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Parenting With Hope | Melissa Kruger

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
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May 11, 2024 1:00 am

Parenting With Hope | Melissa Kruger

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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May 11, 2024 1:00 am

Are you raising teenagers? Do you need a little help and a little hope? On the next Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author Melissa Kruger wants to encourage you to believe there is more happening in your parenting than just getting your teenager to clean their room or put down their phone. If you’re in the thick of the cultural and technological pressure, don’t miss the encouragement on the next Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: Parenting with Hope: Raising Teens for Christ in a Secular Age

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It's hugely significant in the life of a teen to have just the regular routine of sitting down and talking together as a family.

For a lot of reasons, it's gotten crowded out of our home. Some of that sports and activities and school, homework, and those are good things, but they're squeezing out the better things. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, Melissa Krueger gives help and a whole lot of hope to parents of teenagers. If that's you, or if you're preparing for the teen years, don't miss the conversation straight ahead.

You can find our featured resource at the website buildingrelationships.us. That resource is Melissa's book, Parenting with Hope, Raising Teens for Christ in a Secular Age. Dr. Chapman, the focus for a lot of parents is on how do I get the child or the teenager to come out the way I think they ought to come out, and the longer I live, I got to be honest, the more I think parents are the ones who change the most when they have teenagers.

What do you think of that? Well, I think parents change for sure, and I'm not sure that it's always in a good direction. I've sometimes said I never really had a serious problem with anger until I had a teenage son.

But fortunately, not only did it get worse for me, but we found an answer. So I'm excited about our conversation today because I think almost everybody that parents teenagers can use a little help along the way, and this book and our conversation today is going to offer that kind of help. Amen to that. Let's meet Melissa Krueger. She serves as vice president of Discipleship Programming at the Gospel Coalition. She teaches women at conferences around the country. Her husband Michael Krueger is president and professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. Together, they have three young adult children, and our featured resource at buildingrelationships.us is the book Parenting with Hope.

Just go to buildingrelationships.us to find out more. Well, Melissa, welcome to Building Relationships. Thanks so much for having me.

It's so great to get to chat with you today. Well, do you agree that parenting teenagers sometimes changes the parents as much, if not more, than the teens? Well, I hope so, because I think if we don't change, if we're not growing, it's actually going to be a problem for our teens.

And so, yes, absolutely. I hope that this season of Parenting Teens, that we don't just view it as a season where we're helping them grow, but we're actively growing ourselves. I think it's hugely important that we view ourselves as lifelong learners, just like we're trying to teach them things. So you've written Parenting with Hope, Raising Teens for Christ in a Secular Age. How is raising faith-filled teens this generation different from previous generations?

Yes, well, I think there's certain things that are always true, right? This season of development and growth is always a place where our kids are moving from being children to adults. And so there's always a transition that happens, I would say, in every generation. I mean, there's always this handoff of, huh, you are no longer just a child and now you're moving to adulthood. But I would say, in this season of where we are in our society, I think one of the biggest changes for this generation has been the advent of cell phone use and social media. So our teens do legitimately have access to more information than any other generation in history.

I mean, they, in the palm of their hand, have access to tons of good things and tons of bad things. And so it's just a reality that we have as we parent teens in this generation. Yeah, and parents themselves sometimes get obsessed with the cell phone as well, right?

That's right. So we have to also realize that we might not even see what's going on in our home because we might be obsessed with our cell phone, you know what I mean? And that's a huge problem. I mean, I think you go to any restaurant and you look around and it's kind of fascinating when you actually lift your head up and look around at what's happening at dinner tables. You know, these people are paying to be out at a restaurant and a lot of times everyone's glued to their phones. Rather than actually having a conversation with one another, we're looking at the outside world rather than experiencing our own very good life. We're just, yeah, we're looking at other people's lives a lot of the time. Yeah, that's a fundamental rule we had at our house. Of course, you know, our kids came along before cell phones, but we didn't, no television, no radio, you know, nothing else going on at mealtime.

We're just, we're here to do two things, eat together and talk together. You know, pretty fundamental. The parent has to take the lead in that sort of thing, right? Yeah, it's one of those really small things, or it seems like a small thing, like a family dinner. You think, oh, why is that so significant? But it's hugely significant in the life of a teen to have just the regular routine of sitting down and talking together as a family. And I think for a lot of reasons, it's gotten crowded out of our homes. Some of that sports and activities and school, homework, all these things are squeezing out. And those are good things, but they're squeezing out the better things in a lot of ways.

Yeah. You know, as a mother of three young adults, what surprised you most when you entered into, you know, the teenage stage with your eldest daughter? Yeah, I think what surprised me was how quickly we got there. Yeah, I mean, it's amazing how quickly a 10-year-old changes to a 12-year-old, and it just sneaks up on you.

I don't know if you felt that way as well. You know, it's this transition that seems to be going so slow. You know, you're just busy getting tennis shoes tied and, you know, soccer uniforms washed and all of these things happening. And then all of the sudden, they are transitioning from being a child who's playing in your backyard to slowly, they're wanting to engage more in conversation with you. And that was one of the big things I noticed. My oldest daughter, we would be out in the cul-de-sac with our friends, and I would be shooing her away to go play with the kids. And I started to realize she actually wanted to talk to the moms, and she wanted to hear what they were talking about. And so, she was becoming more interested in adult conversation, and she was more interested in the conversation rather than just, you know, riding bikes in the cul-de-sac. And I realized even in my own heart how quick I was to shoo her away and say, oh, go play.

I want to have my time with my friends here talking in the cul-de-sac. And it really hit me, oh, this is a time to invite her in, into age-appropriate conversations with other adults. Like, this is a good time to invite them in, not kind of shoo them away. And I think sometimes we don't realize, oh, they're actually starting to get interested in different things. And we can sometimes still parent them like they're our child, rather than inviting them into things that they might be growing interested in as they're aging.

Yeah, yeah. Well, as you look back on that stage in raising your girls, what resources or what advice do you wish you would have had at that time? Yeah, so many things, right? I wish I had a little friend to walk around and tell me every day, oh, don't do that, or don't say that, or I think she's just a little moody because hormones are shifting right now. You know, so I wish in some ways we had a little person to follow around and tell us these things.

But, you know, I really do in some ways, you know, wish that I had someone telling me, be patient in this season. Everything doesn't have to be figured out now. And there are a lot of resources out there maybe for specific areas of parenting teens. But I think there's not something, you know, like if your kid has ADHD, or maybe if your child's struggling with problem X or problem Y, but almost a little bit more of a holistic resource for how to be the parent of a teenager rather than just specific things you're trying to work on with your kids. So what I really think we have a lot of with young kids are things that talk about child development. And here's what your two-year-old should be doing at this age. Here's what your three-year-old should be doing.

And somewhere along the way, we stop reading those resources. So I just was really looking for something that would actually tell me how are teens developing? How are they different than adults?

What do we need to be aware of about their sleep habits, about their what they're understanding about their frontal lobe? And maybe the fact that my son can't remember his homework is actually a really normal thing at this stage. Because I think that helps give us sympathy when we're parenting our teens, not to give them excuses for bad behavior, but to understand what they're struggling with in this season of being a teenager. You know, I don't know if they had books for parents on teenagers when our kids came along, because it was a good long while ago, but I never saw one.

This book is timely, and it's going to be a help to a lot of folks, I'm sure. Melissa, as children are transitioning into new stages of life, like the teenage years, why is it vital for parents to change as well as the teenager changing? Yeah, well, and what I like to say on this is that our principles can remain the same, but our practice has to change as we parent children. If we're parenting our two-year-old, our toddler, like we're parenting a teenager, we're probably going to have problems. And one example I like to give of this is that, you know, when you have a two-year-old, typically with discipline and things like that, you want to correct them quickly. Like if a child runs out into the street, you want to immediately get them and sit with them and say, hey, you cannot run out in the street.

It's dangerous. You need to do it right away. If you waited a day, they would totally forget what you're talking about. You know, a young child needs that immediate interaction when they've done something incorrect. Whereas with a teenager, I actually think the principle, oh, our teen is going to need correction.

Well, that's going to remain the same, but our practice of when we give that might change. So if I have a teenager walking in the door, slamming the door, kind of being moody, you know, not answering questions, at that moment, I might not have the conversation of, hey, you're being rude right now. You shouldn't slam the door.

You shouldn't do this. I might wait and then later in the day say, hey, you seemed upset when you came in. Can you tell me a little bit more about what's going on?

Did something happen at school today? I think it's always wise with teenagers to wait for a better moment to offer correction than maybe when they're in a bad mood, something else happened. And, you know, you want to hear what's going on in their lives before we kind of pile on more things. There might be a good reason that they were having a hard day. And then you can have the conversation.

You can say, hey, what would have been the right thing to do when you came in feeling upset about that rather than slam the door? So you can still offer correction. So the principle that our kids are going to need correction, that's going to be there as long as we have kids.

As long as we're human, we're going to need to be corrected in certain ways. But how we go about that should be changing as our teens growing. So I think as a parent, that just takes a shift for us to have the wisdom to parent as we should for different seasons of life.

It's not a one-size-fits-all for even for individual kids, but definitely not for different seasons of raising our kids. Yeah, I was just sitting here thinking what you just shared also applies to husband and wife relationship. Not that we have to correct them, but perhaps not respond when they're upset, not responding at the moment, but that night to say, you know, honey, we can all process it better, not in the heat of the moment, right?

That's right. And, you know, I think that's actually a really good principle. Like, how would I do this with my spouse? You know, they're changing. It's a little bit different of a situation as our kids are older, or even a friend. You know, if a friend walked in and slammed the door, you wouldn't immediately scold them.

You might say, hey, is everything okay? You know, and just to remember, yeah, having experiences outside the home that are sometimes really hard, and they don't have the years of emotional resources to know how to deal with it properly. They're learning too as they go through this stage.

Yeah, right, yeah. Well, now you have a degree in secondary education, and you previously taught at a large public school. What did your experiences teach you in that setting? Yeah, I love being a teacher. I taught high school math, and the one thing you realize when you're a math teacher is that your subject is not of much interest to most of the kids coming into the class. And so, I realized I needed to win them relationally before I was going to be able to teach them anything, that they had to actually know I cared about them. Now, what that didn't mean, that didn't mean my classroom didn't have rules, it didn't have expectations. Actually, I had a lot of high expectations for my kids when I taught, but they needed to know it was coming from a place of care and concern and not control. And I think kids, teens are smart. You know, they can pick up, do you want this classroom quiet because it suits you, and you don't really like us anyway, and you just want everybody to do what you're saying?

Or, do you really care about me, and that's why you're trying to teach me? They can sense the difference. And I realized, I think it was really profound for me to understand when I was in those classrooms with kids, because I'd have 150 different kids every year. And I realized, you know, so often we think teens don't want adult involvement. They really do want our involvement, but they want to be treated, you know, with respect and curiosity rather than just always told what to do. And so, I think asking good questions and learning about their life was really important, in addition to teaching them math, and both can happen.

It's not an either-or question. And so, I just, I love this season of kids, and I love that age, and they're really, really interesting, and they're really eager for adult involvement. I think sometimes we think they just want to be with their friends, but what I found was they really do want to be with adults who will listen and be interested in their perspective on life.

Yeah, yeah. I found that in the church. If I start asking questions of a teenager, you know, just a teenager in the church, they'll talk and talk and talk if you ask questions, you know, and they will do the same with parents, you know. Now, in the book you emphasize, of course, one's Christian faith, you know, and why is that so important for parents, that they have their own faith, you know, rooted in Christ, if they're going to really help their teenagers?

Yeah, well, I think this gets back a little bit to what we were even just talking about. Teens can spot a fake faster than anybody else, and so, you know, if we're asking them to live up to a standard that we're not living up to, they really are going to notice it. Or if we're living our life on Sunday one way, and then we're living totally in opposition to that the rest of the week, they're going to see what we value, and that is a little bit terrifying, you know, as a parent that, wow, they really see. And so, and the other reality is if I'm not reading God's Word and if I'm not in prayer myself, it's going to be hard to convince my child that I really think that's important for them to do. Whereas if they see the quiet daily habits of our life being, oh, I value God's Word enough, so I read it every day.

I pray every day. And they see these habits. They, you know, they see the experience of the home. It starts to make an impression on them that even if they reject it for a season, I really do believe that it makes this lasting impression on them that one day, maybe when they find themselves, you know, where they never thought they'd be or in a really hard spot or just desperate for help, they'll be like, my mom always prayed. I'm going to try prayer, you know, and so we've at least set the example for them that they might find when they're 28 or when they're 36 or when they're 52, you know, whatever age, but that those things will leave an impression on them that will come back later, we hope. Yeah, so I hear you saying that our model, how we model our faith in daily life is really more important than the words we say trying to teach them. Yes, I mean, because if they're not in conjunction with one another, what we live before them is always speaking more loudly than our words.

Yeah, yeah. What type of home life typically would tend to have the best outcome for teens? Like what does it look like? Different scientists have given names to different types of parenting. They did this in my education classes because they also give it this type of teaching and there are three typical ones. They have a fourth category, but that's just absentee parents, but typically parenting falls into a permissive category, authoritative and authoritarian. By authoritarian, it's very much my way or the highway. Permissive is, well, whatever you want to do, just do it.

There are really no rules. Authoritative is kind of this middle ground where there are high expectations. There are still rules, but there's a lot of warmth. There's a lot of understanding that goes into that. So it's a little bit more of a, yes, we're going to have boundaries, but we're also going to have conversations and we're going to understand certain boundaries are always going to be there that the Bible gives us. So those boundaries are firm. But every home has its own set of rules that are not biblical. Yeah, like when someone is allowed to get a cell phone.

That's not a biblical rule or when someone's allowed to date. These type conversations that we can have with our teens. And I really believe at some point, it's good for them to become stakeholders in those conversations. Well, that type of home, an authoritative home, has just for years and years and years and generations been shown to have just the best outcomes for kids in general, whether it's mental health, whether it's relationship with the parents, whether it's the transmission of faith from the adult to the child. All of those things are better in authoritative, not authoritarian or permissive homes.

Yeah. What's the difference between being gracious to your children and this whole permissive idea? Yeah, I always say you can't be gracious in a permissive home because there are no rules to be gracious about. A permissive home, anything goes. Whereas in a gracious home, a gracious home is by definition a home where there are standards. But when those standards aren't met, it's met with love and forgiveness and hope for change rather than condemnation. So I think there's a big difference between offering correction to our child and offering condemnation. What we want to offer, correction is actually hopeful.

It looks at you and says, hey, you can do better than this. You don't need to lie. You're not a liar. Whereas condemnation comes to a teen and says language like that, you're a liar.

You never do anything good. That's condemning language. We don't really want to use that with our teens. Where we want to say is, hey, it really bothers me that you lied to me about where you were going to be. That's not how I want this family to be. Truth is really important and I need to know that you're going to be truthful with me if you want me to trust you. So there's going to be a consequence for your lying, but I know that we can do better next time and I want you to always feel like you can tell me the truth.

That's actually hopeful. That's a gracious home that says I know mistakes are going to be made, but I'm going to love you through them and I'm going to meet them with grace and kindness. Yeah. What about when the parent themselves, you know, kind of blow it, lose their temper or whatever, and the whole thing of apologizing to their children. I've had some parents say to me, well, if I apologize to my teenager, won't they lose respect for me? And I typically say, oh no, they gain respect because they know what you did was wrong. Yes. Say a word about that.

Yes. I actually think one of the best things I tell people walking into the teen years, I say one of the best things you can do is learn how to give a good apology. And you're going to, as we learn to give good apologies, one of the things I've watched with my kids is they know how to give good apologies to one another.

It's probably one of my biggest joys as a parent when you don't want to watch your kids squabble and get into arguments about things. But what I notice is really quickly they go back to one another and they say, hey, I'm sorry I lost my patience with you about that. They actually know how to name what they did wrong and then ask for forgiveness.

And it's easily given. The reality is, you know, the Bible tells us even in the Lord's prayer, forgive us our debts. Like that's part of the Lord's prayer, that we're to pray every day. Well, that kind of presupposes that we're going to make mistakes and we're going to need to ask for forgiveness from God, but also from each other. And so we're really teaching our kids how to be in healthy relationships by teaching them, hey, to be in a healthy relationship, you're going to have to say you're sorry. I'm going to tell you I'm sorry because one of the biggest principles for me as a parent is that my response is my responsibility. If I find myself yelling at my teen, no one made me yell.

No one made me become impatient or unkind or unloving. I have to own that and I need to apologize for that. It actually helps them learn that their response is their responsibility if we own our responses. So yes, I'm a big believer in learn to give a good apology and own our behavior without excusing theirs, but we have to own our own. Yeah, if they don't learn how to apologize, they're never going to have a good marriage. Exactly. Because none of us are going to be perfect as adults.

Exactly. We hope you're enjoying the Building Relationships podcast. Tell a friend about the conversation. If you know somebody who's in the middle of parenting a teen and they need some help, send them to buildingrelationships.us. A featured resource is the book by Melissa Krueger, Parenting with Hope, Raising Teens for Christ in a Secular Age.

You can find that and more at buildingrelationships.us. Now you tell the account when you were younger that you had an accident with a car and a garage door. Tell us about that and what you learned from it. Yeah, it was one of those days I was working as a teenager. I had my first job and I was rushing out the door because I was late and I got in the car and I backed up the car and I immediately heard the crash. I had forgotten to open the garage door when I was backing up and my mom heard the crash. She came outside. She looked at me. She immediately said, hey, you need to get to work.

You're late. Here are my keys. Take my car. In that moment, she had the wherewithal to see what was needed, not maybe what was very frustrating about the circumstance before her, which was a completely destroyed garage door. She sent me on my way. And by the time I got home that night, my dad had somehow managed to get my car out of the garage. And I walk in the door and he looks at me with a smile on his face and he was just like, girl, what happened today? But he never scolded me for it.

He never got upset with me. And it really, I mean, honestly, when I was writing that part of the book, I was brought to tears thinking about how they graciously covered my mistake, my mom, by quickly giving me her car keys and letting me take her car, my dad by getting it fixed and just, you know, teasing me about it a little bit, but never scolding me about it, never getting on my case. They realized I had made a mistake and that it wasn't a willful, wow, you know, I'm trying to be disobedient here. And it was just a real act of grace. And that is something I kept in mind in all of my parenting.

There's such a big difference between a child who makes a mistake than a child who goes off and does something purposely wrong. And I saw that in them and I've always been thankful for it. And that has lived in my mind. All of my parenting journey is I want to be a gracious parent like my parents were. That's a powerful, powerful story. Melissa, within the book, you share idols that parents struggle with, which limit their faith. Share that a little bit.

What are you talking about there? Yeah, and I know in our age, we think of idols and we think, huh, I don't bow down to a little, you know, gold statue or anything like that. And I definitely don't think that's what scripture is talking about, you know, and it talks about idol worship.

But we do anything that we're kind of depending upon or relying upon to give us joy or happiness out, you know, as our main means for that outside of God. It means a good thing can sometimes become what I like to say is a God thing. And we actually see this with the Israelites. There's a verse in the Old Testament that was very sobering to me. And it says this, it says, even while the people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols.

To this day, their children and grandchildren continue to do the same. And that verse talks about, so the people were worshiping the Lord, they were looking religious, but they were actually serving their idols. And so I think there are a lot of various idols, people talk about, you know, control or comfort or power or approval. But I also think we have a lot of idols in our culture when it comes to teens. And the three I talk about in the book are sports and activities, scholastic achievement, and social acceptance.

Those are the three I cover. And those lead to a lot of other things. Like a lot of times parents want their kids to do well in school because they want them to get a good job and make a lot of money.

Yeah. I mean, so there's this whole money idolatry that can pop up too. There's a lot of different reasons we have the idols we have, but we see them in our culture. And it just means it's not bad to make money. It's not bad to have a good job. It's not bad to work hard. But those can be when they're idols in our hearts and that's what we're really after, our kids are going to absorb those.

They're like sponges. They take in what we value. So if they know that dad really cares, that, you know, his son plays football and that's what he's really about, you know, sometimes the teen is going to say, well, that's all that matters.

It doesn't really matter that I'm godly or I'm living according to God's word. What really the real value of my dad is that I play football. And so I think as parents, we all have to consider and it'd be interesting. I think it'd be an interesting thing to ask if we go home and we ask our kids, what do you think is most important to me about how you grow up?

It'd be interesting to what they answer. Do they think it's really most important that you get into a good school? Do they think it's most important that you make straight A's? Do they think it's most important you're on the basketball team?

What do they really think we value? I think it'd be an interesting question to ask our teens, maybe a scary one to ask, but it really is reveals how what they're picking up on in our home. I think a lot of parents would be surprised at the answer to that question. I actually wrote a kid's book on this topic when my oldest was going to college. I have a kid's book.

It's called Wherever You Go I Want You to Know and it talks about everything a kid could be or everything a kid could do. But the end, what I say is my supreme hope is that you know Jesus. And I've had parents write in and they said their kid looked at them, their little child looked up back up at them and said, is that really what you want for me mommy? Just to know Jesus.

And it was so great. I was like, oh, if we could get this message into them young, that that's our biggest hope. Our greatest hope for them is that they know Jesus when they leave our homes. I think that would be the message I wanted my kids to leave home with.

I hope they did. Yeah. What happens when parents exclusively almost seek their own joy from their child's happiness? Yeah, it's going to be like a marriage.

Yes, we've talked about some in this conversation. If I as a wife, you know, am seeking joy in my husband's happiness or vice versa, I'm thinking he's here to make me happy. It never really goes well in relationships when another person's joy is what makes us happy. Because we're kind of always dependent upon them and we're always trying to please them. And so our teens are going through a lot. I mean, their emotions are going up and down on a daily basis.

And, you know, it's tempting to take that roller coaster ride with them and be up when they're up and down when they're down. But they really need from us, I think, the emotional stability to walk through their ups and downs and be calm and be a clarifying voice for them in the midst of it. And so we've got to basically be rooting our joy and our contentment in God and His Word and His promises to us, not how our teens are doing.

And that's actually a gift to them. That's going to help them be able to have highs and lows and bring those things to us, rather than I don't want my child to be so fretful that if she's upset about something, well, that's going to make my mom so upset, so I don't even want to tell her because she's going to not be able to handle it. Our kids shouldn't have to be managing our emotions. We need to have the maturity to do that on our own so that they're free to express their emotions and we can walk through that with them.

That is easier said than done. Because when our kids are having a hard time, it is hard for us. But we should go talk about that with a friend, not talk about it with our teen, you know, so that they can experience that. Now, you mentioned sports earlier. What are the dangers of teen sports and other activities today in our culture? It's become a thing. I mean, I played sports all through high school and I loved it.

And I was involved in sports even outside of my school and all of that and club teams. Yeah, that was already starting. But I think now it has started earlier and it is more intense. And I think the problem I see with it is many times it is keeping families away from family dinners. And the other thing it really is keeping them out of is church.

I always tell parents who ask my opinion on that. I say, well, most kids will not go on to play in college and most kids will not go on to play professional sports. But we do want them to be professional, lifelong churchgoers. These teen years are really important time. It's a really important season to prioritize church with our kids because that's going to set them up for when they go to college. I'm okay if they don't play sports in college, but I really want them to go to church in college. And so the pattern in our home is going to be a pattern that they're used to when they get to college.

Yeah. I remember when our son said to me, I don't want to go to Sunday school. And I said, why? He said, it's boring. And I said, well, I can understand that. I said, because I've been in boring classes too. I said, but you know, in our family, we go to Sunday school and maybe if you don't want it to be boring, maybe you could start asking questions, you know, and get the teacher discussing things that you would like to ask.

That's great. He wasn't super happy, but you know, being the authority, the parent is still the authority, but it's done with, you know, this is, we are going to do this, but you can decide to make it unboring. And he never brought it up again.

You know, he never brought it up again. And you were understanding. I mean, sometimes it is boring. I mean, we as adults have all sat in really boring sermons and Sunday school classes. I think sometimes just saying, yeah, I was bored too. Like, that was rough.

You know, like, just like you said, and I think that's, you know, in some ways a really good word. Sometimes I read the Bible and I am like, what was that passage about? I was completely lost.

I have no idea why that genealogy was in there. Like, I don't know what I was doing. And just to help them realize that's just part of it. You know, sometimes you don't understand it all or sometimes it is boring, but what you learn over time is going to matter.

It's not that every individual Sunday school or church service is going to be this spiritual high, but over time, you know, you're going to grow spiritually in ways you might not even be aware of just by being there. Well, let's talk about technology. You know, this is probably the number one question that I get and you get. You know, what about phones and what about devices and social media and so forth? What do you say to parents in this area? Yeah, the research that is coming in is not positive. Basically, for every hour a child spends on their cell phone or in social media, they are a certain percentage less happy.

Their happiness goes down the longer they're on their phones. You know, the high school that I went to in Raleigh was built in such a way that it had inner courtyards. And those inner courtyards were so that teenagers could go out and smoke in them. Now, by the time I got to that high school, no one was allowed to smoke in the inner courtyard anymore. They had realized, huh, cigarettes are not good for teenagers.

Yeah, they're not good for anyone. So they changed the rules. Yeah, and schools changed the way. They used to have smoking allowed in a high school.

They used to have smoking on airplanes. You know, these are things we can't imagine now, right? But once the statistics and once the data came in, they removed it from those places. And I really believe that the more data comes in about mental health and different things that's coming in about cell phone use, I think there will be removal from high schools. And we will look at this very differently about when we give our kids smartphones and when we let them have social media. And hopefully, some of those things are going to change culturally, which will help parents out. I think the struggle right now is that parents are living kind of in the wild, wild west of smartphones and social media.

The data is just now coming in. And it's hard to be the parent who's making different decisions. But I would just encourage you, just like when our kids get their driver's license, they have to go through some pretty rigorous tests and study to actually be able to get on the road and drive.

And they have to drive for a full year before they're allowed to drive on their own. And so I think it's okay to tell our teens, hey, we're going to have a conversation about getting a smartphone and all of these things. But we're going to read some things before you do.

I want you to actually really understand how this device works and what might be problematic about it and what are some of the trouble spots before I just let you have one. And I think that's being responsible as a parent. It's not being overly restrictive. Our kids might feel like it is, but that's unfortunately sometimes our job as parents is to help protect them from what they can't see as being a problem. And I do think technology has a lot of pitfalls for our teenagers.

Yeah. Yeah, I've heard parents say, well, you know, when I told my son or daughter that I was not going to get them a cell phone, you know, at a certain age, whatever it was, and the child, the teenager says, if you love me, you'd get me one. And they asked me how I would respond to that. I said, well, you tell them I love you too much to get you one. As a parent, I have to do what I think is best for you. So I love you too much to do that.

But, you know, teenagers will try to manipulate you, of course, to get what they want. I mean, that's just normal. It's human. So we have to recognize that.

Yeah, that's right. Okay, let's talk about families praying together. You created some cards with specific requests for each day. Tell us about this, and how do we help our teenagers develop a prayer life? Yeah, I think one of the simplest ways that we can help our teens in life is to just teach them spiritual habits.

And I always like to say, I mean, the goal here is not perfection. We are teaching patterns. So in our home, we met every morning at the kitchen table.

And this was probably for 10 minutes. My husband would read a devotional, and we would pray. And on these prayer cards, we had a different one for every day of the week.

And one of the kids' names was at the top, or my husband or my name was at the top. So there was a person in the family we prayed for. The second thing we prayed for was some sort of leader in their life. Maybe it was our pastor.

Maybe it was a principal. We also prayed for governing officials. You know, like we prayed for the president, or we pray for our governor, you know, something like that. We prayed for a missionary every day who we supported. And then we prayed for like a world event that was going on.

So something that was current event relevant. And so I made these cards. It took probably 15 minutes to make the cards, but they guided us each day so that my kids learned, okay, we pray for the people we love. We pray for leaders in our life. We pray for missionaries who are going out into the world, and we pray for current events. What this created was one time during the day as a family when we prayed together. And everyone, different people prayed different days, but all of the kids just learned how to pray out loud for one another, and they learned how to care for one another in that way. And what I will say, it made spontaneous prayer really easy.

You know, so we're going on a trip. We pray for the trip before we go. And everyone always just felt comfortable with prayer because we had these daily habits. Again, some mornings were crazy.

We missed some mornings. We were not perfect, but it was definitely the pattern of the home that we tried to incorporate prayer on a daily basis in our home life. Yeah, I like that idea because it's not just them praying the same prayer every day, saying the same thing every day, you know, which could just be a habit and you don't even remember what you're saying, you know. Exactly.

When you've got cards that give you suggestions, yeah, I think that's great. So how does prayer help teenagers navigate the world in which they live? Yeah, well, I think we have seen, you know, kids are more anxious than ever. They're stressed. They're dealing with all sorts of things. And what I will say is prayer offers them something to do with their fear. I mean, I think one of the benefits of living in the information age is we have a lot of information.

So if you want to find out, you know, how to fix your sink, you can probably Google it. That's a wonderful thing. The problem of an information age is that we have a lot of information and that means we know that war is happening across the world immediately. You know, we know these things on a daily basis. We know if people are hungry in a certain part of the world. Yeah, we basically know a lot of horrible things that are happening all over the world.

And that is a lot to hold as a human. You know, we're not really made to know all of that. And what I do think we can do with those fears and those concerns that our kids might have just by watching the evening news is to be able to say, hey, well, let's pray about this.

It gives us something we can do. We can call on God to help and we can say, hey, I don't know how God's going to answer this. But through his church, God's got people all over the world. Maybe he will send someone to help in that scenario, that earthquake that just happened. Again, yeah, normally it would take us weeks to know about the earthquake, but now we see pictures of it right away.

That's hard. I mean, so I think prayer really gives us a lifeline. We can call out to God and ask him to do something when we're really powerless to do anything. You know, I think when the children were little, many Christian parents actually pray with the children individually at night when they put them to bed. You know, just bow by the bed and have a prayer with it and let the child pray at their level and you pray. And sometimes if you start that when they're young, you can carry that into the teenage years, you know, but not always. But I think if we make prayer a vital part of our interfacing with each other, which you've described already, it really helps them make prayer a central part of their lives.

That's right. You know, I think all these things like Bible reading and prayer and learning about God, we can make them heavy and not fun. But these are just, you know, I just haven't seen that. My kids haven't felt that way. I think they've felt very refreshing and hopeful to them rather than restrictive. You know, hopefully we don't make prayer time miserable for everybody, but we more say, hey, God listens to us. Isn't that amazing that we get to pray to God? So how we position it really can matter rather than, oh, this is something we have to do every day, everybody yelling at everybody to get to the table so that we can do this miserable thing. We want to really say, hey, this is how we live life and the life that's shown to us in God's Word is a good, good life. And hopefully they'll take that from our homes.

Yeah. You know, sometimes kids who are raised in what we might call rock solid Christian home. Thanks for listening. Struggle, you know, with today's cultural pressures and they sometimes walk away from the faith. What encouragement do you have for these parents? Yeah, I think for all of us, this is the hard thing about the teen years. You know, a lot of kids start saying, even in just an effort to distinguish themselves from us, I'm not sure I believe this stuff.

I'm not sure I agree with you on that. One, I think we can kind of take comfort from the fact that that's pretty normal and that's actually a part of their faith becoming their own. They have to sometimes say, I'm not sure what I believe so that they can figure out what they believe. And so one thing I always like to kind of say is be curious about their doubts again, rather than just be so fearful that you have to answer all their questions. And our teens may come to us with questions we don't know how to answer. They might have really good questions about the faith that they're in, really good doubts they're having. And I always say, it's good to say when you don't know, to just say, I don't know the answer to that.

That's a really good question. Maybe we should call the pastor in your church and ask that question to them or find help together. I think as parents, we don't have to feel like we have all the answers for their questions, but to assure them we are always available to have the conversation with them along the way. And I'd rather them doubt with me and be honest with me about their doubts than be hiding them and not tell me about what they're going through. But I would also just say, I've watched enough kids and I've watched enough adults who grew up in Christian homes and walked away from it all for a season. And then I've seen them come back once they kind of, like the prodigal son, they ran away, far away from the things of God. But then they came back and I really attribute that to a lot of prayers of parents. Our prayers matter that we cry out to God and ask for him to save. So I think we can be hopeful because God is a saving God and he is a God who goes after the lost and the one who runs away, he goes after. And so we can keep praying and we can keep loving our child whether they're 15 and dealing with doubts or they're 50 and dealing with doubts. Hopefully we can be that voice that keeps saying to them, I love you and I'm praying for you and I'm gonna keep hoping one day you'll come back to faith.

And I think we can be hopeful our whole lives that they will. And like the prodigal son's father, he kept the farm going. So when he came home, there was a place to come home too. Yeah, that's right. And he kept looking.

He kept looking for him to come home. That's right, yeah. Keep your own faith growing, you know, even though it's a great disappointment, of course, when your kids tend to walk away sometimes for a season. And sometimes we don't see them come back, but we have to give them the same freedom God gave his first two children.

And they did wrong, you know. All right, well this has been a great conversation and it's an excellent book and I hope that our listeners will get it and will read it. And together, if you have a husband and wife together, you'll read it together. Or if you're a single mom, I hope you will read it. It's going to help you.

And let's face it, the teenage years are hard and so we need all the help we can get. So thanks for being with us today, Melissa. Oh well, thanks for having me. I told you earlier, I read your book, "The 5 Love Languages" , years ago. So it's a joy to get to be with you today. And I credit that book to really being such a blessing in my marriage and actually in my parenting.

It's been huge. It's been hugely helpful for how I love people, especially my husband, definitely my children, but even friends and family members. It's such a joy to get to talk with you today. Well, that's great. I'm always glad to hear good reports.

All authors are. And I think you're going to hear some good reports on this book that you've written. So God bless.

Thanks so much. Melissa Kruger's book again is Parenting with Hope, Raising Teens for Christ in a Secular Age. We have it linked at the website buildingrelationships.us. Again, go to buildingrelationships.us. And next week, some say it's an epidemic, loneliness. Hear how Pastor Steve DeWitt allowed loneliness to be a guide in his life in one week. Our thanks to Janice Backing and Steve Wick for their work behind the scenes. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-11 02:16:57 / 2024-05-11 02:36:38 / 20

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