Do you know what your worldview is? Author Dennis Rainey talks with young adults about the worldview that shaped their thoughts and actions during their teen years.
Do you know what your worldview is? Author Dennis Rainey talks with young adults about the worldview that shaped their thoughts and actions during their teen years.
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine, and we're going to talk today about how parents can help preteens understand the issues that are just around the corner for them, and I'm wondering, as we begin today, do you remember these terms from your high school biology class – larva, pupa – do you remember pupa?
Dennis: I've tried to forget those terms. High school biology was a painful experience for me.
Bob: You didn't do all that well in that? Well, I remember studying the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly and how it goes through different stages – first, the larva stage and then the pupa and then the cocoon gets built, and then the butterfly emerges out of it, right?
Bob: In many respects, as our children go from being in the golden years that you like to describe – those preteen years. They're really in that larva/pupa stage, right?
Dennis: In a cocoon.
Bob: There comes this point where in a teenager's …
Dennis: … they break out of the cocoon.
Bob: At least they're knocking it around pretty hard. If they don't break through, they're knocking pretty hard.
Dennis: Well, let me read to you what one of our listeners, a single mom of three children, ages 7, 10, and 13 wrote me – and she talked about a number of struggles she was having with her ex and speaking respectfully of him to the children and – just – the issues that go with divorce. But let me read about her biggest struggle. She said, "I think my 13-year-old has been taken over by the pod people from another planet."
Bob: Exactly, that's it. That's what happens to them.
Dennis: "She used to be so sweet and fun. Now she's crabby and always moody. Nothing is right for her. She complains about EVERYTHING!!!!" – and that word "everything" is in all capital letters with four, count them, four exclamation marks. "I greatly feel as though we are all walking on eggshells around her all the time. Please provide some form of transportation to the planet that my real daughter has been taken to. If that is not possible, I would really greatly appreciate any materials, resources, or books that you could suggest to make this easier. I have heard people refer to this as 'the teenage years.' Help! Sincerely and desperately," and then her name is signed.
Well, whether it's the feeling that your sweet little boy has emerged from a cocoon and has turned into something else or whether you feel like there's been a hostile takeover by some group of aliens, we want to help you, as parents, better transition your preteen into the teenage years.
Bob: And we want you to know that the staff here at FamilyLife is searching the universe to see if we can find the …
Dennis: … the real planet …
Bob: … the planet with the pod people on it, and if you can send us a large donation, we'll try and go blow up that planet and save your teenager. No, we really can't do that, but what we can try to do is help you for that time when it does feel like your child has been taken over by pod people.
Dennis: Bob, I don't want to give teenagers a bad rap, but teenagers can be, at times, a challenge. Even the best of young people, as they go through the teenage years, can be a challenge, and we love teenagers. It's a tremendous payoff time. I thoroughly enjoyed dating my teenage daughters; going hunting with my sons; it was a tremendous time.
But I'd be less than truthful if I didn't say, at times, the words of my mother were ringing in my ears. She used to threaten to pinch my head off. Bless her heart; she's in heaven right now smiling. But I understand those emotions of saying, "How are we going to relate to our teenage young person?" They're not the young boy or the sweet little girl that I used to cuddle with.
Bob: This week, what we're attempting to do with our listeners, is – well – you know how when you go on a vacation, you usually do a little trip planning. You think ahead about where you're going to be staying and what you want to take with you, and you kind of have the trip mapped out in your mind?
Bob: Some of you are about to go on a trip through the teenage years with your child. You've got a 9-year-old, 10-year-old, 11-year-old, a 12-year-old, and adolescence hasn't really kicked in yet. You haven't seen the transformation starting to occur. We're trying to say, "Let's think together about some trip planning you can do now so that when the bus takes off, and the teenager starts emerging as a little different species than what you've had around the house before, you are a little better prepared and maybe your teen is a little better prepared as well.
Dennis: Barbara and I, along with Rebecca and Samuel, decided we wanted to create a resource, a tool that would come alongside a Christian parent and would reinforce what moms and dads are attempting to communicate from their hearts to their child's heart.
Bob: I know in your sixth grade Sunday school class that you used to teach, you would bring in a panel of mature young people who were 18, 19, 20. You would interview those young people in front of the sixth graders so that the kids could hear not just Mr. Rainey's advice on the teenage years, but could hear from somebody who was right there in the thick of it or at the tail-end of it.
Dennis: We always like to talk with them about their relationship with their parents.
Bob: The parents were also, many of them, in the back of the room, and they were on the edge of their seat, too, wanting to hear what these older teenagers had to say. We had this same kind of experience about a year ago, when we gathered together a whole roomful of preteens and brought in two young men and two young women, 18, 19, 20 years old, and re-created some of that experience that you'd have in the sixth grade Sunday school class.
One of the issues we addressed with this panel was about the relationship the young people had had with their parents as they went through the teenage years, and we want our listeners to maybe move to the edge of the radio right now, because we want you to hear a little bit of that panel interaction as we ask them about their relationship with their parents during the teen years.
Dennis: Why do you think it's important during the teenage years to keep your relationship with your parents strong and obey them? Grant, why would you say that?
Grant: Oh, man, you know, because they've been there, and they've done it, and my relationship with my parents wasn't so bad. But my older brother – they fought a lot, and they would always say that we're not your enemy, we're your friend. They have your best interests at heart, and if you're never home, you can't take advantage of that. And that's what I'd say, because you're going to experience more joy in life if you listen to them than doing what you think is right.
Bob: Are there still times when you'll say, "I'm going to go with my friends and do this," and your parents will go, "No, I don't think that's a good idea," and you go, "What's wrong with that?" And they go, "We don't want you to do it. We don't feel comfortable with that." You go well why? And they don't have a good reason. Does that happen?
Grant: Yeah, sometimes it does.
Bob: Doesn't that make you mad when they can't give you a good reason for something?
Grant: It does. It makes you really mad.
Bob: So what do you do? Do you go up to your room and slam the door? How do you – when you get mad, what do you do?
Grant: I avoid my parents.
Bob: Do they know you're mad?
Bob: You're just kind of – you get away from them and …
Grant: … go to my cave and hang out.
Bob: And then you just wait there 'til you're not mad anymore?
Bob: How long does that take?
Grant: I don't know a few hours or so.
Bob: You'd just be up in the cave for a few hours getting un-mad.
Grant: That's right.
Dennis: Does the bear come out and apologize?
Grant: He doesn't apologize. I guess you just kind of accept what they have to say and move on.
Dennis: So you finally relent?
Grant: Basically, yes.
Dennis: And agree with your parents?
(end of taped interview)
Bob: That is Grant. I wonder how often Grant was in the cave during the teenage years?
Dennis: You got the feeling that he may have been sent to the cave a couple of times. You know, the thing that we need to realize, as parents, is while they're young we need to become a student of our children. Our children are different. Some are going to need space when they lock up emotionally with us. Others need us to pursue them. And, you know, I wish I could give parents an equation here, Bob, but there is no equation.
Every child is different. In fact, they may be different tomorrow than they are today. A young person may need you to follow them upstairs after they slam the door, say, five minutes later. Another young person may just need to soak and sulk and be allowed to have a pity party in their own room. But the bottom line is, as parents, we need to ask God for wisdom to know how to respond to our children and then occasionally ask your young person – how would you like me to respond?
Bob: We had an opportunity with the panel, as we were gathered that evening, to ask them about times when they got locked up with their parents, when they got angry, and what it felt like from their side, as a teenager. And, I'll tell you, this is a subject that all of them were able to engage on.
Dennis: And if this little clip doesn't do anything else but just bring some comfort to some dear moms and dads and single parents who are raising preteens and teens right now, but to let them know that there are Christian families who have teenagers who, yes, get so angry that they scream, they cry – I just think you'll find these young people's comments quite interesting.
Bob: Did any of the four of you ever get so mad that you just screamed at your parents because they wouldn't let you do something, or you just cried because they wouldn't let you do something, or you just – Rebecca, you did?
Bob: Did you scream or cry or both?
Rebecca: I cried a lot. I'm a very emotional person. I cry all the time. I'm working on that. I can't remember a specific moment, because I'm sure it happened a lot, but I cried a lot. I would just break down in tears.
Bob: You would want to do something; they would say, "No, you can't do it," and you would just cry?
Rebecca: Well, I thought that they were just out to, you know, make my life miserable, and I had the worst picture of my parents. A lot of the times, for me growing up, I did have a lot of friends, because they trusted me – respecting your parents builds trust. But I do remember times that they would – if they did say no – and I know that it was for my own good – but there were a couple of times I didn't want to be submissive to the authority, and I was, like, I just want you to understand why I want to go. I didn't think they understood me.
Bob: Do you remember a specific time they said no about something?
Rebecca: Yes, there was a New Year's Eve party at some friends – at their lake house – and I wanted to go, and they kind of said no, and then I just kind of kept reopening that book, and it was still no.
Bob: Okay, what grade were you in?
Rebecca: Oh, I was kind of older, too – I think 11th.
Bob: It's 11th grade, so you're, what, 17 years old. Some friends are going up to a lake house for a New Year's Eve party. Is it, like, they're all just going to stay up there overnight?
Bob: Is it all girls or girls and guys?
Rebecca: It was girls and guys from church, and his parents were going to be there.
Bob: The parents are going to be there, so the guys are going to be in one place, the girls are going to be the other, so …
Rebecca: … there's two parts of it.
Bob: Right, and so your parents are, like, "We're just not – we don't feel comfortable with that," and you're going, "All of my friends are going, and I’m the only one" – and then you have to explain to your friends that your parents won't let you go.
Bob: And there's something about telling your friends that your parents – I would think it would be easy to say, "I can't go because my parents won't let me go," and yet, somehow, it seems really hard to say that to your friends. It makes you feel like you're just a little kid, is that what it is?
Rebecca: That you're not big enough to go but think you are.
Bob: But, you guys, Andrew – did you have a good relationship with your parents during your junior high and high school?
Andrew: It was a little rocky. I didn't obey them like I should.
Dennis: How did you disobey your parents? You said you didn't obey them.
Andrew: Well, by going places they told me not to go to.
Dennis: Would you lie to your parents about going to those places?
Andrew: I didn't lie. I just pretty much left the house.
Dennis: Just didn't tell them where you were going?
Andrew: Right. I'd say where I'm going and go there, and then go to a different place as well. That was my trick.
Bob: So you didn't tell the whole truth.
Andrew: Right, I told them a little bit, but doing some stuff on the side.
(end of interview)
Dennis: You never did that, did you, Bob?
Bob: I am guilty of having done that and, I have to tell you, at our house we've had to have some training on the fact that the truth …
Dennis: … partial truth is a lie.
Bob: Yeah, that intent to deceive is a part of telling a lie.
Dennis: And, even as we play that little clip, there are a lot of parents who are cringing because they are reliving some of their own deceit, and they're thinking, "Oh, I pray my kids will not be like that."
Dennis: But you know what? Our kids are going to make mistakes. They are going to scream at us. They may cry a lot, pitch fits, they may tell a total lie or a partial lie or a white lie, but they need parents. They need parents to be the adults, and they don't need us to scream back at them. They need us to speak respectfully to them and to recognize the image of God in our preteen and our teenager.
I think sometimes when they are acting these ways, it's very difficult – at least it was for Barbara and me – for us to remain objective. And this is why a Christian parent must walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. You, as a mom, as a dad, before you say anything, before you lash out, before you're tempted to get angry right back at them, you have to say, "Oh, Lord God, help me control my tongue, and may Your Spirit control me, as a parent right now, as I represent You to this young person."
Bob: Yes. In the same way that a child's relationship with his parents changes as he moves into the teenage years, for a lot of kids, there comes a time at the end of the teenage years where the relationship changes again, and it doesn't become what it was when they were 9 or 10, but there is a fresh sweetness, a maturity to the relationship that comes back in, and we asked the panel about whether their relationship with their parents changed as they got near the end of their teenage years.
Dennis: I want to ask the panel how your relationship with your parents changed as you moved into the teenage years, junior high?
Katy: I'll start with that one.
Dennis: Okay, Katy.
Katy: When I was in ninth grade, I had been friends with a bunch of girls for a while, and we would hang out a lot, and then, I think it was ninth grade, I spent every Friday night out from my home, and every Sunday morning, I would sit with my friends, and I did that for about a year, maybe two.
Just looking back on that, by the end of that second year or so, I remember looking at other kids who sat with their parents and I thought, "I'm missing out, sitting with my parents," or looking back now, having a very close relationship with my parents, I missed out a lot – not that spending the night is wrong, but just – there is precious time with your parents and sitting at church with my mom and dad now, I can't believe I didn't want to. If I would change anything, it would be – just being with them and enjoying that time and not trying to get away from it because now we're old enough to get away from it.
Bob: But when you're in the ninth grade, I mean, Friday night at home with the fam …
Katy: … oh, no, not – I can remember every Friday night for almost a whole year – which was fun.
Bob: But, you know, on Friday night your family is just at home doing nothing – that's boring.
Katy: It's precious time – now.
(end of tape)
Bob: There are some parents who are wondering – will my child ever think that time with the family is precious time, because all they want to do is get away from us right now.
Dennis: Yeah, they do, but, you know, she really touched on something, Bob, that I want to reinforce with parents. We always ask our children to sit with us at church – that was a non-negotiable – primarily because I enjoyed my children.
I liked sitting by them, and I like giving them a hug in the middle of the service, and also because there are so many activities in their lives and in our lives that take us in different directions and it's just a season. And you know what? They didn't necessarily always want to sit with us. They tried to get out of it and go sit with others but, finally, we never gave in so they gave up.
And I'd just encourage – whether you're a single parent or a two-parent family – I would just encourage you, you know what? Just agree to your non-negotiables about some things, and I wouldn't bend. Just say no, no, we're the parents. Let's go. We love you. It's going to be okay.
You know the sun will come up tomorrow. Your friends will still be there on Monday. Now come and sit with us and worship together. Just listening to Katy brought back some great, great memories of all the years, all the Sundays when we worshiped together.
Bob: There are parents who are listening to us who are in the thick of the teenage years, some of the challenges that they face during those years with their children, and they're wondering, "How do I get help for the issues that we're going through right now?"
You and Barbara wrote the book, Parenting Today's Adolescent to try to encourage those parents with some specifics on issues that they're going to face during those years, and some ideas, some strategies, to implement if you're in the middle of the battle. But the best thing you can do is to be proactive, and if your kids aren't yet teenagers, don't wait for the issues to emerge.
Anticipate, talk about, prepare, sound the alarm, get with your kids and say, "We know this is coming. We know there are going to be days you think we took dumb pills," and when you do that, then when you are in the middle of it, you can both look and say, "You know, we talked about the fact that we'd get locked up like this," and we did, and it's not unusual, and we love each other, and we're going to make our way through it.
Dennis: Right, and use a resource like Samuel and Rebecca and Barbara and I created for your preteen. This book, So You're About to be a Teenager, is an edgy looking book. When you
give it to your preteen, you can say, "You know, here, why don't you take a look at this?"
And what I would encourage you to do, and I wish I had $5, $10, to pay to every 11 – well – 10, 11, 12-year-old, maybe even a 13-year-old, who would read this book. In fact, I've done this to a lot of kids. I've said, "If you'll read my book, I'll give you $5, or I'll give you $10." And I didn't do many of them; by the way, I just wanted you to know. But I wanted some children to read it and give me some feedback when it was in manuscript form. I want to tell you, they gave me some great feedback.
Do you want to know what the high point of the book was? Near the end of the book, it's a series of what we call "Extreme Life Promises" – 12 commitments your preteen can make in advance of facing the issues of the teenage years.
And so they can decide, in advance, are they going to smoke? Are they going to drink? Do drugs? Have sex? When are they going to date? What will be their attitude toward you, as a parent? And it calls them to sign their name and date it to each of these 12 Extreme Life Promises, and I had many of the young people I paid $5 to read this book come back and tell me that was their favorite part. Now, isn't that interesting?
You would think this generation of young people would say, "Oh, Mr. Rainey, give us something that has no boundaries." I think the opposite is occurring. I think young people today are desperate for someone to step into their lives and say, "You know what? Here is the truth. This is the unchanging truth of God's Word and, you, as a young person, need to be called to it rather than we, as an older generation, reshaping and re-bending that truth to make it more palatable, to make it taste better to you, as a young person.
Bob: Now, the fact that you don't have the $5, $10 bribe for all of the listeners' kids.
Dennis: It's not a bribe, it's not a bribe.
Dennis: It's a motivator.
Bob: The fact that you can't provide the incentive, Mom and Dad can provide that incentive, right? You can get a copy of the book called, "So You're About to be a Teenager." Go to your son or daughter and say, "I've got a book here. I'd like to pay you to read the book. I'll give you $10 after you've read it. I'll ask you a few questions just to make sure that you completed the assignment appropriately. You may have to go back and re-read in order to earn your full $10," but that would be a strategy you could employ to get a preteen connected around these issues.
And, I'll tell you again, what we're trying to encourage parents to do is address these issues with their children before they wrap themselves in the cocoon, before they shut themselves off from the outside world, and quit listening to you and stick their fingers in their ears and say, "Naah, naaah, I'm not listening to you." We want you to be connected so that you can make the trip through the teenage years a little more comfortably.
We've got the book, So You're About to be a Teenager in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online at FamilyLife Today.com. There is more information about the book there. There is also information about Passport to Purity resource that our team has put together to help a mom and a daughter and a father and a son get away for a weekend and have a fun time together and unpack some of these issues. There are projects and CDs you listen to and it’s all designed to help you with your preteen get them ready for the teen years.
All the information about the book and Passport to Purity resource can be found online at FamilyLife Today.com. Or call toll free 1-800-FLTODAY. 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
Often as we get feedback from listeners about what we are talking about on FamilyLife Today we hear some stories from listeners that are heartbreaking. Some of them are about teenage rebellion that we’re hearing about or a prodigal son or daughter or marital issues that couples are going through. There is a lot of real life happening in families and a lot of hard issues that families are facing. It encourages us that folks do turn to us for help and for hope. We want to be able to provide resources whether it is books or past radio programs conversations that people can listen to. Practical advice that’s anchored in the Scriptures that’s our mission. To see every home become a godly home and to provide those resources to folks who need help and need hope.
I want to take a minute and say thanks to those of you who support the ministry of FamilyLife Today you help make that possible. When folks do get in touch with us we are able to provide recommendations and resources that you have helped us put together so that we can strengthen families and provide encouragement for couples. If you are able to help with a donation of any amount to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month we’d like to send you a thank you gift.
Our team has put together The Five Essentials for a Thriving Marriage card. These are the five things that Dennis and Barbara have reflected and say every married couple needs to keep these issues at the forefront of their relationship in order for that relationship to be strong and connected. The card is something that we will send to you as a way of saying thank you for your financial support which we always appreciate especially here in the summer. It’s very encouraging to get a donation online or somebody calling to make a donation over the phone.
If you are donating online this month when you get to the key code box in the online donation form if you’d like to receive The Five Essentials for a Thriving Marriage card just type the word “thrive” in the key code box and we’ll send it to you. Or if you are making your donation by phone call 1-800-358-6329—that 1-800 “F” as in Family “L” as in Life and then the word TODAY and just mention that you’d like the five essentials card and we’ll send it to you as our way of saying thank you for your financial support of this ministry and this program. We do appreciate your partnership with us.
Tomorrow we are going to hear some interesting things that the older teens had to say to the younger teens about boy-girl relationships. They had gained a little wisdom along the way and we’ll hear how the older kids coached the younger kids tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow.
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