Category Archives: Teens
“The awkward turtle” is a gesture you make with two hands (it looks like a turtle) when someone has raised a very, well, awkward topic in a conversation and you want to move out of it quickly. If you could see me now, I am using the awkward turtle because this article briefly addresses the often-uncomfortable issue of sex education.
Preteens (children ages 10-12) are entering their pubescent stage where they undergo their greatest physiological development. As their voices crack and body odor becomes more apparent, they also begin to…take a deep breath parents…recognize the opposite sex! Obviously, this is a good thing because God wired us this way. But there are dangers. Movies and Internet provide plenty of “sex sells” type advertising and pornography is a thriving industry still in the United States. Here is a fact we need to accept…YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE EXPOSED TO THESE REALITIES…so why not beat the world to the punch?
I have one simple suggestion in this article: be the first one to discuss the difficult topics of dating, sexuality, drugs and alcohol, etc. with your children. If they are going to hear/see/think about it because of the world, we might as well have the first shot at telling them about God’s purpose for our lives and our bodies before the world says otherwise! You are the best judge of when your preteen is ready, but typically around 5th or 6th grade you want to at least begin having those conversations with your child.
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.
Sometimes I get surprised by the pictures a student is willing post or comments they are writing to write on facebook. Parents: Do you have access to your son or daughter’s facebook? If you are thinking “Oh no…they wont let me,” or “they freak out every time I ask.” Sounds like it’s time to delete their facebook or block it from your home with a program like net nanny. You won’t let them leave the house with people you don’t trust, why is the Internet any different?
Here is some great insight from my friend Greg Speck, “Give your kids privacy in non-public domains like a journal or private blog/file on the computer. They need that privacy, but not in a public venue because they do not have the emotional maturity, you what to trust your kids and that is great but that emotional maturity comes with time.”
This is wisdom, you should have access to their public venues; tweets, facebook, myspace, text messages, etc. You children may not understand it now but what they are writing and posting is forever. It is saved, logged, and easily duplicated.
You are not alone parents, it happens to others too (this was probably you at their age)…
By Dave Davitt
My children are both adults now, but one of my fondest memories of raising them was our daily drive to school each morning. My wife had to be at work very early, so I had the responsibility and joy of making sure the kids were out of bed and ate breakfast. Then, I drove them to school each morning before heading to my office.
These daily drives gave me 15 minutes of uninterrupted conversation with Laura and John each morning on the way to school. Our conversations were not always profound. We talked about what was going on in their lives and the lives of their friends, and I had time to talk with them about the things I thought were most important. I tried, in the best ways I knew, to infuse my thoughts and values into their lives.
I shed some tears when my daughter, Laura, turned 16 and got her driver’s license. She started driving herself and her brother to school on a daily basis. I missed those 15 minutes of conversation every morning and the chance it provided to stay in touch with all that was happening in my kids’ lives. I still miss those daily drives and I wish I could live those days again. I’m sure they have forgotten most of our conversations, but I believe those daily conversations influenced their thinking and helped set their direction in life and I am so proud of both of them today.
There’s a song on country radio by Trace Adkins called “Only Fishin” that talks about the time a father spends fishing with his daughter. The father sees great value in their conversations even though the daughter thinks they’re “only fishin.” This song should remind us that every minute we spend with our children is an opportunity to invest in their lives, to build bonds of love, and to share with them what is most important to us – and that someday we will long to live those moments again.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
To the average Jr. High student it seems that it wouldn’t be an admittable problem, and there-in lies the problem. According to a recent survey performed by The Kaiser Family Foundation: “… 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).” Where does your child compare on this scale? There are many different consequences that this media binge has caused, ranging from low self-esteem, depression, lower grades in school, and a toll on their healthy social development.
Here are some tips and advice to make sure that your son or daughter is staying spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy in a technology driven world.
- Monitor their time on these devices. (e.g. iPods, personal gaming devices, cell phones, internet, movies, tv, etc.)
- Monitor what they are engaging in on these devices. Set parental controls on: cable, internet, phones, facebook, etc.
- Set one day aside each week to serve as a technology Sabbath. Nobody in the family is allowed to use personal electronics on these days. (This is a great day to promote family time as well)
- Talk to them about the difference between using technology as a tool and relying on it too heavily for social interaction.
- You as a parent should be engaging and dissecting what they are listening to / watching as well. This will help you in interacting with your son/daughter as well as help them decipher truth through a world that is rejecting the Gospel and its truths.
I am a tech nerd and proud of it. I do not serve technology I make technology serve me, and I want you to do the same. Here are a few resources I think you will find helpful…
Not sure about a movie or wonder if a movie is appropriate for your family? Check out http://www.pluggedin.com, a resource from Focus On The Family…they also have an app for your iPhone.
Do you have younger kids? Take them to http://www.jellytelly.com. This is now a FREE site that has some great biblical content, my boys (7yrs, and 4yrs) love it!
Feel free to post your favorite resources in the comments below!