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Navigating the Challenges Teens Face (Part 2 of 2)

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Navigating the Challenges Teens Face (Part 2 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 2 of 2)

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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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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Episode Summary

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 2 of 2)

Episode Transcript

Opening:

John Fuller: Jim Burns was our guest last time on Focus on the Family. And he made a rather humorous comparison between teens and cats.

Excerpt:

Jim Burns: Cats can be 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.

End of Excerpt

John: Well, Jim Burns is back to share some really solid advice to help you, as a parent, encourage your teen in Christ and help them through the really difficult adolescent years. I’m John Fuller. And your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: And if you haven’t heard the broadcast last time, let me encourage you to go back and listen to part one of the conversation. If you’re the parent of teenagers, this is the kind of information you’re going to need. I learned so much from it, and we’re going to continue the discussion today.

John: And Jim Burns is a popular youth and family expert. He’s the president of HomeWord and is the executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at as Azusa Pacific University. And it’s a pleasure to have him back.

Body:

Jim D.: Jim, welcome back.

Jim B.: Great to be with you guys. I – I enjoy it so much. And I just wish I had John Fuller’s voice.

Jim D.: Yeah – no kidding. We call him butter voice, by the way. So…

Jim B.: Yeah. It’s just – it’s just remarkable.

Jim D.: When John and I are in public, they’ll come up. And they’ll go to John and say, “You have the best radio voice. And then they’ll look at me and say, “Who are you?”

(LAUGHTER)

Jim B.: Exactly.

John: You’ve got the – you’ve got the radio face. No, wait. You don’t.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim D.: Thanks a lot, John. We’ll talk about this later.

Jim B.: I was thinking that. But I wasn’t going to say that on the air, John.

Jim D.: (Laughter) I can take it, boys. Go ahead. Hey, Jim, we did talk last time about marriage, which I really appreciated.

Jim B.: Mmhmm.

Jim D.: It’s so important to keep our marriages strong through this journey of being parents of teenagers. And I was trying to identify with those folks that are struggling with teens. I mean, I have teens. John, you have teens. This is part of life. And whether you’re a Christian, or maybe you’re not following Christ, it is a tough period of time, and you need to lean into the Lord. And I so appreciated that affirmation yesterday to do that and to realize that, on the long term, your kids will be okay, that this isn’t who they’re going to be for the rest of their lives. And that’s sometimes hard to believe when you’re in the moment.

Jim B.: Yes. And we probably need to put that on our mirror: “They will not always be like this.”

Jim D.: Yeah (Laughter).

Jim B.: You know, they’re going through a tough time.

Jim D.: Oh, it’s true!

Jim B.: And so, because they’re going through a tough time, that often means that we’re going through a tough time. Think about this. You have a loved one in your family. And they’re having a rough go, whatever it is, whatever the age. Well, then that puts tension in the marriage. That puts tension, you know, in the whole family. Well, the teenage years is a tough time. You know, a lot of people, when you ask, “How did you like your teenage years?” They’ll say, “I didn’t like my teenage years.” I’ll say to parents, “You’ve got to remember what it was like for you when you were 15…

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: …Because they’ve kind of forgotten that. But, again, that’s why if it’s marriage, or whether it’s our own relationship, or our worries and our fears, it’s a really unique time. We probably don’t speak enough about that incredible season in life that causes so much tension within a family.

Jim D.: Now, look. It’s true that you might be, as a parent of teens, having a great experience. That can happen. I mean, I – someone listening is going, “Oh, my kid’s 12. This is horrible. What’s going to happen?” It can be a great experience. But we’re just saying, by and large, given the way the culture is folding in on our kids and the peer pressures that they have today, it can be very difficult.

Jim B.: Right – I mean, let’s hope for the best. At the same time, let’s, you know, expect that there might be a bump in the road, because when you know that might be coming that’s actually easier to handle it.

Jim D.: Well, in fact, in your book, you mentioned a friend. I don’t know the context. You don’t give names. And I’m sure, if there are names, they’re different names, because you would do that. But you talked about this friend whose kids have had all kinds of troubles, drugs and other things. And I guess the reason I’m asking about that is that these are good adult parents. These are people who follow the Lord. We touched on it last time. But one of the most difficult things is we come into this with a formula. If we do A plus B plus C then we get this fantastic child who’s going to obey us. They’re always going to do what we want. Now, folks, can I just zero you in on the Lord? You know, here He is. He created Adam and Eve. He’s got to be the perfect Father, right? And here, Adam and Eve make decisions that mess everything up, that – they turn their back on their Father, their Creator. And it should give us a little bit of pause to say, “Okay. Lord, You were perfect. And You didn’t have perfect kids.” And that’s sometimes how we feel as parents. We’re pretty good. We’re doing things well. We’ve been Christians for 30 years. But our kids are not in a good place. And the main reason is – formulas don’t work.

Jim B.: No. I’m not a big formula person. And I don’t know that the Bible is filled with formulas.

Jim D.: What’s that story of that gentleman and his wife – the kids that crashed, that you use in the book?

Jim B.: Well, you know, this family – and I could actually name a number of families…

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: …who are amazing people.

Jim D.: It’s prototypical.

Jim B.: They really are – they really are good people. And, you know, their kids didn’t go that direction. And they were like, “What’s wrong with us?” And they took a lot of the blame and the pain and the shame. And, uh…

Jim D.: It’s not a bad place to start, right? I mean, there may be some things there.

Jim B.: Sure. You can always say, “What do I need to tweak? You know, Lord, what are You teaching me through this?”

Jim D.: But you gotta cut that off and say, “Okay, beyond this, I don’t see anything.”

Jim B.: Yes. And then there are – “What can I proactively do to help my kid get through this?” Because the bottom line is how do you raise responsible adults who love God?

Jim D.: That’s the goal.

Jim B.: And if you are going to raise responsible adults, you almost want them to skin their knee, because that’s how we learned. I mean, I learned a lot of my, you know, strongest growth experiences happened, because I skinned my knee, because I made some poor choices, because I said something wrong, or I did something wrong. And then I reacted in a better way. So, I think the parents have to be there for when they crash.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: And so, what I was suggesting to those parents is that, as your kids are going through this, don’t become a one-topic parent. Don’t just focus on their drug and alcohol abuse. Don’t just focus on their promiscuity that’s taking place, sexually. But actually, they know what you believe. Now be there for them, because when they crash – not if they crash, but when they crash – you want them to – to come back to you and actually to come back to you, so that they can get back to God.

Jim D.: So, in that moment – and I think that’s wonderful, that advice to make it multi-faceted, your relationship with your kid. And I think all of us – I feel that way sometimes. I’m a one-string guitar.

Jim B.: Right. Right.

And, you know, boom, boom, boom. It’s the same rhythm, same beat. “Why are you doing this? What’s the problem? Let’s talk.” Have you seen on your teen’s face, when you say the words, “Let’s talk?” They hear, “What’d I do wrong now?” Right?

Jim B.: Yeah. Exactly.

Jim D.: And so, that’s always part of it. But, how does a parent do that? It seems like we have to develop the capacity to get out of the one-string note.

Jim B.: Oh, it’s so hard.

Jim D.: And how do you do it?

Jim B.: Oh, I have a friend named Rob. I actually talk about Rob in the book. And he actually is – it’s his name. His daughter was kind of, you know, messing up. And he’s a graduate. He has an MBA from Harvard. And he always has a list for his daughter. And it’s like…

Jim D.: (Laughter) Oh, no.

Jim B.: …Let’s talk this, this, this. And, you know, his daughter’s rolling her eyes. And one day, she goes away to school. And he calls her up and says, “Hey, do you want to go snowboarding, actually here in Colorado?” And so, he took her snowboarding in Colorado. And he said he was dying the whole day, because he had 12 things he wanted to say, and all they did was just play together. At the end, he takes her back to where she was living here in Colorado – and takes her back and just said, “That was great.” They had dinner together, and it was wonderful. And the daughter texted her dad and said, “This was one of the best days I’ve ever had with you. And I know you had a lot of questions. But I just wanted to fill you in on some of the questions that you probably have.”

Jim D.: (Laughter).

Jim B.: This is a 19-year-old, so she’s a little older and wiser. And Rob went, “Oh, my gosh. What I needed to do was just” – she knew how he felt about every issue. So, now it’s time to not, again, go back to the one-topic parent. So, you know, you – I loved your illustration. I may steal it from you, Jim. But one string – because we tend to do that. If our kid is you-fill-in-the-blank in some kind of a crisis, then we just want to talk about that when, in fact, there’s more to be discussed and dealt with, and it doesn’t always have to be negative.

Jim D.: Right.

John: Jim, how do I know that this is the time to say X, Y or Z? Or how do I know this is the time to say nothing? This is a difficult thing for parents.

Jim B.: Yeah. It totally is. And I wish I had this easy answer for you. And I’m smiling, because I think you know from the scars on your tongue, because you know, I have a new book that just came out called, Doing Life with Your Adult Child: Keep the Welcome Mat Out and Your Mouth Shut. And I think, for most of us, we have to learn to keep our mouth shut, especially if we’ve already told them. Kids, teenagers, see unsolicited advice as criticism. And, you know, something getting back to what you said, John, and then also with Jim is – when they’re in trouble, one of the questions that they ask that they never verbally ask, but it’s in their head – is “Do you still love me?” So, they messed up. They still need to know that you love them. And that’s hard, because you’re mad at them. I mean, my goodness – they’ve just looked at porn, or they’ve just, you know, done something sexually that was crazy. Or they’ve done something with drugs or alcohol, or whatever. You’re mad. And yet, their question isn’t the same question we have. It’s, “Do you still love me?”

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: And I think, really, Jesus would have been the one that would have shown love, at the same time, a firmness, because you’re still parenting them. I mean, especially with teenagers – they’re still in the house. They’re still a part of the family. So, you have to be firm, but loving.

Jim D.: Yeah. It’s great advice – and, in fact, I’ve got five things that I’ve taken out of the book I want to just quickly mention them. You can drill into a couple of them. This is under that – I guess that banner of when parents have a troubled teen, they need to…

Jim B.: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim D.: …And let me fill in the blanks. You write in the book, persevere and seek God’s help. Find support, which I think is critical – can be difficult, though. Get on the same page with their spouse. Next, develop a contract for behavior. This is good. Okay, so far, I’ve been doing all of them. (LAUGHTER) Get an assessment. If the child continues to break the contract, that’s important, because you might have some learning disabilities, ADHD, who knows? And then finally, seek professional counseling if necessary. Elaborate on those.

Jim B.: Yeah. Well, actually, you can do all of those. And I hope a lot of the listeners are saying, “Wait. We’re doing this, and it’s still not perfect,” because that’s life. Okay?

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: But the truth is is that for a lot of times when kids are in trouble, we tend to, you know, not want to talk to somebody outside, because we’re embarrassed ourselves, or whatever – again, going back to the shame factor – or get the counselling, or create the contract. And a contract is something that – that Christian counselors use a lot, where, you know, if you take behavior – never do it in the height of the moment where there’s all kinds of, you know, flames being thrown at each other.

Jim D.: The battle.

Jim B.: The battle.

Jim D.: Never in the battle.

Jim B.: Sure. But create a contract. I find that – and don’t create too many contracts, because that’ll drive kids nuts and you nuts, trying to follow them. But, you know, have a contract or two. And, you know, the contract sounds like a legal term. You can literally write it out if you have to. But you don’t have – you could – you can just have a discussion with them, as well. Somewhere you need it written down, because they’re going to forget.

Jim D.: Or they’re going to feign they forget.

Jim B.: Exactly.

Jim D.: I didn’t realize that (laughter).

Jim B.: Exactly. So, it’s like – you know, Jim, you mentioned football. You’re had a football background. I played a little football. Believe me – not well.

Jim D.: (Laughter).

Jim B.: But, there’s the discipline. You do – you know, when Paul said to Timothy, “Discipline yourself with the purpose of godliness.” That’s a training.

Jim D.: Yes.

Jim B.: Well, what we do is we do that over and over and over again. And you know what? Pretty soon, you go, “Wow. It got better. It is better.” So you – those are truths that work with a troubled teen. And yet, at the same time, troubled teens will make choices that will go against that grain sometimes, too. You just – you keep doing it, though.

John: I can hear some parent thinking, “Yeah. I’ve got the contract. It’s about five pages long.”

Jim B.: Right – too long.

(LAUGHTER)

John: Is there a problem with that?

Jim D.: Sounds like a good contract.

Jim B.: No. That’s too long. I think I wanted to – when I found contracts were helpful, I wanted to do them all the time. And you just can’t, because again, your kids get – they’re going, “Look, not another contract.” So, you know, do what’s most important that you – and work through it. And then, you know, you can always trade contracts. But, I find that when kids are on the same page as you – kids – when they helped create the contract, they support the contract. And then you don’t have to – as a parent, you don’t have to go, “Okay. You’re in trouble.” You just have to say, “I feel so bad, because, you know, we created that contract. You were late for curfew or something, you know, somewhat easy. And I guess I need to take your phone. I’ll take it for two days. But, you know, you’ll get it right back after the two days, because I don’t think you’re always gonna be doing that.” So you’re showing belief in them, but they helped create the contract.

Jim D.: Jim, last time, we said we would talk about these big issues today. So let’s get into it. Um, Let’s go to technology. Cyberbullying – that’s a big issue. I think it happens with both genders, male and female. Speak to that issue. And how does a parent engage that in a healthy way if their daughter, for example, is being cyberbullied? What do you do?

Jim B.: Well, there’s a very good chance that their daughter will be cyberbullied in today’s world, because cyberbullying is on the rise like crazy.

Jim D.: 30-40 percent?

Jim B.: Exactly – huge. Somebody told me once, and I don’t have this statistic down, but 160,000 kids stay home each day, because of some kind of bullying. That’s not a good thing.

Jim D.: No.

Jim B.: Well, what I find – and this may sound interesting – but I find that the parents don’t – they want to come alongside their kids and let them understand that you feel their pain. But with parents, this is what I talk about with bullying. You get a point. The bully gets a point if the kid responds.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: Because they’re trying to get a response. So I say to the kids, “Don’t respond.” The parents – if the parents respond, the bully just got five points. So with the parents – unless it’s something of a sexual nature or it’s, like, sexting or, you know, something like that – I think it’s better for the kids to learn to kind of work it out. But the parents come alongside the child. Now, again, if it’s bad, I don’t think that the parent should ever go to the kid. I think they should actually go to the authorities, the school, the police if it was something, you know, crazy or the parents of the child. But, again, you’re trying to protect your own child.

Jim D.: Yeah. Let me ask you in that regard, because I think parents – we can be slow to pick up the cueing. So what do you advise with parents when you see it? Do you just sit back and observe, or do you engage?

Jim B.: I think you engage with your child. So instead of just sitting back, I think you say, “Oh my gosh. How did you feel? That – oh, that hurts.” I think you come right alongside. We had a cyberbully with one of our daughters. And I was kind of like, you know, Jim the sports guy. You know, “Buck it up. It’ll be okay.”

Jim D.: It’ll make you tough.

Jim B.: Yeah – this person tough. And my wife just totally came alongside of her and said, “I’m sorry. This is horrible.” And whatever – well, you know what? Cathy did the right thing…

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: …Because Cathy showed the empathy that my daughter needed, because when you’re a teenager, you know, a crisis is self-perceived.

Jim D.: Yes.

Jim B.: So, you know, one person could have a major bullying experience. And another one could have a pimple on their face, and it’s a crisis.

Jim D.: Sure.

Jim B.: So you know, react to the crisis. Cathy did a good job of reacting to the crisis, where I was almost like taking it no big deal…

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: …When in fact it was a big deal to my daughter. And I should have taken it with more empathy than I did.

Jim D.: Yeah.

John: Well, we want to really commend this book to you, Understanding Your Teen, by Jim Burns. It is really great. It’s got some super insights about character about faith, about some of the issues we’re talking about. Get a copy at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or call us. And when you do, ask to speak to a counselor, if you need to talk through some of these things with someone. Our number is 800 – the letter A and the word FAMILY – 800-232-6459.

Jim D.: Jim, with drug and alcohol abuse – and then we’re going to get into some depression, anxiety issues. But let’s combine all these things. Drug and alcohol abuse within teens is prevalent, even if you go to Christian schools – your kids are going to Christian schools, it’s there. Parents may not know about it, but it most likely is present. So the parent that hears about their 15-year-old – and you usually hear it from other parents, right? The best source of intel will be the boy’s or the girl’s friends…

Jim B.: Right.

Jim D.: …and their parents, because they talk. And then the kids tell their parents. And those parents call and say, “Hey. Check it out,” which is really good, because we’re all doing this for the benefit and the well-being…

Jim B.: Exactly.

Jim D.: …of the child. But speak to that issue of drug and alcohol abuse. What should a parent do?

Jim B.: Well, I think too many Christian parents are in denial. And really, there’s much of a – about a 5-10 percent difference. The latest statistics I’ve seen – 85 percent of kids who are Christian, who identify as a Christ follower, will try alcohol. That doesn’t mean that’s the worst thing.

Jim D.: Right. They’re not alcoholics per se, but they’re trying.

Jim B.: They’re not all alcoholics, or something, but they’re gonna try alcohol. Yeah. And, as parents – I’m going to answer your question, but I want to make sure we back up a little bit. They have to understand gateway drugs. The average age a kid will try alcohol is age 12. And…

Jim D.: Wow.

Jim B.: Yes.

Jim D.: That’s amazing.

Jim B.: Isn’t that amazing? It was 14-and-a-half, when I went to Anaheim High School in the shadows of Disneyland.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: So the sociological change over a, you know, couple of generations – it’s pretty amazing…

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: …Really. But it’s age 12. But then you moved from more beer and wine to nicotine. And one of the reasons why I’m down on nicotine is because if a kid takes a nicotine. Notice that I say nicotine, because cigarette smoking has been going down and down. Vaping, in just a couple of years, has caused the amount of nicotine in kids to go way up, so – because kids vape today. If kids vape, or use any kind of nicotine, I mean, I’m worried about their heart disease. I’m worried about, you know, lung cancer. But what I’m even more worried about is the gateway that if kids do that there’s a 80-percent chance that they’re going to try marijuana or harder alcohol.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: So the point being, as parents, don’t be in denial on this stuff.

Jim D.: Right. Act.

Jim B.: Okay? Yes. So when you hear it, then I think you confront the issue. But you don’t have to confront it in deep anger. You confront it by saying, “Hey, what’s going on here? And in our family, here are our rules. Here’s our policies. Let’s talk about this.” But a lot of kids don’t understand “gateway drug.” So, they don’t understand that, you know, with some kids, alcohol use leads to nicotine use which leads to smoking pot or harder alcohol, which then goes to the biggies like, you know, crystal meth and things like that. People don’t start on that.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: Well, kids don’t stand that either, because I come from a family with alcoholism. When my kids were about 13, I said, “Hey. Here’s a couple of things. You know, I don’t drink, because of you guys. I choose not to drink because of Christy, Rebecca, or Heidi.” And I said, “There’s a greater propensity toward alcoholism with people who come from a family with alcoholics. And whether you like it or not, you come from a family. How you’ll know – and we’re going to ask you not to drink. But how you’ll know is if you have a high tolerance for alcohol, you’re a budding alcoholic because all alcoholics, at one time, drink below their tolerance level.” As a parent, I was teaching them, just like you would with sex education. The more positive, value-centered sex education, less promiscuous they’ll be. The more positive value-centered drug and alcohol education – so, when that happens, use it not just as a time to punish. But use it as a time to help them make some better decisions…

Jim D.: To teach.

Jim B.: …because they don’t know.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: Or they’re going on the Internet. And they’ve got crazy stuff on pot.

Jim D.: And again, if you’re that parent and this is a zone of uncomfortable, call us. And John will give those details in just a minute. Jim, before we end, one of the things – well, here in Colorado Springs, I’ll just say it. I mean, we’ve been kind of given the teen suicide capital of the country. I mean, that’s unbelievable. And the point of that is there’s something going on in teens today. In one case, there’s a suicide pact at a school. The officials cannot unwind that. They don’t know who’s a part of it. It’s just every few months, someone’s taking their life. What can we do as a parent to do the best job to equip our teens to not make that fatal choice?

Jim B.: Right – well, we have to make sure that we are doing the kind of assessment that we need because a lot of times, we’ll say, “Well, they’re just down.” But maybe there really is a depression or anxiety that’s causing something where they need an assessment. They need help. I’m big on getting help.

Jim D.: Especially if you see those signs.

Jim B.: Exactly. But a lot of us, you know, go into denial. And there’s some real myths about suicide that, you know, kids have already gone and got help. And a lot of times they haven’t, you know…

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: …Before this process. I think we have to – from an early age, let our kids know that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem…

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: …Whatever that problem is. And so I think we can we can speak about it. The problem is, a lot of times, we don’t want to talk about, because we’re afraid that if we talk to our kids about suicide, they’ll go do it.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: When, in fact, they’re oftentimes wanting us to have conversations about it. And that’s one of the things we who work with adolescents do – is we’ll say, “Boy, that sounds like you’re going through a tough time. Have you ever thought about, you know, killing yourself?” The reason you say that – not because they’re gonna go, “Oh, that’s a good idea. I’ve never thought about it” – they may feel relief that, you know, there’s some help.

Jim D.: Someone’s noticing.

Jim B.: That there’s some help there – exactly. So, when it comes to suicide, which by the way is the third largest killer, moving quickly to the second largest killer among adolescents – when it comes to that then I think it’s important that we try to do as much preventative help as we can by making that a part of the family dialogue, especially if they’re suicides within the family system. So, that’s a time – like with us, I just gave an illustration about our family who has an alcoholic background. But if our family had a suicidal background, then that would have to also be a conversation. “You know, in our family, there’s people who have had these kinds of feelings. These are not bad people. These are just people who were troubled. And here’s what I would have hoped that, you know, grandpa or grandma or uncle or whoever would have done, instead of making it a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

Jim D.: And that’s so good, Jim. And we need to remember that. I’m still thinking of, you know, the signs. Could we be real clear here for the parents who they may be suspect something’s not right. But maybe it’s just a bad week, a bad month, a bad semester. You can really justify what’s happening and not really see the signs. So, I want to make sure parents know clearly what to look for.

Jim B.: Yeah. And, honestly, they could go online…

Jim D.: Yes.

Jim B.: …or they could actually go to the Understanding Your Teen book, and it would say the signs and the symptoms.

Jim D.: Correct.

Jim B.: Because a lot of the signs sound like just a regular teenager. If they violate their values, if they change friend groups, if they’ve given away a prized possession – so those are all things that sometimes teens do anyway. If there’s been a breakup, a romantic breakup is another major thing.

Jim D.: Those are signs of depression.

Jim B.: Well, those are also signs that they could be going – suicide.

Jim D.: Suicide.

Jim B.: You mentioned suicide pact – if they have friends who have either even attempted suicide – not killed themselves but even attempted, then there’s a greater chance that they will. Anytime you see a suicide – you’re talking about here in Colorado Springs – when there’s a suicide, then there’s many attempts they don’t really kill themselves, but they then attempt. So, you see that. You see oftentimes if there’s one, you see three right away – boom, boom, boom.

John: Those copycat.

Jim B.: Copycat-type things – so as parents, we’ve got to – when Cathy and I had our kids, it never dawned on us that we’re gonna become students of the teen culture. But, you know, we have to understand some of these kind of things. And again, we can’t always do it. So, you know, find the people around you who can help you figure that particular thing out. But if you ever have even a question, you know, get the help. What a suicide assessment counselor is gonna do with a teen is say, “You know, do you have a time and a place and a method?” And they’re lethal, if they say, “Yeah. You know, I was thinking about killing myself right after the football game, because my girlfriend broke up, and the method is a gun. And you know…”

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: “…I’m gonna do it here.”

Jim D.: They’re going to go through it.

Jim B.: They’re lethal. Take them to a hospital. Get them the clinical help that they need.

Jim D.: Yeah. And Jim, I don’t want to end on a note of desperation here. The Lord is in all of this. And He sees what our kids are going through. And He sees the difficulty. Give me a perspective, a spiritual perspective, so we can end on a note kind of from God’s vantage point. Even though things are troubling, things can be terrible, He still is in the midst of all that.

Jim B.: Right. Right. And, actually, I mean, we have to continue to be reminded that when our God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” when He says, “I will walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death” – we don’t think of our teens on the death side unless we’re talking about the most, you know, horrible things. But we have to be reminded that we don’t have to do this alone, that with God’s help – and I know that for – personally, if we were parenting our kids without the input of God, I’m not sure we could have handled it. I’m not sure our marriage would have handled it. I’m not sure our life would’ve handled it. So, you know, lean on God. Trust in Him. And He will help you with your path. He doesn’t say it’s going to be perfect.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: But He does promise to go along with you on this.

Jim D.: That is so true. And I think the key there – I would think that your teens are watching you in that way, too. They know what they’re doing. And depending upon how you respond to it is communicating a faith message to them. If you’re panicked and full of fear, they’re going to say, “Well, I guess God doesn’t work for my parents.” Right? In that regard. And so you have a lot to balance there as the parents, modeling a relationship with Christ, what needs to be done, that sense of peace and joy, even in the midst of pain – they’re going to look for that. Is it real in you? Because if it’s not real and you, I don’t know that I can embrace it. Is that fair?

Jim B.: Exactly. And, you know, the Proverbs 10:9 statement – “The man or woman of integrity walks securely.” And I’m convinced that the man or woman of integrity – that doesn’t mean perfection. That means being authentic, having an authentic faith – who walk with God with integrity – their kids will also be more secure.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: So we just do the best we can with God’s help.

Closing:

Jim D.: Well, Jim, you’ve done it. And you’ve given us a lot of great things to discuss with our spouses, with our teens, with maybe our preteens as well, to start that discussion early. Understanding Your Teen – I mean, that’s very comprehensive. I so appreciate it. Subtitle – “Shaping Their Character, Facing Their Realities.” It takes a lot of courage, mom and dad. But I’m telling you, those kind of hard, insightful discussions, wrapped in the grace of God, is the way to go. And there is no formula. I wish I could say, “If you do this, you’ll get that.” But it’s a predictive model, that if you do these things well, it’s more likely your child will do the right thing. And as we said earlier, it’s all wrapped in the love and truth of God.

So, Jim, thank you for being with us. If you are in that spot where you need Understanding Your Teen, call us, and ask for a copy of Jim’s book. And if you can make a donation to help us, that would be great. If you can become a monthly giver here to Focus on the Family, to be a part of the ministry and help more parents do the job that they’re hoping they can do, we would appreciate that. And we’ll say thank you for supporting the ministry, by sending you a copy of Jim’s book. And if you can’t afford it, get a hold of us. We’ll get it in your hands.

John: And certainly, we have, as Jim mentioned earlier, caring, Christian counselors. There are a lot of tough things that you might face as the parent of a teen. We’re here to help. We have so many resources and those counselors. The phone number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Online, we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim D.: And John, we have a great new tool for parents, also for teachers, youth workers, pastors, called Alive to Thrive. It’s really to identify those teens that are struggling, moving toward depression and potentially suicide. It’s filled with expert input. Dr. Kathy Koch, who’s been on the broadcast, is part of it and several others. But it equips you to better understand that environment and what you can do as an adult in the lives of these kids who are struggling.

John: Yeah. Check out Alive to Thrive. We’ll have details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim D.: Jim, thanks again for being with us.

Jim B.: Great – thank you. And thank you for the courage and the boldness that every day you do here at Focus on the Family.

Jim D.: Well, I appreciate that.

Jim B.: Appreciate you so much. 

John: Well, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thank you for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back next time, as we once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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