Category: Life Articles
Three Parenting Blunders That Confuse Teens
by Dr. Randy Carlson, The Intentional Living Center
All bets are off, it seems, when your child becomes a teenager. It can be a life stage marked by conflict, bewilderment and trepidation—for both parent and child. Your children don’t appreciate that you are new at this too—you’ve never been the parent of a teenager before. And you may not recognize that your own efforts—as you transition from parenting a child to parenting a young adult—may be confusing and frustrating to your teen. Here are some of the common blunders I see parents making:
Rules Without Relationship
Envision a line representing parenting styles. On one end is the totally authoritarian parent who is hyper-controlling. On the other end is the completely lax parent who sets no expectations whatsoever. As you adjust to your teen’s growing maturity, you may move back and forth along that line—the goal is to stay roughly in the middle. But many parents swing wildly from one end to the other when teens push buttons, test limits and fail to respond as expected. Throw in guilt and pressure from work schedules, parenting mistakes and any number of other life stresses, and you may have wildly erratic movement along the line that leaves kids disoriented. When you reach the edge of your control limits and are tempted to either react punitively or just throw your hands up… take a deep breath and prayerfully consider the right response.
Parents frequently feel bad about setting boundaries—but they shouldn’t. Teenagers may seem to communicate by their words and their actions that they want carte blanche in every area of their life, but they really and truly don’t—and unlimited freedom will be disastrous to their development. Culture today teaches children that the right to privacy, individualism and self-expression is paramount and sacrosanct. But God has given you the responsibility to train, to shepherd, direct and redirect your child. Firm and measured parental control, countless studies have shown, leads to more successful, emotionally well-developed children.
No Room to Grow
While teenagers need rules, they also should be given increasing levels of some autonomy to develop responsibility, learn to operate independently and work out their own styles. This is time to focus more on results and less on methodology. An elementary school aged child needs to be told how and when to do his homework. Teenagers, in contrast, should reach a level of maturity in which they manage the process, understanding that the parental expectation is focused on the grade. Intentionally building increasing layers of flexibility is a challenge for parents, and a task in which they often fail to keep pace with the child’s rapidly developing maturity.
Reactive parenting may work with a toddler, but it will become ineffective as your child ages. Never is intentionality more important than in the job of parenting a teen!
Suggested Intentional Living Broadcast
Talk To Me! (Connecting With Your Kids)
What’s your biggest challenge in parenting your teen? Post your comments below.
Too Blessed To Be Stressed Cookbook by Debra Coty
Too Blessed to Be Stressed Cookbook, A Busy Woman’s Guide to Stress-free Cooking, Prep Time 20 minutes or less, by Debra M. Coty, was prompted by all the feedback she received from her first book, Too Blessed to Be Stressed, which came out in 2011. Women around the world were pleading for more help in managing the overwhelming stress in their lives.
“It seems that so much of our stress, as women, takes place in our kitchens in planning and preparing and clean-up of the food for our families. So I came up with the idea of writing a cookbook that’s more than a cookbook. Something that is like an ongoing, latte sipping, fun-filled chat between girlfriends that includes all kinds of different types of food, stories that make you laugh, some crazy culinary adventures of mine and others, time-saving tips, suggested menus, and even pre-made grocery lists.”
Add to that a little relationship advice! How about a remedy for those times when the conversation in the kitchen gets a little intense? Take a little chocolate break!
“That’s one of those really good, little, helpful hints that have saved me. If you just take a little chocolate break, things just look a whole lot different after that. I call myself a step beyond chocoholic. I call myself a choco-athlete, which means that I exercise just so I can eat more chocolate!”
Debra has many years of experience to draw from, starting with childhood memories in the kitchen of her grandma’s North Georgia home.
“I was with my grandma in the very early morning before everybody would get up. She would make me – I never had it anywhere else at the time – she would make toast with real butter, nice and crunchy, and then she would cover it with honey and spread that honey all the way out to every single corner, and cut the crust off, and then quarter it. And we would sit there together in that kitchen eating that yummy, yummy toast, and start the day out, speaking something about the Lord and how he was blessing us with another day.”
She shares there are so many things about our kitchen and our cooking that are tied to family members, especially those who have gone on before us.
“I have a bowl, a mixing bowl that I just have loved for years that came down from my grandmother and every time I mix anything in that bowl, I just feel like she’s right there beside me smiling.”
Holiday meals together, a favorite family recipe, a kitchen tool or special serving dish all serve to create cherished memories that connect us with loved ones!
How did you prepare yourself to become a new parent?
Family Life Radio artist Josh Wilson and his wife welcomed a new baby boy recently. They did not want to know the sex of the baby before it was born so they named it “Pat” temporarily. Other ways they prepared were pretty normal and included buying and putting together a crib while decorating the nursery. Asher is their first child so they were excited and concerned about how they would be as parents.
So, in what ways is it best to build up your new parentness so that you can enjoy every moment? Vickie Iovine in her book The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy has several suggestions that one girlfriend could share with another.
- Pack a bag for yourself – lip balm, your going-home outfit (not just one for baby), flat shoes because you might still be groggy, a book on nursing, shampoo, soaps and lotions, your pillow, slippers and lots of socks. You will also need to include everything maternity that you have been wearing including a nursing bra. Leave your jewelry at home and you may want to give your husband the heads up to plan for a gift shortly after the baby is born (don’t make him read your mind)
- Pack a bag for baby – include a going-home outfit that includes a t-shirt, diaper, footsies, a cap so other mother’s think you know what you are doing, a pacifier, a blanket, a burp cloth and a neck donut for the car seat. Do not forget the car seat! And go ahead and splurge on something stylish for that ride home and pictures.
- Don’t forget the car seat! Hospitals and doctors will remind you over and over again that you can’t leave without one but take the time before delivery to practice getting it into and out of the car. Some of them are like Rubik’s cube to latch so don’t hesitate to go down to the local police department and ask for help learning the in’s and out’s.
- Now, relax and take a deep breath. The majority of first babies give you a lot of warning before they arrive so reassure yourself and your husband that the picture of you sitting on your suitcase in the driveway while your husband speeds off to the hospital in an empty car only happens in the movies.
You are on a path to parenthood and now prepared for that moment of special wonder. And just think, you will do it all over again just so the grandparents won’t keep fighting over the one baby and you get addicted to that smell that precious babies get right after a bath!
How did you prepare yourself to become a new parent? We’d love to hear your stories. Post your comments below.
The Worralls – 20 Things We’d Tell Our Twenty-Something Selves
Standing in line at the grocery store you look to your left at the magazine rack admiring young adults excelling in their field, already changing the world. To your right you watch others moving swiftly through the nearby grocery line. You distract yourself with your phone by scrolling through Facebook and see another engagement announcement, another friend received a job promotion, photos of your little sister’s new baby. You take a deep breath and a toddler screams in the cart behind you. You’re still two carts from the cashier. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. This should have been quick but you still find yourself floundering in the dreaded period of waiting.
Kelli Worrall first wrote an article for RELEVANT magazine called 20 Things I Wish I’d Known in My Late Twenties. Moody Bible Institute, the academic home of the married professors Kelli and Peter Worrall, were intrigued by the flood of positive responses from her article and the administration approached Kelli to write a book. 20 Things We’d Tell Our Twenty-Something Selves is the mutual effort of the Worralls, who poured their own trials, frustrations and realizations learned from their twenty-something selves.
The waiting is agonizing. You don’t need to be Sarah struggling with God’s long ago spoken prophesy yet to be fulfilled to find the waiting unbearable. You feel hard-pressed on every side. You are floundering in perplexity and though you aren’t persecuted the despair is seeping in.
A lot of pressure is placed on twenty year olds to figure out their lives and when each “milestone” will happen. Every generation is told they will change the world, but the difference between previous twenty-something generations is that more opportunities exist now than before.
“God not only created the waiting room, He inhabits it. It is actually the site of some of his most profound work,” the Worralls add in the book while offering a warning to not distract yourself with Godly work to the point that you aren’t actually growing. This seems to require a deft delicate balance between serving all you have for God and drowning yourself in service. Flooding your life with service for God can inflate your image and distract yourself from aspects of your life you aren’t happy about. And this is where waiting well comes into play.
Waiting well in a community of fellow Christians makes the waiting less unproductive. The twenties are not actually about marriage and babies and trying to force your expectations for your life to happen. Expectations are the plans we create and given higher importance than the plans God designed. The twenties are a time when you reflect on lessons learned and the experiences had and yet to come.
This book isn’t limited to 20 year olds as there is no single set of experiences every 20, 30, 40 year old and so on can check off their list. Certain experiences or realizations may never come into play until much later in life and that is where you can learn how to look back at your own living and see where you can learn and apply lessons to where you currently are in life. Peter Worrall recalled a time he taught fifth graders the book of Genesis and one boy grumbled aloud “But I’ve done Genesis.”
Worrall explained that reading a section of the Bible doesn’t mean you learned it all. You can’t deplete it of its nourishment. You are never done learning because you are forever growing in your relationship with Christ.
“The wisest people are the people who don’t just try to forge forward and pretend they know everything but they move forward and they circle back and talk to be people who are learning the first time through and they remember what they’d forgotten,” Peter Worrall said. Finding a community of Christians who can hold you accountable, challenge your faith and guide you to wait well are key to becoming the person God sees in you.
When your journey stalls or doesn’t go as expected, take the time to turn your focus to God for He knows the steps you’ll take because He always patiently waits for you to turn back to Him. The wait can seem pointless and embarrassing but when you submit to this time of preparation you can become a blessing to God and a blessing to others.
Seven Ways to Develop Hope in Your Child
by Dr. Randy Carlson, The Intentional Living Center
The evening news is filled with loss, grief, disappointment and disaster. Children are forced to deal with issues in their world on a daily basis that twenty years ago didn’t exist. Our world today wrestles with what it means to experience hope.
As Christians, we have the hope given to us by Christ Jesus and can live each day by placing our hope in Him. Many followers of Christ know the end of the story, but still live in hopelessness and, sadly, raise their children with that same hopelessness.
Intentional Living is about recognizing our need to live today the way we are intended to become in Christ tomorrow. As parents that means demonstrating that lifestyle and living it out in front of our children. That raises the question, “What were we intended to become as followers of Christ?” The place to start is with our relationship with God. We were intended to experience the hope we’ve been given in Christ—hope for eternal salvation—hope in the promises God made to you as an heir of salvation found in the Bible. If you’re not experiencing hope in your life today, then I would challenge you to ask yourself, “How intentional am I in my faith?”
Take some time with that question. It may really surprise you. Look at your head (thoughts), heart (feelings) and hands (actions) when it comes to your faith.
- Is your thinking in alignment with the things God says in His Word about you—His child?
- Are your emotions in check when it comes to your relationship with God and those He has placed in your life?
- Do you choose actions that bring pleasure to Christ as you go throughout your day?
When you bring your head, heart and hands into balance by thinking and behaving like Christ, you will find the hope and assurance that you need to begin your journey toward becoming all God destined you to be, and in turn provide that same hope to your children as you parent them.
Here are seven ONE THINGS you can do to help your child grow in their relationship with God, keeping in mind his or her unique personality. Check off each one you are willing to do. Choose the most important “one thing” to practice starting today. Once you become consistent in that, do the next right “one thing” on the list.
- Tell my child how important my own relationship to God is.
- Take my child to church.
- Show my child the effects of having a relationship with God in my own life.
- Make sure my child meets other godly people who are genuine, interesting and impressive.
- Choose a church that truly understands how important children are to God. As my child becomes a teenager, I will ensure that adolescents receive proper discipleship opportunities.
- Demonstrate godliness to my child, beginning with keeping my promises.
- Show my child the unconditional love that God gives me.
Suggested Intentional Living Broadcast
How are you helping your child develop a relationship with God? We’d love to hear your stories. Post your comments below.
How to Honor People While Obeying God
By Heather Hatch
God’s Word presents us with ideas which are great for setting up useful boundaries for living, but they often come with a level of confusion. The following two passages of scripture dive into the topics of honor and obedience, and at first glance they might appear to contradict themselves.
Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.” —Ephesians 6:1 (MSG)
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. —Matthew 10:34-37 (ESV)
What??? How do we honor our family by being prepared to literally sever all ties with them?
Honor and obedience are not contradictory; rather they are two different things. We can honor a parent, teacher, friend or a stranger. Honoring someone has a lot to do with how we treat them as a human being. It is also easy to see how being kind and showing respect to others can be a basic advantage in life.
The rub is in obedience. When are we required to obey a parent, teacher or stranger? We are required to obey a parent, teacher or stranger only when they are leading within the sovereignty of our Heavenly Father. Only God is right all the time. Parents, teachers and strangers are only right when what they ask of us lines up with God’s Word.
Looking back at the previously mentioned scripture we can see how it is possible to honor a parent and at the same time not be in accord with their thinking if it does not honor God. We can disagree but still honor others by being courteous and respectful.
This is especially important as we teach our children about dealing with other people. A teacher may not share a student’s belief in God, but respect is vital to honoring them, which in turn is a benefit to the student.
We are required to honor people; but obedience to others must first be filtered through obedience to our Heavenly Father.
Suggested Intentional Living Broadcast
Lead Your Children to Seek God’s Approval
Do you talk to your kids about honoring their parents, teachers and elders? Do they know the difference between honoring someone and being obedient? We’d love to hear from you. Post your comments below.
Life can bring lots of transitions, new job, marriage, even dealing with an empty nest.
2017 – Year of Good News with Greg Laurie
Greg Laurie took some time to talk with Bill Ronning and discuses what is going on in his life, his ministry involvement and his plans for the year and beyond. He touches on his son and how his death impacted his life and the hope he can offer for others dealing with this type of loss.
He calls for a spiritual awakening in our country. Greg tells us that Americans need to come together and battle the many divisive issues that plagues our country today. Pastor Greg Laurie will be hosting Harvest America, a free event in Phoenix, Arizona. In describing this event he tells us about how great an event it is for bringing non-believers. He has a new book coming out next month titled Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon. Full Interview below:
How to Create Harmony in a Blended Family
by Dr. Randy Carlson, The Intentional Living Center
A Second Chance – Part I
You’ve found love for a second time, and you’re looking forward to a better future with your new husband and children.
Bringing children into the marriage makes it even more important to find success this time. More than 65 percent of second marriages end in divorce. So it’s important to discover ways to invest in your marriage and make it successful.
Going into the marriage with a willingness to work and communicate will help the relationship. Instant adjustment is not realistic for everyone, so remind yourself to be patient.
- Get expectations out on the table: Start by learning as much as you can about your spouse’s past and, specifically, what really went wrong in previous marriages. Be honest about your own past relationship problems, and make sure those issues have been dealt with. Then put those things behind you and look ahead.
- Parents take the lead: The biological parent must be the primary enforcer of discipline with their children. The other spouse is to be supportive of the biological parent, not argumentative or disagreeable in front of the children.
- Clarify new roles and develop a shared vision: Stand closely shoulder-to-shoulder in developing this vision. There are going to be many forces coming against you. Be unified in love and hope for your future.
Half of all families are blended. According to a new poll, 40 percent of Americans say they’re part of a step family. In second marriages, 65 percent involve children from previous marriages and form blended families. Choosing to work together as a team and family, offering communication and love can result in a great blend.
A Roadmap for a Successful Blend – Part II
One of the biggest challenges with blending families today comes with children trying to cope with the loss of one parent to divorce or death while also struggling to accept a stepparent and new brothers and sisters.
Through setting a goal and taking intentional actions, you can set a course so that together you can succeed.
- Allow your children to grieve their losses.
- Take time to listen to your children without trying to fix the problem.
- Don’t allow them to divide and conquer the parent team.
- Keep your conversations about the kids private.
- Stick together as parents and as a family, like a mighty army marching shoulder to shoulder.
Intentional Living Moment Video: Ten Commandments for the Intentional Parent
It’s vital for you and your new spouse to stay in agreement while coming to an understanding on all issues:
- Make the needed decisions or goals clear: Dig deep to the real core of the issues facing your kids. What are your options? What, if anything, do you need to change to make your desired outcomes a reality?
- Lay out your options: List them out for each issue. Talk with a trusted friend, pastor or counselor if you feel stuck or confused.
- Create the plan: Make your roadmap with specific action steps to accomplish your goals.
- Act on your plan: Start with the first step to address the first issue, and go from there.
When you create a roadmap for your blended family, you’ll succeed in ways you never thought possible. You’ll take a huge leap forward in living intentionally.
Suggested Intentional Living Broadcast
Do you have a blended family? We’d love to hear your success stories. Post your comments below.
How to Face Your Family’s Next Challenge
by Matt Elkins
The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus offers us real help, as individuals and families, because He sympathizes with our weaknesses as we face trials and temptations. Don’t we face lots of challenges trying to raise a family? What’s the best thing to do in those trials? In Hebrews chapter four, the writer gives us the first solution we should hold on to. The most advantageous thing I can do when facing a trial is to humbly and confidently seek God’s help through prayer.
Hebrews 4:15-16. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Confidence that He is our Father
We should not underestimate the value of confidently approaching our Father. Yes, He is all-powerful, glorious, without equal, dwelling in inapproachable light [I Tim. 6:16] and we will fall in worship at His feet when we see Him in Heaven. [Rev. 15:4] But, through His power and sovereignty, which cannot be thwarted, He has made a way to welcome us into His family through Jesus Christ. God our Father does not think of us with an attitude of harsh judgment and condemnation [Romans 8:1], but He gives us His own attitude of power, love, and a sound mind. [II Tim. 1:7] God places a very high value on humility and a contrite, poor spirit, because we are sinners saved by grace and everything we have is from Him. [Is. 66:2] He is everything and we are nothing, but He opens the door wide and invites us to embrace a confident attitude in prayer as a prerequisite to the activity of praying.
So, as you face trials in your family, remember that you are a child. A spiritual child. And there is nothing standing between you and your Father. He does not want you to doubt the reality that He fathered you spiritually. He invites you to freely come into His presence and into His arms to express your needs and desires and struggles. To confidently pray is to have complete assurance of what your Father has given you as His children.
The New Testament writers have told us the importance of a confident faith:
Hebrews 11:6 (NASB). And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
But, we’re sometimes afraid that too much confidence borders on pride, or we’d rather err to being more humble than being more confident. But, in God’s mind, our confidence is a character quality that is necessary to us having sufficient faith in Him.
Hebrews 10:19 (NASB). Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 22a, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…, 23, Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24a, and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…
James 1:5-6a (NASB), But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting . . .
In the Greek language, the language spoken and written by the original writers of the New Testament, the word “confidence” held great value and a rich meaning that can fuel our faith and give us strength when facing trials. For the New Testament reader, “confidence” essentially meant having freedom to pour out every word or thought you had, without reservation, without fear of being reprimanded or cut off by the hearer. Confidence enables us to state a matter clearly, free from confusion.
So Biblical confidence is an asset, our first line of defense when facing trials and temptations as parents, as children, as a Christian; because it keeps us squarely where we ought to always be – right in our Father’s arms.
Matt Elkins serves as Production Director at Family Life Communications ©2015 All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Suggested Intentional Living Broadcast
What Difference Does Faith Make?
How has prayer impacted your family? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Post your comments below.