Focus on the Family Broadcast

Navigating the Challenges Teens Face (Part 1 of 2)

Navigating the Challenges Teens Face (Part 1 of 2)

In a discussion based on his book Understanding Your Teen, Jim Burns offers advice for how parents can help their teens deal with the challenging issues they face, including the use of technology and social media, peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, the transition to adulthood, and more. (Part 1 of 2)



Jim Burns: We’re doing these things. You know, we listen to Focus on the Family. We’re doing what they told us to do. And if they told us to buy a book, we bought the book. We tried it. But at the same time, you know, I often say, “A sinner marries another sinner, and then you have sinner-lings. And so, when you introduce the sinner-lings part of it, they are gonna, you know, miss the mark sometimes.”

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: The world we live in is a pretty hard place to raise a teenager. And if you have one in the home, you’re probably trying to really navigate those waters very carefully every day. Jim Burns is our guest on Focus on the Family, and he’s going to help you with some practical tips for talking with your teen and helping them maintain their faith. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, parenting is certainly not for the faint of heart, but there is hope to get through it and hopefully to get through it in such a way that your kids are in a good place, a healthy place. That’s the goal. And you know what? With God’s help you can find a strong connection with your child and help them through the teen years. I’m living it. I’ve got two teenagers right now, so I think I know many of the things you may be struggling with, too. It’s just part of being a parent today.

And we’re gonna talk with Jim, because he has such great insights. He’s been doing this for a long time, and he is so well-versed in what kids are experiencing, what the youth culture’s all about today. And he’s a popular youth and family expert. He conducts lots of parenting and youth seminars across the country. He’s president of HomeWord and executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. And he’s also the founder and host of the HomeWord radio program. So Jim, welcome back to Focus on the Family.


Jim B.: It is great to be with the both of you and your listeners. I love being with you. I feel – it’s kind of like party time for us…

Jim D.: (Laughter).

Jim B.: …before we broadcast. I just love hanging out with you.

Jim D.: All right, so Jim, on behalf of all the parents of teenagers, let me just say, help! Help!


Jim D.: What is going on? I mean, it is tough today…

Jim B.: It is.

Jim D.: …The culture and what’s going on.

Jim B.: No, it is.

Jim D.: You hear this every day.

Jim B.: Yeah, well, it’s tough today, but, you know, if – if you would talk to parents of another generation, they would have said it was tough, too.

Jim D.: But, come on, Elvis…

Jim B.: No.

Jim D.: …Presley is nothing compared to today.

Jim B.: (Laughter) You’re right. Well, I often say we were 13, 15, 16, but we were never their age, because they experience so much, so young.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: And you’re right – you know, we talk about the culture, and the culture has bombarded us with things. As parents, we have to be more proactive. We have to be more intentional, more prayerful. And I believe that they can get through it. But the truth is is that we, as parents, have to make sure we’re students of the culture and we understand that it is a transition time. Cathy and I would look at ourselves, when our kids were going through the teen years – because they’re older now – and we would say, “Okay, this is a transition, right? They were children.”

Jim D.: (Laughter).

Jim B.: “And they’re gonna one day become adults. But it’s transition, right?” And yeah, that’s good advice – that it is a transition.

Jim D.: It is. You illustrate in your book, which is great, by the way – Understanding Your Teen – you mention this dog and cat story…

Jim B.: Yeah.

Jim D.: …How to parent – (laughter) – what in the world are you bringing dogs and cats into parenting for?

Jim B.: (Laughter) Well, actually, our family have – we’ve had cats, and we’ve had dogs.

Jim D.: Oh.

Jim B.: And Milo, the cat, was kind of moody and would come up on my lap every so often and then, all of a sudden, you know, not purr but look at me and go “rawrrr” and move on, and…

Jim D.: (Laughter).

Jim B.: …We’d see him about two days later. And the dog never did that. So…

Jim D.: Always happy.

Jim B.: Always happy. We have golden retrievers, and they’re just amazing. They like us, even if we don’t like them. But, the fact is is that I think teens are like cats. So you have…

Jim D.: (Laughter).

Jim B.: …children and…

Jim D.: So up until teenagers, they’re more like dogs…

Jim B.: They’re dogs, yeah.

Jim D.: …In a good way.

Jim B.: Exactly. And then there’s this one day when they morph into a cat.

Jim D.: (Laughter).

Jim B.: And, I mean, and you’re saying what happened here? Where did this come from? Now, the good news is I think for most parents – and it’s hard when you’re in the middle of the battle and both of you all are in the middle of the battle – but in the middle of it, you know, they do turn back to dogs. I’ve had that experience. Now…

John: Now what, what are the…


John: …characteristics you are describing here for those who may not…

Jim D.: Hey, just leave it…

John: …Have dogs?

Jim D.: …For the audience to know, John.

Jim B.: Exactly.

Jim D.: I don’t know.

Jim B.: Well, I would – again, all of your cat lovers are gonna write to you all, not me. But, you know, cats can be – you know, emotional. Cats can be temperamental. Cats can be, you know, somewhat moody. And I’m not saying every teenager in the world is that way, but a lot of them are, because again, they’re moving from dependence toward independence. When they do that, it’s very much the possibility that they’re gonna go through kind of an experimental phase, that they’re gonna, you know, color outside the lines, that they’re gonna challenge you with their faith. They’re gonna challenge you – period. Cats tend to challenge you more – at least that was my experience as a proud cat owner – than dogs. Dogs just kind of come back for more and are happy to be there. So, I’m not saying that it’s just about emotions, but I am saying that that’s very – actually, this is deeper than we’re talking about, because – because kids are going through all kinds of things. They’ve gone through puberty. They’ve started at puberty, and now they’ve gone through puberty. And that really changes you.

Jim D.: It does change you. And – and this is why we’re talking about this today, because parents, all of us, need to be equipped to better handle that. I think one of the most difficult things, Jim, is, as parents, we live just in the moment, and we’re not looking long-term. And we’re gonna get to some of those questions in a minute, but first, the big picture – you and several experts, when it comes to teenagers, have pointed out that the term teenager is fairly new, I think…

Jim B.: Right.

Jim D.: …1940s or 50s.

Jim B.: Yeah. Yeah, 1942.

Jim D.: And it used to be you went from childhood to adulthood. You…

Jim B.: Right.

Jim D.: …started working. Even biblical tradition, you know, the boy did his bar mitzvah, he became, you know, socially responsible at 13, he probably got married around 15-16, and then started his family. Describe the evolution now of where teenagers – where that term came from and what we should expect…

Jim B.: Yeah.

Jim D.: …from them.

Jim B.: Well, it’s interesting – the term actually came – 1942 Scientific American – somebody just called them teenagers. And a lot of this teen stuff can go back to – to the brain, because your brain, the frontal cortex of your brain, which is the decision-making process, is still developing during those teen years.

Jim D.: Especially in boys, right at the end…

Jim B.: Absolutely.

Jim D.: …I mean, boys till 25, which is why your teenager might say, “I’m going to jump off this thing,” whatever it is, you’re going, “That’s fatal.” And, you know, they just can’t think it through, sometimes.

Jim B.: Well, I remember my daughter, we were – we live on a small – we live on the Bible street, so we live on Timothy Drive. And my daughter was standing on top of a car pretending like she was – with a friend of hers – and she was pretending like she was surfing down the street. And Dad turns the corner with Mom, and, of course, my wife pretty much right there had a heart attack.

Jim D.: The car was moving, that she was on?

Jim B.: The car was moving, yes, yes, yes. And I said…

Jim D.: Oh my goodness. What was she thinking?!

Jim B.: …I know, well, exactly. And I was thinking the same thing. But, at the same time, I went, well, you could kind of blame it on the brain, because when she’s – hopefully when she’s 25, she’s not going to be standing on the top of that car. Hopefully she’ll make it to 25. But the illustration, you know, bids that sometimes kids make some really poor choices. And parents have to understand this, when they’re raising teens. Really good parents have kids who make poor choices. And a lot of parents beat themselves up. I think we did. You know, our kids took a bump at times. They weren’t the perfect teenagers. And I thought they were going to be, because my background was student ministry. But with that, we would say we didn’t give them enough – you know, we went to Hawaii, instead of doing a mission trip. We should’ve prayed more. We should have done this more. We should had them a church more often. We took a lot of the blame when, in fact, part of it was just, honestly, teenagers going through an experimental stage.

Jim D.: Well, that’s a huge issue. And I felt that, too. And I think all parents feel that to a degree. But, speak to that parent who may have that prodigal now. I mean, they’re 23 or 25, and they’re not walking in the faith and the parents take a big part of that burden and that responsibility say, “We messed up.”

Jim B.: Well, we’re going to take it, Jim, it’s just going to happen. And yet, there is that season – if you look at faith formation – that kids have to disown their parents’ faith to own their own, to make it really good. And that’s not easy for the parent. It’s also not easy for the kid. And what I want to do is give those parents hope, because you’ll hear – and I’m sure it’s been on your broadcast, it’s anytime I talk to anybody about teens – you know, about 65 percent of kids who are in the church leave the church sometime in their college years, or you know, workforce years, or after 18 for a while. But what we’re seeing more and more is that they do come back.

Jim D.: Right, Dr. Powell at Fuller has done that research.

Jim B.: Exactly, Kara’s doing great research on that, and others as well. And what we do see is that the Scripture that says train up a child in the way that they would go and in the end they will return. It doesn’t say they’re going to go through it with smooth sailing.

Jim D.: Or when they are old…

Jim B.: Yes, exactly.

Jim D.: …Is another translation.

Jim B.: Exactly.

Jim D.: I always take a little bit of comfort in that.

Jim B.: And how you define old, I don’t know, because I used to define old at, like, 35. And now that I’m getting older I’m, you know, it keeps getting older, older is – but again, what I’m saying is is that if you were intentional, if you had faith conversations in the home, if they were raised with a student ministry, if they had the intentionality and the discipline of having prayer around the table – I’m not talking about toxic stuff, but good stuff – you know what? They kind of return. They return when they get married. They return when they have kids. Does everybody? No, but I think the parents who are just struggling like crazy because their kid goes, “I don’t wanna go to church anymore.” What they need to hear is that that may be a part of their becoming a stronger believer because they’re disowning their parents’ faith to one day own their own.

Jim D.: No, and that’s good to remember. Jim, I think for parents, it’s good to put the adjectives to this, if I can ask you to do that. And, again, you are an expert in youth culture. So, the parents who are panicked that are seeing – and you can name the things – how do you give them any kind of comfort that it will change, I mean, that things will be different? Just give us some of the adjectives. You’re talking to parents around the country, thousands of them. What do they say to you? What is normal today?

Jim B.: Well, I think what’s normal is they’re panicked. And they’re worried. And they are worried about the culture. And you and I know that this culture is not friendly to our teenagers.

Jim D.: Smartphones, I mean, we get more questions about smartphones, and when should I give my child a smartphone. Most of the expert opinion has been wait as long as you can to do that kind of thing.

Jim B.: Yeah, I think 31 is a good…


Jim D.: That may be a couple years too soon.

Jim B.: But you’re right. I mean, the questions are the practical side. How do I help my kids make right and wise decisions about pornography – and it’s the issues. I mean, the issues of the day – pornography, cohabitation changed. You know, when Jimmy Burns was growing up in Anaheim, California, the vast majority of people were not cohabiting. Today, even with Christian kids, they were often moved toward cohabitation. And yet, the science of cohabitation says that if kids cohabitate, then they’re going to have less productive marriages, less successful marriages, more adultery, things like that. So, yeah, parents are asking those questions. They are asking a lot of questions. Should I let my kid be on Snapchat? You know, kids are jumping off of Facebook, because, why? Their parents are on Facebook.

Jim D.: So the maneuver now is everybody get on Snapchat, and then they’ll get off that.

Jim B.: Snapchat, Instagram, you know, et cetera, yeah. And we don’t know what the next one will be.

Jim D.: But it is serious. I mean, the stuff that goes on there, the language that’s used, the friend groups.

Jim B.: Yeah, and, parents, be students of the culture. Get to learn the culture. But don’t be panicked by the culture, because God is bigger than the culture.

Jim D.: But let me push you there, Jim, because that’s hard to do, especially if you’ve become a follower of Christ and you’re trying to set a tone in your home that is holy, that is good, and then you find out your 14-year-old is on Snapchat using words that, I mean, my goodness, seriously?

Jim B.: No, I understand.

JIM D.: So, coach the parent.

Jim B.: It’s not easy.

Jim D.: I mean, what do you say to yourself before you go wring the neck of that child, I mean?


Jim B.: Well, you’d like to wring the neck. I don’t know that you do. But I think you have to show them lots of good discipline. At the same time, show them lots of good grace. And all studies show this, that the most powerful – even spiritual – influence in the life of a kid is their parents. So what’s the age where they’re going to maneuver that around? Well, it’s about 12, 13, 14, 15-ish. And that’s when they’re going to, you know, move a little bit. But, still, their parents are the most powerful influence. So hang – what I like to say is just, “Hang in there. Persevere.” I just happened – on the plane coming here to do the broadcast, I was looking at all scriptures on perseverance for something else that I’m talking on here in a couple of weeks. And, wow, there were a lot of scriptures related to the fact that what we’re called to do is persevere. Now, that’s not just for parents. But it is for parents of teenagers, that we have to persevere. But a lot of times what I’m saying is, is parent them, not for obedience, because they’re not going to be obedient at 14, 15.

Jim D.: Parents need to understand that clearly.

Jim B.: Yeah, yeah. Parent them to become responsible adults. And so, that means that even if they do those experimental things, they may have to fall. They may have to fall down, skin their knee. Help them up. Pick them up. Love on them through that process. But, let them skin their knee, instead of being the helicopter parent.

Jim D.: Right, now, Jim, I need – and I’d like some examples, if you can give them to me. I mean, that – that parent that hasn’t done the self-inventory, so when you say don’t parent them toward obedience, what does a parent parenting toward obedience look like? Give us the words.

Jim B.: It means that you are, number one, expecting them and having expectations that they’re going to be those perfect kids. And then, when it comes to obedience, that we punish them for things that are somewhat normal for teens. So, what I’m saying is, allow them to fail, allow them to hurt. Too many parents today aren’t leading. And so, what I like to oftentimes say to parents is, “No, you lead with authority.” They want to be their best friend. And I oftentimes say, “You can’t be their best friend. You know why? Because they already think you’re old.” So, just be the parent. Being a parent and having authority doesn’t mean that you yell, scream, shout, bite and all that. What it means is, is you lead them. And so, as parents, you lead. You know, and even in a business, the leader isn’t one who’s going to always have it right but the leader is going to point them in that direction. And that’s what parents have to do. And then you persevere. You do it today. And then you do it tomorrow, and you do it the next day. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.

Jim D.: Yeah, and, Jim, one of the difficulties is I think parenting in the rules can be fairly easy, especially for those of us who are Christians, because we want to live up to the rules. That’s kind of the expectation. And we want to do it well. And so, when we turn to our kids, we lay out the rules. This is curfew. This is what you’re going to do. And that part of parenting can be fairly easy for the Christian parents. The other side of this, though, which is an irony to me, is how do parents draw closer to their kids, or draw their kids closer to them? That can be the more challenging one for a rules-oriented parent.

Jim B.: Right, it is. Well, you know, I oftentimes say – and you’ve probably heard this before – but rules without relationship equal rebellion.

Jim D.: It’s the greatest statement of parenting.

Jim B.: So, if you give relationship to your kids, you can give them rules. I have a friend who’s a pastor in Oregon. He was having trouble with his kid, actually faith wise and some other, you know, things that the kid was doing. And I said, “You spend much time with him?” He said, “Yeah, we do, but, you know, we’re always talking about the, you know, the topics.” And I said, “You know, I know he plays basketball. Why don’t you go over to Walmart and buy a basketball hoop and put it in your backyard there and start playing basketball with him?” What was fascinating is over a period of time – and I watched this – basketball brought them together. And the rules, then, still were there. But, because they had a relationship, the rules were more acceptable to the son.

Jim D.: Interesting.

Jim B.: And it actually brought the son back to the Lord.

Jim D.: So, relationship works?

Jim B.: Yeah, exactly. So a relationship doesn’t have to be goody, goody, friend, friend. You can still have a great relationship with your kids, though, and not be a one-topic parent.

John: Jim Burns is our guest today on Focus on the Family. And he’s written a great book, Understanding Your Teen. We’ve got that at our website or call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY to learn how to get your copy.

Jim D.: Jim, the proof’s in the pudding, right? So, you have – if you don’t mind me asking – you have three adult daughters. I’m sure you and your wife Cathy were diligent, you being a youth pastor. What was it like for them, those valuable lessons? And then, how did they make the faith their own? I mean, you’ve said this a couple of times now. The kids at the teen years tend to separate from their parents’ faith, and they’ve got to embrace it for their own. How did your daughters do?

Jim B.: Well, our daughters did what most teens do.

Jim D.: Okay, that’s comforting.

Jim B.: I mean, meaning that our daughters were raised in the church. They loved the church. They loved Jesus. They went to vacation Bible school. As a family we prayed. We had 20 minutes a week little family devotion. You know, we looked good on paper. They got to the teenage years. And they said, “We’re not really sure we like church. It’s kind of boring. It’s clique-ish.” And they started saying this. Now, again, in our home we said, “Here’s the deal. You know, our home goes to church, so we’re gonna be a part of church whether, you know, you like it or not. Here’s – we’re asking you for, you know, a time in church. So, you can either be in the youth group. You can meet with us, personally. Or, you can, you know, be in the services.” And each of our kids kind of chose not to always be with us, I’ll tell you that.

But what was fascinating about that was, I look back at it now, they had to go through a process – and I mentioned this before – of disowning our faith to own their own faith. That was the most frightening time for Cathy and I, because we expected – because we had a student ministry background, I was a youth pastor – we expected them to be like our greatest kid from our youth group who loved Jesus, never, you know, walked away, you know, things like that.

Jim D.: Can I interrupt, just for a second? What drove you to have that expectation? Because you were the youth pastor?

Jim B.: Yeah, I mean, because…

Jim D.: I’m saying that for obvious reasons. I feel that way sometimes, too, some of my parenting will be because, hey, you’re my kids.

Jim B.: …Exactly.

Jim D.: And that’s not healthy, is it?

Jim B.: We’re doing these things. You know, we listen to Focus on the Family. We’re doing what they told us to do. And if they told us to buy a book, we bought the book. We tried it. But at the same time, you know, I often say, “A sinner marries another sinner, and then you have sinner-lings. And so, when you introduce the sinner-lings part of it, they are gonna, you know, miss the mark sometimes.” So, for Cathy and I, we needed a couple things. One is we needed to look at the long-haul, instead of the short, ‘cause short’s not good. They’re going to say – you know, my kids, and this is the teen years, I mean, emotional, talk about the emotions of them. But, you know, they would want to be a missionary one day, and then they would not believe the next day, and then they would be mad at the church the following day, and then they had decided that they wanted to now, you know, turn into the next – name the person – Amy Grant, whoever the singers were. I had all girls. And they all wanted to be, you know, singers, or whatever.

So we had to ride that rollercoaster. But we couldn’t believe every, you know, low turn or high turn, because there was a turn around the corner. We didn’t know that until we started being around other people. We were in a small group of couples. And it was great, because all of our kids had moments, and we sort of got to hear it from other angles. And so, I’ve found that having replenishing relationships and being honest about it, saying “Wow, our kids aren’t doing perfectly, and that’s really scaring us,” was actually good. We had a mentor couple who were older than us, who used to just kind of laugh at us, because they’d go, “Well, why do you think they’re gonna be perfect? They’re teenagers. This is what teenagers do.” And their kids had already gone through the teenage years and were living a good life, okay? Not the perfect life, but living a good life.

So what we found was having replenishing relationships around us really, really helped us. And then we would get those moments with our kids that weren’t so bad, because you know – and it didn’t seem like any three of our kids rebelled at the same time. They’re all strong-willed. And fascinating enough, you know, like our one – our oldest one, Christy, she was the president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at her school. She, you know, sang in the worship band. But she was the one who gave us the hardest time at the same time, because in our home, it was different than what she personified a church…

Jim D.: That must’ve concerned you, too.

Jim B.: Sure it did.

Jim D.: You know, okay, this is a double standard, a double life.

Jim B.: Exactly, you know, at the same time, for both Cathy and I, we had to figure out – how do we get on the same page with some of these discipline things? And I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve written on the teenage years and speak so much on the teenage years, because I think parents, honestly, need the tool to say, “Okay, it’s the cellphone.” You take the cell phone. So, if you miss this curfew, then what’s a good plan? Well, we’re going to lose your cellphone for two days. And then you hand them the cellphone right back after those two days and say, “I believe in you. I think you can do this. But if the curfew this time, now it’s gonna be four days.” And so, Cathy and I, as much as possible, had to be on the same page, because in our family I’m kind of the nicer guy and – not that Cathy’s not the nice guy. But she – she had firmer discipline, probably rightly so, because I wanted to be the Disneyland Dad so often. So, by us being on…

Jim D.: Not me. (LAUGHTER) I’m totally that way!

Jim B.: …So, we had to actually have kind of a plan ahead of time.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: And then we found that it was easier for us to have that discussion before, you know, the kids did whatever they were gonna do. And, you know, by being around people who had teens, it made us feel better, even when they said, “Yeah, teens are gonna, you know, goof up sometimes.”

Jim D.: Jim, in this regard, I just want to play out a couple of scenarios and get your response to them, because I think, like most parents, they’re probably living in places that you and I, John, live and people that work here at Focus, it’s really no different. We have access to a lot of resources, but just the generic points. And temperament matters when it comes to parenting. We’re wired differently. Typically, people marry their opposites. So, to your point a moment ago, with Cathy being more the disciplinary and you’re more the Disneyland Dad – I like that description – you know, that’s kind of normal in the parenting struggle. And being on the same page can be difficult.

But I want to play those scenarios through, because of moms and wives listening right now, and dads and husbands listening, that discussion that might happen in your bedroom, or in the garage, or the kids or away. And the one parent, usually the disciplinarian parent, is saying to the other, “Man, you’re not doing it. You’re failing as a father. You’re failing as a mother.” And you get this war going in your marriage as well. Speak to that desperate moment, because you’re coming at this from a different place. You have different long views of what the kids are going to do. You have a different reality check. Maybe one knows this is a dip, this is teenage years, we’re gonna be here, and the other one’s panicked. And out of that fear comes a lot of emotion. Speak to the couple that’s struggling right now. They’re listening. They love the topic. But, man, their marriage is struggling, because if we didn’t have teenagers, we’d have a far better marriage.

Jim B.: Well, you know what? If you didn’t have teenagers, you might have a far better marriage. As we started looking at the phases of marriage, one of the most difficult seasons of a marriage would be teenagers, exactly because of what you just said, because…

Jim D.: It rips you apart.

Jim B.: …Exactly, and what I find and what I try to help parents understand – and this helped Cathy and myself, it wasn’t perfect at times, of course – but we needed to be on the same page as much as possible. And so we started – I tell people read a book a year on parenting and read a marriage book a year. But, what we said was if we can get kind of a plan together, it’s better. So then, Cathy, who tended to be more of a discipline and me less – she was probably too forceful, me, less forceful. So, you know, we make a great couple that way (laughter). And of course that bugs me, if she’s being too forceful. And it’s bugging her if I’m not.

Jim D.: Because you’re being expected to live up to those expectations and that draft, and that’s hard, and vice versa. You’re weak. Jim, come on! Come on! You got to be a parent, not a friend.

Jim B.: Exactly, so what we needed to do was have a couple of strategic resources, okay? And we had a couple of strategic resources where we’d say, “This is what they say,” and we kind of were able to get out of the emotion of our relationship and go, “This is how you do good discipline.” And so, we would find people who we could relate to, mostly. Now, again, we had to also realize that in our marriage, we’re going to agree – if we can agree on 80 percent of co-parenting, we’re awesome, because – and there’s things about Cathy that I respect and admire her so much. And like, say for example, we have a different philosophy on money with our kids and school. So, those are two kind of big things.

Jim D.: Who wants to spend money? Who wants to? You?

Jim B.: Oh, no, I want to spend money.

Jim D.: Oh, we need to hang out.


Jim B.: Exactly, but even with our kids, in terms of how we handle their money, how we handle – when they were teens. So what we had to realize was that, you know what? She’s an educator. She’s doing a good job. I wouldn’t have done it this way with her homework – the way she handled the kid’s homework and things like that. But I had to actually agree to disagree and back her. And that for me was humbling, because I thought I had, you know, I always say to Cathy, “In my humble opinion,” and she always says – smart-alecky goes, “Yeah, in your humble opinion, you think you’re always right.”


Jim B.: But, the point being is that I needed to just say, “No, that’s healthy she’s not some kind of whacked out, you know, person. So, let’s go with that.” And then I would get behind her, because I think the more times we can be behind each other, even though Cathy knew we were in disagreement over a couple of things, but if she knows I’m behind her, I’m for her, not against her, we’re on the same team, working with these kids, it really is better for the marriage. It’s also better for the parenting. I don’t think our kids expect us to always agree on stuff. But if we can agree on most things, that’s going to help them. They’re going to have, not a divided front. We, you know, united, you know, is what we need to be. And then, if we’re gonna have those, you know, bedroom conversations, we need to close the door, have the bedroom conversations to talk about – how are we going to relate to this kid?


Jim D.: Well, Jim, this has been great. And it’s just the start. I want to come back tomorrow, and I want to talk about some of those more serious teen issues. It could be, perhaps, drug abuse, you know, tobacco. Vaping is big now. And these are all things – I know you’re going, “No, not in the church.” Folks, it’s happening. And we want to highlight this for you, so that as a parent of a teenager, or maybe just beyond teenagers, you’ve got a clear view of what’s going on in the church today. And it’s important to cover that. It’s not to expose people to these things, if they’re not doing it. It’s to equip parents who are in the bottom of the barrel right now, feeling desperate, emotionally, on what are the next steps. So we’ll cover that. We’ll start with technology. I want to get into that a little bit more. But let’s do it.

And you’ve got this great book, Understanding Your Teen, that is a guide for parents to be able to start to lay the groundwork for doing it better. And I hope, if you’re in that place, get a copy of the book. Order it right here from Focus on the Family. In fact, if you send a donation of any amount today, we’ll send it to you as our way of saying thank you. And for the parents who might be in a tough financial situation, we want to equip you. And there are donors to the ministry here at Focus that want to equip you, as well. So, we’ll send it to you, if you can’t afford it. Just get in touch with us. That’s part of the ministry here, so thank you for participating in that way.

John: And if you can make that a monthly donation, we’d surely appreciate that uh, and we will send the book. If you can’t do that monthly commitment, we understand. Uh, make a donation of any amount today and we’ll still send that book to you.

We’ll invite you to call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY – 800-232-6459, or stop by to make a donation and get your copy of Understanding Your Teen.

Jim D.: Also, John, let me remind folks of our counseling department. I mean, they are there for you. If you’re struggling and, you know, you may be feeling hesitant – you’re not sure if this is normal, call us. We have caring Christian counselors who can talk you through that situation…

John: And they’re terrific.

Jim D.: …that you’re facing. And they’ll give you some advice – they’ll probably also send you a lot – lot more resources to help you with. In addition to that, we have something relatively new called Alive to Thrive, which is to equip parents, youth pastors, teachers, with the ability to understand anxiety and depression in teenagers. It’s a critically important topic, especially given the rise in suicide rates among teenagers. So this is a great free resource. You can get it right online at Focus on the Family. So thank you. And do lean on us. We’re here, and we want to be that pillar for you.

John: Mmhmm. And once again, our website is Well, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller. Join us next time. We’ll have Jim Burns back and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Help prevent teen suicide!

According to the CDC, suicide is now the second leading cause of death for all Americans age 10-34. Your support can help save precious lives and allow us continue to make Alive to Thrive FREE for parents and youth workers. And when you give today, we'll send you a copy of the book Understanding Your Teen.

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