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Investing in Your Child for the Teen Years

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
January 27, 2023 5:00 am

Investing in Your Child for the Teen Years

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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January 27, 2023 5:00 am

A panel of parents join with Jim Daly and John Fuller to discuss preparing their children for the teen years and adulthood, providing a biblical perspective on sexuality, peer relationships and technology.

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So, son, why don't you sit right down here and we'll have a... What do you want to talk about, Dad? Oh, yeah, talk about... What about a dog, Dad? Can we get a dog? Huh?

Huh? No, no dog. Your mother and I thought... Well, you're getting older now, son, right? And we thought that you should know about... Spiderman? You want to talk about Spiderman? He's a really cool superhero.

He can swing webs... Spiderman? No, no. Oh, must concentrate. Birds, bees... Where do you think babies come from, son? Phew. I said it.

From the hospital? Good answer. I'm glad we could have this important talk, son. Oh, my, it is tempting sometimes, isn't it, to put off that big talk with your preteen? Well, today on Focus on the Family, we have a conversation with some parents who had the courage to step up and have a series of important conversations with their kids before the teen years, and they had fun in the process.

Your host is Focus on the Family president and author Jim Daley, and I'm John Fuller. John, that humorous clip we just heard captures the importance of having needed conversations with our children, but God's design for sex in marriage, self-image, bullying, and choosing good friends are just examples of all the things we need to begin to talk about sooner rather than later. All of these things are especially important in preparing for the teen years. So parents need to help build a strong foundation when their kids are younger. Knowledge is power, and if we equip our kids early enough, they'll have the power to stand up for what's right and against the strong tide of the culture. And parents today, I mean, we've got a big challenge here because of technology and other things that kids have access to. Yeah, my kids are adults.

I think if you asked them, they would remember some of those important moments where we had discussions about some of the topics you talked about. It was good. Yeah, and I did the same with my two boys, and it was good. It was a little clumsy. It was awkward. Yeah, right, but that's part of it. I think I got to Trent on the talk at about 12 and Troy at about 11, and I don't think they actually compared notes.

I don't think either of them talked to each other, which I thought was interesting. Well, we've got them on the line now, Jimmy. Yeah, right. We're in trouble now, but we need to be vulnerable and honest as parents, and this is a great thing. You know, one of the things I always told my boys is that God, it's a gift that he's giving us for our wedding night, and he is a wonderful gift giver, and that's how I kind of framed it, that this isn't the kind of thing you opened before on Christmas, like, you know, when they peek at the gifts, that God's intimacy and what he wants to share in terms of our intimacy with our spouse is for the wedding night, and that's been a great way. They've really, have really embraced that, and I'm glad. Yeah, and all of this is why we've created a curriculum called Launch Into the Teen Years. It's been revised, actually, and enhanced based on input from parents who've gone through the series with their kids. So there's a parent's guide and a child's journal and a six-part video download, and all of that is developed around a biblical framework, and today we have some parents to share their perspectives on using the Launch Into the Teen Years kit, and I'm really glad that they've joined us.

We have Shauna Hudson, Ellen Slotman, and Nick Dupont, and as we begin, just a word to parents, there will be some content in here that is kind of PG-13. Yeah, that's good. Good morning, John. Welcome to all three of you. Thank you. So good to have you.

Okay, we've kind of set the stage. Let me ask all three of you, it doesn't have to go in any order, just jump out there. Why did you feel it was important to go through Launch Into the Teen Years with your kids? What motivated you to go, okay, it's time? So I think for me, there were two things, and I think one is that silence just simply is not an option, and the world speaks so loudly to our kids, and especially our teenagers, and so for us, silence wasn't an option. The second part was, my kids were a little older when we went through Launch, and so we had already done some talks and some books, and when I looked at this one, it had a lot of the topics that other ones don't. So like your identity in Christ, that was really important to us. More than just the sex talk, it was those types of things that were important.

Ellen, how about you? One of the reasons I wanted to go through this is because I wanted to do something different than what I grew up with. It was awkward, it was a one-time discussion, a look at a book, and I don't know if we ever discussed it again. Right, so that minimal, because of the uncomfortableness of it. I mean, I get that. So I wanted to maybe try something new, make it better.

Hopefully it would help. Yeah, and so, Nick, what's your story with Launch? So my parents, they got a divorce when I was 14 years old, and even though I was raised in the church, I really didn't know my identity in Christ. And so I spent several years just sort of trying to wing it on my own and kind of set two lofty expectations for myself and other people. And quite frankly, made a lot of bad choices.

Sure. And I didn't want my son to go through that without any guidance. I kind of felt like I didn't have that much guidance. So yeah, I was looking for something that would help affirm his infinite value in God and also let him know that it's worth being a faithful friend and to seek out faithful friends.

And that's really good. The Launch kit encourages you as a parent to be vulnerable and relate your own experiences. Nick, you're leaning toward that direction. That can be kind of delicate, how much to express to a 12, 11-year-old, maybe a 13-year-old about your experience as a parent. How did you go about balancing being open and vulnerable with your children, yet at the same time maybe not saying everything? Because that's pretty young to go into your experiences as a teenager if that's the direction you went.

It is. I mean, obviously you're not going to lay out every detail, but you are going to let them know that you were as human as the next person and that being flawed is being human. As we studied the Word together, Noah started to say, you know what, Dad, there's a lot of characters in the Bible that they kind of messed up before God was able to help them out. So I think from that he got that, yeah, we're all flawed. That's good. That's a good benefit that he connected the dots that way that, you know, characters in the Bible aren't perfect people. Only one, Jesus. Shauna, you also with your kids, they had some spiritual ahas as well.

What happened? Yeah, I was really surprised. There's a part in Launch that it's like in the extra credit and the coaching notes, and it says if you want to, you can have your kids talk about their questions with the truthfulness of the Bible. And I thought, well, my kids won't have any questions, but I'll go ahead and just check. And I was dumbfounded by the questions that they had. But what I loved about that was it gave me the opportunity. First, I was able to peek into their heart and see what it was that they questioned.

And then I was able to say to them, listen, God is so big. He loves your questions. So bring every question you have to him because he has the answers. And a lot of the things they asked, I had no clue about. And I said, I don't know. But these are questions that we'll find out together. Yeah, that is so good. I want to make sure people hear that, that rather than give a false answer or just a misguided answer, admit you don't know the answer to the question.

Let's go discover it together. I think that's such a critical point. I'm glad you made that. Sometimes as parents, we can mess up by just trying to be all knowledgeable when we're not. Nick, there's an illustration in the kit where we describe friendship fences and the importance of creating those friendship fences.

How did you absorb that? How did you illustrate that to your son? So the the friendship fence is a barrier that a child puts between their heart and their life. It's a metaphor for what type of friends they're going to allow kind of in into their inner circle or to influence them in a big way. So every fence has a gate. And if you leave that gate open, there's going to be a lot of people trying to come in and and influence you. So if a potential friend has the character traits that are in your friendship fence, like being a faithful friend as opposed to being a fair weather friend, being able to forgive people or be forgiving as opposed to being more toxic and and holding a grudge, then they're allowed to come in. Now, that doesn't mean that everybody else is, you know, on the outside. You still want to talk with everybody, love on everybody, but you're not just going to let them be in that in that inner circle of your. Yeah, it's so good to give young people permission to think logically about what is healthy for me. And sometimes if you're not having those discussions as a 12 year old, you don't.

Is it OK if I don't let somebody in my fence and you don't really know the answer that maybe you feel mean spirited or, you know, I'm not being kind if I don't let that person into my area. Right. Shauna, let me move to another concept out of the kit. We describe consumers and contributors. How did you apply that?

What do those terms mean and how did you apply it? So the terms are described for you in the launch journal, which is really nice. And it talks about that consumers were consumers by nature, that we want what's best for us and that we don't often think about other people. And so it talked about friendships and how we could be contributors. And what I liked with the friendship fence was I had my kids draw it on a piece of paper and then they took all of their friends. I had them list their friends and then they put each friend inside or outside of the fence.

And then I had them also put themselves where they were for each friend. And so it was good because we're having friendship issues at the time and it was really good for them to be able to see. Maybe some of my problems is that I'm being a consumer. I'm in this friendship for me. What can I get out of this person instead of what does this person need from me?

Maybe God put this person in my life because this person needs me and not that I need that person. And that was a great conversation. Yeah, and I think that's so good to say when we approach the building of Launch Into the Teen Years that it's not just about sexuality. It's about human behavior.

Right. Which, you know, of course, sexuality is a big part of it, but it's also how you treat people and how they treat you in all facets. Ellen, another area that's not directly related to the sex talk, as we've been describing, but bullying and bullying is on the rise.

There's more of it today, I think, than there has been maybe in years past. And you entered into that discussion with your kids and you were a bit surprised to find out some things. What happened? Yeah, I was surprised. My second son, Cole, I went through it with two of our boys.

And Cole, his personality is very confident. He appears as though friendships are great and he doesn't really, you know, let me in otherwise emotionally like that. And I just never worried about it. And we got into the discussion on bullying and I was super surprised that he struggled with it and he started crying and, you know, and...

It touched a tender spot. Yeah, totally. He had kids and, you know, it might have been just a temporary thing, but there were kids that were making fun of different things about his appearance.

And he, you know, was something that he had done, you know, to one of them they were making fun of. And it just, it was such a good thing for me to see that on the outside he appeared to be, you know, doing great. But I, as a parent, you know, was, I know in the future I need to be, you know, asking those questions even when all appears calm and good. Yeah, and that's, again, why we developed this program, LAUNCH, into the teen years. It's a terrific kit. If you haven't yet had conversations like we're hearing about today, contact us and get a copy of the LAUNCH into the teen years kit.

The link is in the episode notes or call 1-800 the letter A in the word family. You know, God's design for sex is a beautiful thing. It's one of those things that the world has totally manipulated, right?

And the big pornography industry and all those kinds of things. But God attended this to be a wonderful gift in the context of marriage. And, oh, even saying it, you're so old-fashioned.

We get that, I'm proud of being old-fashioned in that way, right? And it's healthy for human beings to be in that kind of monogamous relationship. And in that way, the LAUNCH into the teen years describes it and talks about sex within marriage. But you alluded to it, Ellen, that, you know, it can be a little uncomfortable.

And, you know, then you're talking about, and I'm going to get from each of you how that experience came around for you. But you have both daughters and sons. I only had sons. So Jean got off rather easily, I would add.

I only have sons. But Jean, you know, she just reinforced what I had expressed to the boys. It was really my job to take the boys for the weekend and make sure that they understood what it's all about. So I want to get, let's start, Ellen, with you, how, you know, just the awkwardness of it and then how you got motivated to go. Yeah. I was just grateful, you know, approaching this. It was, I mean, just overwhelming.

I had no idea how to introduce a topic and how far to go or, you know, or what to talk about. What about your husband, too? Yeah, he was in. So I, through lunch, I did most of, like, the bully, you know, chapters in the friendship. But I was like, you need to take care of this. This is the nitty gritty part.

Yes. So, I mean, we watched the video together with our boys and it just, we were so grateful for the guidance that it provided. And it was just, and it wasn't like you just dove into, like, sex and what it is. It was, you know, relationships and then how they progressed.

And let me ask you in that regard. Did you and your husband both set together with your boys? We did. So you were present.

I was present. Yeah. Yeah.

I like that. Yeah. I mean, he obviously led the conversation, but I was there and my boys are comfortable with that.

Did he do any follow up one on one with them as kind of man to boy? No, I just don't, I don't think they're there yet. Okay. All right. No, that's good to know. For what we talked about, they were engaged. No, I appreciate that. And your boys at the time of the talk were how old?

Eleven and twelve. Yeah. Okay. How about you? So this was not our first talk with either one of our children, Brendan or Reese.

So you kind of did drip irrigation? Before this, we used kind of some other discussions and talks and so on. And so I wasn't at all nervous because the other videos had been so good and the conversation had been good. I knew this was just going to be another touch point with my children. One thing I did, though, that I thought was helpful that wasn't in the guide was with my son. We also watched the girls portion.

And with my daughter, we watched the boys. Oh, that's interesting. Yeah, because it was so tactfully done that I thought, hmm, I'm sure they have questions. And this might just be a good way to explain it. And I didn't have to do much of the talking because it's in the video. And so that was helpful, I thought.

No, that's a really good idea. How about you, Nick? How old were your kids when you had this talk? Oh, so I have four kids. And so this is somewhat old hat to me, but never easy. So they were probably all about 12 or 13 years old.

12-ish, 13-ish. Yeah. Okay, good. Let's play a clip.

We have a sample from launch that shares the importance of controlling passion and saving yourself for marriage, as God intended. And let's listen as Brandon Carmier and Jesse Minassian, both good friends of ours, and our own Danny Huerta, who heads up our parenting area, have a description or a discussion around a fire pit about the analogy of a fire pit. Let's listen. In light of everything we've been talking about, there's an obvious analogy here, right? I can light a fire in the boundaries of these rocks, and I'll be able to enjoy its warmth and the light that it provides. But what would happen if I set on fire a patch of pine needles right next to a cabin? Lives could be in danger.

People could get hurt. You could say this fire is a lot like passion. It's natural, it serves a purpose, and it's beautiful in a powerful sort of way. God put passion inside of us.

He also tells us to contain it, to put boundaries around it. Just like someone worked hard to create this fire pit to get it ready for a big blaze, we need to set boundaries around our God-given passion. You know, passion can quickly turn us into consumers of people. Consumers of people only think about the passion and the pleasure of sex and miss out on God's complete covenant design for sex, which is about you giving a gift just as much as it is you receiving a gift.

What if you were a connector rather than a consumer? Connectors genuinely love others. They want the best for the other.

The bottom line? We can tame the fire of passion within us by growing in self-control and learning to love others with Christ's love. Appropriate boundaries will help you experience the best that God intended for sex. The union of mind, body, and soul in marriage. All right, jump in.

How'd it go for you? The analogy was perfect. One of the reasons the analogy was perfect was because we have a huge brush pile outside of our house, and my husband burns things all of the time. And I'm always saying, oh, be careful, don't burn the forest behind our house. And so this fire pit- Wise counsel, by the way.

Yeah, exactly. And so this fire pit really helped because now when my husband's burning, I can say that reminds me of that fire pit analogy, and then it opens up a conversation just, you know, when we're out in the yard or whenever about, you know, just really about God's timing and God's best plan for sex in your life. You too?

You had similar experiences? Yeah, I just like the visual. I mean, we can all say till we're blue in the face to wait until you're married to have sex. But I just I loved the visual, and it was just relatable to our kids.

Yeah. And I like that it came from an approach of protection rather than just suppressing whatever desire you have. You know, if you tell them, you know, you're actually protecting your future spouse.

The gift you're going to give them should be complete and shouldn't be, you know, from any past, you know, relationship. That's that's all a part of it. Just helping your young person start thinking about those responsibilities, right?

You know, one of the good things and I think you mentioned it, Shauna, this this idea of little conversations along the way. And now when you have farm animals, I believe so, that makes it pretty easy. Yes. But, you know, you can begin to talk to your six, seven, eight year olds when something is observed in nature. Right. Procreation.

Did you use that as a tool? We did. In fact, my son Cole's very curious questions about what was happening prompted us to have him join his brother in the launch series. So, yeah, I mean, we see you can't avoid reproduction when you have animals in the in the yard. So, yeah, we we do for each year. And we were discussing breeding, you know, one to have a calf the next year. And it just it's just such an easy way to just talk about it and not so embarrassing circumstances, maybe that, you know, that you just could see it.

And it was animals and it wasn't them we were talking about. Right. I appreciate that. And Jim, I like what Ellen just said there. Her son had questions. And that's the time you want to be open handed and open hearted to have those conversations, not shut them down so that they contain the questions and don't come back to you. That's the beauty of this program. Shauna, let me come your direction. Launch help you better communicate with your kids on some key topics. Describe that. I mean, a lot of parents are going, OK, I'm right there.

Now convince me that this is the thing to use. Well, so I I don't know, I might be the only parent that's this way, but I know in my heart what I want to say, but sometimes I don't have the right words to say. And one of the things I mean, even just today, for instance, when I talked to my son before he left for school, I said words that I got from launch. And it was at the end after we talked, I said, now remember whose voice matters today. And it was one of the portions in launch when it talked about who you are in Christ and that voices from the outside can impact you. But what God says about you never changes.

And so I lost I just grabbed on to that. Remember whose voice matters. And that's all I have to say. And my kids then are brought back to this conversation. Yeah. And I'm also letting them know that, you know, whatever the world says is not right.

What God says about you. That's it. That is so good.

I'm glad we did this. Let's play one other clip of Danny Huerta, our VP of parenting, who can describe the curriculum as well. Launch into the teen years. He shares about how to get started with your kids and about some of the content. The way you start, Jim, is is first setting up the idea that this is a special moment. You can plan maybe a weekend out with you with your child. You can plan on some breakfast times to to just go through the video series and also prepare yourself as a parent for the conversations. What are give me some of the themes again that we're going to cover in the curriculum. What is a parent going to do first? Yeah. You first you go into identity.

That's a very core piece. And then you go into friendships and then social media and emotions that can be stirred up even through bullying in their lives. And then you go into the changes in the body, the differences between male and female, and then you go to the talk. And this is to help you already have conversations that flow of conversation before you get to the talk. You've already talked about some deep things.

Yeah, the awkward things. Right. And this is something that you could start at nine and then continue each year and do again at 12. And you can do it with multiple kids at the same time. And that's the flexibility and the great thing about this resource.

I would encourage parents to really start at eight, nine, because we need to get in there right away. Shauna, Ellen, Nick, did it deliver on those things that Danny expressed there in that clip? Oh, definitely. And more and more.

No, that's really good. And the kids, you know, now they're older. Do you come back to that moment or those moments that you had talking with them? Yeah, we've circled back some. I wouldn't say on every topic, but I think that's the beauty of it, that you can do it more than once.

And timing is so key. I mean, we we grabbed on to friendship and bullying. And maybe next time my kids will be a little bit more there with the differences in boys and girls. And let me ask this question. You know, my kids now are 21 and 19.

So they're getting older and I haven't done this, but I'd like to maybe I'll do it tonight. How did that go from your perspective now, now that you're older, when we had our getaway and we did our talk? What do you think about that? What do you think your kids would say about that now? I mean, Trenton Troy, I think, would go, no, it was good. I think it helped me. But you're right. It'd be a little, you know, a little dodgy, probably because it's not comfortable to talk about.

It should be more comfortable. But what would you want your kids to say about when they're having the discussion with your grandchildren someday? What would you want your adult children to say about the time that you had the talk with them?

Fill in the adjectives. So my husband and I tell our kids all the time, we want you to be able to ask us anything. Nothing is off limits. And I hope that this helped open that door so they knew nothing is off limits. And you feel good about that and confident. Super confident.

That's really good. It's just so important to establish that base of trust that they can come and talk to you even when it is awkward and uncomfortable. That sets up so much of a foundation for years to come.

Right. Whether it's spiritual stuff, physical stuff, emotional stuff. I mean, that's the kind of communication you want with your child or your adult child. Well, this has been so good. Thank you for participating. I'm glad we were able to find you in the group of those who have put launch into the teen years to the test. And I'm so grateful for your testimonies and for coming and sharing those with parents who are just hitting those years and going, what do I do? And they're probably thinking, I got to talk to somebody who's done this. Well, you just have you talked to three people that have gone through it, actually five of us. And I would really want to encourage you to get a hold of focus on the family and get a hold of this curriculum. And it's really quick and very versatile, as Danny mentioned there.

You can use it at the timing that you need to use it and do it all at once or over four or five weeks. So get in touch with us. John will give us the details and you can get started on one of the greatest things you're going to do is talk to your kids about sex. Well, and as we discuss sex and bullying and friendships and values, there's so much in the launch into the teen years kit.

Make a donation today of sixty dollars or more and we'll send this kit to you. Our number is eight hundred the letter A in the word family or stop by the show notes and we'll have all the details right there. Join us next time as former youth pastor Doug Fields shares insights for parents.

Kids today are still asking the same fundamental questions that you asked. Who am I? Does anyone really like me? Am I OK?

And can I get an allowance for not doing anything? You know, these are the common questions that kids are asking relating to identity and meaning and purpose. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-27 05:13:10 / 2023-01-27 05:24:48 / 12

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