2012, November 1). Collin Klein’s faith led him to his wife and his first kiss, so why not a Heisman and a national championship. Retrieved from Dr. Saturday or how I learned to stop worrying and love the BCS: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-dr-saturday/collin-klein-faith-led-him-wife-first-kiss-215824243–ncaaf.html)