Archive for the ‘Parents & Families’ Category

failing-grade-mNot many of us particularly want to fail at anything in life…and for me that goes for anything from my marriage, family, career…and all the way to checkers and video games.  Bottom line…I like to win!  And if we’re being truthful, well…don’t we all?  We live in a society where we reward people for just about anything, and in fact, in our attempt at fairness and equality, we’ll give out medals and ribbons just for showing up!

Now for the record, I do think there’s some benefit to downplaying the ‘win-at-all-costs’ attitude, especially for those parents that try to live vicariously through their children.  But I also think our society has gone a little overboard with the paranoia that not rewarding a 17th place finish may just hurt little Timmy’s feelings and crush him for life!  It’s a delicate balance for sure as a parent to reward and strive for the right things, yet to also acknowledge the realities that not everyone wins at everything in life.  We’re dealing with that in the lives of our children right now.  Yesterday we were at a family bbq and games night at our church, and there was a game where you could win a glass jar with a goldfish.  One of our kids won…the other came up short.  You would have thought it was the end of the world to not take home a $.50 goldfish!  But to offset the remorse of the kids who didn’t get a goldfish, they did end up walking out with a ‘consolation’ prize for…yep…just stepping in line and trying.

Again, I think it’s good to offer rewards, but when our kids are raised in an environment that can’t tolerate any mention or notion of failure, it really causes me to ask; “what kind of kids are we raising, and will they be able to handle the inevitable rejection and failure that awaits us at some level in life (school tests, job interviews, rejection letters from post-secondary schools, dating relationships, sports…)?”  I mean, even the bible makes it pretty clear that it’s not the goal of a devoted Christ-follower to just be in the race, but to strive and press on towards the prize (Heaven, a life in pursuit of Christ…hearing God say “well done good and faithful one…nice work!).  At some point you have to make a decision as to whether or not you’re gonna actually get in the game and do something…there’s not much fanfare mentioned in scripture for those who simply ‘participate.’  But that’s a discussion for another post!!

So I found it refreshing today when I found this article from Rhett Smith waiting for me in my inbox.  Rhett is a professional counselor and author, and contributes to numerous article on family and parenting with the Fuller Youth Institute.  His article adeptly addresses the same question I asked above, and elaborates on the theology and fear of failure, as well as what parents can do to actually embrace failure as sacred and fertile ground for growth in our lives, and our kids.  You’ll also find some helpful action steps to take as a family so you can start the process of assessing failure as a tool to move ahead, not behind!


url-7-600x385The title alone should cause some neck hairs to stand at full attention, but after reading a recent Nerve magazine article, it’s definitely another reason why teens need godly adults in their lives to help them identify truth & health vs. deception & moral corruption.

The author, Kate Hakala, uses input gathered from teens about the top 10 reasons they feel that hooking up with a stranger is actually a good thing.  The author holds nothing back, and obviously her own morals are severely lacking.  It’s a shame that people are buying into this, but then again, a lot of her research is coming from the perception of teens themselves…or at least that’s the angle she’s taking…I’d like to see the source research on this where it was teens that actually responded, vs. college/university students and younger adults.

Now might be time for some of us parents to have a morality chat with our youth…not dwelling on the obvious of what’s accepted and happening, but rather on the ‘what ought to be’ and the consequences of walking outside God’s moral boundaries.

FRANCIA RAISA, DAREN KAGASOFF, SHAILENE WOODLEY, KENNY BAUMANN, MEGAN PARK, GREG FINLEYThe title is almost an oxymoron!  Although the average teen likely has a few things going on in their lives that they work hard at keeping well-hidden, they also seem to work equally hard at wearing their life on their sleeves.  The emotional ups-and-downs of a teen are like watching a Leafs game…so much promise, so much expectation, so much frustration, so much overachieving, so much underachieving…arriving late, leaving early, frenetic pace, lethargic tempo, controlled system, out-of-control-in-your-face…you get the picture!

As you can see, it’s no secret that most teens have a lot going on in their lives to process…and that’s just the emotional aspects to sort through, let alone the relational, physical and spiritual elements.  I’m not going to try to tackle all the above elements of the teen life, but I am focusing in on one huge element…their online and social media lives!

Just where exactly is the “average” teen spending their time online?  This infograph from the crew @ zone alarm certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but does shed some helpful perspective, in my opinion.  Thanks also to Kolby Milton @ Youth Ministry Media for the original source outlet.

A Couple of Nuggets to Chew On…

Trust vs. Awareness: a whopping 91% of teens said their parents trust them online vs. 56% of teens indicating their parents don’t know what they do online.

Teens Aren’t Shy: 32% of girls said they chatted with total strangers online, while 24% of guys did the same.

Too Revealing: 69% of teens indicate their online location…while some locations may be bogus, many teens I know do reveal their legit location.

So What?
Parents and youth leaders need to engage teens in conversation about their online habits.  If no one is going to ask them what they’re looking at/doing, generally they ain’t gonna share it voluntarily!  Just like adults need accountability, the same holds true for youth and teens…even more so.

One way we can help teens with setting online boundaries is to talk with them about who they ‘friend’ online.  Most see it as some kind of popularity contest and status level, but the vast majority of online ‘friends’ tend to be nothing more than mere acquaintances with no real investment in our personal lives.  Parents shouldn’t feel bad about inquiring about these areas with their teens, and teens shouldn’t feel threatened or that their privacy is being violated.  Open-ended and honest communication is the key…on both ends, but ultimately teens need to respect the authority and care their parents have with them.

Social Media Guidelines for Students and Job Seekers

Is it any wonder today’s teens, and adults as well, have a pretty short attention span?  According to Nielsen’s newest 2012 Cross Platform Report, the average American spends 34 hours a week in front of the TV.  Though that’s a profound amount of time with eyes glued to the flat screen, that’s not exactly the attention-grabber…it’s the way they’re watching TV.

There’s not too many North American households that don’t have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and according to the survey mentioned above, 40% of folks surveyed are whipping those bad-boys out during the majority of the time that they’re spending watching TV.  In fact, TV & media marketers are banking on you to do this.  That’s why you see so many shows flashing social media advertisements during their programming: “Don’t forget to visit Hawaii Five-0 online at…” and “use hashtag ‘Idolwatching’ while you….”

Our friends @ Nielsen provided a jack-dandy infograph showing how people of different ages browse social media on their tech devices with one eye, while they keep the other eye on the TV.  This just serves to further my concept of ‘Close Proximity Disconnection‘…

So…should we incorporate more of this multi-tasking into the normal learning experiences of youth/teens?

Should we (parents/teachers/youth workers) also provide some breaks from technology where people can just unplug?

What would/could that balance look like?


“Should I read my daughter’s text messages?”

“Should I limit the amount of time my kids spend online?”

“How can I prevent my kids from downloading raunchy music?”

These are all common questions parents across the planet are asking, and most likely, you’re asking them in your household too!   Most parents see the need for rules or “guard rails” with their children in every area from toy-time, back yard playing, playmates/friends, and especially media consumption.  Our family has 2 kids in the public school system, and as they continue their journey of growth and experience as grade-schoolers, we have the critically important task of figuring out which guard rails to set….and the best, healthiest way to implement them.

So how do we as parents, trying to set godly and healthy boundaries, implement these guard rails to our kids without going over the top?  How do we communicate the need for, as well as facilitate the consequences for straying outside of the guard rails?  In other words, how strict is too strict in today’s over-saturated media-driven, YOLO culture of teenagedom?

Jonathan McKee, president of The Source for Youth Ministry, posted a 3-part series recently about setting realistic guard rails in the home. Although there’s no instruction manual that comes with our kids @ birth…wait a minute…actually there is…the bible!  However, it can often be frustrating trying to navigate the waters of parenting teens, and although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all book to download from Amazon, I think you’ll find these posts pretty informative and helpful…I did!

Guardrails Are Only as Good as The Road
No Rules by Age 17½
Actually Setting Guardrails

As an added bonus to your pre-Christmas holiday shopping season, Jonathan also revealed some real-life application of what these guard rails can actually look like in his 2-part blogpost, Can I Smash My Daughter’s Cell Phone?

If you want to check out even more great articles and resources like these, then take a visit to (also a highlighted resource on the Family Corner @ Here & There...).  I hope you find these resources helpful and useful in your household, and in your quest to raise a godly and healthy family!