A Teen’s Relationship With His Parents
About the Guest
Jaquelle Crowe, a contributor on DesiringGod.org as well as the Gospel Coalition, talks about the relationship teens need to have with their parents, friends, and the opposite gender. Each person's first relationship is with their parents, and she learned to honor her mom and dad at an early age. Crowe reminds teens that their parents are doing the best they can, and that they are only human--with insecurities, fears, and doubts, just like them.
Jaquelle Crowe FerrisJaquelle Crowe Ferris is the author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway, 2017). She’s also the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and lives in eastern Canada. You can follow her on Twitter.
Jaquelle Crowe talks about the relationship teens need to have with their parents. Crowe reminds teens that their parents are doing the best they can, and that they are only human.
A Teen’s Relationship With His Parents
Bob: During her teen years, Jaquelle Crowe was a mostly compliant daughter, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t bring some attitude along with her compliance.
Jaquelle: I was very snarky, especially with my mom. My mom was the main person who taught my brother and me, so we spent a lot of time together. My mom and I are quite alike. Yes; I was someone who was a rule-follower, so I was willing to obey; but I would make it very apparent that I did not find any joy in obeying.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, October 16th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear about how Jaquelle Crowe’s parents handled her attitude—her snarky attitude—as we talk with her about her adolescent years. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I just want to know if there are any suitable young men in Halifax who have caught the attention of Jaquelle Crowe yet?—do you think?
Dennis: Let’s ask her! [Laughter] She’s here—she’s right with us!
Jaquelle: It’s true; it’s true!
Dennis: She’s written a book called This Changes Everything, and she’s not talking about a man.
Jaquelle: Well, the answer is, “Yes”; but it’s only pretty recent. I’ve been asked this question one other time on radio—many, many months ago—and the answer was easy; it was, “No,”—but now the answer’s a little bit trickier because it’s, “Yes.”
Bob: So you’re kind of in the early stages of seeing—
Jaquelle: We are; we are in the early stages—dating, courtship, or whatever you want to call it.
Dennis: Should I give your dad my book, Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date?
Jaquelle: You know, we actually saw a picture of it on the wall earlier today. I pointed it out to him and said, “Dad, you need to read that book.”
Dennis: Oh, really?!
Bob: Actually, you may need to go ahead and write the one you want to write—
Bob: —which is: Six Conversations to Have with Your Future Son-in-Law, but I don’t want to be rushing anything.
Jaquelle: Oh, there you go! [Laughter]
Bob: I don’t want to rush anything here.
Dennis: Well, we are talking to Jaquelle Crowe. She is a graduate of Thomas Edison State University; she’s a writer—lives in Halifax, as we’ve mentioned—and is a contributor to The Gospel Coalition, DesiringGod.org, and Unlocking the Bible.
This first book, This Changes Everything, is about how the gospel transforms the teen years. We’ve been talking about the challenges for teens today. They really need to be anchored, spiritually, as never before because of the messages and issues that they’re facing; don’t they?
Jaquelle: Absolutely! They are being bombarded constantly with messages from the world, from home, from church; and all of these messages are just competing ideologies. Young people need to know where they can place their hope and trust.
Bob: There’s a lot of click-bait on the internet—there’s a lot of stuff that will pop up in your feed, where you go, “That looks kind of interesting,” or you’ll read something and you go: “Oh! That makes sense.”
Have you found yourself kind of going down the rabbit hole a few times, and going: “Wait, wait; wait! What am I even doing in here?” and “Why am I reading this stuff? This just isn’t true!”
Jaquelle: Oh, for sure! I think every young person, at least, and maybe every person who has access to the internet has done this; Facebook® can just be the worst for this. I think this comes back to something that my parents have always been teaching me, which is the issue of discernment—being able to tell the difference between: “What is true?” “What is not?” “What is authentic?” and “What is just false information?” Sometimes, I have not been good at that; but that’s something that you really have to work on, and especially train your young people in this digital age.
Bob: So, as we’ve talked this week, it has sounded like the fifth commandment—the one to “Honor your father and mother…”—you may have broken some commandments, but this is one that you just never broke in your—
Jaquelle: Oh, I’m clearly perfect at it![Laughter]
Bob: It sounds like there’s never been—and I just want to pop the bubble a little bit.
Jaquelle: Let’s pop it, for sure!
Bob: There’ve been sometimes you’ve been mad at your mom or dad; right?
Jaquelle: Oh, definitely! There have been times that I have been mad at my parents; there have been times that my parents have been mad at me.
Dennis: For instance?
Jaquelle: For instance—
Bob: Have you ever been grounded?
Jaquelle: —I was homeschooled—
Bob: —permanently grounded! [Laughter]
Jaquelle: —so grounding never really worked. [Laughter] When I was younger, especially, and all throughout my life, I did have an issue with attitude in that I was not the most respectful to my parents—yes; that’s probably the issue.
Jaquelle: Oh, I’m being 100 percent serious!
Dennis: You’re so sweet.
Jaquelle: Oh, I must put on a good front!
Bob: So what would disrespectful look like? Were you snarky with your parents?
Jaquelle: I was very snarky, especially with my mom. My mom was the main person who taught my brother and me, so we spent a lot of time together. My mom and I are quite alike. Well, my dad and I are also alike, which can make things hard; but yes, snarkiness. I was someone who was a rule-follower, so I was willing to obey; but I would make it very apparent that I did not find any joy in obeying.
I mean, I could go on and on.
Bob: Did you ever have a season of, “I just don’t like them right now, and I wish they were out of my life!”?
Jaquelle: No; that never happened.
Dennis: You’re pretty smart—
Dennis: —you graduated from college at 18?
Dennis: There had to be a point where you thought you were smarter than your parents. [Laughter]
Jaquelle: You know what? I don’t think there was! I mean, the college thing is a little bit different; because I studied long-distance, and I actually did dual-credit. We’ll just throw out a little aside—a tidbit—here. I took the courses during high school that counted for both high school and college, so I’m not as smart as you think I am.
Bob: Oh, you may be as smart as we think you are!
Jaquelle: I just tweaked the system, basically. [Laughter]
Bob: But you’re saying that your relationship with your mom and dad, for the most part, throughout your life, has been a solid relationship. What would you say is the thing that they have done that has made that relationship healthy?
Jaquelle: A lot of things, but the biggest thing—like, when I look back on my teen years/I look back on my pre-teen years—I think about what marked my relationship with my parents is that I knew that they loved me. Everything they did in my life—even the stuff that ticked me off, and the times that they did punish me for being snarky or, you know, being mean to my brother—it was all because they had my best interest at heart.
That’s one of those things that I did not recognize at the time; but when I think back on it, my parents were not people who just had an authority trip or who didn’t like us / just kind of tolerated us. My parents really liked hanging out with us! They did things so that we could spend time together, and they could just kind of pour into me, and take time to learn about my interests and treat me as a human and not just someone for whom it was like, “Well, this is my child.” They had the respect to treat me as a fellow image-bearer of God.
Bob: When you did get punished, how did you get punished?
I mean, were there time-outs when you were little?
Jaquelle: Time-outs when I was little—I would be sent to my room. Oh, do you want to hear something really nerdy about me?!
Bob: Yes; yes.
Jaquelle: Okay; so I love books, and I’ve always been a big reader. My mom punished me by taking away my books for a day.
Bob: “You can’t read for the day.”
Jaquelle: That was devastating—I will tell you! I was so sad!
Dennis: There are some teenagers, listening right now to this broadcast. Their eyes just rolled back into their heads—
Jaquelle: I’m sorry! I’m sorry I’m such a geek.
Dennis: —“Punish me [with lack of books to read]; please!”
Bob: But did they ever take away your device and wouldn’t let you have your device?—or did you manage that well?
Jaquelle: Well, that’s an interesting one; because I did not get a smartphone until I was 18, so there wasn’t really an issue there.
Bob: Did you want a smartphone when you were 16?
Jaquelle: A little bit, but this was another area where my parents, right from the beginning, were like: “Look! We don’t think it’s a good idea, and here’s why... Ask us your questions; give us your pushback. Let’s talk about this together.” That was not a rule that they were like: “No! This is never happening. No discussion.” They were like: “Let’s talk about it. Let’s read articles about it together. Let’s talk to other people about it,”—
—so it was always kind of an ongoing discussion.
And then, they were the ones—they actually bought me a smartphone for my 18th birthday. At that point, I was like: “Oh! This is great!” But I had spent so many years not being dependent on it that I wasn’t like: “Oh, my goodness! This is the fulfillment to my joy!” My parents did a really great job with that.
Dennis: So, if you had to pass one lesson you’ve learned about honoring your parents on to a teenager, who may be listening right now—in that teenager’s language—what would you say to him or her?
Jaquelle: I would just say, “Remember that your parents are people too.” This is a big thing for me—it’s hard not to think of your parents as “Mom and Dad,”—like: “That is their identity. They exist to be my parents.” No; your parents are people, too, with their own issues—with their own fears, and doubts, and questions. They don’t have all of life figured out; they are not perfect.
They are not trying to kill all your fun and rob you of joy. Your parents are just doing their best!—they really are. You may not agree with them all of the time, and they may not get it right all the time, but they are trying to help you and trying to love you.
Bob: Jaquelle, in the summer after my freshman year in college, I was 19. I went to a Bible study that summer. I remember walking out of that Bible study with just what you’re talking about. It was like the light had been turned on for the first time in my life and I went, “Oh!” because they talked about that fact that, “Your parents have insecurities in the work place.” I thought: “No, no; no. Teenagers have insecurities. [Laughter]
Bob: “Parents don’t have insecurities.”
They talked about: “Your parents have fears that they face; your parents have doubts; your parents have…”—they went through the whole gamut. It was like: “I’ve never thought of that! This is what human beings—even grown-up human beings—have to deal with.”
I thought it was just teenage angst. I didn’t realize that’s just a part of being human. And when I realized that, it altered the way that I interacted with my parents; because, all of a sudden, I had some compassion for the humanity they were having to deal with.
Jaquelle: Yes; it’s true. You look at your parents very differently once you realize that they do not exist just to be your parents—that they’re a lot more like you than you think they are.
Dennis: And I want to talk, just a little bit later, more about honoring your parents; but I just want to close this section out by reading the fifth commandment. Maybe there’s a person who hasn’t heard it recently: “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Now, that’s right in there between remembering the Sabbath and “You shall not commit murder,”—pretty heavy issues.
Jaquelle: It’s an important one.
Dennis: It is an important one, and we’re going to come back to it again. Remind me, Bob.
Bob: I will remind you, because I know what you have in mind here.
I just want to know about—you’re the oldest of—
Jaquelle: —two; just two.
Bob: And your brother—right?—
Bob: —younger than you?
Jaquelle: —younger brother.
Bob: How much younger is he?
Jaquelle: He is two years younger than me.
Bob: So was there ever any sibling rivalry as you guys were growing up?
Jaquelle: I don’t know rivalry, but we definitely fought. We fought a lot when we were younger, but as we got older—we are very different kids, so he has never had any interest in doing pretty much any of the things that I wanted to do, which has worked out well. [Laughter]
Bob: “You can go your own way, bro!”
Dennis: You get to do what you want to do; he does what he wants to do.
Jaquelle: It’s true; it’s true, and it works!
Bob: When you were fighting, as little kids,—
Bob: —how did your mom and dad deal with sibling rivalry?
Jaquelle: That’s a good question. Man, you should ask them. They were always very, very supportive of us—both of us—and never, ever, ever played favorites—
Jaquelle: Then, what they tried to do, I think, is try to champion us in our own kind of pursuits. This is something that they never said to me, but a friend of mine actually mentioned that this was how his parents treated it. I said: “Whoa! That’s exactly like my parents,”—is that they said, “If you can’t win the race, then make sure the person who beats you breaks the record.”
So it was like, even in the times that we did compete, that there was always a point where it was like: “Hey! You guys are siblings. You need to look out for one another.”
Bob: You know, when our kids were growing up, they all took piano lessons, which meant that there was a day, pretty much every year for—I don’t know—10 or 15 years, on a Saturday, where I was going to a piano recital. Now, can I just tell you?—piano recitals, where seven-year-olds are playing the piece they’ve been working on—it’s kind of like, if you put that on my list of things to do for the weekend, would not be my highest priority. [Laughter]
Jaquelle: We’re not going to judge you!
Bob: It was also not the highest priority for an older sibling to come hear their seven-year-old brother or sister do their piano recital.
Bob: My initial thought was: “Okay; they can go to their recital. Mary Ann can take them—my wife—she can take them to the recital, and I hope it all goes fine.”
Bob: Mary Ann was like: “No! We all go to the recital!” I am like: “Really? We all have to go to the recital?” But this was so smart on Mary Ann’s part, because it’s how we supported one another / it is how we cheered one another on—it is how we said, “We’re on your team, and what you’re doing is important!”
Sure, we sat there; and I had my device out. I was surfing the web when the other kids were playing. [Laughter] Then, when my kid was playing, then I’m filming it.
Jaquelle: Of course!
Bob: Then I am back on the device when it is all over. But, you know what? To be able, afterwards, to go up and say: “You did great! That was awesome! Let’s watch that again!”—that communicates hugely, not just from a parent to a child—but siblings to say to a younger brother: “You did good, man! That was good!”
Jaquelle: Yes; exactly!
Bob: That’s meaningful; isn’t it?
Jaquelle: Yes; it’s true. And I should just say—my brother is not a gushy person, so I don’t think he’s ever told me that he’s proud of me or that he supports me; but I know that he does. He does it in his own way—in his own brother way—and in a way that I know, “Hey, we are on the same team!”
Bob: So when you got your copy in the mail—your very first copy of This Changes Everything—
Jaquelle: Yes; yes!
Bob: It comes to the house, and it is like: “This is my book! I got a book!” Did your brother look at it and go, “Nice job, sister,” or did he just say, “Hmm”?
Jaquelle: Probably a mix between the two. He was like: “You know what? That’s cool; yes!”
Bob: “Good for you!” [Laughter]
Jaquelle: Pretty much; but then he went out for ice cream with us, so he was pretty happy at that point!
Bob: Alright; okay!
Dennis: That was what I was going to ask you: “What does your brother do to decrease sibling rivalry between you and him?”
Jaquelle: So my brother and I are pretty good friends right now. We hang out, and we do stuff that has nothing to do with our work. We go see movies together; we go hang out together. Before this interview, I texted him for about an hour.
We just like hanging out together, because we’re so different! He does not like writing; he does not like speaking in front of people. He does not like doing interviews.
Bob: If you took away his books for the day, it would be great!
Jaquelle: Oh, exactly! For him, it would be his video games—that was his punishment.
Bob: Got it.
Jaquelle: But, yes; we’re just so different. He’s always been like: “You know what? You just do you, and I’m good with that.”
Dennis: Well, I’ve been looking over your shoulder, at your father, this entire interview. I just think it’s time for him to come in here—
Jaquelle: I’m for it!
Dennis: —and to tell the truth about the sibling rivalry; and then, I’ve got an assignment for you.
Jaquelle: Okay; I’m excited!
Dennis: The book is dedicated to Sean and to her mom Diana; right?
Dennis: And it says: “Thank you for teaching me the gospel. This is your book too!”
Jaquelle: That’s right.
Dennis: That’s sweet.
Jaquelle: Thank you.
Dennis: That’s really cool!
Bob: Alright; Sean is in the studio now. Welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Sean: Thank you. Good to be here.
Bob: You’ve been listening to all of this.
Dennis: Sean’s a pastor in Halifax, Nova Scotia; right?
Bob: And your daughter has been telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
Sean: For the most part, yes; I think so! [Laughter]
Jaquelle: Okay; here we go!
Dennis: The sibling rivalry thing she just described—you’d bear witness to that?
Sean: Yes; I think so. I think, for the most part, they have quite a good relationship. They are incredibly different.
Dennis: We get that—we’ve got it!
Sean: You would wonder if they were from the same parents, but they do get along quite well; yes.
Bob: And you don’t remember a time when there was 48 hours when she wasn’t talking to either of you?
Sean: I really don’t; no.
Bob: Yes; what a blessing, as a parent; right?
Dennis: Isn’t that?
Dennis: That really is!
Bob: That’s sweet.
Dennis: Okay; Jaquelle, so here’s the assignment.
Dennis: I wrote a book—wow!—20 years ago?—maybe 25 years ago—
Bob: It was 25 years ago.
Dennis: —called The Tribute. It was about The Forgotten Commandment. I believe the fifth commandment has been one that, for the most part, the community of faith has ignored—and really, hasn’t called parents, first of all, to be honorable; but secondly, called children to honor their parents.
Bob: —and adult children, not just little children. A lot of people think this has a statute of limitations on it; you know?—“When you’re 18, now, you don’t have to honor your parents anymore.”
Dennis: Yes; or “My parents weren’t very good like Jaquelle’s parents.
Bob: Yes; right.
Dennis: “So that enables me and empowers me to not honor them.”
I wrote this book about writing a tribute to your parents; because my dad died in 1976, the year we started FamilyLife®. I really never got to say to him everything I wanted to say to him. I did write one to my mom, and I spent a long time writing it.
I realize I’m not giving you any time to write a tribute, but I thought the way you have spoken of both your mom and your dad—to have your dad here in the studio with you might be really sweet for you to just look him in the eye and give him a tribute.
Maybe, begin with your mom; okay?
Jaquelle: Okay! [Laughter]
Dennis: She’s not here.
Jaquelle: We’ll start with the easy.
Bob: And this is not what you would tell other people about them.
Bob: This is what you’d tell them; so if your mom was here, and you were looking her in the eye, what would you say to her?
Jaquelle: Right; just between us, with no one else listening.
Dennis: That’s right.
Mom, I want to thank you for all of the years and all of the time that you sacrificed to pour into me—all of the books that you read with me; all of the hours that you prayed for me; all of the questions that you answered for me; and all of the times that you listened to my doubts, and fears, and ramblings, and insecurities and just responded with incredible love and grace when I didn’t deserve it; all the times that you forgave me for not being a nice child, or a nice teen, or a nice 20-something.
And for all the times that you asked forgiveness of me—that you modeled repentance—that you were willing to own up when you failed, and that you could model for me such a love for Jesus that I saw that and I said: “I want that! I want to be like you as you are like Jesus.”
I just want to thank you for all of that in a way that I could never repay the gifts you’ve given me. I hope, one day, to be half or a quarter of the mom that you were to me.
Bob: Now the harder part.
Dad, it’s nice to see you there. [Laughter]
Sean: Yes; nice to see you.
Well, I will thank you, too, for all of the time that you poured into me—for all of the theology books that you read with me; for all of the time that you spent memorizing Scripture with me; for all of the time that you spent teaching me from God’s Word, leading family worship; all of the time that you spent helping me learn discernment, and helping me learn how to navigate the teen years, and learn how the gospel really changes everything.
All of the time that you have invested in helping me go and do what God has called me to do—for being willing to come to Arkansas with me! [Laughter] I mean, you’ve gone to South Carolina, Florida, Indianapolis, and Chicago! You’ve gone to a lot of places with me—not because it helps you at all or is of any benefit to you—besides to support me and to love me.
I do absolutely believe that this book is your book too—I,
100 percent, believe that! It’s probably more your book than mine, because we joke that everything that I’ve learned you probably said first; because you have talked a lot, in a good way. Your words have gone in, because they have been faithful and you have been faithful. So thank you!
Sean: I would do it all again.
Dennis: All I can say is—this is one of the limitations of radio—that you can’t see Sean’s face, and you can’t see Jaquelle’s face as well. Sweet moment here. Thank you for doing that, Jaquelle.
Jaquelle: You’re welcome.
Bob: And we’ve got to hope that there are moms and dads, who will hear those kinds of words from their teenagers; but it takes an investment for that to happen. It takes intentionality. Jaquelle, I think your book talks about how you have been the beneficiary of your parents’ intentionality, because they’ve pointed you to the gospel.
This would be a great book for moms and dads to take teenagers through. You can do this at the dinner table; arrange—we’ve already talked about having a date night or a breakfast where you get together and go through a chapter with your teen. Get a copy of Jaquelle’s book, This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years, and do some intentional, one on one, with your son or your daughter.
You can order the book from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order: 1-800-FL-TODAY is the number. Again, the title of the book: This Changes Everything. Order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or order by phone at 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, you stop and think about what it is that we’ve talked about. If you are a parent, and you’ve got kids in the teen years, ask yourself the question: “What’s more important than investing in them during these years?” You won’t find much that will rise higher than that assignment. Third John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than this, to know that my children are walking in the truth.”
Here, at FamilyLife, we’re committed to providing you with the kind of practical biblical help and hope you need so that your children can walk in the truth.
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Now, tomorrow, Jaquelle’s dad Sean is going to be back with us again. We’re going to continue talking about what he and his wife did to navigate their daughter—and what they’re doing now, with their son—to get them through the teen years and to focus them on the gospel. I hope you can tune in and be part of that with us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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