Monthly Archives: November 2011
It seems that there are more and more times that we scratch our heads and say “huh?” when it comes to understanding adolescents. This is an issue that will never be fully understood, at least to the point that one will be able to master it by the time their son or daughter is out of adolescence.
Jr. High students are at an incredible age and are often times experiencing things for the first time on their own. This is the age that they begin to turn from concrete thinking to more abstract thinking. I would encourage you as a parent to help your son or daughter process decisions and consequences as these years are under way and as that change is happening. Students that have not yet developed their abstract thinking skills are unable to speculate or even begin to conceive something that their actions may cause. In the book “Middle School Ministry”, Scott Rubin and Mark Oestreicher write:
“Concrete thinking results in a rigid, black-and-white understanding of the world. A world without nuance or paradox. We can readily see this in preteens, right? They have a wonderfully “concluded” worldview, with their systematic theologies all worked out and their worldview encased in plastic wrap. Ten-year-olds have a confidence in their opinions born out of a generational, limited belief that everyone sees the world and everything in it just as they do. Preteen thinking is concrete, linear, pragmatic, tangible, and simplistic.” (Mark Oestreicer, Scott Rubin. pg. 69)
You may be screaming “help!” by now, and that’s OK. Here are a few tips to encourage you along the way:
- Ask them questions. It’s ok to be there along the way and help them process situations, in fact it’s great. (I’ll be talking about dependence vs. independence in my next blog post)
- Challenge them in conversation. They may get frustrated at times, but it’s ok to show them that there are different perspectives on certain topics.
- Don’t give them the easy way out. Don’t always give them the right answer. A failure isn’t a failure unless you don’t learn something from it. Talk through what went wrong in certain situations and ask them what they’ll do differently next time.
- Encourage them along the way. Nothing feels better than knowing that your parents are proud of you. Make sure that you let them know you are proud of them when they make a right decision and not only yell at them when they make a bad one.
- And finally, remember, it’s going to be OK. This is a phase in the cognitive development of your student. Everything is going to be OK.
This is our final post in a series on devotionals for your kids and the family. If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to post a your comments under any of these posts. Enjoy some suggested resources for Bible reading and devotions from Beth Fontana our Early Elementary Coordinator at First Free.
My First Book of Bible Prayers by Philip Ross
Description: Learning to pray the text of Scripture and to apply its truth to our lives is vital for our spiritual growth. This book enables children to do both. My First Book of Bible Prayers helps children of all ages to take the first steps towards the Heavenly Father. Give your children this outstanding little book, and use it with them. It might well be one of the most important things you could ever do as a parent.” ~ Sinclair Ferguson
My First Book of Questions and Answers by Carine MacKenzie
Description: Children always have questions about what it means to be a Christian. Do they need a long, philosophical answer? Not usually! Here’s a book that features short, simple answers to some of their deep questions. If you have ever wanted help explaining the Christian faith to young children in bite-sized pieces this is an excellent source.
I Love My Bible! by Debby Anderson
Description: This is a picture book for children, 6 and under. The Bible is the best book in the whole world! It’s full of wonderful and true stories. Best of all, it is the book where God gives us so much help about how to live! Debby Anderson is a kindergarten teacher and mother of four children. She and her husband serve with AMF (American Missionary Fellowship). Illustrations are on every page.
My First Book of Christian Values by Carine MacKenzie
Description: Children want to know what to do. They want to know why we do the things we do. They are full of questions and they need answers. As well as having amazingly teachable minds, they have souls that need direction and care. The foundations that are laid in their young lives will stand firm in their adult lives. With the work of the Holy Spirit these Christian principles will become their own eternal, life-changing values.
In this book are 31 different values that show us what Jesus Christ is like and how we should behave. Each has a scripture verse to learn and a brief explanation.
Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids By Sarah Young
Description: This devotional book for kids is filled with a year’s worth of devotions–one each day! They are dated with the day of the year, but not the day of the week–so it can be used year after year. The devotions contain a short scripture printed at the top and a one page message taken from the theme verse. Scripture references follow for further study–a great thing for older children, especially!
Five-Minute Devotions for Children: Celebrating God’s World as a Family by Pamela Kennedy
Description: This delightful devotional is perfect for bedtime, dinnertime, or anytime. Each short devotion includes a story about an animal illustrating its dominant trait as created by God. That trait is then related to a child. Questions at the end are fun for the young child to answer, such as picking out something in the picture, asking what the animal is doing, and asking what God wants us to do. Each devotional concludes with a short bible verse.
The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers (Little Blessings Line) by Crystal Bowman , & Elena Kucharik
Description: In the One year devotional the readings pairs a Little Blessings illustration with a short Bible verse and devotional thought that gets you and your child talking about the simple truths of Scripture. A fun, rhyming prayer completes each devotional.
The Kids’ Devotional Bible by Zondervan
Description: The Kid’s Devotional Bible is a year’s worth of devotions written for kids ages 6-10. It has been updated with a new fun design and new features that encourages Bible study. A Bible kids can read themselves which is in the New International Reader’s Version, with all new eye-catching illustrations and design.
Preteen devotionals are sometimes hard to nail down because the content can often be too old or too young for a 4th-6th grader. The following is a list of preteen devotionals that I recommend giving a try.
- Girlz Rock: Devotions for Girls (Faithgirlz!)
- The One Year Book of Devotions for Girls
- The One Year Mother-Daughter Devo
- No Girls Allowed: Devotions for Girls
- Triple Dog Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Boys
- The One Year Book of Devotions for Boys
- The 2:52 Ultimate Devo for Boys: 365 Devos to Make You Stronger, Smarter, Deeper, and Cooler
- No Girls Allowed: Devotions for Boys
- One Year Dinner Table devotions
- Trivia Twist Devotions
- Jesus Freaks
Some of these devotionals are very different from each other. Our hope is that by giving you options you’ll be able to find the devotional that resonates best with your preteen!
I really struggled to understand the importance of doing devotionals when I was a Junior High student. I had accepted Christ at the age of 13 on a Junior High fall retreat, and was never given any type of devotional to help me grow in my walk with Christ. Spending time daily in God’s Word is crucial for all believers, and we need to be sure that those that we are ministering to have some resources that are written directly to where they are in life. Spending time with God was the first thing that Christ did to start his day:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house
and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35
As parents and youth workers, we need to be sure that we are modeling this in our own lives, as well as making sure that our students have resources to help get them started. I recently had a few parents ask me about some good Junior High student devotionals. Below is a list of some Junior High/High School Devotionals that I have looked through and I think are a great place for your student to start, or even spend some in depth time looking into the Scripture passages that are given in these devotionals.
- Stripped Clean: Down to Nothing but the Cross (Jeff Storm)
- 10 Minute Moments: Parables (Scott Firestone)
- 10 Minute Moments: Smart Stuff (Kurt Johnston)
- 10 Minute Moments: Red Stuff (Scott Rubin)
- 10 Minute Moments: God’s Story (Kurt Johnston)
- 10 Minute Moments: Plugged In (Doug Fields)
- Creative Times with God (Doug Fields)
You can purchase these books at the Scroll Bookstore, or online at:
All this week firstfreeparents.com will be posting devotional book ideas that can help your child or family with their devotional time. With Christmas around the corner maybe one or two of these could be a great stocking stuffer. We will do our best to cover all the ages so please come back every day this week!
There are a ton of options for teen devotions. To be honest my favorite devotional is the Bible and using one of these methods I covered with our high school students last year (you can find those here, here, and here), but I use other tools as well. Here are a few tools I have either used or recommend
A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life
A Godward Life: Book Two One Hundred and Twenty Daily Readings
Studies on the Go: The Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians
Studies on the Go: John
Studies on the Go: Romans
Studies on the Go: Proverbs
Creative Times With God: Discovering New Ways to Connect With the Savior (Simply for Students)
The Message//REMIX Solo: An Uncommon Devotional
Come back tomorrow and hear form Luke Uran on some great junior high resources.
There was a day when I began praying that God would help me to “pay attention.” I began to notice there were some very special and significant things that people where doing really well. One of those things was parenting in such a way that when a child grew up not only did they have a great love of their parents, but they also had a great love of the Lord. So, I began to ask these great parents: What did you do? What are you doing now?
Almost everyone I asked said that their children were great in spite of their parenting, not because of their parenting. I didn’t believe them. When I began to “pay attention” – there were a few important things I noticed. The first was the genuine testimony these great parents live. They are not perfect by any means, but they live their lives with intention. Jesus truly is the most important person in their life. Certainly a child can see through a charade. A parent that pretends on Sunday and sets Jesus aside the other six days of the week does not make an impression on their child that church, faith, or Jesus are important.
The second thing I noticed was the significance of prayer in their family life. This is huge. Prayer is their family’s knee-jerk reaction to anything and everything. Can’t find the car keys – they’re praying. Someone got an A in math – they’re praising. Praying is a first response, not a last minute cry. Their lives are consistently prayerful. They pray as a family and as a family they see God’s faithfulness.
Finally, they study together. They jump into scripture and learn together. It seems easy enough, but actually carving time out of busy schedules to do something beyond a simple devotional reading makes a big difference in the way these families function in comparison to others.
I began to really look at these three steps: intentionally living for Christ, prayer, and study. Does this mean if I follow these steps I will have perfectly content children who will rise up and thank us for doing such a great job of parenting? No, probably not. But, I think that the three steps are building a strong foundation. A strong foundation can withstand a lot of life’s pressures and keep a family on the same starting point. When all else fails, a foundation built upon Jesus will remain.
According to a recent survey conducted by A.C. Nielson Co., “The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children.” This is an amount that needs to be raised. I understand that church, sports, music, extra-curricular activities, and 4 other people in the house pulling different directions make it more difficult for family mealtime to happen. I didn’t value family dinnertime while I was in Jr. High, but now I most definitely value the time that I had with my family as I think back to the memories that were made around the dinner table. These memories that ranged from Chicken Kiev exploding all over my dad’s glasses as he made the first cut into the chicken and my older sister declaring that she was having pizza at her wedding because she was such a picky eater.
The truth is, family dinner gives you time at the end of the day to stay in communication with your son or daughter for more than the average amount per week. It gives you the chance to pray together, share stories from the day, share what was learned that day, and last, but certainly not least… laugh together!
Here are a few fun dinner ideas to try with the fam:
- Let a different person choose the menu for each night of the week.
- Have a picnic!
- Talk while cleaning the dishes.
- Allow your son or daughter to occasionally invite their friends.
- Discuss what’s been going on in the lives of everyone around the table… I know that this is vague, but it’s a good reminder that this isn’t just time for one person to consume the conversation.