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Preparing Your Kids For the Teen Years (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
August 30, 2023 3:13 am

Preparing Your Kids For the Teen Years (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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August 30, 2023 3:13 am

Focus on the Family Vice President of Parenting and Youth Danny Huerta and popular author Jessie Minassian offer parents practical advice for teaching their kids about sex, puberty, and the many changes they'll experience during their teen years. (Part 1 of 2)


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Hey, Jim Daly here. If you like the Focus on the Family broadcast and haven't grown tired of this voice just yet, you'll love my Refocus Podcast. On Refocus, I take a deeper dive with a respected thinker on different aspects of culture.

I ask those hard questions that maybe they don't get that often, and I don't shy away from challenging topics to help you share God's grace, truth, and love with others. So listen to Refocus with Jim Daly on your favorite streaming app today. I'm John Fuller, and today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, we'll examine one of the more challenging responsibilities of parenthood, having the talk with your children. And of course, this program is not going to be suitable for younger listeners. Well, I was amazed how incredibly, completely shocked my kids were when I explained what sex was all about. My daughter is the only one to reach that age, and I let the wife do that discussion. Now, I don't have kids of my own yet, but going through the sex ed process in middle school was horrifying. I actually forged my parents' signature on these take-home, talk-about-it-with-your-parents things so I wouldn't have to. As far as sex education in our home, it went all right with me and the girls, but my husband, I had to push him a little bit. In fact, I dropped him off in the middle of the forest with a Bible and the Facts of Life book and told him I'd be back in a couple of hours so that he couldn't run away.

There you got some interesting input there, John. Hey, I'll tell you, though, having that talk can be intimidating for us as parents, especially if you didn't have parents who did it for you and had that discussion. I remember one of my boys, I will not identify that child, but we went through the whole weekend. We did a getaway, and I'm driving home the whole time and saying, any questions? No, no, got it, yeah. Really?

Okay, good. So we're driving home, and I said, what's kind of that round-up statement as we end the weekend together? It was gross. I thought that wasn't quite what I was expecting, but that's what he said.

It was gross, so I think I caught it in time to have that discussion with him. You know, many of us as adults did not receive that kind of training from our own parents, so we're a bit lost. That's why focus is here for you. We've got our Launch Into the Teen Year's Kit, which features a series of video downloads and a parent's guide to help you navigate this conversation with your kids, and this is not a one-time thing, and you'll hear a lot more about that today. Yeah, and this comprehensive resource addresses things like social media, boy-girl relationships, peer pressure, and how the body changes during this turbulent time, and you can learn more about Launch Into the Teen Year's when you call 800, the letter A in the word family, or look for details in the program notes. Like I said, we've invited two experts into the studio today. They're featured in the Launch video series, and they've been counseling teens for a number of years, and they have talked to teens about faith, relationships, and making wise choices, and that's all about growing up.

Danny Huerta, our own VP of Parenting, and Jesse Minassian, really working with us in an associate role, helping us with teen content. Thank you for doing that. Oh, it's my pleasure. And it's great to have both of you here. I appreciate it, Jim. Thank you.

Let's go for it. Okay, the number one problem with this topic is really the parents' comfortableness, or lack thereof, to have this discussion. It's so true. What's our problem?

Why? I mean, this is something God has created. It is something good, human sexuality, obviously in a biblical context, in a marriage, monogamous for your lifetime.

That's pretty much it. Why do we flub it up so much or avoid this topic like the plague? Yeah, Jim, you know, they call it secondhand stress. I think it's firsthand stress, secondhand stress.

Secondhand stress, where we impart stress into kids because of our anxieties around this topic. And it just seems awkward because we've made it awkward. It's become more of a consumer mindset around sexuality, and that will create shame when it's a contributor mindset where you're wanting to give a gift to someone. It becomes beautiful the way God designed it to be. And so culture has set it up to become much more of a shameful thing and the sin around it.

But God created it beautiful. Jesse, how about you, the culture and obviously you're representing all women today. So the culture is it's tough because it's trying to grab our young people to and show them a worldly way when it comes to sexuality.

Some of the girls teen magazines are horrific when it comes to the titles. So how do we as parents, how do we compete with that with our kids? Yeah, I'd like to first piggyback off of what Danny was saying. I just want to make sure parents, you hear me, it's going to be awkward. Like, okay. Like, I mean, I talk about all kinds of really random and difficult things with what I do. And still, when I have this talk with my kids, it's I have to force myself not to sweat.

There is just something inherent in it and to force calmness into my voice and levity. So let's just be okay with that, but still dive into the deep end. And to your question, Jim, we have to be able to reclaim what God created to be good and call it good for our kids and show them what it's meant to be. And I think when we paint a good and beautiful picture of how God designed our bodies to work and for men and women to come together, it's going to overshadow what they're seeing in the media and that counterfeit message that they're being fed. Well, and I love that emphasis that, you know, God's nature is self-evident, right? And certainly in physiology, it's self-evident.

What God intended with male and female. And the fact that that's even controversial is quite amazing today. But it shows you the culture and the power of the culture. The other question, which is really critical right at the beginning of the show here, is how early should we start this discussion? It begins very early. Just about having kids learn about the preciousness of their body, preciousness of their design, their identity in Christ. That's where it begins.

Those are the foundations. How to handle friendships, how to learn patience, self-control, the elements around sexuality. It's not all about one talk and one conversation around sexuality.

Sexuality encompasses our very being, you know, who we are as people. It's really important to emphasize that, though, that it's not one talk. We even call it the talk. And we think, okay, we got that done.

We don't have to go back there again. Yeah, because, you know, it is awkward. So, you know, thank the Lord, I had that chat with my boys and now we're done. But that is not a healthy way to do this.

You need to do that, but there's so much more. You know, I remember, Jim, when I asked my dad, I was nine years old, around eight, nine. I said, hey, Dad, how are babies made?

I had just come from Mexico to the United States. A lot of curiosity was coming in. And he said, well, when a boy lays next to a girl, they have a baby.

And so the next time we had our cousins over, I had a girl cousin next to me, we laid down and I sat up and I said, hey, I don't want to have a baby. And there was a lot of confusion on my part. My dad thought, hey, you know, I think that was sufficient for that moment. And that gets to the point of age appropriateness.

And again, we're doing this, we're all giggling because it's, you know, it's awkward and funny. But this is to equip you as the parent to help you. That's why we've created this multi-dimensional launch into the teen years program for you.

So it is an aid to help you do this better. But the age appropriateness is really critical. That may have been OK at that age.

I don't know, four or five, you might say something like that. But how do you use different elements of the environment to begin this discussion? I mean, if you're at the zoo, you may see some things. That was our best teacher. I was homeschooling my kids when they were young and so we were at the zoo often and my kids loved animals. And we were able to start beginning those early conversations as early as four and five and six of that God's designed life to reproduce. And, you know, you're always, yeah, there's always material at the zoo.

Something's always going down in the zoo. And so being able to talk about it in a disconnected sort of way, it's not a biological, yes, biologically disconnected or in the garden. I had a garden and so we would talk about how the flowers were pollinated or there's always, you know, a boy part and a girl part. And, you know, talking about that with flowers even at that age. And then as they get older, it's not necessarily, you know, starting completely new ground when they're starting to have questions or their bodies are starting to develop. You've already laid the groundwork and introduced vocabulary to begin these conversations.

Yeah, that's good. You know, I think it was Corey Tim Boom actually who made this comment about her dad. And she had some questions about, you know, sexuality at early age. And he had just come home from a trip and had his luggage by the door. And he said to her, could you go ahead and carry my luggage up the stairs? But she was too young and not strong enough to do that.

And so she struggled and wasn't able to get it up the stairs. And he said, honey, that's kind of like the question you've just asked me. You're not quite strong enough emotionally yet to have that talk. But we will have it as soon as you're ready. And in the meantime, we can talk about it in different ways.

I thought that was really an interesting way to give that child, well Corey Tim Boom in this case, if I'm recollecting that correctly. But to give them some structure about, you know, it is a six, seven year old. This is a heavy topic and it's a lot of weight and you can't carry it by yourself. I like that preface, don't you? Oh yeah, absolutely. I think that starting at nine is a very good place to start.

That's where we're starting with this product. But you can even start eight, seven, starting to talk about the messages that kids are getting about who they are, their body. At around the age of nine, the brain begins to really come in contact with the fact that other people have thoughts too that could be completely out of my control and maybe judging me in a certain way. And a lot of insecurities and vulnerabilities start to build for kids where they become very insecure about who they are. And with that insecurity, you start to use potentially sexuality to get affirmation. And that can become dangerous at 11, 12, where we're seeing kids become sexually active now in our culture.

And the first stages of exposure to pornography, as we know, is around the age of eight. And so kids are getting messages around sexuality and we need to enter as parents and be the go-to resource on sexuality and what that means, not being afraid of the word. In fact, a key message in LAUNCH that you've created with FOCUS is for parents and preteens to know what voices you're listening to. And I like the concept that you're including the parents in this because parents too, we have blind spots and we let the culture speak to us, even as Christian parents, in ways that we need to be probably more mindful.

So what were you getting at? Know whose voices you're listening to. Let's say the question I like to ask my kids is who gets a vote? Who gets a vote in saying who you are and what's valuable? Who gets that influence in your life?

And social media is filled with what is called now influencers. And so I think a great conversation to have with kids is asking them who has the greatest influence, impact on your beliefs, your perceptions, your filter that you have, especially about who you are. When you look in the mirror, who gets a vote in saying who you are?

Okay, so smart kids are going to say, oh, you do, dad. I don't know if they're telling me the truth at that point, but they're saying what I want to hear. So how do you dig a little deeper in a gentle way that doesn't put them on defensive, but gets to their heart?

I would say make observations. When you see them with your friends, you can say, hey, you know what, here's an observation. I noticed that when these certain friends came, you kind of changed. You changed who you are. You were shifting something for them.

And what was that about? Help me understand you better. That's good. And helping them develop self-awareness of what they're doing, adjusting because sometimes they may not even know.

Yeah. Bible verses. We're talking predominantly about Christian parents. I mean, anybody can use this, but it's going to be filled with Christian context.

And that's what we want. Because as you said, Jesse, the Lord has created this for us. And it's a beautiful wedding present. In fact, one of the things I've said to my boys is, you know, this is God's wedding present to you. And he wants you to keep it wrapped until your wedding night. Right. So you need to make that commitment now and think about that. And we know how you like to cheat at Christmas and look at the presents ahead of time.

But in this situation, you've got to keep it wrapped. And you'll be gratified that you've done that. But what are some of those Bible verses you're highlighting for the launch curriculum? Yeah. 1 Peter 2, 9 says we are chosen by God in a royal priesthood. 1 Peter 1, 18 to 9 says we are ransomed, redeemed, and we're saved.

Right. And in Romans 8, 17, it says we are heirs to what God has for us. And in 2 Corinthians, God tells us we are a new creation. Yeah, 2 Corinthians 12, 9, God's power is demonstrated when we're weak.

In Ephesians 2, 10, talking about each one of us being God's poema, his masterpiece, his poetry, and the way that he's designed us and helping each one of those verses just sort of weaving together to help young people understand who they are. Because that's so core as we begin talking about who they're going to be becoming. They have to know who they are.

And that's kind of the key issue, isn't it? I talk a lot with my boys about that identity, your identity in Christ. It's one of the core things a parent has to establish with their kids, that you need to know who you are and why God has you here. And something we briefly talk about in launch and that I use a lot in my home and my counseling practice is the idea of using chalk markers or any marker that you could dry erase and putting in the mirror these truths, the ones we find in Scripture about our kids that are unique to them as well. How did God design you? I love your smile.

I love your sense of humor. And giving them truths of who they've been created to be by God and drawing it as a surprise on the mirror because that's where a lot of our lives come through, through the mirror. We sometimes are our worst enemies in that, that we filter through a lens, our worst critic.

And we filter through a lens that is not true, not real. And especially 9 to 12 years old, there are a lot of conflicting messages and assumptions that are made. And as parents, that's a very practical way to speak into them and surprise them. And you'll see, they'll probably start writing truths for you, which is also a pretty big gift to get from our kids. You're listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.

I'm John Fuller, and our guests are Dr. Danny Huerta and Jesse Minassian. And we're talking about that important transition into adolescence. Now, we have a great resource here at Focus on the Family created for you. It's a video-based curriculum kit. It's called Launch into the Teen Years. And it's going to equip you to talk to your preteen about the upcoming changes that are going to happen in their life, physical changes, social expectations, what it means to grow into adulthood. We can tell you more about Launch into the Teen Years when you call 800, the letter A and the word family, 800-232-6459, or you can stop by the program notes for all the details. And now, more from the conversation we had with Jesse and Danny on today's episode of Focus on the Family. You know, one of the big issues that can erupt during the teen years is peer pressure. We're touching on that.

We're talking about that. What voice do you listen to? Where's your identity? But I think a lot of us parents, it catches us by surprise. Why are my kids gravitating toward these voices when for the last 10, 12 years, I've taught them differently?

And it's probably one of those pillow talks that mom and dad have when you go to bed and you're going, I'm so frustrated, honey. I mean, we have told them time and time again, this is who you need to be. This is how you need to act. And it's not working. They must be your children.

Yeah. This is your side of the family. But, you know, however that goes down, but there seems to be this frustration in parents that, I mean, they've told them 10,000 times to say please and thank you, and they're still not doing it.

Or the peer pressure aspect of that, that some of their friend groups aren't that healthy. What do we do? We want to step in. It's not a surprise because Scripture tells us, James 1.14 says that we're tempted, lured, and enticed by our own desires.

So clearly there's a desire that is opposing God's desires. And our job and our opportunity is to step into those moments with our kids and to guide them and help them understand where these desires are coming from, but also being able to step in and say, hey, I'm worried about you. You're making some decisions that are working completely against you. And so I'm concerned about where this is taking you, what's happening, and I wonder how these guys got to vote.

What are you looking for from them that you don't have? What reassurances are you getting from them? Because really kids want that reassurance from their peers. They've moved on from parents, and now they're wanting to know, am I normal? Am I okay?

And that becomes super important, almost to the point of survival for teens. Danny, let me ask you, because that sounds right. You're a trained counselor, though. I mean, you sound like a counselor. I know, I'm taking notes over here. So you're saying, honey, let me better understand you.

Let me see if I hear you correctly. Those are all great cuing examples. Some people can't do that that well because they've not been trained in that. Does the parent's guide help a parent in this regard with launching to the teen years? Does it guide a parent into asking those kinds of good questions?

And just to be sure I'm clear on it, parents are going to be very imperfect. The thing you want to be is be present and be available. And ask good questions.

That's a perfect place to start. And then be curious about where your child is. Not making an assumption that they're doing something wrong because they want to.

It's because there's something else driving that. And go there. However you ask the question, go below the surface instead of getting stuck on the behavior. Danny, for the dad, let's talk about dads.

They're important. Well, we can get pretty dogmatic. We can be pretty black and white.

Do it because I told you to do it. That kind of attitude. Doesn't work so well in this discussion. Doesn't work so well ever. So how do we ratchet down so that we can actually communicate with our kids. And have that relationship that kids can trust.

They don't have to be afraid of. When I talk to dads about this, I think the biggest reminder for them is pressing the pause button. And just really pausing for a moment. Taking a deep breath and figuring out what am I trying to do here. Am I trying to control my child?

Is this based out of fear? Am I feeling like I'm failing or my child is failing? Or is this an opportunity to teach and develop relationship with a child that's doing this imperfectly and that's okay. This is an opportunity for transformation for me as a dad. But the relationship, God set up a relationship in a home to have a tremendous amount of depth. Not only for the child, but for the dad as well.

There's a lot of transformation available there. So I would say for dads, press pause. Just figure out, okay, what am I trying to do in this moment?

What am I so afraid of? And how can I just step into this moment with my child? Jesse, you were a guest a while back on the broadcast. We were talking about a book you had written at the time called Crushed. And it's about boy-girl relationships.

I'm saying this for the listeners, not for you. You wrote the book. Rings a bell. But something happened around that time, I think with your daughter. So tell us, remind us what the story was. So this is what happens when you have an author for a parent.

I was writing this book called Crushed, why guys don't have to make or break you. And my daughter was probably about six or seven. And so she had heard kind of, you know, just the talk around the dinner table or, you know, what mommy had been doing was about this book. They had even drawn me cute little crayon covers to submit to the publisher for consideration for this book.

And so they were aware of the title. And so one night they had gotten home, they had been at ballet practice. They were doing the Nutcracker and they were very excited and they had been at practice all evening. And we returned home and my daughter crawled into my lap and just burst into tears. I said, oh, sweetie, what's wrong?

Did you want to talk about it? And it took her a few minutes. We had to get through some tears first and finally she said, mommy, I need to tell you something.

I think I have a crush. And she burst into tears. She could barely contain herself just sobbing into my chest because in her mind it was like a dirty word.

If mommy's writing about it, it must be terrible. And so, you know, we had a great discussion. And so those were one of those early conversations where we were able to open up the door for future discussions and talking about the difference between admiration and attraction. I said, honey, it's okay, that Nutcracker, he's pretty cute in those tights, you know. But that doesn't mean you have to have a crush on him. You know, you're going to be attracted to guys as you get older.

And so to be able to start those seeds of distinguishing between desire and admiring at that early age. Jesse, it's funny, this popped into my head, this vision of when parents get into trouble sometimes. I did this with the boys. We go to food.

Oh, that's terrible. You want to have ice cream? And really we've got to be careful with that, to make comfort food important to you. And I just know as a parent that sometimes became my crutch.

Oh, let's go get a fast food item, right? You've got to even watch that, that you connect food to sympathy and to that, right? That's very important, especially as girls are heading into these tween years.

Their bodies are changing and healthy eating is going to be very important for them to have self-confidence, right? And so that's something we've been very aware of in our home is trying to create rewards that are not always food driven. We're good at that in the Christian community, right? It's everywhere, it's so hard to avoid it. Don't we have donuts out there to eat after? Yeah, somewhere there's a donut, I'm looking for it. Danny, you've talked to many teens about the important difference between a consumer or a contributor mindset.

What are you talking about? That is a really good distinguishing factor for teens. We're naturally consumers. We want more of things that we like, right?

Well, we're being bombarded by that in the culture. We're sold to our consumer side, right? A contributor is a person that notices other people, builds in their lives intentionally. So they're intentional about seeking something outside of their own world, the good of someone else. And so it's more of a mindset of wanting the best for another person, a servant. And a consumer thinks about things, maybe is respectful, but for their own desires and their own needs. Maybe they serve someone else, but it's for their own good.

They want to do it so that they look good. That's the consumer. And so as we've talked about sexuality in our home, we've talked about the idea that they're contributors to the gift. When they show up and they're wanting to marry someone else, they're going to show up with a gift. And that's contributing to the health of the relationship, the marriage, the covenant. That's their side. If they're showing up as a consumer, it's all about their rights and what they want. And it's really about training our kids to become contributors within a covenant rather than consumers of a covenant. Yeah, that is good.

We're right near the end here. And I want to mention a Bible verse that you talk about in Launch into the Teen Years, which I think is so good. Proverbs 4 23, which says, Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

And some versions say it, guard your heart, which I like a little better. Why is it so important for our kids and teens to guard their hearts in today's culture with social media, all the inputs they're getting? Let's assume they're going to schools where a variety of students are there, not just Christian kids, but everybody. And sometimes we as Christian parents put our kids in Christian school and expect everything's a lot better there when it's not.

And we've got to come to that realization. So how do we help them guard their heart? A lot of it comes from modeling ourselves. How are we taking the time to guard our hearts as parents from the craziness? Are we taking time to be quiet before Heavenly Father? Do we take time to think about our thinking and what our thinking is leading us towards? Are we taking time to evaluate our own belief systems and establish a certain belief system and pattern within our homes? That's our modeling first, and then with our kids, helping them stop and think about their thinking. As you're thinking about these things, how's that impacting you?

And use observations in your kids' lives to help them be more self-aware. Where I live, we have an actual water source where all of our water comes from that we use for the year. And so this verse of guarding your heart reminds me of that water source trail. And there's actually a sign posted at it that says, like, no bathing.

No swimming in the drinking water. And I've taken my kids there and actually talked about this verse of, you know, there's a reason why we have to protect this source of our water. Because whatever goes in here is going to end up downstream in our community, right? And come through our pipes. And so we have to guard this with digilence.

And it only takes a small amount of pollution of some kind in this water in order to contaminate all of our drinking water. You know, and bringing that home to their hearts of we have to be so careful of what you're allowing in. Not in a legalistic way, but just in a mindful way to be intentional about what our preteens and our teens are allowing into their minds and their heart. Well, this has been great. And we've got more to cover.

We're going to come back tomorrow and get into some of the practicals. I think these ideas about discussions on the changing body, what you can expect as an 11, 12-year-old, both for a boy and a girl, that's really critical. Maintaining sexual purity, the importance of that. And then, of course, shame. I mean, shame works with both genders. You know, it works differently. But shame is a big part of the teen years.

You know, you don't feel good about yourself. And then others quickly pile on. And let's come back next time and hit those practical applications, too. Can we do that? Sounds great.

Sounds good. And this reminder that the curriculum for Launch Into the Teen Years has a six-part video series that you can download along with a workbook for parents and a journal that your adolescent or your preteen can use. It's all meant to foster interaction and to keep the communication lines open. Learn more about this great resource when you hit the website. And, John, let me add that we'd like to send the listener a copy of this if they can make a gift of $60. That'll help us cover those costs, and we'll send you the Launch Into the Teen Years curriculum as our way of saying thank you for supporting the ministry. And our number is 800, letter A, and the word family, or click the link in the program notes for more. Well, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. We'll talk with you, pray with you, and help you find out which program will work best. Call us at 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-30 05:11:53 / 2023-08-30 05:24:27 / 13

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