FamilyLife Today®

Mothers of Teens

with Jana Morrison | December 12, 2007
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Are you finding the teen years to be a challenge? If so, then join the crowd! Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with a mother of three, Jana Morrison, who encourages moms to keep their focus and build into the lives of their teens.

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  • About the Guest

  • Are you finding the teen years to be a challenge? If so, then join the crowd! Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with a mother of three, Jana Morrison, who encourages moms to keep their focus and build into the lives of their teens.

Are you finding the teen years to be a challenge?

Mothers of Teens

With Jana Morrison
December 12, 2007
| Download Transcript PDF

Jana: I consider myself a facilitator.  I don't consider myself the answer person, but I never try to come across as "I've done this really, really well."  What I try to do is say, "This is what we did.  You don't have to do it this way, but this is how we did it," and now listen to a tape and see how did Dennis and Barbara do it – to offer them some opportunities to think outside their own box.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, December 12th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We're going to do some thinking outside the box today about how you can reach out to moms in your neighborhood with hope and help.  Stay tuned.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  I don't know how many of our listeners know this about you, but I think we ought to get this on the table right as we begin today's program.  If you were meeting listeners and some of them came and said, "I just went to your Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference, really loved it, had a great weekend, you'd be encouraged by that, right?

Dennis: I would.

Bob: But if they came and said, "We went to the Weekend to Remember, and we've decided to start a Homebuilders group as a result of that.

Dennis: Ah.

Bob: Now you'd really be encouraged, wouldn't you?

Dennis: Anytime I run into a radio listener here on FamilyLife Today who says, "You know, I listen to you and Bob regularly, and I've decided to be able to impact my community or my sphere of influence.  I love to hear those compliments, because, frankly, that's how we're going to win the battle.

Bob: Yes, if somebody says, "I read your book, and I really enjoyed it and profited from it," that's encouraging, but if they said, "I've gotten together with some other couples, and we're going through your book," now you're really encouraged, right?

Dennis: I'll tell you, Bob, there are times when I would love to rename FamilyLife Today – "Mentoring Today," and just turn this into a mentoring training, which would empower our listeners to make an impact in their worlds.

 Now, we have a woman with us today who is a friend and a mom of three who has done that in her sphere of influence in Phoenix, Arizona.  Jana Morrison joins us on FamilyLife Today.  Jana, welcome to the broadcast.

Jana: Thanks, Dennis.

Dennis: You listen to the broadcast on a regular basis, right?

Jana: Yes, I do, and I listen to the tapes as much.

Dennis: Ah!  And decided to do something with it and decided to reach out to a group of ladies in your community to impact moms who are raising teenagers, right?

Jana: Correct.

Bob: Let me back the story up just for a second, because I'm just curious – when you first heard the radio program or how your paths crossed with FamilyLife in the first place.

Jana: Because our habit at home is to read a lot of books, and we always look for new ideas so Howard, my husband, sends out an e-mail and says, "These are the books that we read this year" to all of our friends by e-mail, and we always ask them to send things back – what have you really liked?  And someone that we admire very much in Arizona politics, actually, said, "You've got to look at Passport to Purity, and that was our introduction to FamilyLife.  Before that, Campus Crusade was very much in my life but not FamilyLife that much.  And so we started with Passport to Purity and I just took off from there.

Bob: And for our listeners who don't know, Passport to Purity is a resource that we created to help a mom and a daughter or a dad and a son have a getaway weekend where you can kind of get ready for adolescence, right?

Dennis: Right, and it's designed for busy people who don't have time to come up with a curriculum.  It has CDs that you play, all kinds of object lessons and a workbook for your son or your daughter to go through and, Jana, I'm assuming then that Howard took your oldest son, the one who is now at Texas A&M who is about to enter his sophomore year, is that right?

Jana: Correct, that's who went through it first.

Dennis: And they got away for a weekend.  Where did they go?  Did they go to – I mean, if you live in Arizona, you have to go to the Grand Canyon or one of the great tourist spots there for a father/son getaway.  Where did they go?

Jana: Actually, we did it in a creative way.  We also – I did it the same weekend that Howard did it, but we went Scottsdale, since we're close to that– we didn't go that far – to the Grand Canyon.  We rented a hotel room for the weekend, and I had it Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon with our daughter, who was 12 or 13 at the time, and then we finished up, and we passed on the freeway.  Howard was going with Kyle back up to use the same hotel room, and Michael Ann and I were finishing on the way down back to our home.

Bob: So you just had to drop the keys …

Jana: That's the way we did it, uh-huh, that's the way we did it, because we could see we need to do this now.  Michael Ann is ready, Kyle is actually maybe a little bit past ready, so let's get on with this.

Dennis: And so what was your favorite part with your daughter?  I mean, you have, I don't know, 24, 36 hours with your daughter.  It's all kind of laid out, there's a schedule for it.  Was there a highlight?

Jana: It's been a while, but the highlights were doing the physical activities together.  I forgot the term for those – but …

Bob: Yeah, we've got projects there.

Jana: Projects, thank you.  Yes, doing the projects, because they were hands on, you learn immediately from that, and her eyes lit up, and it just sparked a lot of conversation.  So I guess one of my favorite ones it the balloon, though it burst on me a couple of times, and I liked the dirty water, I liked that one very much, and she liked that one a lot.  So I loved that, but just lying on the bed and listening together and having all the conversation and the bonding that happened as a result of that.  Any embarrassment that it might have taken out because you or Barbara were doing the talking and then, of course, I could make up for anything else that she had questions about later.

Dennis: And, of course, what it gives you is a common vocabulary.

Jana: Yes.

Dennis: As a mother and a daughter to engage on almost any level of conversation with your preteen or teen as they begin to encounter these various issues that they will encounter during the teenage years.

Jana: Exactly.  And then our youngest knew that that was coming up, and she just was anxious and ready and anxious and ready.  So, for her, it's only been a year and a half ago now.  I actually took her to Prescott, which used to be the old capital of Arizona. 

Bob: So you had been introduced to FamilyLife through Passport to Purity and then did you go on our website and find out that we had other resources? How did you learn more about who we are and what we do?

Jana: I went on the website, for sure, and I just started looking to see, well, what else do these guys have, because that was good, so what else do you have?  And found – and I looked for parenting things.  I wasn't look for marriage things at the time, looked for parenting things because we were right there with a 14-year-old, I think, a 12-year-old, and wow.  The hormones were really flying fast.

Bob: So these were resources you were obviously right in the thick of it.  These were helping you get a strategy together, you and Howard, for raising your teenagers, right?

Jana: And I didn't know I needed a strategy, and that's what I hear from my moms in my groups – "Oh, I need a strategy.  I know they're going to change, but I need a strategy?  Oh, I do."  And you help to define the structure of what that should be.  What do Howard and I have to do ahead of time to prepare for that trap or this trap, and let's put our heads together and decide what's the boundary going to be.  And that's what surprises most women in my groups.

Bob: You know, at some point there was a switch in your thinking, because you were ordering these resources, reading through them, and as a parent going, "This is very helpful."  But at some point you decided you were going to reach out to other moms and try to share what you had learned. 

 Now, a lot of people don't do that.  A lot of people just say, "This is good for me," and that's the end of the story.  What was it that caused you to say, "I've got to share this with other moms?"

Jana: That's a good question.  I had had a baby later in life.  I had her right at 40 – on purpose.  We really wanted her.  And my design with her, my purpose with her was to give her all of me.  And when she started kindergarten, and I got a little discretionary time, and I saw more coming, and I had waited a long time for that to happen, I prayed, "Lord, what would you like for me to do with that time?"  And that's about the same time that this material was coming in, and I was listening to it, and I'm sure He gave me the idea.  It was, well, if this is helping me, I know quite a few friends at our kids' school, for instance, who might need the same kind of information. 

 So I sent out a letter explaining what I had read, what I had found, and, by the way, I'm interested in just exposing you to it.  Why don't you come for coffee to my house and listen and get an introduction to Dennis Rainey – and I'm not remembering what we listened to at the time, but it caught them.  It was a good hook.

 So while they were at my house, I said, "Well, I'm really thinking maybe I'll just do some sort of a session next fall."  And the response I got back was, "I'll come," "I'll come," "Yeah, I would like to," "I'll come," "I'll come."  So I said, "Okay, I'll do it."  You know, and I said, "If I get 10 yeses, we'll do it."  And I did.  I think in my first group there were 38 ladies.

 So I was really pleased, really excited, and the need was there.

Dennis: You actually took a survey.  You surveyed those women before you started your class just to find out what their needs were.  Share with our listeners a little of what some of those needs were like that you uncovered there, Jana.

Jana: A survey is what I do normally at the very first meeting so that I can decide which resource from FamilyLife Today am I going to use in this particular six-week session, and I ask them questions and get them to answer things like, "What's one thing you hope to gain from the session?"  Or "What is one area, as a parent, in which you believe you need to grow?"  And so I helped them focus on themselves, actually, in a way more than their teen.

Dennis: And what have you found?  Where are moms of teens needing to grow today?

Jana: I'll just read you a few.  One is, she says, "To be quiet and to listen."  Another would be "Patience and understanding with my sons."  Another would be "Slowing down and investing time and my love."  A couple of e-mails that I got back where "Spending any kind of time – however it works for you and your child.  She says, "Communicating in any way that works" – one-on-one time, maybe Passport to Purity time.  So communicating better, that's what I also get.

 But Passport came almost in all these e-mails I got.  It was, "Tell them it's Passport that's working, Passport is working, Passport is working."

Dennis: It's weekend getaways where a mom and her daughter or a father and a son can get away and focus on their relationship and really challenge their preteen with the major issues of adolescence before they face those issues.

Bob: You know, what I think is interesting here, and I just want you to reflect on this for a minute, Dennis, Jana came to a point in life where she had a little extra discretionary time, and she said, "What should I do with this discretionary time?"  And I know you look at people who move into different stages of life where schedules do change, and they wonder, "How should I invest my life?"  And you're saying, "Let's invest it in the people around us who have needs related to marriage and family."

Dennis: Well, if you really listen to what Jana is saying here, she invited a few women over to her house, had over 35 express a desire to get a plan.  I mean, the reality is the world has a plan for your teenager, and I think the great need of the day is for moms as well as dads, by the way, to engage with their peers around these issues, because if you've got a group of parents together from your child's school, you're going to have parents influencing your children as well as raising their own children.

Bob: Jana, I can imagine we've got a lot of listeners who hear you talk about doing this, and they think, "I could never do that, for two reasons.  First of all, I'm not that kind.  You know, I'm not a go-getter, organizer, couldn't have these ladies in and suggest to them that I've got answers that they don't have.  I just don't feel that competent."

 And then we're still raising our teenagers, and we've got our own set of issues with our teenagers.  If I've got ladies coming to my house asking me questions, I'm afraid I'm just going to look at them and say, "I've got the same problem you have, and I don't know the answer to that."  Did you experience any of that?

Jana: Well, they would ask me.  They would look up to me like, maybe – "Did you do this better than me?"  And sometimes we might have had an idea that we used that would have been different.  I'd never try to come across as I've done this really, really well.  What I try to do is say, "This is what we did.  You don't have to do it this way, but this is how we did it, and now let's listen to a tape and see how did Dennis and Barbara do it," to offer them some opportunities to think outside their own box.

Bob: So the CDs you were listening to with the women where they were hearing conversation about raising teenagers, that was really the source of expertise, if you will, or that got the discussion going.  You didn't have to represent yourself as kind of the parenting expert, right?

Jana: No, in fact, I consider myself a facilitator.  I don't consider myself to be the answer person, though I think sometimes they do look at me now that I'm getting a little bit older than – I'm getting mothers in their 30s now, and I'm older than them.  So, no, I don't come across as the ultimate "she did it right" mom.

Dennis: Jana, there are all kinds of issues – there's music, there's dress, there's sexual behavior, there's drugs, alcohol, on and on and on – where do you find moms best connecting with you?  What are the issues that are really resonating with them?

Jana: They have all kinds of questions about appearance.  "Where do I get clothes that will cover my daughter's stomach?"  That really concerns them.

Dennis: So issues of modesty.

Jana: Issues of modesty, purity, understanding why be modest?  What's the background on that?

 Another one, a huge one, is attitudes.  I forget what you call that …

Bob: You call it the 'tude, don't you?

Jana: The 'tude, that's true. 

Dennis: That's a timeless issue.

Jana: I think it is a timeless issue.  So where do you draw boundaries at, and what are consequences when you have a 'tude in that child, so – that's a big one.

Dennis: It really is a big one.  You know, you think about parents today – moms coming together.  They think they're the only ones in the world who have a teenager who goes to youth group who has a 'tude.  But they find out, no, no, there's 35 mothers in here, and most of these teens are struggling with rebellion and anger and all kinds of 'tude issues.

Bob: And listening to the CDs, I know, is helpful, but it may be equally helpful just to know, as a mom, that you're not alone.

Jana: Exactly.  It becomes more like a team together.  They feel like, "Okay, wow, if she can do that, I can do that."

Dennis: I think any mom who would be in the process of raising teenagers herself and then decide to step out of the comfort zone and talk to other moms about raising their teenagers and then bring resources to be able to discuss it, and then face questions you can't answer, because they're going to ask in this generation.  There are going to be plenty of questions you can't answer.  I would characterize you as a courageous woman.

 Now, here is my challenge to you.  Undoubtedly, there are women listening right now who don't think of themselves as courageous or simply have a latent courage that needs to be tapped into.  Why don't you give that woman a challenge to do this with the parents of her daughter or son's friends, so that you could get this influence going in your community?  Would you give that challenge to a woman right now?

Jana: Sure.  Here's a challenge – first, think of yourself as a facilitator.  If you're not a great organizer, find a friend of yours that's a good organizer, and you're sending out letters, you're telling them what the resources are, and I would coach you to listen to several of the resources ahead of time and realize, "Wow, I don't have to be the teacher, Dennis is the teacher," or "Dennis and Bob and Barbara are the teachers."  And we come back together, and we discuss together.

Dennis: And as you were talking, I couldn't help but picture a group of women in a living room having some coffee or tea and enjoying the process of just getting together.  Almost like – I hate to use a male metaphor, but veterans coming back from war.

Jana: Oh, they do, they just talk and talk and talk.

Dennis: Being a mom today is a challenge.  It's hard work.  And if you're trying to do it especially right, according to Scriptures, you're fighting the cultural current, and what you're doing, Jana, is you're giving these moms the platform to have the conversation, and I like the way you describe yourself – a "facilitator."  You're not a teacher, you're facilitating conversation to enable them to share their ideas, bring their needs, their questions, and then you bring a little resource to the table, and that meets a lot of needs.

Jana: It does, and then the more you listen to them, because I listen to the tapes before I share them with the group.  I want to make sure that, "Yeah, these are the right ones for today," is that you begin to get more wisdom yourself, because you're practicing what you're hearing yourself so you're a little more confident as the sessions go by so that maybe you can actually offer a little bit of counsel.

Dennis: You know, even a facilitator gains a lot of instruction for her own life when she leads something like this.  How would you say you and Howard have benefited because you've led these groups?

Jana: One is to know that we need to put our heads together and set boundaries ahead of time on a variety of subjects, but, let's say appearance, for instance, especially for our girls.

Dennis: Okay, let's just take that one for instance.  Okay, you're saying the most important thing you learned is for you and Howard to come together and agree for your family, for your daughters, what's your standard.

Jana: For girls?

Dennis: Yeah.

Jana: Bra straps cannot show, things cannot be too tight – that's still a little bit hard; layering needs to happen so that there's not too much skin showing up on top; we don't show bellies at our house.  Those would be a good start right there.  "Belly" is an acceptable word on a radio program.

Dennis: Oh, yeah, belly is.

Bob: And I know in Phoenix, Arizona, there are a lot of bellies showing, aren't there?

Jana: Yeah, it's hot out there.


Bob: So it is a countercultural standard, but, again, I'm just looking at the wisdom of having conversation that points people back to the Scriptures and developing standards and then community – conversation and community.  That's really the secret here that is making this a win for moms.

Dennis: Truth and relationships.  You know, John, chapter 1, when God stepped out of heaven what did He do?  It says "He became flesh and dwelt among us."  The truth wrapped Himself in a human form and He related to us.

 You know what?  That's what Jana is doing with her group of moms who are relating to one another around the truth, and they're hammering out a plan for raising the next generation and it, frankly, doesn't get any better than that.

Bob: And you think, virtually, any mom could do this, right?

Dennis: I do.

Bob: I mean, what if a mom is looking at her own relationship with her own teens and going, "We're so far in the ditch, I don't feel like I can get other moms together and say, 'Hey, let's listen to some stuff.'"

Dennis: I've got a feeling you can find plenty of moms that are in the ditch with you, and I say get together and figure out a way how you can encourage one another until you see your children get out of that ditch, because you know what?  Raising teens today, you're going to spend some time in the ditch – one wheel, two, maybe all four, but the question is you're going to have some relationships to cheer you on, and what Jana has done is she's created a program here called "Mothers of Teens" that I think really provides the coaching, the encouragement, as you said, Bob, the relationships to allow moms, even when they're in that ditch, to stay encouraged and have some hope that they'll get out.

Bob: Well, and it's something that's pretty easy to do, too.  I mean, a mom can go to our website at and can get either some of the CDs that we have where you and your wife, Barbara, and I have talked about the issues that parents of teens are facing.  You can listen to those together with other moms.  You can get a copy of your book, "Parenting Today's Adolescent," and just go through a chapter every time you get together with a group of other moms.

 But I'm convinced, Dennis, if our listeners, if one of our listeners would call a half a dozen other moms, and moms that you know because your kids are in the same class as their kids, and just say, "Do you want to come over on Tuesday at 10 and we're just going to talk about some of the issues that we're facing as mothers of teens?"  I think you'd get six out of six.  If you called 10, I think you'd get 10 out of 10, you know, unless they had something else going on.  Because, I agree, this is something that moms are hungry for, and we've got resources on our website,

 Go to the home page and click the red button you see on the home page that says "Go."  It's in the middle of the screen.  That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about the resources that are available.  You can order those and then just invite some other moms over and start listening or reading through these books together and see if you can't encourage one another in the regular struggle that can accompany being a parent of a teenager.

 The website, again, is  You can also call us at 1-800-FLTODAY if you need more information or if you'd like to place an order over the phone – 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we'll have someone on our team make arrangements to have what you need sent out to you.

 By the way, when you do get in touch with us, if you are able to help us here near the end of the year with a donation to FamilyLife Today, there is a special reason why we'd like to hear from you.  We've had some friends of the ministry come forward, and they have agreed to match every donation we receive during the month of December on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $500,000. 

 So we're hoping we're going to be able to take full advantage of that matching gift, and if we're going to do that, we need to you to go online at, make a donation there or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation over the phone.  All donations to FamilyLife Today are tax deductible and, as I said, in this season of the year, there is an extra special reason to consider making a donation.

 So, if you can, either go online at or call 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation, and we appreciate your financial support.  Dennis?

Dennis:  You know, any time we talk about teenagers here on FamilyLife Today, my blood pressure elevates just a bit, Bob.  Nothing, I repeat, nothing – and I've said this many times on this broadcast – you know what the statement is I'm about to make, Bob – nothing that I've ever done has challenged my leadership as much as raising teenagers, and we had six of them, four at one time, and I'm sure my blood pressure was elevated on more than one occasion as I did that, but we've had some great hope and encouragement here with Jana Morrison today.  Jana, thanks for your courage, and for tackling the issue of helping mothers of teens raise their sons and daughters, and I just appreciate you and what you've done, and I pray there will be hundreds of these groups spawned all around the nation because of your courage, and I hope folks will go online at, Bob, and get some of her material and start these groups.  Thanks for being with us, Jana.

Jana: You're so welcome, thank you.

Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.


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