8 Warning Signs Your Child is Headed for Trouble

** The following article was copied from www.allprodad.com

When I look back at childhood, I think about my decisions when I came into my adolescence. The early years were perfectly happy and normal, but the later years led me to places that make me cringe when I think back on it. I can pinpoint the triggers that caused the good and bad choices. But a 10-year-old boy has no ability to understand what is happening in the moment.

As parents, it is an important duty to monitor our child and their activities. This allows us to decipher what paths they are headed down. When you just focus on punishment and not the root of the issue, there is a good chance he or she could become a problem child. Here are some of the common signs of a child heading the wrong direction. It is important to recognize these and take the appropriate steps to guide your child back down a positive path.

1. Mood Swings

Everyone experiences the occasional change in moods. Teenagers with exploding hormones, in particular, are prone to ups and downs. The key here is to determine if the lows and highs are too excessive, or if your child quickly shifts from euphoria to depression seemingly without cause. Be empathetic and a source of stability. Be calm. Adding to the drama will only make things worse. Finally, try to get your child to communicate what he is truly feeling in the moment.

2. Withdrawal

Not every child is a social butterfly, but that doesn’t mean there is a problem. However, if you see signs of withdrawal it could be cause for concern. Watch for signs of depression, lack of confidence, and if he feels rejected by other children.

3. Hiding Things

When you find out they have been hiding something, even if it’s trivial, it should tell you that they have entered into suspect behavior. At the very least they are creating habits of secrecy. It either says they are fine with bad behavior or they don’t trust you. Each of those is dangerous.

4. Dropping Grades

If a child is getting lower than normal grades, something is wrong somewhere. It could be a learning disability, laziness, need for more instruction, or any number of social or domestic issues. It could also be a sign of depression or discontentment. Get to the core of the matter instead of just punishing.

5. Sudden Change of Friends

Making new friends is a good thing. A red flag is when they stop spending time with one friend group and start hanging out with a totally new group of people. It’s important to find out what they are drawn to with the new group and what the breakdown was with their former friends. Relationships have a complexity and kids need their parents help in navigating them. Breakdowns in friendships hurt. Wounded hearts often gravitate to unhealthy coping mechanisms to numb or distract from the pain.

6. Fluctuating Weight

Sudden weight loss and gain are normally associated with an unhealthy desire to control. Being a child can feel turbulent and unstable. As a way to deal with the stress, eating disorders or mass consumption can emerge. With these dysfunctional coping strategies, food can easily be replaced by drugs and alcohol or cutting as a way to control feelings of fear, anxiety, and insecurity.

7. Personality Changes

Puberty is bound to bring some personality changes, but keep an eye on it. When a generally upbeat kid becomes more pessimistic or an outgoing kid becomes quieter, there is something driving the negative change. Perhaps they are doing things they know you wouldn’t approve of or they are being bullied at school. Maybe they are desperate for approval they aren’t getting. Ask them questions such as, “Do you feel like your world is changing a bit? How do you feel about that?” You may also try, “You know when I was your age I had a hard time. How are you coping with the changes going on around you?”

8. Changing The Way They Dress

It’s fine to experiment with new looks. After all, kids don’t develop a full sense of identity until their mid-twenties. However, a sudden change in dress and image could be more than experimenting. It may be a deep sign of insecurity. Starting to wear more revealing clothing tends to be a step towards sexual activity, while baggy/over covering can be a sign they are hiding something. For example, when a kid always wears long sleeves, even when it is warm, they are usually hiding scars from self-cutting. As it has been said before, get to the heart of the issues. Ask questions and be a safe place for your kids as they try to navigate life.

Self-Esteem is Ruining Your Kids

** The following article was copied from samluce.com

As a child of the 70’s I grew up 80’s where baby boomers were loving life, loving love and loving themselves. This translated to every area of life including their parenting. The seeds of self-esteem were laid by my parent’s generation and have taken full root in my generation. It’s this idea that kids need to have a positive outlook in life, they need to love themselves. While in limited ways this can be true the pervasiveness of this idea is killing the collective conscience of our country and is ruining our kids.

My parents were not primary concerned with my self-esteem for that I am thankful. I remember my mom saying something to me when I was younger that always stuck with me. She said that her and my father were not concerned with how our peers felt about us they would always watch how adults interacted with us and would listen for the assessments adults had of us. Why? Because my parents were more concerned with our self-awareness than our self-esteem.

How kids interact with adults is a great (not perfect) indicator of how self-aware your kids are. So many parents today are concerned with their kids having friends, their kids having the right kids of friends, their kids not getting their feelings hurt by their friends because they want their kids to have good self-esteem because they love their kids. They are doing their kids a disservice. Parents today take their child side over the word of another adult because they don’t want to crush their kids. In doing this they are eroding the very things that will make kids successful in life. I am all for good self-esteem and smarts in school but what makes you successful in life is self-awareness. And here is the truth that parents so often totally miss that when you raise a kid who is self-aware you get self-esteem thrown in, but if you try to raise a kid with your primary goal being good self-esteem you get neither.

3 Reasons why self-awareness should matter to you as a parent.

1. Self-awareness produces confidence in your kids and confidence produces self-esteem.

2. Self-awareness makes your kids other focused because you are confident and understand their strengths and limitations it allows them to flourish and not have to pretend, lie, cheat or steal to be something they wish they were and not who they really are.

3. Self-awareness allows your kids to see themselves as the desperate sinners they are. When you are aware of who you are in Christ you have a desperate confidence. You understand that you are a desperate sinner but have a confidence in a sinless savior. The cross is not a boost to your self esteem it doesn’t feel good to talk about the cross. Kids whose awareness is understood in light of their shortcomings and Christ’s sufficiency, glory in the Cross.  Kids who have learned to nurture their self-esteem run from the cross those who are self-aware run to it.

The Secret of Superman

** This article was copied from www.theparentcue.org

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Superman. Seriously! I still remember the day my parents handed me a box from Sears and Roebuck that contained a red cape, blue tights with a red-and-yellow “S” shield on the chest. When I put it on, something magical happened. It transformed me from a shy six-year-old to a super hero with unique powers.

I was more powerful than my dad’s parked car.

I could leap tall fences with a single bound.

I was faster than our speeding fox terrier.

Looking back, I am absolutely positive that I could jump higher, run faster, and do more whenever I put on that suit. That was the year I got in trouble with my mom for running across the roof of our house in my red cape and underwear. It was just one of those days when I had to get suited up fast, so I left the tights off and just went with the cape. And don’t ask me how I got up on the roof. You should know. I flew, of course. At least that’s what I remember.

I don’t actually recall when I stopped believing in Superman, but his story did convince me of something that is true.

Good will ultimately win over evil.

It’s ironic that the story of Superman was created in 1938 by two high school students in Cleveland Ohio. Superman literally showed up in the nick of time. It just happened to be the same year, Hitler appointed himself as the supreme commander of the armed forces of Germany and set the stage for the most horrific war the world would ever know.

It’s intriguing that while nations were drawn into a world war that would threaten their existence, a fictional story of a superhero would entertain the imagination of a generation to suggest that good will somehow always prevail. I guess you should just never underestimate the power of a good story.

The point is the stories you tell to your kids every week really matter.

Why do you think…
Frodo in Lord of the Rings
Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia
and a boy named Harry have such an appeal to the imagination of kids?

Because they echo an aspect of an ancient narrative that God put into motion at the beginning of time.

They remind us of…
the struggle between good and evil.
the existence of a supernatural and miraculous power.
the potential to be personally restored and transformed.

The right story can inspire.
The right story can incite faith.
The right story can give hope.

If you want to change the way kids and teenagers see this world, then make sure you give them stories over time.

That’s why we like to tell parents that stories over time = perspective.

Everybody loves a good story.
You latch on to someone who is going against the odds.
You identify with their struggle to push through.

Stories are powerful. Especially when they reflect God’s story.

So do whatever you can to amplify the best stories around you.

Read them.
Watch them.
Tell them.
Create them.
Write them.
Illustrate them.
Video them.
Live them.
Collect them.

They can make life fuller, faith deeper, hope stronger.

So, what if I was never able to fly? There’s a secret I’ll always know because of Superman.

Good wins in the end.

What Your Kids Want Most – Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker has a great new podcast and in Episode 1 she talks about what all of our kids want more than anything else.  Click here to go to her site and find Episode #1.

Why Our Son Doesn’t Have a Smartphone

** This article was copied from The Gospel Coalition.com

Our son wants a smartphone with an Instagram account.

He’s 12. He’s in seventh grade. He wants to be able to text his friends, send pictures, and chat in the afternoons and evenings.

His mom and I say “no.”

We’ve opened an Instagram account on my wife’s phone that he can use to post an occasional picture or, under our supervision, see what his friends are up to during the summer. But we’ve drawn the line at him having a phone at this age and all the social media accounts that go with it.

Crazy thing is, we’re the oddballs. Only a handful of his classmates are without a phone.

I’m not judging the decisions that other parents make, so long as they are informed and involved in their children’s lives. Every child is different. Parents can use discernment and come to different conclusions on this matter. I am, however, confident that we’re making the right decision for our families.

Naturally, our son has asked the question several times in several ways: Why not, Dad? Why not, Mom?

The easy answer would be: “There’s bad stuff on the internet and we don’t want you to access it.” We could talk about sexting and pornography and all the potential dangers of being online. But I know there are certain filters and barriers that impede that deluge of filth. Besides, the potential for future, sexual temptation is not our greatest concern anyway.

No, the real reason why our son doesn’t have a phone is because we think his middle-school years will be better spent without one. The answer I’ve given, over and over again, is this: I want you to be free from middle school drama when you’re at home.

Of course, our son thinks the phone represents a new rung on the ladder, the next step toward the freedom of adulthood. We think the phone, at his age, is a step down into slavery. It traps kids, just like it can trap adults, into the social game of likes and comments and never-ending comparisons.

James K. A. Smith describes the scene for an adolescent, and it’s one that virtually any adult could read him or herself into:

“The teenager at home does not escape the game of self-consciousness; instead, she is constantly aware of being on display—and she is regularly aware of the exhibitions of others. Her Twitter feed incessantly updates her about all of the exciting, hip things she is not doing with the ‘popular’ girls; her Facebook pings nonstop with photos that highlight how boring her homebound existence is. And so she is compelled to constantly be ‘on,’ to be ‘updating’ and ‘checking in.’ The competition for coolness never stops. She is constantly aware of herself—and thus unable to lose herself in the pleasures of solitude: burrowing into a novel, pouring herself out in a journal, playing with fanciful forms in a sketch pad. . . . Every space is a kind of visual echo chamber. We are no longer seen doing something; we’re doing something to be seen.”

There’s nothing wrong or immoral in the content the teenager in the above paragraph may access. But something still isn’t right about the whole scene.

Many Christian parents are rightly concerned about the content that their kids may access on the phone. But it’s not just the content that shapes us. It’s the entire device and how it operates, and the assumptions about our world that are smuggled in with it. The smartphone has apps tailored around one’s own desires, so that the phone says, all day every day, “The world revolves around you.”

In a recent essay in CommentPeter Leithart writes:

“Tools want to be used this way and not that. My phone “wants” my wants to head in a certain direction. My phone trains me to expect instant satisfaction of my infinite desires. . . . Our world is jigged by phones, computers, and tablets toward self-absorption and roving, inattentive consumption. My phone turns my self into a cellph.”

This is a big deal. It’s why I devoted the first chapter of This Is Your Time to the smartphone (“Your Phone Is a Myth-Teller”) and how we can use this newly invented tool faithfully.

Social media promises to do two things simultaneously: resolve the human longing to “be known” andthe human longing to be “in the know.” The thirst for knowledge goes back to the Garden of Eden. We want to be “in the know,” and we want to “be known and loved.”

In the book, I call this “double thirst”—when you drink something that temporarily quenches your need for water, but that “something” has an ingredient that creates in you a greater thirstiness.

When you go to the phone, believing the myth that it can quench your thirst for knowledge, you’re inundated with information that makes you feel insignificant in the bigger scheme of things. That’s when the second longing kicks in, the desire to be known. Now you go to your phone in order to put yourself out there, to post selfies and comments because being present online helps you fight the feeling that you are insignificant.

Then, there’s a deeper aspect to all this. We recreate ourselves online because we worry that if we were truly known, we would not be loved.

It will be our generation’s task to chart the way forward in what faithful use of the smartphone will be. How does the gospel shape our smartphone habits? That’s an important question, and it’s why I’ve written a chapter on this subject, and why I’m heartened to see articles in Comment as well as a new book by Tony Reinke pressing us into deeper reflection on our habits.

For now, the simple “no” is best for our son. But this discussion should lead us as parents, who are too often glued to our phones, to contemplate what we’re saying “yes” to.

How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex

* This article was copied from fulleryouthinstitute.org

How to talk to your kids about sex (with as little awkwardness as possible)

{blog-author_related:title}   Kara Powell

Nervous to talk with your kids about sex?

You’re not alone. Especially if faith is important to you.

According to two different sets of data, the more important religion is to parents, the more difficult it is for those parents to talk with their kids about sex.[1]

That’s both sad and ironic. As followers of Christ, we should be at the front of the line to talk with our kids about sex. We know that sex, as something God created, is good—really good. And yet somehow with sex (as well as other controversial topics), our families have been robbed of healthy, balanced, scripturally guided conversations, the type of conversations that foster good decisions and strong faith.

This Valentine’s Day, topics of romance, love, and intimacy are bound to be at the forefront of our teenagers’ minds. Furthermore, young people today are inundated with notions and standards that fall short of God’s good intentions for sex—and they need us to help them discern what is true and what isn’t.

So how can we leverage Valentine’s Day, or other cultural references, as springboards for better conversations about sex with our kids? Here are four suggestions to help you have better “sex talks” at home.

1) It’s about listening, not lecturing.

It’s the rare teenager who looks forward to talk to their parents about sex. Not only is talking about sex with parents awkward, it usually devolves into a lecture.

Parents who are best at talking with their kids about sex bite their tongues—sometimes literally—when they feel tempted to lecture their kids. The reality is that your kids probably already have a hunch about what you might say about sex. So do your best to let them do the talking.

2) It’s about asking, not judging.

Wondering how to get them talking? Most teenagers won’t launch into a monologue about sex, so if we’re going to help them do the talking, we have to ask questions. And it’s best if we avoid the “What are you thinking? You must be crazy!” tone of voice when we ask.

In one of the parental interviews we conducted for The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Familyone amazing dad described inventing a family game called “What do you think will happen next?” During car trips, over dinner, or at bedtime, the dad would give a challenging ethical situation, often involving sex. And then ask his kids, “What do you think will happen next?”

So if he wanted to talk to his daughter about date rape drugs, he’d start with, “You go to a party and are handed a cup. You’re not entirely sure what is in the cup and you don’t know the guy who handed it to you very well. What do you think will happen next?”

His daughter would give her best answer. And then he’d follow up with, “Okay. So what do you think will happen next?”

She’d answer. And he’d ask the same question again.

He would do this for as many rounds as his kids would play along because he had one main goal: He wanted his kids to think ahead. And he used questions to help them learn how.

3) It’s about them, not me.

Maybe asking, “What do you think will happen next?” would never work in your family. If so, then take the cue from wise parents who use what’s happening to other people to launch their families into discussions about sex.

The bad news is that sexualization has infiltrated our culture from top to bottom. The good news is that gives us all sorts of conversation fodder.

Valentine’s Day cards. Movies. Music. What’s going on with your kids’ friends. Politicians. YouTube videos. News headlines. Clothing choices. School policies about dating.

If asking kids directly what they are thinking and feeling about sex feels too pointed and all too likely to cause your kids to shut down, start by talking about all of these topics—and other people (whether they are your kids’ friends or media celebrities)—and see if the conversation organically progresses to get more personal.

4) It’s a process, not an event.

Are you gearing up for “the sex talk” with your kids? Looking forward to crossing it off your list? Maybe even planning on having that discussion this month?

Well, it’s not about one sex talk. It’s about lots of them.

With both of our two older kids, and we’re about to do this with our youngest, we’ve bought them a book and read through it with them together—two chapters per week. Dave and I read through it first, underlining the portions we want to discuss with them, and then our child reads it.

We have intentionally made those discussions about book chapters as natural as possible. We’ll have them while we’re talking in our child’s bedroom, or sitting on the couch in our living room after dinner. We want talking about sex to feel as normal as possible.

If you want to do a special weekend away or purity ritual, by all means go ahead. Just don’t view it as a one-time event. It’s more like a series of conversations, because sexuality involves a lifetime of choices.

What other steps have you taken to leverage cultural references for better discussions with your kids about sex?

*Portions of this post adapted from Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family and Good Sex 2.0.


[1] Those two data sets are the National Study of Youth and Religion and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Mark D. Regnerus, Forbidden Fruit (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 60-73.