How to Parent During the Teen Years – Dad Edition

Our friend Stuart Hall joins The Parent Cue podcast to share about how dads can better parent during the teenage years.  Check it out!


Parents – Your Role Really Matters!

This article was written by Doug & Cathy Fields -Authors of Intentional Parenting

In our parenting seminars, parents often ask us questions that reveal their fears about the negative influence of media, culture, and peers on their children. This is a normal concern in today’s crazy culture, but we answer their worry by telling them to be less concerned about “outside” influences and more concerned about their hugely significant roles as the primary influencers in their child’s lives.

More than anyone else, kids of all ages are influenced and shaped by their parents.

The only time this influence shifts away from parents and onto other influences is when parents are either physically or emotionally absent. In other words, if you as a parent decide to “opt-out” of the parenting scene, then you can expect culture and all it represents to be more than glad to step in.

Research and social science studies support the fact that the parent/child relationship significantly impacts a child throughout his or her lifetime. The parent’s role and involvement is essential to the child’s development of emotional health, academic advancement, and making significant life decisions.

A recent study found that “a lack of parental involvement can have long-lasting negative effects on a child. Children who don’t have a close relationship with a parent are at risk for teen pregnancy, more likely to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, and more likely to live a sedentary life. They are also more likely to be withdrawn or suffer from depression.”

Your influence is the reason why you are such a big deal as a parent. This should be no surprise since children are very valuable to God.

Look how Jesus describes children: He [Jesus] took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:36-37 (NIV)

When you welcome a child into your life, you welcome Jesus. That’s powerful!
And the writer of Psalms says: “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him…” Psalms 127:3 (NLT)

God has rewarded you with the gift of a child — a gift worthy of cherishing and one that requires your very best effort. You were called to be a parent — it’s a significant part of your destiny and life purpose.

Yet, sometimes as parents, we want to deny or downplay our impact on our child’s life so that we can be let off the hook.

Look, we get it! Parenting is a huge responsibility — your child’s future is on the line. That’s a lot of pressure.

But we’d like to suggest that instead of viewing your parental responsibility as something negative, you begin to see it as empowering. After all, among all the other influences in your children’s lives, you are the one who has the ability to spend the most time with them. Not their friends, not the TV, and not even their cell phone. Therefore, you also have the most opportunities to instill your values into your kids.

So, if you long to be a good parent, and for your kids to grow up as successful and mature adults, then the first thing you need to do is to develop a deep conviction that your role as a parent is crucial. Believe that you — your presence, your actions, and your words — are vital to the health and development of your child. Believe that you are the most significant influence in your child’s life.

Parent Network Podcast – Michelle Starbuck

Check out our fourth episode where we interview Michelle Starbuck, our volunteer Director of the Parent Network, on intentional parenting over the years.


Parent Network Podcast – Mike Ashcraft

Listen to our latest Parent Network Podcast where we interview Mike Ashcraft on “The Power of Intentional Parenting.”



The Missing Milestone

** This article was copied from

The Missing Milestone

Not every moment in life is created equal.

Some moments have more weight and significance than others. These moments are called milestones. Milestones are moments that mark our lives. Things like the birth of a child, graduations, weddings, and retirements.

Imagine for a second how your life would different if it was not marked by some of these milestones. What if you went through school, but never had the milestone moment of graduation? What if you dated and got engaged, but never had a wedding? What if you worked for years and years, but never had a retirement party?

Milestones mark our lives by representing the end of a season and the beginning of a new season of life. They often signifying a profound change. And we often adopt a new identity after a milestone moment. When someone has a child they take on the new identity of mother or father. When someone graduates they are now an alumnus or alumna. When someone gets married they are now Mr. & Mrs. And when some retires they are now retired. There is a lot of weight and significance that is held in these milestone moments. Milestones have the power to transform our lives. 

But what if I told you that there was a milestone that was missing? 
You see throughout history in nearly every single culture there was a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, yet sadly in our Western culture we have lost this important idea.  It has become the Missing Milestone.

The importance of this Missing Milestone can not be overstated. It affects our families, communities, and nation in innumerable and unmeasurable ways. And yet we continue to perpetuate this gap in our culture, this Missing Milestone, because most men also grew up without it.

When we talk to fathers about this idea, most of them understand this idea intuitively. They feel that it was missing from their life and they don’t want their son to grow up feeling the same void that they experienced. But the train of thought is typically the same… “I want to do this, but I don’t know when and I don’t know how.”
We would love to help you answer those questions with a few simple tips to create a rite of passage experience for your son:

1) It needs to be a moment in time, yet part of a journey.

Think about the other milestones we mentioned above (marriage, graduation, retirement) they all center around a singular moment. Yet that moment has had significant build up to it. It wasn’t out of the blue. The journey of dating and engagement led to the milestone of marriage. The journey of high-school or college led to the milestone of graduation. The journey of navigating a career led to retirement. The milestone is a singular significant moment, but there was a process and build up to it that made it important.

2) It should build upon ceremony and ritual.

All milestones are built upon ceremony and ritual. Think baby showers, pomp & circumstance, wedding rings and vows, and gold watches, and eulogies. That is part of what makes them feel set apart and significant. Make sure to weave ceremony and ritual into your rite of passage moment for your son.

3) It needs to include your blessing.

There is a book called The Blessing by John Trent PH.D. & Gary Smalley that says, “If a young man fails to receive the blessing of their father, they will spend the rest of their life looking for it in all the wrong places.” Think about that for a minute. Your son desires your love and affirmation more than anything else in the world. Weave your blessing into this rite of passage experience.

4) Do this with your son in middle school.

Middle school is perhaps the most important transition in your sons life. He is beginning puberty. He is forming his own identity. He is beginning to become independent. But more importantly he is asking bigger and more important questions than he has ever asked before and he is looking for answers. This your opportunity as a father to bring your voice into his life at the most critical time.

5) Don’t do it alone.

Bring in other wise men to speak into his life. Seek out other men who are in this same stage of life with their sons and have critical conversations together. Brining in others will help hold you accountable and motivated and create a better context for conversation. It makes everything less awkward to have friends do it with you (for both fathers and sons).

We hope these tips will help you navigate the Missing Milestone and create a rite of passage into manhood for your son. If you want to learn more about our experience, how we have helped hundreds of fathers navigate this important phase of life, and teach Commitment, Confidence, Humility, Accountability, Motivation, Perseverance, Integrity, Ownership, Sacrifice, Significance learn more at

The First Social Media Challenge Your Kid Will Face

** The following article was copied from

The news is often full of terrible stories about horrible things that happened to kids because of social media. These things do happen and there’s a long list of them to keep in mind as your kids navigate this digital world.

The reality though is that more than likely, your kid will face one particular challenge before any others. Want to know what it is?

Someone is going to block them on Instagram.

Or, someone won’t follow them on Instagram.

Those are similar issues, although blocking feels more deliberate.

When you were a teenager, a person who didn’t like you, just wouldn’t talk to you. Now though, they can block you from taking a peek into their life. They can shut a door firmly in the most popular place for teens to congregate, Instagram.

They can lock you out of their lives.

This is the easiest, most common way a teenager gets their feelings hurt online. When someone doesn’t follow you, that hurts too, but not in the same way. Maybe they didn’t know you have an account. Maybe they forgot to follow you. Maybe there’s some other reason they don’t right now. Not so with a blocking. When someone blocks you, they’ve deliberately sent you a message that they don’t like you.

In situations like that, the most important thing to assess is if the relationship needs to be repaired. Sometimes it does and your kid needs to apologize for something. Other times, there’s nothing to repair. You can’t force your child to be friends with someone and meddling in the situation will only make everything all the worse.

There’s a block headed to your future as a parent, I promise, it’s coming.

Instead of waiting for it, do the brave thing, and ask your child if they’ve ever been blocked on Instagram.

If they have, talk about it. Ask them how they feel. Ask if they have anything they need to do. It might seem like something small, but you’d be surprised at the big conversation it can start.

5 Ways to Help Teens Cope With Change

** The following article was copied with

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:

Career changes
Complicated births
Financial downturns

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.


Does My Child Measure Up?

** The following article was copied from

Google “developmental milestones” and you may be surprised to see 1.5 million results. Are there that many milestones in the 18-year lifespan of a child from birth until they graduate from high school? No, definitely not. 1.5 million results tells us that common milestones happen at different times, on a different “schedule” for every single child.

No need to panic if your baby does not automatically become a walking toddler by that first birthday celebration. Your three-year-old who refuses to potty-train will jump that hurdle before she leaves home for college. And, your five-year-old who still can’t master zippers and buttons will achieve those skills before his first date.

Is it ever okay to compare your four-year-old to your best friend’s child of the same age or to your older child who said so many more words at the same age? What’s the harm?

Potentially, the harm can be that your child will sense that he or she doesn’t live up to your expectations. She may eventually quit trying to be the person that she thinks you want her to be, and can’t be, or experience stress and shame because she feels inadequate.

Comparing siblings may foster or increase sibling rivalry.

Worse yet, you may feel inadequate as a parent because you see your child as “not as good as” another child and you falsely interpret that as a negative commentary on your parenting abilities.

But comparing for the sake of understanding differences and strengths can bring insights. You may be alerted to real struggles or developmental delays that are best addressed by professionals during the preschool years. When you use a positive form of comparison, you are simply identifying your child’s strengths or their needs.

Your child’s unique strengths, personality characteristics, and temperament will start to shine through starting in the first few months of life. As your baby grows and develops in these early years, instead of falling into the milestone comparison trap, you can give your child exactly what he needs most in this phase: You can embrace him and demonstrate he is worth loving and exactly how he was created to be.

And then you can finally give yourself a break and know you’re an amazing parent who loves their child well.

Help! My Kid Got a Cell Phone. Now What?

** The following article was copied from

It seems that kids younger and younger are getting cell phones these days. There are many good reasons to get your kids a cell phone and there are equally as many reasons to delay as long as possible. The question I hear from parents is how do I keep my kids safe online and yet let them enjoy the freedom of a cell phone. The balance of safety and security is not easy to maintain.

I used to be an advocate of waiting until kids are much older to get a cell phone. I have changed my mind, with the pervasiveness of technology and the easy access of porn you have to teach your kids at a young age how to use technology without being ruled by it. If you just hand your kids a cell phone without teaching them how to use it or placing safeguards around it you are crazy. I love you but you are crazy. Here are a few things we have done and are putting into practice with our oldest as he joins the millions of kids who are connected around the world. These are a work in progress.

  1. We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do. –  Andy Crouch. No phones in bedrooms.
  2. We use Circle at home to filter content, enforce bedtime and to create timed boundaries. Circle is amazing! It is dead simple to set up it allows for a ton of flexibility you can filter and put time restrictions on individual apps. What’s also great about it is that it filters your internet so when friends come over it works on their device if they connect to your internet.
  3. We use Circle Go for on the go. We keep all our content and time filters in place on LTE and 4G cell phone coverage away from home. It has a monthly fee of 4.99 a month but is good for up to 10 devices.
  4. We use Life 360 to create digital fences that allow us to know when our child has left one place and arrived at another. This app also has functionality that monitors your kids driving their speed and disables texting when moving at a high rate of speed, it will also automatically call 911 if involved in an accident.
  5. Create a Cell Phone Contract. When they understand the privileges and responsibilities of having a phone. They also need to understand how to keep their phone and what will cause them to lose their phone privileges.
  6.  We have the passwords to everything. Privacy is not an option for Jr. Highers. Parents read your children’s email and text messages its being loving, not nosey.
  7. We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play, and rest together. – Andy Crouch
  8. Use the early years to teach your kids the etiquette of texting and calling. Let them know when is appropriate to do either and when is appropriate to do neither.
  9. For us at least, no social media until High School – Junior High is difficult enough allowing bullies to reach into the sanctuary of your home through social media is not worth the benefit.

5 Things to Do with Kids When They Don’t Want to Be with You

** The following article was copied from

5 Things to Do with Kids When They Don’t Want to Be with You

It seems like just yesterday you couldn’t pry your children off you with a crowbar. Everywhere you went, anything you were doing, they wanted to be along for the ride. Now they’re hitting their teen years and becoming independent. Suddenly, hanging out with mom and dad ranks on the fun scale somewhere between typing a term paper on e-coli bacteria and cleaning out the rain gutters.
It’s tough not to feel hurt when little Johnny or Suzie now sigh and roll their eyes at the very idea of engaging in a game of monopoly when, just two years ago, they would’ve sold their interest in Park Place just to keep the match going for another hour. Here are five parenting things you can do to cope and maybe even reclaim some lost real estate with your kids when it seems they don’t want to be with you.

1. Don’t take it personally.

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.

2. Don’t live on their level emotionally.

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.

3. Stick to common ground experiences that can bridge the gap.

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.

4. Try taking on the Galactic Overlord for once.

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.

5. Plan regular opportunities that take you both away from familiar distractions and allow you to be one-on-one.

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.