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We have a lot of questions from parents of prodigals, and those parents want to walk wisely. Dennis, a father, writes in: “Pastor John, thank you for this podcast. I have a 16-year-old prodigal son who has left our home and walked away from Christ. I struggle to know whether I should generously financially support him in the world, like the father in the prodigal son story. Or, unlike what it seems Eli should have done, should I take a more strict position in relation to my rebelling son? The prodigal was given his inheritance, blew it on lewd living, and returned home in repentance. Eli’s sons were wicked, lived in all sorts of sin unchecked and unrepented of, and they died for it. Abundant grace or strict restraint? What should the father of a prodigal do especially in regards to finances?”

I love the way he has already thought a lot about this and thought about it from the Scriptures. Frankly, I wish I had precise and clear answers, but let me say what I do have, and maybe the Lord will use it in some way.

One of the things that makes a relationship with a prodigal so difficult and complex is the interplay between passages of the Bible concerning church discipline and passages concerning parenting. One of the hard church discipline issues is that, on the one hand, we have a call, for example, not even to eat with someone who is a professing believer and living in immorality (1 Corinthians 5:11). And on the other hand, normal expectations of what godly parenting is might make that kind of guideline very difficult to carry through. And there are many other kinds of ambiguities as we try to sort through the special role of a parent in the life of a child who will not submit to his parents’ authority any longer or doesn’t believe any longer in what the parents believe.Should a Christian parent give their rebellious child money?

So, with regard to financial help for a prodigal, I can’t see that there is just one rule that applies to every situation. It seems to me that there are so many factors that make a difference. How old is he? How serious is his sinful behavior? And what are the effects of it on others and the harmfulness of it on himself? Are there elements of respect remaining in his heart? Is there departure? Was his departure ugly rebellion or just a more honest difference of conviction? Is he eager to get on his own feet financially, or is he just aimless and simply mooching? And on and on the questions go that we have to ask.

The reason I think these questions matter is because they are the sort of thing we have to ask about all of our generosity towards others, especially those who mistreat us. I am thinking of Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:38–42,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

However, as radical as those are — and I will circle back to that radicalness in just a minute — it is plain that from the Bible itself that there are structures of society, spheres of society where the Bible puts limits on those teachings. For example, in the family, children should obey their parents and parents should discipline their children rather than always turning the other cheek (Ephesians 6:14). In government, the state has the right to punish criminals rather than turning the other cheek (Romans 13:14). In schools, teachers have a right to give failing grades to students who don’t do their work. In businesses, employers have the right to see that employees fulfill their expectations in order to earn their salary; otherwise, they could lose their jobs. In the church, people can be excommunicated. But when all those spheres of life are taken into consideration, Jesus did mean something radical when he said, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” and when He said, “Give to the one who begs from you.”

So, the older I get, the more inclined I am to take those commands more literally than I once tried to justify myself in not doing. I don’t think there is a simple rule that will dictate when you help a prodigal financially and when you don’t. On the one hand, you want to show the child that Jesus is your all-satisfying treasure. And any withholding of money which might be wise in any given situation is not owing to stinginess or fear or greed or insecurity. It is owing to a desire to do the child good. We want him to see that. And that would mean that parents would look for other ways to continually do good to the child.

I think that is a significant principle that, if you have to say no in one area because the child’s expectation is harmful as you see it, you try to help him see your heart is still there for him by pouring yourself out in other ways. You will continually reach out to him rather than write him off. You will continually offer yourselves even if you don’t offer your money. And that may be much more difficult. To get on a plane and go across the country might be much more difficult than wiring money. You will go out of your way to be there for the child.

And, yes, at some utterly surprising moment, you may give him a wonderful gift that is not designed to advance his sin, but lavish him with grace in the hopes that God might open his eyes. Above all, I would just say to this parent: Immerse yourself in the word of God and join hands with your spouse in continual prayer for wisdom and love and boldness and even joy while your heart is breaking. And I think God, out of that, will show you the way forward.

Find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes here.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

(By Desiring God. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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So much has been thrown at us, as a society, such as biased media pushing their agenda instead of objectively reporting the truth, Black Lives Matter and police officers being shot and killed on a regular basis. It begs the question: how do we deal with this, as Christians? As followers of Jesus, we want to deal with it in the proper manner – in a way that is pleasing to God and that serves our fellow man. In my pursuit of an answer to this, I haven’t seen anyone asking police officers – especially Christian police officers for their perspective. Many Christian leaders are telling us that we need to listen to what the protesters have to say and take it seriously, but on the other hand, some of the things that are being thrown at cops today are testing the limits of their service. As Christians, this tests our commitment to truth. And, I want to make sure that we don’t get caught up in the lies that our culture and our media is throwing at us. We need to hear from honest, Christian police officers who are out on the front lines of society – our brothers and sisters in Christ who put themselves on the line for us. That’s why I have asked my neighbor and friend, Chris to come and share his thoughts.

Joel Fieri, Big Picture Podcast Host: As Christians, pop culture and our major media outlets are not supporting our worldview. And that’s something that we have to come to terms with. We need to ask ourselves, “How are we going to deal with this? How are we NOT going to be media-driven people? Just because the media is telling us that something must be an issue for us, or that we should be adopting a certain perspective on something does not mean that is the direction we must go in.

Truly, we need to learn how to take ourselves out of the 24-hour news cycle and the constant push of pop culture.

We need to stop and say, “NO. What is the truth?”

It all boils down to truth.

You see, without truth, I can’t really love my neighbor… or my community. Therefore, going along with the false narratives – the lies – that are constantly bombarding us is not loving at all.

Jefferson Drexler, e2 media network producer: I love how your mind works, Joel. You are always taking a huge step backwards and examining how things are affecting us, culturally. As well as asking the tough questions about how we should be responding.

With that in mind, it appears that the path we are currently on will only lead to our culture’s destruction. So, as Christians, are we called to do something different in order to alter the course of our culture? Is clinging to the truth enough? Or should we be even more proactive?

Joel: Well, we know the source of truth – GOD. And, we know the source of love – GOD. And, we are supposed to speak truth in love. Note that in doing that, love is the modifier. Truth is the calling. And, speaking is the action we are supposed to be taking. Too many times, church leaders are compelling their congregants to “be the hands and feet of Jesus”. I’m not sure how Biblical that is, but I do know that we are called to be the mouthpiece of Jesus. We need to stand for truth and tell people what is actually true – whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is right, whatever is lovely (Philippians 4:8).

But, doing this begins with having a difficult discussion with today’s pastors. It also begins with getting serious in our Youth Groups, not just purely a fun-and-games time. Our pastors need to teach Christians in their sermons how to be the redemptive force in society with truth and love together – where our love modifies the truth.

We really need to get our heads around and identify what the issues really are. We also need to identify where we get our information from. Who do we look to? Who do we trust?

And, in all honesty, one of those sources should be our Christian brothers and sisters who are in law enforcement.

They are the ones exemplifying service and self-sacrifice.

And, while they do wield a lot of power, they have also entrusted us to hold them accountable while also standing up for them as truthseekers.

Jefferson: So, as a community of Christians, what can we do for our police officers? Of course, there are the obvious things: raise our kids right, obey the law, don’t be stupid. But, what can we do to help our fellow Christians who have sworn to serve and protect us?

Chris, Southern California Police Officer: I would say two things: daily pray for our law enforcement officers, as well as others in public safety (paramedics, firefighters, EMS personnel, etc). Pray for not only our safety, but discernment and judgment in everything we do. Pray for our leadership as well.

And secondly, invite Christian police officers to come and speak at church services, youth groups, or small group meetings. Because, by giving Christian police officers an opportunity to have a voice, it recognizes that we are not only members of the community at large, but also members of the faith community. I can practically guarantee that every single church has at least one police officer in attendance. Even if it’s just once a year, it would help so much to offer a Christian police officer’s perspective on life and the community to your fellow church members.

Jefferson: Now, I know from my own experiences – I’ve been jumped by gang bangers, my brother was left on a curb, beaten to a pulp by street thugs. However, I’ve had infinitely more relationships and moments in my life where I have worshiped with, worked with, played with and laughed with dear friends who were African American. Therefore THAT is how I identify my black friends, neighbors, community members, and brothers-in-Christ.

Likewise, I’ve been thrown up against the side of my car by a cop, patted down and nearly arrested for standing in my own front yard allegedly “looking suspicious”. However, I’ve also received friendly warnings for the safety of my kids that my brake light was out. I’ve received a police escort from my front door to the hospital when my son was having a terrible asthma attack. I’ve had many more positive experiences with law enforcement officers.

So, isn’t that what we really need to do – to rub elbows with ALL members of our communities? Wouldn’t that be a better way of shaping our opinions of our friends, neighbors, and police officers?

Chris: You know, the easiest way to make a police officer’s day is to simple wave at him… with all five fingers. If you’re with your family, walk up and simply say hello. Thank them for their service. You will receive the biggest grin from that officer. And, I guarantee you that the next several people who come into contact with them will have a better experience with them as well because your kindness will be in the back of their mind.

Jefferson: And if we simply did that, then wouldn’t the trajectory that Joel mentioned at least start to correct itself?

Joel: I always go back to Dennis Prager’s statement on race, when he quotes Viktor Frankl:

“There are two races of men in this world but only these two: the race of the decent man and the race of the indecent man.”

And that’s how we have to look at people.

When I see someone wearing a police officer’s uniform, I can right away assume that they are physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of graduating their rigorous academy and that they have chosen a career path of service. That’s special. That’s decent. So, until they do something that proves otherwise to me and reveals to me that they are indecent, I’m going to go with and allow my actions to follow that he or she is decent.

And that’s how we need to start looking at everybody. We need to stop accepting indecent behavior from anybody. We need to stop excusing indecent behavior just because of the color of someone’s skin.

And Chris… thank you for your service!

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So much has been thrown at us, as a society, such as biased media pushing their agenda instead of objectively reporting the truth, Black Lives Matter and police officers being shot and killed on a regular basis. It begs the question: how do we deal with this, as Christians? As followers of Jesus, we want to deal with it in the proper manner – in a way that is pleasing to God and that serves our fellow man. In my pursuit of an answer to this, I haven’t seen anyone asking police officers – especially Christian police officers for their perspective. Many Christian leaders are telling us that we need to listen to what the protesters have to say and take it seriously, but on the other hand, some of the things that are being thrown at cops today are testing the limits of their service. As Christians, this tests our commitment to truth. And, I want to make sure that we don’t get caught up in the lies that our culture and our media is throwing at us. We need to hear from honest, Christian police officers who are out on the front lines of society – our brothers and sisters in Christ who put themselves on the line for us. That’s why I have asked my neighbor and friend, Chris to come and share his thoughts.

Jefferson Drexler, e2 media network producer: Now, I recently had a discussion with a good friend of mine – and if I were coming at the topic from a totally “right wing” position, he was coming at it from as far “left wing” as you can imagine. Yet, the one thing that we could completely agree on, especially in regards to last month’s Presidential Election, was… “This is the best we could come up with??”

Chris, Southern California Police Officer: I totally agree… regarding either party.

Jefferson: So, my friend summed it up perfectly – the reality is that having the best of the best run for President is a thing of the past. Who would want to put themselves and their family under that kind of scrutiny? Even if you had the best motives and even the best actions, you and your loved ones will get shredded in the media and social media. Therefore, being leader of the greatest country on the planet isn’t something the best of the best even aspires to anymore.

Similarly, it used to be that the smartest of the smart would become doctors. But, thanks to all the malpractice suits and insurance issues doctors face today, that is no longer where we find the smartest of the smart kids aspiring toward.

And, on the same note, it was once admirable for your son or daughter to want to grow up to become a police officer. But, not anymore.

Chris: I personally fear that. And, we should all fear that. My dad was a 30-year law enforcement officer who rose to the rank of Chief of Police at two different agencies. When I retire, I will have at least 30 years on the force.

Yet, I have two daughters and a son and I thank God that none of them have any desire to enter into the profession of law enforcement, even though I still believe it is an honorable profession.

My fear – and I think that everyone should share a similar concern – is that we aren’t going to have the right people entering into this profession. Instead, we will have people who, in years past, wouldn’t have made the cut – wouldn’t have passed background checks or wouldn’t have exceeded the baseline criteria – and we will move toward third-world law enforcement.

Christian parenting advice

Image: Michael Osborn

I’m aware of multiple agencies who have had recruits enrolled in their academies. But, when there were officer-involved shootings – either where the officer was killed or where it was heavily scrutinized by the media – several excellent recruits left the academy. My own agency has experienced a spike in instances where officers graduate the academy, begin field training, and shortly into their training decide that this job is not for them. There’s simply too much risk today.

When I started out, we were taught that if we saw someone walking down the street at 3:00am, in an area that had recently experienced a high amount of break-ins, and they were wearing bulky clothing that could easily hide burglary tools or weapons, then we were encouraged to find a legal reason to stop that person.

Now, of course, we were responsible for protecting and preserving their Constitutional rights and we had to work within the confines of the law.

But, today, there are officers who will literally look the other way in such a circumstance, because they fear either the public outcry, an unfounded complaint filed against them, or worse. We are moving toward a point where our officers are going to be more reactive than ever – not proactive. And, proactive law enforcement deters crime. Look at the escalating crime rate in Chicago and other cities like it. Consider the aftermath of every single officer-involved shooting incident where law enforcement has failed to properly engage in fighting crime. Whenever police withdraw from their communities, crime rates go up.

Sadly, I think this trend is going to continue.

Joel Fieri, Big Picture Podcast Host: And to hear Chris, of all people say, “I’m glad my kids aren’t going into law enforcement” makes me concerned. I know his kids and they are really great kids. They’re the type of people that I would like to see a pool drawn from for law enforcement. And, I hear the same from my military friends. They tell me that they don’t want their kids going into military service.

OK, fine.

But, who will hold the wolves at bay? Who are we going to leave it to, if not our kids… who are great kids?

Christian parenting advice

Image: Paul Moseley

And that goes for myself, too. Am I willing to say to my son, “You may want to consider going into the military or law enforcement”? Am I willing for my children to be the ones to put their lives on the line in order to serve and protect others?

As parents… that is a very difficult thing to do.

Yet, as Christians, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we the redemptive force in society? Do we really want to shine God’s light in our communities?” If so, then we must be willing to have our kids be the ones who are the sheepdogs, standing between our society and the wolves.

I don’t see a lot of Christians that have that mindset in regards to their children.

Jefferson: Yeah, wouldn’t it be enough for my kids to be prayer warriors? Isn’t that where we are headed as a Christian community? The “Christian Bubble” of today seems like mighty fortress walls compared to years before.

Chris: We are called to action, though. And we are called to serve. As Isaiah 6:8 says, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”

Joel: Yeah. The walls are down. Who is going to say, “Send me, Lord… or send my kids”? It’s a hard question. But it’s one that, as Christians, we can’t skirt around. We can’t go into our “holy huddles”, listen to our rock concerts on Sunday mornings, listen to sermons about bettering our self-image, and avoid these tough issues. If we don’t have well thought out, realistic, and non-naïve, truthful answers, the world will look for answers elsewhere.

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Reflections of Grace Slider2

I used to agonize over how my children and grandchildren would turn out.  When I saw them making poor choices I would try to ‘fix it’ for them so they wouldn’t experience the pain I knew was sure to come.

When they were little it was easier to do this and be in complete control of what their choices were…but as they got older and became their own person I began to realize I was losing that control, and fear would grip me.

As a parent you learn with each new year in the upbringing of your children that each year you have to let go a little more if you want them to learn how to grow up and make good choices.  From the time that baby takes his first step he is always moving away from you.  Oh, at first they toddle into your arms, but soon they start toddling off to explore on their own.

And the years accumulate…and one day you have grandchildren.   As a grandparent you feel a whole new set of worries and even more the lack of control as your offspring grows and develops.

The cycle goes on and one.

All throughout my children’s lives I prayed Psalm 91 over them and it brought me great peace for His constant intervention in their lives.

  • That because they dwell in the secret place of the Most High they shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty Whose power no foe can withstand.” 

And I would pray the whole 91st Psalm through with their names right in there.

I also prayed Isaiah 54:13

  • And all my children shall be disciples, taught by the Lord and obedient to His will, and great shall be the peace and undisturbed composure of my children.”

Now, my adult children have learned the value of praying the words of God’s own protection over their own families.

One day as I was praying for my grand kids and trying to not worry about their lives that I had less control over, Jesus spoke to me.

This is what He said:

  • “Dixie, did you not pray my word over your children all the years they were growing up?”

“Yes, Lord, you know I did.”

  • Do you think my word returns to me void?  That it just fades away, or does it accomplish the very thing you have prayed in the lives of your children?”

“I believed and have witnessed your word at work in them always, and I know they love you and are protected by you… so the answer is YES!”

  • “Do you believe your grandchildren are your children too?  And are THEY a part of you?”

Starting to get it now, I said, “Why, yes they are!”   Then He said,

  • That same word that you prayed for so many years for your babies, now covers your grand babies as well…my word never stops and always accomplishes what I sent it out to do.  Your faithfulness to pray will cover your generation and generations to come will know me because of your prayers.”
  • Light Dawning!!   Wow!

So, here is what He showed me…

Back in the time of Moses, Pharaoh felt threatened by the Israelites and ordered all the midwives to kill any baby boys born to the Israelite people by drowning them in the Nile River.

But Moses’ mother wouldn’t have it.  She hid him as long as she could, and when she could no longer hide him, she put him in a basket and put the basket in the water among the reeds of the Nile.

The very river that could have drowned him was now his refuge.

She had no idea what would happen to her baby, but she trusted the plan of God for her and her baby.baby-moses

As we know, baby Moses was drawn out of the water and would one day grow to become one of the greatest heroes of the Bible – the one who would rescue God’s people from slavery and lead them to the Promised Land.

There comes a time – many times, actually – in the lives of our children where we have to put the basket in the water.

  • Being a Mom, and a Nana I have had to do this many times and not without much pain.

Gosh, it is so hard to let go of them, isn’t it?

We have to let go and trust the plan of the Father.  The world is a scary place – a place where we fear our children could drown.  But we must remember that we have to let go so that God can draw them from the waters for His great purpose.  He has called us to be their parents, but they were His first.

  • My friend, whatever water you may be getting ready to put your basket into – whether your days as a stay-at-home-mom are ending as your child starts preschool soon or if your baby has grown into a high school graduate and is getting ready to leave your home, or if your children are grown and have babies of their own – remember that you have to put them in the water for God to draw them out and place them into His perfect plan.
  • Though you might not be physically present with your child as much during the next phase of life, you can always call for the heart of the Father on their behalf.  And when you do this, that same Spirit that Jesus left with His disciples – that same Helper – intercedes for you, and in that you can find peace. And it doesn’t stop when they are grown.   He will continue to cover them and intercede for them and their children as life goes on.

You are doing great.  Find His peace in the fact that He will sustain you and your offspring for always.   Your prayers are NEVER wasted!!

Job well done, friend.

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Parent Like You Mean It Slider FINAL


They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I beg to differ.  Candace Flynn-Fletcher said it best when she told her mom, “…that’s why books have covers – to judge them.” (That’s for all you Phineas and Ferb fans).

Anyway, there’s a children’s Bible story book that I have loved since the second I read the cover.  It’s Bill Ross’ Hey, That’s Not What the Bible Says!  It’s a collection of ten well-known Bible stories that Ross turns on their collective ears, prompting children to exclaim the book’s title, “Hey, that’s not what the Bible says!” and then Ross includes the actual Biblical text, setting the stage for great conversations about life, God, and what He wants for our lives.  One of my favorites stars Jesus Christ…

…Jesus grew up, and He began to teach people about God. One evening, after teaching all day, Jesus got into a boat with His closes friends and He took a nap.

A wild storm came, and waves crashed against the boat. Jesus’ friends were frightened. They woke Jesus up. “Save us, Jesus! Or we’ll drown!” they screamed.

IMAGE: BOB ROSS

IMAGE: BOB ROSS

Jesus quickly reached down, found the secret control panel, and flipped the secret power switch. Instantly the little fishing boat was transformed into a watertight, nuclear-powered, New Testament submarine!

(say it with me) Hey, that’s not what the Bible says!

Jesus simply spoke to the storm. He said, “Be still,” and all was calm. His friends were amazed when they saw that Jesus could control the weather.

Mark’s Gospel lays out this story, and after the wind stopped, Jesus asked His disciples, “Why are you afraid? Do you have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41)

So, why am I bringing up this book?  Do I believe we need more nuclear-powered, New Testament submarines?  No.  Do I enjoy yanking my kids’ chains when I read bedtime stories to them… well, maybe.

But, the real impetus behind me harkening back to Bob Ross’ inspirational work of art… is recent historical events.  News headlines that will certainly become chapters of future history books.

I’m talking about the terrorist attacks in Boston, Brussels, Paris, Orlando, San Bernardino, Istanbul, and Nice among hundreds of others across the globe, persecution of Christians, Jews and Shia Muslims by ISIS, Al Queda and Boko Haram, attacks on our nation’s police officers in Dallas,  senseless profiling and attacks on people of color, riots in the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Chicago, St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Black Lives Matter, our vicious 2016 Presidential election cycle… and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Collectively, we are living in the midst of a sociological storm that makes the tempest that Jesus and His Disciples sailed in look like a light drizzle.

People are afraid.

Image: CTURTLETRAX

Image: CTURTLETRAX

My black friends are afraid of police officers.  My Democrat friends are afraid of Republicans.  My Republican friends are afraid of Democrats… and some of them are afraid of Trump.  People are afraid of traveling.  They’re afraid of large crowds.  They’re afraid of driving at night.

I remember hearing repeatedly, in the immediate days after September 11th, that if we live in fear then we allow the terrorists to win.  Well, here we are 15 years later… and if not them, then somebody else has us collectively scared enough to be on the losing end.

I can’t help but wonder…

If Jesus were to come onto the scene, would he look around at all of us who call ourselves Christians and ask if we have any faith.

Do we?

Do we have enough faith that we KNOW with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that, if we follow God’s calling on our lives, we will be protected?  And even if we are not protected, do we have the kind of faith that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had when they faced certain death yet said to King Nebuchadnezzar,

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power… But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

Did you catch that?  They basically proclaimed, “God is able to keep us safe! BUT, even if He decides NOT to keep us safe, we’re not afraid!”

Did you know that the phrase, “Do not be afraid” or others carrying the same meaning are written 365 times throughout the Bible?  Ironically (or perhaps purposefully) that’s a reminder for every single day of the year… with the exception of leap year, I guess, so maybe we’re supposed to go crazy with fear ever four years on February 29th.  But, HEY, THAT’S NOT WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS!

Here’s my point…

There is a place in this world for healthy fear.  We tell our kids all the time that they must have a healthy fear of the ocean and its waves if they ever want to enjoy a day at the beach. Without an understanding that the waves are bigger than you and they keep on coming so you better be ready, then you can have fun riding them instead of being rolled by them.

We also need to have a healthy fear of our parents.  Now, of course, this brand of “fear”, is an honoring.  It’s a “fear” (for lack of a better word) that pops into a teenager’s brain when they are about to go do something stupid that says, “HEY! Would your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles approve of this?”  It’s a fear that brings about respect for our parents, even after we become parents ourselves because we now have a clue of what we put our moms and dads through.

We need to have a healthy fear of our authorities.  Yes, we have the right to free speech in this nation, but I promise that if you cuss out your boss, your free speech will land you in the unemployment line real fast.  I have friends whose homes are adjacent to giant fields that were ablaze a few years ago; and you can bet they had a healthy fear of the firefighters who pounded on their door and told them to get the heck out of Dodge.  If they blew off the firemen and didn’t respect their urgent message immediately, not only was it likely that their homes and belongings would have been scorched, but so would all their neighbor’s homes as the flames were likely to bounce from house to house.  A healthy fear of the flames and those trained to fight them saved a lot of people that day.

Psalm-111-10

Image: Esme Randle

And, yes… we need to have a healthy fear of the police.  All of us do.  Even as a white/pacific islander, when I see a cop in my rear view, I turn down the radio, slide my hands to 10 and 2 on the wheel and behave as politely as humanly possible when I get pulled over.  And that’s neither me being afraid that I’m going to be shot, nor is it me trying to manipulate my way out of a ticket.  It’s me having the due respect for the EXTREMELY high percentage of cops out there who stand where I don’t stand every day – between the bad guys and the good guys, keeping the good guys safe, as we saw in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

And then, the Bible tells us over and over again that we ought to fear God.  Because the truth is that fearing God saves us from caving into our own desires that go against His will.  As Christians – and if it’s not clear enough already, I am addressing all those who call themselves “Christ Followers” – our life’s goal is to live according to God’s will for our lives… not our own.  Given to our own whims, none of us would stay married, or stick around and be faithful parents, or file our taxes honestly, or be honest in anything.  It’s simply too costly and too much of a pain in the neck to remain in these relationships and be loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and full of self-control at all times.  In fact, only by “fearing” God is this even possible.  But, oh are the rewards worth it!

Now, In light of the crazy violent and almost inexplicable events of recent months, weeks and even days, I have heard many people ask: “How are we supposed to react to this?  How do we explain this to our children? What do we do now?”

I find God’s answer right there in black and white.  It’s in a verse that I sang at church as a kid, and that rings in my heart and my head whenever I wonder what on earth I’m supposed to do.  The answer is found in Micah 6:8,

He has shown you, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Another translation puts it in more colloquial terms:

This is what God wants from you:

Be fair to other people.

  Love kindness and loyalty,

  and humbly obey your God.

And when we live like this, it makes it that much easier to live according to the words the Bible repeats over and over and over again: Do not be afraid!

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Parent Like You Mean It Slider FINAL

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I beg to differ.  Candace Flynn-Fletcher said it best when she told her mom, “…that’s why books have covers – to judge them.” (That’s for all you Phineas and Ferb fans).

Anyway, there’s a children’s Bible story book that I have loved since the second I read the cover.  It’s Bill Ross’ Hey, That’s Not What the Bible Says!  It’s a collection of ten well-known Bible stories that Ross turns on their collective ears, prompting children to exclaim the book’s title, “Hey, that’s not what the Bible says!” and then Ross includes the actual Biblical text, setting the stage for great conversations about life, God, and what He wants for our lives.  One of my favorites stars Jesus Christ…

…Jesus grew up, and He began to teach people about God. One evening, after teaching all day, Jesus got into a boat with His closes friends and He took a nap.

A wild storm came, and waves crashed against the boat. Jesus’ friends were frightened. They woke Jesus up. “Save us, Jesus! Or we’ll drown!” they screamed.

IMAGE: BOB ROSS

IMAGE: BOB ROSS

Jesus quickly reached down, found the secret control panel, and flipped the secret power switch. Instantly the little fishing boat was transformed into a watertight, nuclear-powered, New Testament submarine!

(say it with me) Hey, that’s not what the Bible says!

Jesus simply spoke to the storm. He said, “Be still,” and all was calm. His friends were amazed when they saw that Jesus could control the weather.

Mark’s Gospel lays out this story, and after the wind stopped, Jesus asked His disciples, “Why are you afraid? Do you have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41)

So, why am I bringing up this book?  Do I believe we need more nuclear-powered, New Testament submarines?  No.  Do I enjoy yanking my kids’ chains when I read bedtime stories to them… well, maybe.

But, the real impetus behind me harkening back to Bob Ross’ inspirational work of art… is recent historical events.  News headlines that will certainly become chapters of future history books.

I’m talking about the terrorist attacks in Boston, Brussels, Paris, Orlando, San Bernardino, Istanbul, and Nice among hundreds of others across the globe, persecution of Christians, Jews and Shia Muslims by ISIS, Al Queda and Boko Haram, attacks on our nation’s police officers in Dallas,  senseless profiling and attacks on people of color, riots in the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Chicago, St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Black Lives Matter, our vicious 2016 Presidential election cycle… and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Collectively, we are living in the midst of a sociological storm that makes the tempest that Jesus and His Disciples sailed in look like a light drizzle.

People are afraid.

Image: CTURTLETRAX

Image: CTURTLETRAX

My black friends are afraid of police officers.  My Democrat friends are afraid of Republicans.  My Republican friends are afraid of Democrats… and some of them are afraid of Trump.  People are afraid of traveling.  They’re afraid of large crowds.  They’re afraid of driving at night.

I remember hearing repeatedly, in the immediate days after September 11th, that if we live in fear then we allow the terrorists to win.  Well, here we are 15 years later… and if not them, then somebody else has us collectively scared enough to be on the losing end.

I can’t help but wonder…

If Jesus were to come onto the scene, would he look around at all of us who call ourselves Christians and ask if we have any faith.

Do we?

Do we have enough faith that we KNOW with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that, if we follow God’s calling on our lives, we will be protected?  And even if we are not protected, do we have the kind of faith that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had when they faced certain death yet said to King Nebuchadnezzar,

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power… But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

Did you catch that?  They basically proclaimed, “God is able to keep us safe! BUT, even if He decides NOT to keep us safe, we’re not afraid!”

Did you know that the phrase, “Do not be afraid” or others carrying the same meaning are written 365 times throughout the Bible?  Ironically (or perhaps purposefully) that’s a reminder for every single day of the year… with the exception of leap year, I guess, so maybe we’re supposed to go crazy with fear ever four years on February 29th.  But, HEY, THAT’S NOT WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS!

Here’s my point…

There is a place in this world for healthy fear.  We tell our kids all the time that they must have a healthy fear of the ocean and its waves if they ever want to enjoy a day at the beach. Without an understanding that the waves are bigger than you and they keep on coming so you better be ready, then you can have fun riding them instead of being rolled by them.

We also need to have a healthy fear of our parents.  Now, of course, this brand of “fear”, is an honoring.  It’s a “fear” (for lack of a better word) that pops into a teenager’s brain when they are about to go do something stupid that says, “HEY! Would your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles approve of this?”  It’s a fear that brings about respect for our parents, even after we become parents ourselves because we now have a clue of what we put our moms and dads through.

We need to have a healthy fear of our authorities.  Yes, we have the right to free speech in this nation, but I promise that if you cuss out your boss, your free speech will land you in the unemployment line real fast.  I have friends whose homes are adjacent to giant fields that were ablaze a few years ago; and you can bet they had a healthy fear of the firefighters who pounded on their door and told them to get the heck out of Dodge.  If they blew off the firemen and didn’t respect their urgent message immediately, not only was it likely that their homes and belongings would have been scorched, but so would all their neighbor’s homes as the flames were likely to bounce from house to house.  A healthy fear of the flames and those trained to fight them saved a lot of people that day.

Psalm-111-10

Image: Esme Randle

And, yes… we need to have a healthy fear of the police.  All of us do.  Even as a white/pacific islander, when I see a cop in my rear view, I turn down the radio, slide my hands to 10 and 2 on the wheel and behave as politely as humanly possible when I get pulled over.  And that’s neither me being afraid that I’m going to be shot, nor is it me trying to manipulate my way out of a ticket.  It’s me having the due respect for the EXTREMELY high percentage of cops out there who stand where I don’t stand every day – between the bad guys and the good guys, keeping the good guys safe, as we saw in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

And then, the Bible tells us over and over again that we ought to fear God.  Because the truth is that fearing God saves us from caving into our own desires that go against His will.  As Christians – and if it’s not clear enough already, I am addressing all those who call themselves “Christ Followers” – our life’s goal is to live according to God’s will for our lives… not our own.  Given to our own whims, none of us would stay married, or stick around and be faithful parents, or file our taxes honestly, or be honest in anything.  It’s simply too costly and too much of a pain in the neck to remain in these relationships and be loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and full of self-control at all times.  In fact, only by “fearing” God is this even possible.  But, oh are the rewards worth it!

Now, In light of the crazy violent and almost inexplicable events of recent months, weeks and even days, I have heard many people ask: “How are we supposed to react to this?  How do we explain this to our children? What do we do now?”

I find God’s answer right there in black and white.  It’s in a verse that I sang at church as a kid, and that rings in my heart and my head whenever I wonder what on earth I’m supposed to do.  The answer is found in Micah 6:8,

He has shown you, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Another translation puts it in more colloquial terms:

This is what God wants from you:

Be fair to other people.

  Love kindness and loyalty,

  and humbly obey your God.

And when we live like this, it makes it that much easier to live according to the words the Bible repeats over and over and over again: Do not be afraid!

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Christian bible teaching about Jesus Christ, scripture, becoming a mature Christian, discipleship, and the truth about God.

Always remember that God has entrusted your kids to you and therefore, you are the primary disciplers of your kids.  Now, while there are no guarantees, we are still called to offer them every opportunity to come to Jesus and grow in their relationships with Him.

So, today we’re going to spend some time talking about family devotions.  This is often a dreaded concept for some parents because they are afraid that their kids are going to ask some questions that they are not prepared or knowledgeable enough to answer. In previous weeks, we have discussed how to teach your kids how to have their own personal devotional time reading the Bible, praying and communicating with God, but this week, we’re going to more specifically address Family Devotions.

Remember, when it comes to prayer, it doesn’t matter who any of us are, how old we are, or how well-spoken we may or may not be, all of our prayers are equal in God’s ears. Therefore, it is incredibly important to teach your children, even at a very young age to speak with God about all the things in life that they are concerned with.

Now, if you have older children, you can simply gather together, read a passage or chapter of the Bible together, and then discuss any questions they may have and how the passage can apply to their lives.  You can then follow up with some time in prayer together. You don’t need any lengthily preparation or study ahead of time. And, sometimes you’ll only get through a couple verses before somebody brings up a good question that leads to a great discussion. Other times, there won’t be any great debate or discussion, and that can be equally as valuable, so long as your family receives God’s truth from the Bible and takes time to pray.

It doesn’t have to be some ultra-spiritual, ultra-mystical experience.  It’s simply a routine you, as a family, develop where you read the scripture, submit to it, apply it to our lives and pray.

When your children are younger, you’ll want to read from a Bible storybook with them and spend a little time with them in prayer.  If you’d like, you can also sing a hymn or song from church together.

Now, regarding prayer, when you pray together as a family, it has a PROFOUND SPIRITUAL EFFECT ON FAMILIES. While it is important that we not be hypocritical (full of anger, greed, lust, or other unconfessed sin) when we lead our families in prayer, it’s incredibly bonding when we as parents and children gather together to pray for and with one another. Many people (especially adults) are not comfortable praying out loud.  One way to overcome this is to get them talking with God out loud as early as possible.

Now there are more opportunities for prayer than just during family devotions.  You can also pray together at regular times throughout each day, such as at dinner.   This teaches them thankfulness for the day they had, the food that is provided for them and it brings everyone together.

Additional times throughout each day that are good times to pray together include:

–       Emergencies and Times of Crises: This introduces them to seeing God answer prayer and praying with others consistently over time, through life’s valleys.

–       Great Times (Vacations, Birthdays & Other Celebrations): This teaches them thankfulness and sharing joyful experiences with God.

–       Moment-to-Moment Prayers: Teaches them an attitude and lifestyle of “praying without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

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Too many parents today approach the question of personal devotions (how to do them, when to do them, who should do them, etc.) with guarded trepidation.  We believe it’s something that is reserved for each individual’s personal walk with God, and therefore shouldn’t be discussed in the open.  Unfortunately, in today’s church, most church-going Christian adults still do not have their own regular, personal devotional times with God.

Image: coolkidsgroove.com

Image: coolkidsgroove.com

It’s incredible: we don’t think twice about having our kids practice piano for thirty minutes each day, to keep up with their lessons; or take batting practice or shoot free throws in order to make the starting line up on their respective teams.  So, why isn’t it a priority for today’s Christian parents to train their kids to do likewise when it comes to their relationship with Jesus Christ?

In the Tague family, we make a big deal about when someone “GETS” to do their own personal devotions.  We take an eventful trip to the Christian Book Store and let them pick out their own “big boy” or “big girl” journal, Bible or devotional.  Now, keep this in mind: we are not forcing Christianity on any of our kids.  They will grow up and make their own decisions, as my older three have and have all chosen to walk faithfully with God.  We are merely training, or discipling, our younger three kids in the same way we did our older three, just like you’d train your kids in any other endeavor, from brushing their teeth to making a layup in basketball.

We start when they are very young.  Pretty much as early as six-years-old, or when they are able to read, write and sit still for 10-20 minutes at a time.

Time FOR and WITH the family is essential for effective devotional time.  Without this, there simply isn’t enough time in the home for devotions to take place.  This will often mean scheduling time in the morning or evening, saying “no” to certain activities in order to maintain that special time.

So, here’s what we do to teach our kids how to have their own personal devotions.  We set aside about 15-30 minutes each morning (or evening could work, too… depending on your family’s schedule).  Once your children have learned the basics of reading, writing, and sitting still for a little while, they can start having their own devotional time.  Anyway, simply put, we start them out in Proverbs or John – something they can easily read and understand.  We have them read about three verses, then write down (copy) the last verse in their journal.

Now, as with any typical six-year-old, when they write down even the shortest of verses, it may take up a whole page of their journal… and that’s great!  You don’t have to explain to them the meaning of the passage, or how they will apply it to their lives, just have them simply copy it down on the page.  It doesn’t have to be deep, or Spiritually revealing, but it should be celebrated by you, their parents, just like if they were to be bringing home a “refrigerator worthy” project home from school.  Then, at dinner, or sometime during the day, ask them about what they read.  Ask them what it was that Jesus might have been saying, and help them get a better grasp on what it was that they read.  (Parental tip:  avoid Proverbs 4-7, they speak about sexual immorality and may be inappropriate for your younger children.)

Image: The Gospel Coalition

Image: The Gospel Coalition

As they get older (8-9 years old), have them read one story (usually a paragraph or two) then ask:

  1.  What does the story mean?  What is God saying or doing in the story?
  2.  How did the people react to God and how did He respond to their response?
  3.  What does the story mean to me?

Don’t know where to start?  I recommend the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John), Proverbs or 1 John.  They’re easy to read and rich in text that will help them grow in their spiritual walk.

Only around 10-20 minutes of time is typically necessary to accomplish devotionals like this, including time for:  prayer, reading and responsive writing.

Once they get a bit older (12-14 years old), you’ll notice them get deeper in their understanding and application to the Scriptures in their lives.  It could be situational (what’s going on in their or their friends’ lives), it could be prayer requests, it could be deeper understanding of a passage they’ve read before or a connection between two different passages… the list goes on and on.

The key is that they learn how to – and continue to – interact with Scripture, allowing God to speak to them through His Word, and they learn to speak back through their prayers and journaling.

Now, I have to stress this point:  Teaching them to have their own personal devotional time with God WILL NOT GUARANTEE that they are going to be walking faithfully with Jesus Christ every single day for the rest of their lives.  It’s not a magic pill that promises that you will have perfect Christian kids.  In fact, out of my six children, five of them have begun doing their own devotions (one is still too young), and at one point or another, all five of them have treated this like a chore to get done so that they can get on with the rest of their day; or a thing they have to do to just pacify their mom and dad.

And guess what? That should totally be expected.  That’s called childhood.  Many times, it’s no different than playing piano, or doing homework, or doing the dishes… And just like when they don’t want to do those other things, as parents, you work through it with them, continually communicating with them the importance of what they are doing.  And you’ve got to be lovingly and compassionately relentless!  Convey to them how Jesus is the most exciting person in the world and you can’t wait to share more and more about Him with your kids!

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Christian bible teaching about Jesus Christ, scripture, becoming a mature Christian, discipleship, and the truth about God.

As our kids grow, the first phase of digging into God’s Word and applying it to their lives can begin as early as ages two to five.  We need to start fostering reading habits in them and the importance of Bible stories by creating a visual experience for them and modeling the importance of reading the Bible’s stories to them. This is done, not just through reading books to them, but find Bible Story Books with engaging illustrations that help bring the stories to life in their minds, and read these stories to them appropriately so that they mentally, emotionally, and Spiritually grab a hold of these stories so much that even the illustrations become lasting memories.

Image: Clara Molden

Image: Clara Molden

Then, as they progress to ages five to eight, you want to take them a little deeper in their understanding of the Bible’s stories by asking them questions about how they would feel if they were in the story. These don’t have to be spiritually deep questions – just keep them relevant to the Bible story as well as to their own perspectives of the story. This allows them to enter into the story and feel the experience described in the Bible.

As they get older – from about ages seven to nine, you can help them grow to see the point of the story:  What’s it all about?  Why would God do what He did and how does this apply to me? For example, if you look at the story of Jonah, you see that God loves people so much that He is willing to have His prophet swallowed up by a giant fish in order to get Jonah to where God wanted him so that he could preach to the Ninevites. Therefore, the point of Jonah’s story is GOD’S LOVE. Once this is established, it’s an easy link to explaining to them redemption and their for it.

Now, this does begin to require more work from you, the parent.  As you read the Bible stories with them, you need to be thinking about the point of the story and then spend one to three minutes with them discussing the point of the story.  And remember:  The point of the story always points toward the Gospel – God’s love for the world, which culminates in Jesus Christ.

And, think about it… for young kids, the very concept of Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of mankind can simply seem weird and hard to understand. But, God’s message of redemption and His love for mankind stretches from the very beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden, through stories such as Jonah, Moses, Daniel and the Lions Den, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection – all the way through to Revelation.  The Bible points to God’s grace.  And God’s grace always points us to Jesus.

Image: thamzmasterpiece

Image: thamzmasterpiece

One story that always comes to mind when I think about this is the story of David and Goliath (and I think David and Goliath is included in every single Bible story book in the entire world). Yet, the point of this Old Testament story is not “the underdog can win” or “if you just have enough faith, God can work through you to slay the giants in your life”. The point of this story is that God is looking for people to defend His honor and to trust in Him for their path in life. David was the only one to submit himself to God, to trust in God, and to allow God to use him, while resting in God’s power and not his own strength.

Just this portion of the story alone leads us to the Gospel. We will never be able to defeat the “Goliaths” of our life – even if we have a lot of belief or faith – were it not for the power of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Now, as your children grow older you will move from reading out of children’s storybooks to reading and actual Bible. You will also begin developing from solitary Bible stories to understanding the continuous flow of redemption weaving all throughout the Bible. Even as far back as Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s will, we see how God takes account of sin and then points us to Jesus. In other words, from the beginning of time, God has held mankind accountable for going against Him, but then allowing each of us a way of escape through His grace.

The entire Bible is full of God’s grace. And His grace always points us to Jesus Christ.

Your job is to help your kids see the connection between the stories as they deal with human sin, redemption and pointing us to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

So, which Bible to use? I recommend the New Living Translation – or any translation that is written similar to the language and tone that your family speaks in, so that it’s very understandable for your children.

You can start by reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  And as you read, you can start shedding light on our personal responsibility toward the Scripture, which is this: repentance, faith and obedience to God’s message and call to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Ask your kids relevant questions connecting the Bible and our everyday lives, such as, “How is this story going to help you with your friends at school?”; or “How can this story help you understand and get along better with your brothers and sisters?”; or “How can this story help us trust God even when we might be uncertain about…” Also, help your kids see the importance – within the stories and within their own lives – of putting off sinful behavior and putting on righteous behavior.

Image: crosswalk.com

Image: crosswalk.com

Finally, don’t let the things you don’t know about Scripture stop you from following what you DO know.  And that is this:  It’s a wonderful thing to have your kids reading the Word and having your family involved in the Bible together.

On a personal note, I have worked as a pastor for a long time and I grew up knowing the Bible very well. And here’s why: My father read the Bible to my brother and me every morning before we went to school. In fact, he was so faithful in doing this every day that I assumed that every family did this together. It was actually quite a revelation for me when I found out that other families didn’t read the Bible every day together. Now, my dad is not a pastor. He is not a Bible scholar. He never attended Seminary or Bible College. He’s an insurance salesman – an awesome one, at that. While he never had any formal theological training he had a desire to pour into his kids, spiritually. So, every morning, he would simply break out the Bible and read the stories to us.

You can do the same. You don’t need to wait until you learn this, or graduate from that, or take this parenting course, or that special class at church. YOU CAN BEGIN TODAY by reading the Bible to your kids and help them grow in their understanding of God’s plan for their lives.

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Christian teaching about church relationships, men and women relationships, parent and child relationships within blended families

It’s so important to be aware of how divorce effects children differently when a family is in the turmoil of a separation or divorce, in order to help your child cope in ways that are most beneficial to them in regards to their age.  Today we will discuss how divorce impacts teens, 13-18-years-old.

As teens, grow so does their desire to be independent.  However, they still need you.  Though it may seem they are rebelling against you and what you stand for, they are attempting to identify what is important to them. Teens of this age range are working on solidifying their identity and establishing their sense of “self” in relation to rules and regulations of society.  They may push the limits on rules to determine whether you will continue to enforce your values.  For parents, it may be a difficult time as we realize our child doesn’t seem to need us as they once did.  Compared to younger kids, our teens seem to want less of our time, less of our advice and opinions and less of our togetherness.  They want to be with their peers and perhaps have found someone they are interested in as more than just a friend.  It is partly through these relationships that your teen discovers who he is, what he wants in relationships and what he will seek out in community.

Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

When divorce happens, teens of this age range may feel embarrassed by the family break-up and may react by idealizing one or both parents.  Younger kids typically continue to love both sets of parents and views divorce as the enemy; teens tend to hold their parents accountable for the divorce.  They may become critical expressing that “if dad had not done that” or “if mom would have done this”, our family could still be together.  Teens often feel their parents did not try hard enough in their marriage and now everyone is suffering.  They do not feel that the divorce just happened, in their own need for control, they may blame one or both of their parents.

The teen years are a time when kids begin to think about their future love life.  When parents divorce, it may hamper the teens indulgence to dream and hope about love for themselves.  If mom and dad got divorced, they believe their own chances for success are diminished.

This age group is more likely to place peer needs ahead of family and may not want to visit the non-resident parent.  As the resident parent, encourage time with your ex for your child.  The parents are getting divorced, not the kids and your teen still needs both of you.  Though emotionally they are breaking away from the family, they still need to know you are both available should he need you.  Never speak poorly of your ex to your teen and never ask them to take your side, it may come back to haunt you.  They absolutely should be allowed the privilege of maintaining relationship with both parents even if they express anger towards one.

Do not allow yourself to become the victim in the divorce – you are responsible for your emotional needs.  Do not expect or allow your teen to feel they need to take care of you emotionallyThat is not their job.  As parents, we should be serious about helping our kids emotionally through the divorce, not the other way around.  However, I have seen this very thing way too often.  KJ wanted to become friends with his son rather than be his dad after the divorce.  He shared all of his grief and pain with Reg and looked to him to make him feel better.  This was very unfair to his son.  Reg has only one dad and now he wants to be friends?  KJ should have watched out for his son and protected him emotionally, not expect him to carry his own load and now his dad’s too.

How can we help our teens to move forward in spite of the divorce?

  • Never criticize your ex in front of your teen.  Your child knows you and can tell if you mean what you say.  For her sake, control your nonverbal cues so that they do not contradict what you are trying to portray.  Rolled eyes, smirks, slamming doors, in response to an ex are interpreted correctly by your teen.  More than younger kids, teens grow very tired of fighting and see parents who engage in bickering and name calling as immature or even worse.  Take the high road.
  • Maintain a calm, positive attitude in front of your child.  Not to say they can’t ever see you upset but the usual atmosphere of your home should be a positive environment.  As the adult, you have the power to set the tone for your home.
  • Establish and stick to a realistic and normal daily routine.  Teens deal better with stress if they can maintain a degree of predictability.  In their minds, it’s quite different when they bend the rules and they probably will, but they need to know what the usual routine is and what is expected of them.
  • Anticipate signs of stress.  Watch for signs of depression and take seriously any talk of suicide.  Notice changes in eating habits or sleeping patterns or if they have a diminished interest in people or the activities they used to love.  Remain lovingly firm about behaviors that are not acceptable but give generous amounts of support, reassurance and understanding.  If need be, seek professional assistance.

    Image: Wendy MacKay

    Image: Wendy MacKay

  • Encourage your teen to talk about her feelings but be prepared for questioning, criticism and maybe for the first time, your teen’s disappointment in you.
  • Talk to the other adult’s in your child’s life to ask how they interpret how your teen is responding to the divorce.  You may be surprised to learn that your teen behaves differently around others than she does at home.
  • Your teen may become very possessive of you and may be threatened by new relationships you form particularly of the opposite sex.  So remind them that they are and always will be very important to you.
  • Make time for your teen.  Take them out, just the two of you, and enjoy something they enjoy.  A meal, a movie, a walk, whatever.  Let them know you are interested in how they are doing.
  • Set consistent limits that are balanced with more freedom and choices.
  • Allow them to have input about visitation, but not so much that the teen is burdened by having to decide custody and access schedule.

If you notice your teen withdrawing from the family, having difficulty concentrating or engaging in high risk behaviors, I would recommend you get them professional immediately.  Don’t wait until they make a choice that will effect them for the rest of their lives.

Acts 20:32 says – and parents you can pray this over your kids:

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified”.

Pray the word over your kids and receive God’s promises by faith for your kids.

 

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