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Prepare Your Teen to Leave Home

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2023 4:41 am

Prepare Your Teen to Leave Home

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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May 22, 2023 4:41 am

Dr. David Gudgel shares his wisdom and insight as a dad of three successfully launched adults. He discusses how to navigate moral dilemmas, relational harmony, and the balance between independence from parents and dependence on God. 


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Hi, Jim Daly here. Today's culture deeply needs help, but in times like these, the light of Christ can shine even brighter. So be encouraged to share his light in this broken world. Listen to the Refocus with Jim Daly Podcast. Without time limitations, I'll have deep, heartfelt discussions with fascinating guests who will encourage you to share God's grace, truth, and love.

Check out the podcast at or wherever you get your podcasts. But really the goal is for us to raise them in a way that they ultimately become totally dependent upon God. And so it's not that dependent stops.

It changes the direction. And if we have hopefully pointed them toward the Lord, we pray over them, and we continue to engage them in healthy conversations, and we seek to be the example God wants us to be, and when we blow it, we admit it, we own up to our sinfulness, and do whatever is appropriate and right, and all of that. The desire is that they will one day walk with the Lord, and they will grow in that relationship, and it will never stop. That's David Gudgel, and he's our guest today on Focus on the Family with your host, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us.

I'm John Fuller. John, as a parent, one of the main goals you're working toward is launching your child into adulthood, right? We talk about that often here. And I'm excited about this topic today because I'm right there.

Trent is launched. He's out on his own and doing well, and Troy is launching, and so it's kind of right where we're living. How about you? Well, they're all out of the house for the moment. We've had bounce backs, and there's a really interesting sense of being empty nesters sort of on and off again as kids come and go. I do enjoy my adult kids.

It's a really wonderful season. I just don't see them as much as I'd like because they're, well, they're kind of independent now. They're doing their thing. Exactly.

It's a good thing. But what a great topic, and it is the heart, I believe, of all of us as parents. We want to launch our children well into adulthood. We're going to cover that today. It's one of the examples of how Focus on the Family is here for you, and we are a huge resource center.

So if you're not quite at that point yet of launching your kids, you're still dealing with maybe five, eight, 12-year-olds. We have a lot of content for you in that space too, so just get ahold of us. But today, it's actually fun to kind of talk about a topic that we're living in. Yeah, and Dave Gudgel is with us to share his insights and wisdom and experiences. He successfully launched three children into adulthood, and he's going to help you and especially your teenager look to the future with hope. And Dave is the director of Church Health for Northern California's Venture Church Network. He served as lead pastor for 40 years at a number of churches located in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. He and Bernice have three children, and they have 11 grandkids. And Dave is the author of the book Just One More Thing Before You Leave Home.

We have copies of that here at the ministry. Hit the show notes or give us a call, 800, the letter A and the word family. Dave, welcome back to Focus. Thank you. It's good to be back. Good to have you. Okay, so you're the dad. You've got three kids.

You're going to launch the first one, and the night before the goodbye, you decide to do something. This is such a funny story. Both Gene and I were laughing when we read this. Well, yeah, I had no idea that it was going to turn out to be what it did.

Otherwise, maybe we wouldn't have had the medium. Well, paint the picture for everybody listening and watching. What was happening? What was your goal?

What did you decide to do, and how did it go? Well, it wasn't unusual for us as a family to have family meetings. Kids love those, by the way. We planned one around Brent, our oldest, leaving home, and he was about ready to leave the next day. So we're thinking, let's all get together, and we can at least pray together, and Bernice was on board for that part of it. But then I introduced the, so why don't we share something that we want Brent to know that we love about him, and things like that. And that turned into a nightmare.

Because why? Everybody's just tears. It's great. I mean, here are the stories, but good old dad was sitting there just bawling through the whole experience. I mean, all I could think about was, tomorrow it's going to be different. We're going to drop him off at college, you know, and this is all going to change, and we're not going to have this wonderful feeling that we have right now. You're going through a moment here. Okay, and I love a humorous way of describing that, but we can all relate.

To some degree, you do that. It's an emotional moment, right? Maybe not so much for the child leaving.

They're kind of excited, right? But for us as parents, our lips are quivering, and we feel like it's the end of an era, and oh my goodness, it's all over. But fear not, parents, it's not all over. Your parenting will continue, just in a different way. Let's rewind the tape though, because you, you know, we often draw on our own experiences about how we left the nest, so to speak. When you left your mom and dad, you went to college, you kind of had some struggles.

What was going on there? This is like every parent's nightmare, when the flat tire, so to speak, is occurring with the one you just launched, and you kind of experienced some of that as an adult young person, correct? Well, I was sure that the problems I was having were directly connected to me living in the home, so I figured as soon as I left home, everything was going to be great, you know? I didn't have enough wisdom to know that the person that I was going to move in with next, who was a few years older than me, and he had already done the apartment thing and all of that, was going to implore me to do chores as a part of living in the same home that he was living in. Sounds like dishes. Yeah, those kinds of things, and toilets too. I guess that was, you know, he figured if I get somebody who's going to live here with me, they got the toilet duty and carpets and other things, but I had no idea, so I wasn't thinking in that direction.

All I was thinking was, boy, freedom, I'm going to leave home and life is going to be great. So we didn't do a lot of preparation, my parents and I, we really never sat down and talked about what life is going to be like, and so I guess some of it just came out of that in terms of what I hope to help our children with. The more serious end of this is when your children leave the nest, I mean, especially those that are going off to perhaps like a four-year college or something like that. There's a lot of party environment. They may be going to great Christian universities, but guess what, Mom and Dad, I know you know it, but those things are still going to occur in those environments.

I have heard from many, many parents that have had good experience with their kids at Christian universities. Again, nothing's perfect, but there's at least a framework and good clubs, et cetera, for kids to be plugged into. But speak to that downside. That's what we're here to talk about.

When the moral dilemmas are being faced, the drinking aspect could even be drugs and premarital sex and all those kind of critical decisions that could really run your life into the ditch. How do we prepare for that as parents? What do we say in that context? How do we talk with them openly so they know they can trust us and talk with us about some of the dilemmas they're facing? Yeah, we stumbled through that as well, not knowing what to talk about with our children. But we knew we needed to have some conversations that hopefully would help prepare them for what we knew they were going to face. And that's where we began to just put together some topics that last year or two that they were in the home, like what you're talking about, Jim, with the matter of morality and the issues that they're going to face with drinking or drugs or whatever it might be. Yeah, it may not be that serious.

Hopefully, that'd be a great thing. But many parents do face kids that leave and they've got their freedoms and they're making choices that really break your heart. And how do you stay connected with them in that moment? How do you navigate that as a parent?

And I think, Dave, I think you'd agree with that. You've got to keep that communication open. And you've got to keep that lifeline together with them and keep encouraging them, loving them as God would love us. And still hopefully being able to consult with them about how important the decisions are. I'm telling my boys already, man, you are going to make the most important life decisions in your 20s. Yeah, and that's where we begin the book, actually, is with the whole matter of choices as you help them try to think about now the choices are going to be in their lap. I mean, there's been a transfer in some way where it was our choice, then it was together the choice. You know, I say our in terms of it was the parent's choice and then it's hopefully the child's choice along with you.

But then now you're basically saying it's up to you. And I think if we can have conversations that last year or two about those specific areas that we know they're going to face without lecturing them. This is an important matter right now, you know, because as you're suggesting, Jim, you've got to build the relationship. And building the relationship that last two, three years that they're in the home is an essential part of having a continuing relationship once they do go and off to college or wherever it is. Yeah.

We joke because so often our repertoire has been as they go out to be with their friends while they're they've been at home with us, you know, on a Friday night, a Saturday night. Remember, be smart. Use the brain God gave you. I mean, now it's got the don't forget to breathe oxygen. I mean, you can go through a list of the out the door exit that gets a little humorous in itself. Right.

And finally, you're 17, 18 year olds looking at you like, duh. I don't repeat that language for you, dad. But I mean, you see, you've got to kind of broaden that that list, right? Yeah.

And so what I've done in the book is I've actually given you 30 topics, 30. Just one more thing. You know, that just one more thing. I just got one more thing. One for every month before they leave the house. Yeah.

It turned out to be 30. And really, a couple of them were put into the book as a result of me testing this with parents and them coming back and saying, hey, could you get a couple chapters in the book on such and such? And all we're trying to do is surface conversations. So this can become a springboard of conversation for you. Yeah.

However you choose to use that content. Be nice to sprinkle it throughout their senior years. So it's not all in one sitting like the night before they leave.

Which could lead you to tears. Let me ask you, you touch on this about the roommate situation and chores in that context. But you also mentioned the book three kind of simple rules for your son or daughter to remember to maintain harmony, relational harmony when they move in with a roommate. What are those three things?

Yeah. Well, I just talk about the importance of first swallowing your pride and then... Is this a marriage book? What are we talking about here? In some ways, it's preparation for marriage because you're going to end up doing the same kind of thing.

So swallow your pride. Obviously, there are going to be things that are going to happen that you could repair. You could have a part in repairing. And so somebody's got to take the initiative, humble themselves and say, can we talk about this?

Or I really am at fault as well. Whatever that might be. Secondly, valuing your roommate enough that you would actually work the problem. Work with the problem.

Work through the problem. And have a conversation. We talk about the elephant in the room. The elephant's there. Everybody sees it.

Everybody's tiptoeing around it. But you really just got to take some time. You got to talk about it. And obviously, in Philippians 2, it talks about considering others' interests as more important than yourself. And that's a key area as well.

In what way can you be a part of showing that you value them by how you handle the circumstance? Yeah. And Dave, in fact, you had a story about Sam, your roommate. I laugh because I think I had a similar experience in the dorm room.

Yeah. Dorm living in college is kind of interesting because it's like an 8 by 12 foot space that we had. And you have a bunk bed and two dressers and a small refrigerator. And that's it.

That was mine. The bathrooms, everything else, we were in the all men's dorms. So they were communal down at the end of the hall. So your room was small. And living with the guy you just shake hands with when you show up at the campus. Hi, I'm your roommate. Okay. How's this going to work?

How did it work for you and Sam? Well, he was a pile your clothes kind of guy. You know what I'm talking about? Yeah, I kind of know that guy. It always ended up in the same pile in the middle of the room. Oh, he didn't have more than one pile. Okay, I'm not that guy. Yeah, he was the one pile guy that just kept stinking. And not him, but the pile. And I was the guy that would not confront something. You know, how many of us are like that? We're not going to talk about it.

We all see it's a problem, but we're not going to talk about it. And finally, I just had had it. In fact, instead of talking to him, I went to talk to the dean or somebody else and found a way to go live in another dorm room. You just escaped.

I did. I mean, that's one way of handling it. But I wouldn't say that's the best way of handling it.

You know, Sam's wife today is really in trouble because of you. Yeah, I don't know. You were going to say, not the best way to handle it. All I know is that it would have been a great opportunity to learn how to confront conflict and work through so that maybe we could get a win-win, as you suggested. I think that there are good things that you're going to learn in these kind of environments that could make you the person you hope to become. Dave, I want to ask you, you wrote in the book about in high school being on autopilot.

I would think of every high school student on some form of autopilot. Well, I was just expressing the fact that I wasn't there. I was just showing up, going through the motions, and not really putting my heart into the experience.

So that's in some ways connected to my child upbringing and the number of moves. We moved so many times, and so it was hard for me to build friendships, let alone really get into the high school education experience. I really missed out on what high school could have been for me. And it wasn't until college that I really got involved and invested in my education.

Yeah. What did you do as a parent to help a child that is not transitioning well in that regard? You know, they didn't have a great high school experience, and you're trying to put your arm around them and say, hey, look forward to college. Or even the child that's not thinking college is for them. That could be a disappointment for parents who believe a college education is the way up.

There's a lot in that statement, but what do you think of those things? I'm so glad you asked that because I had a mom who cared enough to be able to call that to my attention. And we had an experience just shortly after I started college because I was continuing at the beginning of college to do what I did in high school, just go through the motions. And one day I came home, Mom could see that. My mom, by the way, she was young 30-something. She had me when she was 16.

Wow, okay. So a young 30-something mom to sit down with her son who's in his first year of college and put him on, we had a diving board in the backyard. She put me on the diving board over the water and she sat on the side where the cement was so I couldn't move.

I was a captive audience and she said to me, Dave, I'm not going to let you continue your education experience the way that you finished in high school. God has given you so much more. And I say that to say, you know, a defining moment like that can make all the difference in the world if you're already connected in some way to your kid. I mean, we didn't have the perfect relationship, but we had enough of a relationship that she could be able to call me on it and say, this really has to change. God used that moment.

That's awesome. I think the other thing, too, is how do you help that young adult, your son or daughter, discover God's purpose for their life? That's kind of that moment. God gives you gifts and your mom was calling you out on that not to waste them. Speak to other examples of that where parents do try to discern, you know, God's gifting in their son or daughter.

And how do you pull that out of them? And really, you know, the greatest fear is hopefully your child is walking with the Lord. That's tough. You know, 20 to 24 is a tough time in this culture for your child to be a committed, faithful Christian person. They're going to take some shots for that.

Yeah. And I think Proverbs speaks to that where it speaks about training up a child in the way he should go. And that's not necessarily your way, but it's the bent that God has given your son or daughter, paying attention to the giftedness that God has given them, the talents, the passion that they have for certain things. My parents saw that in me with regard to sort of technical kind of things like woodshop and metal shop and auto shop and crafting and all of that.

I love to do those sorts of things. And so they were there affirming me. They didn't affirm me with history and chemistry and the other things that I just did not do well with. But they were there affirming me. And then as I took steps in that direction, when there were deviations even in my mind of how that was going to work out, they were still there trying to help me sort it out. Sure. In fact, in the book, you speak to that spiritual encouragement being of three dimensions.

What are those dimensions? I think you mentioned upward, outward, inward. Yeah. So focus first of all on God and what is the Lord saying in your life right now? How is he leading? What are the desires he's given you? Psalm 37 for he will give you the desires of your heart. So pay attention to that. That's the upward focus. The outward focus is this love for other people growing in a relationship with others so that you're learning to love them like Christ loved the church.

And that obviously means a lot of things. Sacrifice would be at the very center of that. And then there's the focus toward yourself and understanding the person that God made you to be and willingly stepping into what might that completely be. You know, I ended up in ministry as a pastor not because I had this early calling. I felt I was being called toward architecture.

But my parents saw the changes in me and when I brought that to their attention, they were still willing to say, hey, well, let's go with it. We'll do whatever we can to support you. Oh, that's so good. Dave, you talk about something you called the sandwich of success. Now, I'm thinking bacon turkey on wheat. That sounds good right now, doesn't it?

It does, yeah. But that's not what you're getting at. What is the sandwich of success? Well, there's time, obviously. God has given you time. He's given you this time in your life right now. He's also given you talent. So two pieces of bread are time and talent if you want to think of it that way. You're gifted to do certain things.

Don't fight that. Join God in the work that He's doing. And then between the time and the talent is God. He's the one that's going to bring it all together.

And you've got to be seeking Him, and what is it that He is showing you that is resonating with your heart because it's also something that He's giving you for potentially the future? Yeah. Also speak to success and failure. That's something in your 20s you're going to hit. And I think right now there's such a crippling effect about failure. You know, young people, they're just not as resilient as I think young people used to be.

It sounds like I walked uphill to school both ways, right? But there is something seemingly a little more lacking today with resiliency, bouncing back after failure. Speak to the need to do that and how you do it. Well, I'm so glad that God knows we're going to fail. He didn't, when Jesus was with Peter, you know, say to Peter, you know, the problem is you failed too many times.

We're done. But He expected and worked with Peter's failure. God works with our failure. There's something there for us to learn, something there for us to be changed by. And so don't look at failure as the end of whatever it is that God's going to do with your life. This could be the beginning of a course correction, a new direction, and God's going to use that to help you get to the place that He wants you to go. But you've got to, again, stay connected to the Lord in this process. Yeah, so many business, you know, I did a business degree, and in there is fail fast and fail often so you can get to success, right?

That's not a bad thing to help your kids better understand. And I think, again, in your 20s, you're trying probably two, three, four, five different vocational things to see where your gifts really fit. Typically, it's very rare today that somebody starts with General Motors at 18 and ends at 65 with General Motors. Dave, when you were in graduate school, you faced kind of a tough situation. What happened and how did you overcome that problem? Yeah, in graduate school, which was seminary, my mother died unexpectedly. Oh, she had to be young. Yeah, she was 42.

She had been sick, but we didn't know she was that sick, and she never really went to the doctor to find out, but she died of cancer. And so we went through that experience, and that was a life-changing experience. And as we just talked about failure and that whole area, there's still something, even in the midst of that kind of experience, for us to learn and to grow through and to be changed by. And it was a life-changing thing for me. I still remember a pastor came over and prayed for us, our family.

And I don't remember a whole lot of things that he said, but I remember this. He prayed, Lord, help them not ask why this has happened, but what it is that you want to do in their life, and help them remember who you are now. And I thought, wow, yeah, that's what I need right now, because we typically ask the why question in the midst of grief or pain or suffering or whatever it is, and it's an okay question to ask. I mean, even Job asked the question in the midst of his suffering.

But hopefully that's not where we stop. We turn to God. We ask for his help. He can come in those circumstances and meet us at our point of need. He is an ever-present help in our times of trouble.

Yeah, that's so good. I'm thinking, you know, one of the things that we need to cover with our kids before they leave is that balance of them becoming more independent from us and more dependent upon God. This is probably the right place to land. That's so critical, because I could see me having too big a role in the lives of my boys, if I could say it that way. And I don't want to replace that role that God should have. And it's kind of like I need to diminish so he can increase, right, on their dependability, what they need.

Speak to that balance. If you're an engaged, loving father or mother, how do you let God begin to take control of those 20-something young people and trust him for outcomes? Yeah, this is such an important matter, because we tend to think the whole goal here is to raise them to be independent of us. And we totally understand that in some ways financially and other places like that. But really the goal is for us to raise them in a way that they ultimately become totally dependent upon God. And so it's not that dependence stops.

It changes the direction. And if we have hopefully pointed them toward the Lord and we pray over them and we continue to engage them in healthy conversations and we seek to be the example God wants us to be, and when we blow it, we admit it, we own up to our sinfulness and do whatever is appropriate and right and all of that, the desire is that they will one day walk with the Lord and they will grow in that relationship and it will never stop. Yeah, may it be so.

I mean, that's so true. Dave, this has been so good. And I hope folks listening and watching will, especially if you're at that point or if it's coming, good to read this ahead of time.

If your child's in their teen years, early teen years, I'd get this now and start reading it and start drip irrigating these concepts into your child so that when they are leaving the house, they already know the answers to the questions. That'd be awesome. I wish I had this a few years ago. Just one more thing before you leave home, a great book by Dave. And we can get this in your hands.

And we'd like to do ministry together. So if you can make a gift of any amount, either monthly or a one-time gift, we'll send you a copy of Dave's book as our way of saying thank you. Really on behalf of the families, you will help by obtaining the book through Focus on the Family. Contact us today, ask about Dave's book and make a donation as you can. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word family, 800-232-6459. We're stopped by the website.

The link is in the show notes. Well, join us again tomorrow as we hear from Pastor Rico Tice. He'll offer ways that you can share your faith in everyday life. We're in a culture where people aren't really trusting the pastors any longer.

So it's the friends they trust. So just say, look, do you want to have a look at the Bible? I'm no expert, but I've got some questions here. We'll let the Bible teach us.

Just see how it goes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. And face them together. Call us at 1-866-875-2915. We'll talk with you, pray with you and help you find out which program will work best. That's 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-22 06:48:50 / 2023-05-22 07:00:34 / 12

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