Take some time to spend with your teen but don't just watch a movie or play a video game, TALK. Grab some coffee at Starbucks, go fishing, take a drive, go shopping or just take them out for their favorite meal.
Here are some conversation starters to help deepen the communication and make the time more meaningful.
Have you ever been yelled at as an adult? Maybe it was in traffic or when you accidentally spilled something on a brute at a ball game. Whatever the situation, how did it make you feel? Did you feel your face get red? Were you embarrassed or angry? After the fact, even hours later, did you feel vengeful or keep thinking of things you could have or should have yelled back at the person? Now, rewind to the last time you yelled at your child. Do you think they feel much differently? Do you think raising your voice or using harsh words helps or hurts the relationship with young people?
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29-32, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
There is powerful truth in this passage regarding communication in general especially at home, but let’s focus for now on the word “clamor” in verse 21. The word comes from a word that means to croak (as a raven) or scream that is, shriek, cry (out). This unfortunately describes most every one of us as parents at one time or another in the way we speak to our kids. We lose control because we had a long day, our kids get under our skin, they disobey or disrespect one too many times and instead of responding firmly in love, we respond firmly in anger, clamor and evil speaking. Instead of solving the problem, we makes it worse.
Here are 10 suggestions for dealing with yelling and/or its aftermath.
It is here. 2016 is a fresh start. It provides a clean slate to write your story. Here are some biblical ways of doing so to consider as you begin. Of highest importance is knowing for sure you have a vital real relationship with Jesus Christ through the simple plan of the Gospel. If you are unsure of your relationship with God, we would invite you to contact us to talk in person. In the meantime, click here to help understand more about your relationship with God.
Here are 7 practical ways to begin 2016 in a biblical way.
As parents, we know that unless we live off the grid completely, our kids are being influenced and impacted for better or worse by media. Ipads, smartphones, Xboxs, laptops, smart watches, e-readers and more all have a steady stream of pixels aiming at our kid's eyes and brain. (Notice we didn't even mention the ol' TV)
We came across this up to date research from Common Sense Media and The Center for Parent & Youth Understanding that we thought you would find as interesting and helpful as we did.
Check it out and let us know your thoughts. How do you control media consumption at your house? What parts or this research concern or don't concern you as a parent?
If we can be of help to you with your teen son, don't hesitate to reach out and contact us.
Click here to visit The Center for Parent & Youth Understanding.
(We recommend you visit their site often. They have very helpful information for parents.
More that you may be interested in...
Does Our Family Need Victory Academy or Some Other Help Outside our Home?
If you feel that Victory Home for Boys may be of help to you in your situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have been working with struggling teen boys and their families since 1983.
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Mark Massey, Executive Director of Victory Academy for Boys and WildHeart Adventure Camp was interviewed on CrossTalk, a nationwide call-in and informational program from VCY America. VCY America has radio stations nationwide.
Click here to listen to the interview which covered the subjects of families in crisis, raising teens in current culture and more.
1. “I love you.” If you love someone, let them know it. Tell them and show them often. You may think they know it, and they might, but it is always nice to say it. I Corinthians 13 reminds us that we can be smart, sacrificial and sound wonderful in our speech, but if we don’t have love, we are nothing. Tell your wife, your son or daughter, call your mom and dad. Even in the struggles, an "I love you" sure can't hurt.
2. “I was wrong, forgive me.” One of my professors in college encouraged us to substitute this phrase for “I’m sorry.” In saying, “I was wrong” there is no doubt in the offended and hurt person’s mind that you know you hurt them and desire their forgiveness and restoration of the relationship. We can not be rightly related to God if we have broken and torn relationships with others. Perhaps you need to use this phrase with your teen today. Don't wait for them even if they were wrong too.
3. “Thank you.” In Luke 17 we read about those with leprosy who Jesus healed. He literally changed the rest of their lives. Things were different because of His intervention. Only one returned to say thank you. There certainly have been people who have made a difference in your life. People whose intervention changed things for the better. Do they know you are thankful? What about old friends, parents, your children, their teachers, a coach or former pastor. Make sure they know you are thankful. “Thank you” is never said too late or too much.
4. “I will .” We must say “I will” to God as he speaks to us about things he wants us to do or change, but we also need to say it to others. Jesus showed us in John 13 his willingness to wash his disciple’s feet. He then commanded us to do the same. Look for needs you can meet, and then when you see it, say, “I will.”
5. “I can.” Have you hit some brick wall in your Christian life? Do you feel defeated because of a sinful habit, or lack of prayer. Perhaps there is some difficult trial you and your teen are going through. In either instance, it is easy to say, “I can’t make it.” Paul reminds us that we CAN do all things THROUGH CHRIST who will strengthen us. A great lesson we must learn is that in myself I can’t, but in Him, “I can.”
A group of SBC leaders consulted with a prominent independent pastor. They were seeking advice on ways to reduce the number of young people leaving church after high school graduation. Reportedly, they estimated they were losing around 93% of their students while perceiving that the independents were losing only 73% of their young people. Can you imagine consulting with someone who has a failure rate of about 75% for advice? Things must be really bad.
Scores of young people “jump ship” when they come of age. Seven in ten evangelical young people ages 18-30 stop attending church by age 23 according to one survey. Talking with many young people, pastors, and youth workers has unveiled some of the reasons for the massive fallout. Below are some of the prominent explanations for the current plight.
INSINCERITY On Sundays students hear things and observe behaviors that seem markedly different than what they see and observe Monday through Saturday. When duplicity and pretense are seldom challenged, it is seen as an endorsement of that which is artificial as opposed to that which is authentic.
LACK OF COMPASSION Many do not feel engaged or welcome. A warm embrace is just as important as a biblical worldview. How many churches actually target the 20 to 30 age bracket even in towns where there are colleges and universities? People will go where they find love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Activities may “attract,” but it takes love to “attach” people. Peripheral things must be treated as such, and not as the main thing. Someone commented, “Wherever you find strong convictions with shallow sympathies there is the possibility for much unconscious cruelty.” Proactive and unconditional love is a powerful incentive not to jump ship.
MORALISM Moralistic preaching majors on duty and external issues to the neglect of heart-felt devotion to Christ. Outward things are not unimportant, but they are not all important. When obligation (what) is divorced from affection (why), the faith becomes just a list of rules. And rules without relationship produce rebellion. Preaching principles without giving the context of how they relate to God’s Person is legal preaching and it kills. Fleshly obedience is not only wearisome—it is impossible! Church kids know about the gospel for sinners, but they need to experience the “gospel for the saint.” Preaching that empowers us to live a God-focused life is what we all need to hear from the pulpit. Gospel meditation will in turn drive biblical application.
INCONSISTENCY IN THE HOME Admittedly no homes are perfect, but lip-service without life application does not promote fidelity to the Lord or His church. Mixed signals register loudly on the hypocrisy meter. The church can never resurrect what the home puts to death.
LACK OF MISSION Ingrown churches become “institutionally focused” instead of missional (mission focused). Maintaining the preferences and prejudices of prior generations does nothing to engage an age group who grew up in a totally different context. Failure to provide “tracks to run on” (service) does not integrate the younger into the larger group. If they spend their adolescence exclusively in age-segregated settings, why should we expect them to change gears at age nineteen? Further, if the only purpose is to keep the museum open during business hours, why expect those who are full of energy and life to rally around an ingrown establishment? They must see the overarching PURPOSE. Some sensitivity to cultural relevance is not always compromise. It would do us all good to sit down with young people in a coffee shop and LISTEN.
PARENTAL DISCONNECT The main thing missing in parenting today are the parents! Fathers left the farm and the home during the Industrial Revolution. Soon the mothers left the home in pursuit of careers. Around 1950 parents handed their children over to the state to educate. Television became the nation’s baby sitter, and it has been downhill ever since. Someone will have the hearts of children—and it should be the parents! When the parents have the hearts of their sons and daughters, children will confide in and seek counsel from Dad and Mom. God commissioned the parents to “shepherd” the hearts of their children (Deut 6:6-7). Without the stabilizing influence of strong parental bonds, many children have difficulty in assimilating the faith of their fathers on a personal level.
UNCONVERTED “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 Jn. 2:19). Instead of condemning them, we must love as Jesus loved. Check out the “crowd” Christ took into His company. Tattoos, body piercings, and the like are not the problem. Being “in church” does not change people—being “in Christ” does.
LACK OF FIRE Orthodoxy without Holy Spirit power is the breeding ground for atheism. When the supernatural energy of God is missing, there is no transformation on a personal or corporate level. Ed Stetzer says, "People are looking for a faith that can change them and to be a part of changing the world." Doctrinal belief without zeal is dead. It is a sad fact that the fear of man has purged all excitement from many traditional churches. God’s chosen symbol for the Holy Spirit is fire. But we don’t need a symbol—we need FIRE! Ezekiel, through his vision, witnessed a revival in a bone yard. Their need was not to locate the corner pins (landmarks) of the graveyard—they needed resurrection! The preaching of the gospel under the anointing of the Spirit is God’s appointed means to bring LIFE into the assembly.
LACK OF VISION Sight is a function of the eyes, but vision is a function of the heart. The absence of visionary leadership has left a tremendous void. Leaders are those who call us to something larger than ourselves. Being part of a living community where lives are transformed has a captivating power. Standards and principles must be seen as an expression of devotion to Almighty God, not an end in themselves. No wonder scores are not “buying in” when conformity is emphasized apart from a divine relational purpose. We can do a much better job of answering honest questions instead of just hammering away on issues. Unless youth see the larger picture through the lens of a scriptural worldview, they will never grasp the reality of the good news of the gospel.
CULTURAL CURRENTS The pull of unbelief, moral relativism, peer pressure, and hedonism are stronger than we realize. Older people don’t understand the environment in which their children and grandchildren have grown up. The age of the “Oldsmobile” is over. Today American culture, as a whole, bears no resemblance to the consensus of the baby boomers. Unless, the young have a reasoned faith in the Scriptures and strong foundations in spiritual experience, they cannot stand up to the forces around them.
THE GREAT OMISSION Youth ministry should be more than a holding tank that resembles MTV. Equipping young people with answers to relevant issues is imperative. The supplemental teaching children receive from others, in addition to the parents, must emphasize discipleship and service. “Taking up the cross and following Jesus” is the heart of the New Testament. This is a costly call in any generation—especially this one. In brief, compassion, connectedness, conversion, and coaching are essential keys to reverse the trend.
- Harold Vaughan - Learn More about Harold at Christ Life Ministries. Used with Permission
Read more Articles from Victory Academy for Boys:
How God Works in Your Teen
Rules Without Relationship = Rebellion.
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Watch a Video About Victory Academy
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I had the opportunity to teach Sunday School class at a church near an Army base. As I spoke about Christ's example of helping those in need, I commented on the fact that we all have needs. People everywhere are hurting. You know them, though you may not even know of their pain.
The ice broke. It was a blessing to see that people were getting the fact that each person around us has needs. Sometimes the needs are blatant. Often the needs are covered over by the smokescreen of pride. Because the needs are masked over, the needs go unmet and the pain goes on day after day. I recently sat in a class at church where a man revealed some of the day-in day-out, real pain that was going on in his marriage and with his children. Many of us in the class didn't even know what to say, not because we were shocked at the greatness of his need, but because he had boldly stated that he needed our prayers and help. We just don't do that! What a shame that our pride so hinders God's plan of using others to minister to our needs. God speaks of His desire for us in our ministry to one another in Hebrews 10:24 when He writes "let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works."
Notice first that the writer is telling each of us to "consider." It is not just the pastor's job to do the considering. This isn't a professional's task. It is each person's responsibility to understand what is going on in the lives of the people around them.
Second, this issue is dealt with on a linear basis. We are all equals. As people we all need others looking out for us and helping us with our needs and problems. It is normal to need counsel. God tells us in Proverbs (1:5, 7; 11:14; 19:20; etc.) that only a fool tries to live life on his own understanding, with no outside counsel. Beginning in the garden in Genesis we see that people need wise counsel so they don't "lean on their own understanding" and fall.
Third, this command requires action to complete. Each of us must be provoking (prodding) others. As a child I learned that a cattle prod (an electrical gadget that produces a high voltage shock) provides enough impetus to move an 1800 pound bull into the corral. (I might add that it can really make an armadillo move also!) I am not saying that we need to go out and buy a cattle prod, but we must have the guts and humility, and time to approach a person and prod them, provoking (encouraging) them toward God's answers for life. Finally, when it comes to helping a person with their needs, your opinions may have a place, but people always need God's opinion. Though we should certainly use our own life experiences as a testimony of God's work in our lives, the best prod we could use is Scripture. We must be prepared by knowing how to point them to God's way of life and Biblical principles that will help them answer their problems and needs. As God says in verse 24, "provoke unto love and good works."
God gives us Christ as the greatest example of how He wants us to reach out and help others with their needs. We are to focus our time on showing people that we care, and focus our minds on understanding one another so that we are able to help one another through daily life. The command is to learn about (consider) the person so that you can prod (encourage) them on to love (giving) and good works (glorifying God by obedience to His commands). Whether at home, at work, at school or church--wherever you are with people--reach out. Search for opportunities to bring the hope of God to the needy people all around us.
believe we need to answer the above two questions (Click Here to read Part 1) by first focusing our hearts on God. Deuteronomy 6:4-6 are very clear that we must not just consider that God is important. “God is great, God is good, now we thank him for our food” (our normal, daily acknowledgement of God) is not an end, it is a beginning! The verses clearly say that we are to “love the Lord our God with all [our] heart, and with all [our] soul, and with all [our] might.”
I would love a big HD TV (bigger is better!). I would also love a Convertible Vette (’72, black). My idol of choice is comfort. As Paul Tripp outlines in his book Age of Opportunity, it could just as well be control, success, respect, or appreciation. My point is that there are many choices that we make each day that move our hearts away from worshiping God and toward worshiping the creation (and ultimately self, see Romans 1:25). It isn’t that it is a sin to get, have, and enjoy, but is that our focus? If that is our focus then ultimately what we pass on to our children is a focus on self. What are you passing on?
Do we really love the Lord with all our might. Is my whole heart totally given to Him? If it is, my schedule often teaches differently. How about yours? As Luke 6:45 states that our behavior is a revealer of our hearts, what does our schedule reveal about where our hearts are focused? What should a person that is loving the Lord with all really look like? Back in Deuteronomy we see an answer. Chapter 6 verse 20 reveals that our lives should provoke our children to ask why we live so differently from everybody else, and what do all these things God has commanded really mean? A life that is “caught up” with God, isn’t “caught up” with houses, cars, electronics, vacations, retirement, clothes, and restaurants (Mt. 6:24. Deuteronomy 6:10-12 gives an eerily accurate warning to avoid this. Verse six of the same chapter says that we are to take the words that God has communicated to us about life (His commands, statutes, testimonies) and make them a part of our hearts (inner man—the real us!).
Secondly, we must free up the resources to enable us to communicate that focus to our spouse and children. I believe that in our society it takes money to live (in fact, more and more of it!). If I said otherwise I would lose all credibility as a (somewhat) sane person. Chapter 6, verses 11-14 warn that when we have houses full of stuff, and life is easy, beware of leaving your commitment to God and serving and worshipping what the others around you are serving and worshipping. Are these verses applicable in our culture? Are they applicable to you and me? Yea. We need a shift in thinking from, “how much can I get to live on,” to “how much do I need to live on.” We all have different incomes and expenses. Some expenses are, to a large degree fixed, some are discretionary. We have all heard the saying, “you either have time or money.” I fear that we have lost track of the fact that the pursuit of money takes time. Time is something we think a lot about, but perhaps we don’t think about just how valuable it is. When we are given the responsibility to diligently teach our children about our love for God and His instructions for life, verse 7 expresses the value of time. In verse 7 of Deuteronomy 6 God commands us to take the time all through the day to have proximity and purpose in our interaction with our children. A good summary of the teaching in these verses would be, “all throughout your day, diligently teach your children about the God that resides in your heart.” That takes time, making time immensely valuable. A new car, a bigger house, nice clothes, and eating out are fun luxuries, but because of the time investment required to get, have, and enjoy, their cost can be exponentially more than their value! Some of those things can hinder and even take away our ability to influence our children (and spouse) toward God.
If you need a new method of time management, books abound, read away. My hope here is that you will look closely at the two key thoughts. As you head toward the end of the year take time to reflect on the focus of your heart. What needs to change about your focus? After you evaluate, and adjust your heart’s focus, assess your time resources. With the correct focus you will find the time resources you are looking for. Make those adjustments that need to be made so you can free up your resources to have the time to reach your children’s hearts. A summary of the truths found in Deuteronomy 6: 20-25 reveals the fruit of living God’s commands for life:
So that, when your child asks you in time to come, saying, what is all this Bible and God stuff, you will hear their question, wrap your arms around them and tell them all that God has done for you and how much you love Him.
Americans live at a frantic pace. I'm an American. I'm not sure what the rest of the world is experiencing, but contemporary life here in the good ole’ U.S. of A. just doesn’t fit into Mark Twain’s lazy days of floatin’ down the Mississippi. That is a bygone era (if there ever was one). Most of us find ourselves immersed in our own very busy lives.
Have you had the same moments of reflection I've had that provoke me to wonder where it all went? What's more - how is this busy life impacting my family? What's it doing to my relationship with my wife? When am I finding time to influence my children and love them toward God? The example I am living, is it leading those I love to a stronger faith in God? As Christian parents, we have a lot of things to accomplish in this time-limited, time-pressured life. Though we often get the required tasks done, in my observations, few of us get the necessary tasks done.
After reading something like that, it's easy to walk away with a serious guilt trip. That's not my intention. As I look at my own wife and children and their multitude of needs, I become even more frustrated with the pressures of my own life. Sometimes it's like I'm watching a movie where it's plain to see something bad is going to happen. I want to yell out, “No, don’t do it, can’t you see what will happen?”
But no one listens.
The scene just keeps on rolling.
Have you ever felt this way? You can see something bad is going to happen, but you're helpless to change it? What do we do? Too often we simply plod along anyway. “The show must go on,” you know!
No, the show need not go on. If it must, perhaps it needs to without you! What must go on is much simpler than what's being pressed upon us by our culture (and well-meaning Christians). "What must go on" is that we must encourage our spouses to love and good works, to walk with God (Hebrews 10:24). We must dedicate time to our children so they can learn from us who God is and why we serve Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (Deuteronomy 6).*
As a simple test of initial perceptions; have your spouse ask your children what you do and what you love. I'm humbled to think of what my children would say. They see me spend a lot of time and focus on my job and the daily details of life. I'm not sure they would initially say that I spend my time serving God. I'm afraid they would see me as a person that runs a boys' home. I hope they would say that I love God and mommy, but they might equally say that I love to take naps, watch TV, spend time at the office, hunt, fish, travel, golf, et. al.
I'm not questioning whether you or I love God. That's for another time. I'm assuming we love God. The question of the moment is two-fold.
1. Do we live like we love God more than the details, pleasures, and duties of our daily life (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)?
2. Do we take the time to communicate that to our spouses and children (Deuteronomy 6:7-9,20-25)?
If, by chance, they miss that, then they miss everything of real value, for eternity!
For more on how to teach our children to love God with their whole being, check out the book Everyday Talk.