Tag Archives: Parenting

Are you a Hypocritical Parent?

Finger PointWhen I was two years old, a drunk driver swerved and hit our car head-on. My parents and my injuries were so severe that my grandparents were told my dad and I would not likely live through the night.

None of us were wearing seat belts. We were lucky to survive.

Every memory I have of my dad driving us in the car anywhere is his “obsession” with making sure we all had on our seat belts.

Was my dad a hypocritical parent?

I mean he didn’t wear a seat belt when he was younger. What right did he have to force his children to do something that he wasn’t even able to do when he grew up?!!

This logic is absurd, isn’t it? My dad was now acutely aware of the risks of not wearing a seat belt. He loved his family so much that he would do everything to protect us.

Change the topic from seat belts to sexual activity or pornography or drinking or drug use. The logic of the hypocritical parent is still absurd.

Yet it is one of the top reasons I hear from parents as to why they don’t address these issues: “I can’t ask my children to do what I was unable to do myself.” I am glad my dad didn’t have that problem with demanding that I wear a seat belt.

You should not have that problem either. If you love your kids, do everything to protect them even if it means being a hypocritical parent.

In reality, asking your children not to make the poor choices you made does not make you a hypocrite. It makes you a good parent.

Positive Reasons to Save Sex

Intimate Couple --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

When you encourage teens to save sex, are you negative or positive?

Too often we are negative.

  • Don’t get pregnant as a teenager.
  • Don’t get an STD.
  • Don’t get emotional scars.
  • Condoms don’t fully protect you.

What about positive reasons to wait?

A recent study looked at whether the age of first sexual experience predicted romantic outcomes as an adult. The study put the age of first sexual experience into three categories:

  • age 14 and under
  • age 15-19
  • age 20 and up

Which group was significantly more likely to have satisfying adult romantic relationships? The age 20 and up group. Their findings held true even when they tested for other factors including body mass index, attractiveness, or differences in teenage dating.

The study defined a satisfying adult romantic relationship as having the following factors:

  • stable
  • satisfying
  • a partner who shows love and affection
  • enjoyment of day-to-day things with partner
  • happy with the way conflict is handled
  • avoidance of aggression
  • avoidance of victimization

If that wasn’t enough, saving sex until the 20’s also was linked to

  • higher achievement of educational goals
  • more income as an adult

Teens deserve the truth about teen pregnancy, STDs, condoms, and emotional scars. Just don’t neglect teaching the hope and reward from saving sex.

 

Christine Kearney. (2012, October 18). “Age Of First Sexual Experience Determines Relationship Outcomes Later In Life.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251640.php

Harden, K. P. (2012, September 25). True Love Waits? A Sibling-Comparison Study of Age at First Sexual Intercourse and Romantic Relationships in Young Adulthood. Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/0956797612442550

The University of Texas at Austin. (2012, October 18). Does True Love Wait? Age of First Sexual Experience Predicts Romantic Outcomes in Adulthood. Retrieved from http://www.utexas.edu/news/2012/10/18/does-true-love-wait-age-of-first-sexual-experience-predicts-romantic-outcomes-in-adulthood/

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.)

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

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

Parental Romance is Crucial

Couple dinnerIndulge me for a moment in a thought exercise.

Suppose you are a teenager growing up today. Like most parents, your parents have not talked to you very much about sex. They just said you need to save sex for marriage.

You now have your first serious boyfriend or girlfriend, and you are feeling the urge to have sex. It is time to make up your mind.

Television, movies, music, magazines, and even your friends push the idea have sex now. Your parents seem to be the only ones saying to save sex.

Does your culture make the idea of sex now look good? YES! Be like everyone else, be happy, enjoy life, consequences are rare. It is thrilling and exciting.

Now how do your parents make the idea look of keeping sex in marriage? Well, they had sex once, maybe more if you have siblings. Do you see any thrill, excitement, happiness, or enjoyment in their romantic relationship? No.

So which would you choose?

Do you model romance for your kids? Do you make sure they see their parents in an exciting romantic relationship? You should. I’m not talking about having sex in their presence. I’m talking romance.

Bill Maier shared a great idea on Focus on the Family. Tell your kids you want to surprise your spouse with a romantic dinner in the dining room. Let them choose the center pieces, set the table, make decorations. Perhaps they can even help prepare the meal. Maybe they just clean their rooms or clean the dining room or living room.

Set up a table for the kids in another room while you and your spouse have a candle-lit dinner alone. Your children get to see up close and personal the thrill, excitement, happiness, and enjoyment of a romantic marriage. And … you might just enjoy it yourself.

Maier, B. (2013, March 21). Dining Room Romance. Family Minute With Dr. Bill Maier. Focus on the Family Podcast. Retrieved from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/FamilyMinuteBillMaier/~3/zuso4PvosYw/fmdb_20130321.mp3

Ten Easy Ways To Protect Your Child Online

Children computerCan you think of a time during your childhood or teen years when you were picked on, put-down, or even shamed by other children or teens? It felt like you were “the only one” or that “everyone” was against you.

Most of us can remember these experiences vividly because of the emotional turmoil involved. Our young people today have these experiences also with one important difference: the Internet.

Those against them or at least aware of their shame could actually be everyone.

We have to do more to protect our children. Here are ten things I have gathered from several sources.

  1. Teach that all rules for interacting with people in person also apply online and in texting.
  2. Limit online privileges age appropriately. Don’t give too much access too soon.
  3. Be present in their online world. Text, Facebook friend, go to their pages, etc.
  4. Model appropriate online behavior.
  5. Teach how context can dramatically change meaning and online context is often unclear. Consider the difference in “Fire!” yelled by a firefighter or a soldier in battle or a toddler by a fireplace.
  6. Use filtering and accountability software. It’s like the fence that surrounds the playground.
  7. Establish a contract or covenant. List expectations and consequences. Sign it and post it.
  8. Teach the three R’s of responding to cyber bullying: reject (tell them to stop), record (keep all evidence), report (keeping telling adults until one helps you).
  9. Teach the Golden Rule still applies even when online.
  10. Pray. After each online session ask your child to choose someone online to pray for with you.

(Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. (2009, July 30). Preventing Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Parents. Retrieved from Cyberbullying Research Center: http://www.cyberbullying.us/Top_Ten_Tips_Parents_Cyberbullying_Response.pdf)

(Mueller, W. (2012). A Parents’ Guide To Cyberbullying. Retrieved from CPYU’s Digital Kids Initiative: http://www.digitalkidsinitiative.com/files/2012/01/Cyberbully_handout.pdf)

(Tooley, E. (2013, March 8). In the world but not of the world: Social media and the struggle to keep our children safe and pure. National Christian School Association Annual Conference. Oklahoma City, OK: Speaker’s PowerPoint.)

Television is Life

Young Girl Watching TelevisionIt seems like every parent program I have ever done I have taught that it is not good to allow a television or a computer in your child’s bedroom.

 Once at a public middle school, I was making this point and a parent interrupted me and yelled out that was so unrealistic. She said,

“Parents can’t take everything away. We love our kids. We want them to have a life!”  

When I didn’t back off from my point, she walked out and left the program.

 Is television “everything,” “love,” and even “life?” Sometimes I wonder if that accurately describes our culture’s value of television and media.

 Let me add one more warning about our children’s use of media.

 A recent study looked at children’s television, video-game, and computer usage to determine if it had an impact on their sleep. The content of the media was evaluated for violence, scariness, and pacing (fast or slow plot). Among the study’s findings were the following:

  • Children with a bedroom television consumed more media and were more likely to have a sleep problem.
  • No sleep problems were observed with nonviolent daytime media use.
  • Sleep problems increased 40% with violent media content.
  • Sleep problems increased almost twice as much as violent content, 74%, with each additional hour of evening media use.

Parents, please,

  1. Remove the television from your child/teen’s bedroom.
  2. Remove the computer from your child/teen’s bedroom.
  3. Cell phones should be given to parents every night an hour before bedtime.
  4. Avoid all video game, cell phone, television, and computer usage in the hour before bedtime.
(“Media Use and Child Sleep: The Impact of Content, Timing, and Environment.” Garrison, et al. Pediatrics 2011; peds.2010-3304)