Listen to our latest Parent Network Podcast where we interview Mike Ashcraft on “The Power of Intentional Parenting.”
Listen to our latest Parent Network Podcast where we interview Mike Ashcraft on “The Power of Intentional Parenting.”
** The following article was copied with theparentcue.org
I am a planner and always have been. I carefully constructed a plan for almost every life milestone.
Choosing a graduate school program in high school? Check.
Wedding dress selection? Check (as soon as he proposed)
Birth plan? Check (as detailed as it could possibly be)
For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed planning and longed for routine and stability. In middle school, I sat in the same seat in every class. In college, I decided on my class schedule a semester in advance.
I craved certainty and security.Even though I understood that life was anything but certain, there was something very gratifying about creating order amid chaos. Certainty is associated with clarity and predictability.
According to Dr. David Rock, the author of Handbook of NeuroLeadership, not knowing what will happen next is unsettling for humans and can be debilitating because it requires additional neural energy. Put simply, our brains have to work harder to process the unexpected.
But what happens when life throws you a curve ball that you did not, and could not, plan for?
Despite detailed planning for how my life would unfold, unsurprisingly, there were many surprises along the way:
Many of us have experienced these common life events that can potentially trigger a great deal of stress.
And as if change isn’t tricky enough for adults to navigate, teens and young adults have an even more difficult time with the inevitable uncertainties of this journey called life.
Freshmen year is just around the corner, will I make any new friends?
They just announced the new roster and wait, my name’s not on it this year . . .
We dated for an entire year and now she wants to break up. Will this pain ever subside?
How’s this finding a life purpose thing going to play out?
The presence of unknown variables has the potential to disturb even the most grounded among us. For teens, unwanted or unanticipated change may lead to feeling out of control and overwhelmed. We now know that excessive or chronic stress poses dangerous consequences on mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
By fostering a responsive, rather than reactive approach to coping with change, teens and young adults can
learn how to achieve clarity while navigating the inevitable obstacles of life.
Below are some strategies that can help your teen cope with change:
The first step in managing emotions associated with any type of life change is simply to give yourself permission to experience the emotion so it can run its course. Transitions, like graduation, seem to be entirely positive to onlookers but may trigger feelings of fear and anxiety for a graduate. The reality of entering a new chapter of independence can be profoundly daunting. Whether it is a change of schools or the breakup of a significant relationship, change can bring out feelings of anger, rejection, and abandonment. Encourage your teen to share their feelings through journaling, talking to a therapist or supportive friends to help process the full range of difficult emotions.
Some of the most trying circumstances in life make us wish we could hide away in safety until the threat has vanished. Remind your teen it’s okay not to have all the answers to every question or to know how every detail will play out. Remembering what’s important—faith, family, friends, creative expression—is a powerful shield against whatever negative emotions threaten to arise. Ask them to list their values and help them to help the keep this life-change in the right context.
Studies have shown that people who experience new life events—new schools, new relationships, or new jobs—experience some level of anxiety, even if the change was desired. Reflect with your teen on a time when they faced a significant change and successfully managed it, despite experiencing some initial fear. “Do you recall how terrified you were to start middle school?” Sometimes unfamiliar events are not as scary as they seem initially and may simply require a little time to adjust.
We create our own realities in the way we process our thoughts and emotions and through the narratives we tell ourselves. Point out that changes, whether expected or unexpected, are part of the human experience and are opportunities for growth. Rather than be consumed with what was lost, consider potential gains. How can this new situation be a benefit? For example, if they’ve recently moved to a different school or city, help them see it as an opportunity to re-invent themselves. Help them learn to make the best of new situations. They may eventually view the life change as beneficial to their personal growth and life story.
Despite our best efforts and carefully executed plans, life often doesn’t go the way in which we intended. In fact, life can be stressful, and often disappointing. Instead of allowing frustration and self-doubt to take root, encourage your teen to offer themselves compassion. Researcher Dr. Kristin Neff explains how to show yourself self-compassion. If you are confronted with a painful experience, instead of ignoring your pain or chastising yourself, Dr. Neff recommends reminding yourself, “This is difficult right now, how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?” Self-compassionate individuals offer kindness to themselves and others rather than judgment and harsh critiques.
** The following article was copied from allprodad.com
Easier said than done but still, this is one of those “try and remember yourself at 13” moments. Looking back, the teen years are typically marked by a certain level of first time self-awareness and consequently, selfishness. While you shouldn’t put up with insensitivity and rudeness, neither should you take it too hard when a trip to the mall with friends sounds better to your child than a day at the ballgame.
This relates back to number one on our list, “Don’t take it personally.” When our children brush off our attention or seem disinterested in our company, it’s easy to feel rejected and to lash out with loud pronouncements about “the way it’s going to be in our house.” Or even more raw, “Well fine then, why don’t you just go waste more time on Snapchat! It’s obviously more important than me!” Even if you feel that way, don’t blurt that out to your child. That kind of anger isn’t likely to lead to anything productive in your relationship and most certainly will cause the divide between you to widen.
One of the great quotes from the classic comedy, City Slickers comes when Daniel Stern’s character, Phil, reminisces, “When I was about 18 and my dad and I couldn’t communicate about anything at all, we could still talk about baseball.” What pleasures, hobbies, or passions have you and your child shared that might constitute common ground? Pursue them with your child and while you may not have deep, soulful, conversations about all that’s going on in their lives during the teen years, those shared experiences will provide a bridge of communication both now and later.
Right? Seriously though, if your teen has a passion for video games or something else squarely outside of your experience, give it a try with them. Sometimes, connecting with your kids means entering their world. This DOESN’T include becoming the permissive parent who tacitly endorses that which is immoral for the sake of appearing “cool”. You never want to secure your child’s friendship at the cost of their respect for you as their parent.
This can be touchy when it comes to insisting that your teen participates. But, when you put together a weekend in the mountains or at the beach, or anywhere but where you live, that doesn’t include anyone but family, you open up opportunities to connect with your child that aren’t usually available in everyday life. Removing peer pressure and the need to fit in allows your teen to breathe a little easier and let down long enough to let you in.
Subscribe to the Parent Network Podcast on iTunes.
Subscribe to the Parent Network Podcast on iTunes.
Check out this podcast from The Parent Cue on different seasons of fatherhood.
Click here to listen.
Fatherhood looks differently as your kids enter and exit different phases of their lives, but one thing remains true through it all: Fatherhood presents a unique opportunity to speak life daily into your kids. Jeff, a father of two, Jon, a father of two, and Carlos, a father of three are all in different phases of fatherhood, and together, the three discuss:
** This article was copied from allprodad.com
On September 6, 1992, a moose hunter named Butch Killian came across an abandoned bus in the middle of the Alaskan wild. Inside the bus, he found the unfortunate remains of Christopher McCandless in a sleeping bag. He had starved to death. McCandless’ story was chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild and made even more famous by Sean Penn’s 2007 movie by the same title. McCandless romanticized living off the land in the Alaskan frontier with limited resources. His death was the tragic result of being unprepared. Two months before, he had killed a moose; however, he was unable to preserve the meat. He had leaned on the expertise of hunters from South Dakota on preserving meat after a kill; however, meat in South Dakota is preserved differently than in Alaska. In Alaska, meat must be cut into thin strips while trying to preserve it in the field. The information he based his life on was wrong and it cost him.
Teenagers receive a lot of information to help guide their lives. Believing the wrong information or lies has a significant cost. We need to fill them with the truth so they can make choices that are life-giving. Here are dangerous lies teenage boys believe.
They believe they are only as good as their last game, grade, compliment, and trophy. Those that buy into this lie live with an anxiety every day. Fear of failure and affirmation is the driving force. When failure arrives, it defines them. They constantly compare themselves to others and never feel good enough. The others all have the key to success that he does not have.
This is looked at as a rite of passage. When their peers begin to experience sex, they feel as though they are left behind. It is as if their peers have become men and they are still a boy. Sadly, sex becomes viewed as a goal to be achieved like getting a driver license or getting into college. The true design, context, and beauty of sex gets lost in a manhood conquest. This lie leaves battered and bruised hearts in its wake.
They believe they should have all of the answers and not have any struggles. Be strong at all times, conquer every challenge, and meet every requirement. When things get difficult, man up and take care of business. Anything less may define them as weak. This is an isolating and stress-filled road that I’ve seen many teenage boys walk. They feel pressure from teachers, coaches, and parents. What happens more often is they work harder at upholding an image of strength and competency, rather than the actual thing. Maturity and growth end up being stunted because they are projecting a face.
Teenage boys don’t make a lot of money, but the teenage years are where this lie finds roots. The people our culture defines as “successful” or “doing well” are always people that make a lot of money. When they believe this lie, they will seek out vocations that earn a high wage, rather than where their talents and passions lead. They potentially miss doing things that fill them with enthusiasm which is truly rich. Another fallout is their attitude toward the poor or even themselves when they earn a lower wage. Integrity gets thrown in the trash pretty quickly when a boy believes his personal worth is found in the size of his bank account.
** This article was copied from theparentcue.org
I’m a “fix it” mama. Sibling argument? I’m there to mediate. Upset stomach? I have medicine for that. Shoes have a hole? No problem. I can buy new ones. Difficult homework? We can figure it out together (thanks to YouTube tutorials).
Yep. I was pretty good at the whole “Mom to the rescue” thing up until my kids entered their preteen / teen years, and then it all came to a screeching halt. For the first time, I was faced with things I had zero power to fix.
Broken heart? I couldn’t mend that. Hard time making friends? I couldn’t produce friends like a new pair of shoes. Poor body image? Have you ever tried to change the way a person views themself? I was at a loss on that one too.
Then there was the time he didn’t make the team,
she didn’t feel pretty enough,
she was searching for purpose,
he/she drove away by themself for the first time (and every time after that),
she saw the mass on the Cat-scan,
he suffered from anxiety,
she felt depressed,
he/she was living in the consequences of a bad choice,
she was processing hurtful words from a person I had no control over . . .
At some point I took my “Super Mom” cape off and embraced the fact that life had suddenly become a lot bigger than Band-Aids and notes in their lunchbox—a lot bigger than what I could easily fix.
The teen and young adult years aren’t just hard on kids. They’re hard on moms and dads too. They can leave us feeling as left out and as inadequate as they do our kids. And because now we can’t always provide a quick remedy we can feel like we’re failing as a parent. It’s clearly a wrong way to think, but I have felt it nonetheless.
For these reasons, I have never prayed more for my kids, and for myself, as I have during their teen and young adult years. Prayers that in the past I would keep to myself, I now share with close friends and ask them to pray with me. (Boy does it help to know others are going through the same thing.)
My prayers have become more desperate—a heart crying out because it needs God to do what only He can do.
My prayers have become a continuous conversation . (That whole “pray without ceasing” thing. . . yeah, I get it now.)I pray as I’m falling asleep. I pray in my car. Sometimes, I drive by their school, just to pray. I pray on my front porch as they’re leaving on dates. (Watching my son drive off with someone else’s baby girl or my daughter with a boy I’m just getting to know triggers intense prayer time!)
Sometimes I text my kids what I am praying for them because the days of kneeling by their bedsides are slowly fading.
I will always pray what our family has said since they were preschoolers that they would “Love God. Love people.” These words have hung over our front door for the last fifteen years. It’s what I would say to my kids when I dropped them off at school. But as they have grown, now ages 20, 18 and 15, so has the prayer list.
I now pray for . . .
the person each of them will marry
guidance as they pursue college and jobs,
protection for their minds and hearts as they live in the world, but not of the world,
courage to be who God made them to be.
wisdom in their choices,
trust in a bigger plan when things aren’t going “right,”
joy in the midst of confusion and hurt.
Along with my prayers, I continue to encourage my kids to talk to God. When I see their hearts are heavy I’ll mention something like, “Why don’t you drive down to the lake and spend some time with God?” Or I’ll ask, “Have you talked to God about it?”
I know that as important as it is for me to pray for my kids, it’s just as important that they go to God on their own behalf.
I’ll also share with my kids what I’m experiencing as a parent. I’ll tell them I wish I could fix it but I can’t. But what I can do is pray, and I am praying.
If you find yourself in a place where “all you can do” is pray for your kids, know you are doing something very powerful. It’s not always a quick fix like what we could do when our kids were younger, but our words are being heard by the Creator of all things, the One who loves our children more than we do, the One who has the power to heal, mend, restore, defeat, resurrect, provide, protect, guide, counsel, and change.
Keep praying, mom and dad.
Keep sharing your prayers with those closest to you.
Keep talking to your kids about what you are praying.
Keep encouraging them to pray.
Keep trusting that in God’s time, He will have His way.
** The following article was copied from theparentcue.org
When it comes to parenting, it’s easy to think of a few goals for yourself.
You want to help your kids find something they are passionate about.
You want to give them a healthy self-image.
You want to challenge them and encourage them to grow.
You hope that they develop their own faith, instead of just parroting your own.
You could probably list a dozen off the top of your head, but there’s one unexpected goal I can’t stop thinking about.
What is it?
I want my kids to find me approachable.
It’s easy to approach someone with good news. I loved telling my parents I got an A or made the team or finished my project early. The bigger challenge is approaching someone with disappointing news. It’s harder to approach a parent when you’ve messed up or failed or made a mistake.
But that’s exactly when I hope my kids will approach me the most.
The alternative is deadly. The alternative is secrecy and hiding and loneliness for a kid who doesn’t know where to go with the trouble they’re carrying.
Often, when there’s a tragedy, you’ll hear a parent say about their child, “We had no idea.”
That’s one of the saddest situations in life to me. So how do we combat it? I have a few ideas:
I don’t just tell my kids they can approach me. That’s too vague. I say very clearly, “If you’re at a party and someone is smoking pot, give me a call. I’ll get you home.” Or, “If you make a mistake with some friends, let me know and we can figure it out.” I try to give real examples they can actually understand.
If you want your kid to talk to you, you have to create moments when they can. Some people grew up with dads who couldn’t be bothered when they got home. They’d hide behind a newspaper or TV, only emerging when dinner was made. How hard would it be for a kid with a secret to break the sanctity of that moment and share something difficult? Instead, do your best to create lots of moments where it’s easy to share.
My kids are going to be so tired of hearing me say that I am approachable. They are going to eventually say, “We know dad, we know!” Why? Because I never want them to forget it. I want them to always know they can tell me anything at any given moment. In order to get that to stick, I have to repeat it so that they actually believe it’s true.
A friend used to have a chair in her living room. If her daughter was in that chair, she had full immunity from whatever story she was telling her mom. Would that work for your family? Maybe, maybe not, I think it depends on the kid. But I applaud the parents for getting creative in their goal of being approachable.
It’s not the most exciting word. It’s not even a word we usually talk about when we talk about parenting. But trust me, you want to be approachable.
More importantly, your kids want you to be approachable.
We’re excited to launch our Parent Network podcast where we’ll interview people who can help equip and encourage us to help our family walk with God. Click here to go to our podcast page and soon you’ll be able to subscribe on iTunes.