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Understanding How Your Teen Thinks

Air Date 11/03/2018

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In a discussion based on their book Your Teenager is Not Crazy, Jeramy and Jerusha Clark offer parents helpful insights on how their teen's behavior is being shaped by their changing brain chemistry.

Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt:

Jeramy Clark: And I will not let go until she makes me let go because I want her to know of my affirmation and my physical connection with her that’s real and it’s loving and appropriate.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Dr. Jeramy Clark. And you’ll hear more from him and his wife Jerusha about better understanding your teen on today’s Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, we had this couple on last year to talk about what is going on in our teens’ brains - that’s always fascinating and unexplored. We have another program with them today to discuss more aspects of your teen’s thought process so you can better understand them, therefore, better parent them. And it’s either a point of hope or one of fear, but brain research shows that a girl’s brain isn’t fully formed until her early 20s and boys in their mid-20s. We also want to remind you that you matter in the life of your teen, and Focus on the Family is here for you at every age and stage of your child’s development - including the teen years. We want to be with you every step of the way.

John: And we have resources for that entire journey. You’ll find all of the help you need at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast - or call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim: We also want to ask you to pray for Jeramy and Jerusha. Jeramy is battling a rare medical condition. He’s receiving treatment and thinks are looking positive, but I hope you’ll join us in petitioning the Lord for his favor.

John: And Dr. Clark served as a youth pastor for 17 years before becoming the pastor of discipleship at Emmanuel Faith Community Church. Jerusha is a writer and speaker, and together they’ve co-authored the book, Your Teenage Is Not Crazy. This is relevant to their lives, Jim, as well as ours. They’re the parents of two teen daughters. We’re gonna pick up this Focus on the Family broadcast, Jim, as you asked the Clarks about what’s happening in the teenage brain.

Body:

Jim: Um, let’s start here - let’s start with a recap. Uh, what is going on in a teenager’s brain? You compare it to scaffolding...

Jeramy: Sure.

Jim: ...Which is polite.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: Uh, so what is happening there? What - what’s going on?

Jeramy: Well, it’s interesting. For 17 years, I worked with youth. I did parenting seminars. And obviously, I knew, uh, it’ll be different when I am a parent of a teen myself. I always knew that. So when we started entering into those years of having our own teenage girls, we began to do research. And what we found was just mind boggling. I mean, it literally changed everything. It was a game changer. And so what we discovered - and for years we would just say, “Okay, yeah, raging hormones, testosterone, all of this is happening, and it’s gonna create this erratic behavior in your teen.” Well, what we discovered through researching neuroscience is that there is a whole pruning that’s happening neurologically in an adolescent’s brain. And this pruning, which is what it’s called, it’s arborization. There’s this pruning back, and there’s a specialization that’s happening in the brain. And as this process takes place, it literally creates chaos. So what’s fascinating is have you ever had a, uh, a house remodel of some sort - your kitchen, your bath?

Jim: I don’t want to talk about it.

Jerusha Clark: Yeah.

Jeramy: You don’t want to talk about it.

Jerusha: Exactly. Exactly.

John: They’re never on time...

Jerusha: Yeah.

John: ...Or on budget.

Jeramy: No. And - and it’s - it’s a mess. It’s uh, there are start and stops. Sometimes the electricity’s on, sometimes you have to turn it off, sometimes you have the plumbing, sometimes it’s - it’s off. The same can be true in an adolescent as their brains are being rewired and specialized. And so the research that we found literally is changing how we parent our teens every single day because what we know and what we discovered impacts not only how they behave but how we parent. And so that’s what we’re excited about in this resource because it’s not just something that we’re trying to put out there saying, “Hey, we figured all this out.” We have chapter after chapter where we’re saying “Try this today.” Based on this physical reality, based on what’s happening, we can have greater compassion, greater understanding, and we can parent better based on this information.

Jim: Well, let’s now get into some of those examples where, um, you can help your teen through some of those changes. What - what are those symptoms? And then how can a parent recognize that? And what are the triggers for us, as parents, to do it differently?

Jerusha: I think it’s helpful to use the metaphor of a remodeling as we look at each of these individual examples because it kind of encourages us to put the proverbial hard hat on. ‘Cause...

Jim: Yeah, right.

Jerusha: ...If you’re in a construction zone, you know there may be some nails exposed or some wires that are not put together. And so it allows you to just step back, look at things and depersonalize them. For instance, when your teenager says, “Just leave me alone,” think, “Okay, I gotta put my hard hat on here rather than retaliate.” When your teenager says, “Why are you looking at me like that?” Understanding that their ability to evaluate facial expressions is radically different than that of an adult helps you to just, again, take a moment to breathe and think, “How can I change my behavior?” We can’t control our teens. I know we all want to. And especially ladies, I’ll just say it to you because I’m a recovering control freak as a woman, we cannot control anyone but ourselves. And so as we, under the power of the Holy Spirit, are transformed, our teens are then able to see in us that change, and they are given the chance to change as well.

Jim: Speak specifically though to be on site - ask, listen, respect, which we pulled out of the book, don’t minimize, empathize, recognize the loss. Elaborate on those.

Jerusha: Mmhmm.

Jim: Because these are the tools that the listeners, particularly you, Mom, really need. So let’s just...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: ...Hit those.

Jeramy: Yeah, let me jump into, uh, one of the things that was really impactful for me was reading that I, as a dad, needed to mourn the loss of that toddler. So I - I had such great times with my toddlers, and it was so rewarding, so engaging. They’re so tender at that time, and there’s so much reciprocation. Like, you love them, they love you. They kiss you. You (unintelligible).

(LAUGHTER)

Jeramy: You throw them in the air and all of that. And for me to recognize as they were - they were changing, they were starting to push back, they were starting to get aggressive, they were starting to challenge me, which just - I didn’t - I wasn’t ready for it to be honest with you. And to read the fact that - that I needed to mourn the loss that I no longer had a toddler, that that little girl - those little girls don’t exist anymore. I have these young adolescent women who need a different dad. And so I really did - I spent maybe several weeks just, um, emotionally just wrestling with this fact that I have to change. They’re different. It’s no longer the way it was. And I had to mourn the loss of those little princesses. And it was challenging. And I could say I’m not still completely over it. It’s - it’s still hard.

Jerusha: What’s so cool though is neurobiologically speaking, those girls come back, they just come back stronger and different. So it’s kind of like a tulip. You know, in the winter, the bulb goes down into the ground, and you don’t see it, and you feel like is it ever gonna flower again? And then come the right time, there’s this re-blossoming. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing, even for the guys out there. I mean, they may not want to hear they’re blossoming, um, but - but it’s true, I mean, if we’re using this analogy of the tulip because it’s not that they’re gone forever, it’s just so hard when it’s underground.

Jim: Well and again, one of the things you speak to is this idea of ask, listen, and respect.

Jerusha: Yes.

Jim: When it comes to teenagers that can be hard because there’s so much going on there - the dynamic - and we’re not prepared, as the construction...

Jerusha: Yes.

Jim: ...Metaphor.

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: We want them to act and behave like we do because we see them as bigger, more mature, capable. They’ve got a pretty strong vocabulary.

Jerusha: Uh-huh.

Jim: But you’ve got to remember it’s still under construction.

Jeramy: Right.

Jim: So how do you stop and listen and do all the right things when sometimes, with the boys at least, I’m hearing, “Uh-huh”?

Jerusha: Uh-huh.

Jim: “How was your day?”

(LAUGHTER)

“Good.”

Jeramy: Right. We have to stop assuming that we know exactly what’s going on inside of them. We assume. We make assumptions. We assess what’s going on, and we jump to conclusions based on our own expectations and experiences from our past, or just even our upbringing. And so when we’re interacting with our teens, we can jump to the conclusions, and we’re already prescribing, we’re making statements, we’re correcting. And we feel like we have to correct, right?

Jerusha: Such a good point.

Jeramy: We’re always correcting and adjusting their behavior. And if we’re not careful, we’re just seen as somebody that our teens want to avoid because we are always prescribing for them what they have to do differently, what they’re doing wrong. And it could come across - in fact, there’s research that shows that if we’re not careful, we could just sound like the siren that’s always going off - that we’re always...

Jim: Oh, that’s interesting.

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jeramy: ...Yelling. They’re receiving what we’re saying as this we’re completely upset with them, and we don’t like them.

Jim: Yeah. Oh, that’s so true. But let me ask you the trigger there. I’m sure a lot of moms and dads are going, “Okay, that’s true, but...”

Jerusha: Right.

Jim: “...You know, the behavior is requiring interjection...”

John: Mmhmm, yeah.

Jim: “...On my part.”

Jerusha: Yes.

John: “When am I gonna address that?”

Jim: And maybe it’s 20 times a day - I don’t know - so it does...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: ...Sound like a siren.

Jerusha: But this is...

Jim: So what...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: What do you use as a parent as a trigger to say, “Okay, step back, take a deep breath”?

Jerusha: What’s so great is you have, at your disposal, a wonderful tool, and that is the question - asking. That’s why when you said ask, listen, and respect in that order - because the asking, it stimulates the area of the brain that is least mature in a teenager, which is called the prefrontal cortex. Now, a lot of people have heard nowadays that a teen’s brain doesn’t mature fully till the 20s. And they’ve heard about this prefrontal cortex, but they haven’t heard that in order to help it mature, they can ask questions. Asking a question forces the prefrontal cortex to engage. Think about how Jesus modeled this on Earth. He was always asking people crazy questions. Man has been, like, paralyzed for 38 years, and he says, “Do you want to be well?” Um, yeah.

You know, but we - we skip to statements. And so we are, in the book, always bringing back to whenever you can, ask a question, rather than make a statement. “Tell me more about that.” You know, your teenager’s ranting, and they expect you to say, “Stop that.” Instead, you say, “Tell me more about it,” or “Why do you think that occurred?” or “What is, in your opinion, the best solution?” They are expecting you to give them the solution. So you asking them to engage their prefrontal cortex, it’s like the ace in your hand, it really is. It’s hard.

Jim: Yes.

Jerusha: But it really is key - the question-asking.

Jim: I’m smiling ear to ear because it’s just like the Son of God - He knows...

Jerusha: Totally.

Jim: ...How we’re created...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: ...To say, “Okay, I’ll be there, and I’m gonna ask a lot of questions because their frontal cortex really needs to develop.”

Jerusha: Yes.

Jeramy: That’s right.

Jerusha: He was the master.

Jim: Isn’t that funny? Even though it’s for...

Jeramy: Yeah.

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: ...Thirty and 40-year-olds...

Jerusha: I know.

Jim: ...You know?

Jeramy: Right.

Jim: I just think that’s a great picture. Uh, in your book, you list 26 of the most common scenarios and expressions that teens use. Uh, one of them caught my attention - again, probably because I’ve got boys - which is “That could be epic!” And I think that comes from somebody’s life experience...

Jerusha: Hmm.

Jim: ...Between the two of you or maybe both of you. But what is...

Jerusha: Babe?

Jim: ...The story around “that could be epic”?

Jeramy: Well, what we discovered is that in, um, adolescence in the brain development, there’s this hyper-rational thinking. And so, um, a young person, they can assess danger, and they even know. I mean, we don’t want to write them off and just say, “Hey, they’re being dumb.” Their brains are wired in such a way that they can assess danger, and they can basically overestimate - in fact, they would choose to overestimate the fact that this could actually be amazing. Like, this - who cares? I might - I might kill myself. But it outweighs that it might turn out to be incredibly epic. So you know, I look back, and I see my own life. And I - I remember some guys from the high school football team showed up to this place where I rode motorcycles all the time. And he’s like - they go, “Hey, can you take that jump over there?” And I remember taking off. I’m like, “Yeah, wait right there.” I...

(LAUGHTER)

Jeramy: ...Cruised off.

Jim: I can so relate to this.

Jeramy: I opened up my Yamaha 125 - sixth gear, wide open. And I hit this huge jump. And I - I remember being completely way over these guys were they were looking back and watching me in almost like - in unbelief.

(LAUGHTER)

Jeramy: And I didn’t even think about it until as I was starting to descend. And I was thinking, “Uh-oh, I could die.” And I bounced off the ground a few times. And luckily, I didn’t die.

Jim: You stayed on the bike?

Jeramy: Yeah, I stayed on the bike.

Jim: See, I’m amazed at that.

Jerusha: I know, right?

Jim: Way to go, man!

Jeramy: I stayed on the bike ‘cause, you know...

Jerusha: He was epic.

Jeramy: So I think back to those times. And I think, um, these are the kinds of decisions our teens are faced with all the time. Peer pressure does impact them. And when they’re around other teens, there’s this hyper-rational thinking that happens and that they do assess. And it’s important for us, as parents, to continue to ask them to think about it and to evaluate the consequences. Because as we ask the questions, they’re thinking. But when they’re around a lot of other adolescents...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jeramy: ...This hyper-rational thinking can get out of control.

Jerusha: Mmhmm.

Jeramy: And even though they know that there can be some serious negatives, they assess it, but they’d rather try to be epic.

Jim: Let me go this direction. And I think Jean particularly - my wife - has done a great job with - with the boys with developing those friendships that are important. Speak to the importance of good friendships. How involved should parents be when it comes to their kids’ friendships? I mean, that - that is such a fine line and can create such tension in the - the teen-parent relationship.

Jerusha: Yeah. Again, it’s so great how God has written His truth into our bodies. So let me just talk about the biology that’s happening with friendship because I think this is very helpful. God designed us in the adolescent years to develop our social brain. It’s being remodeled just like every other portion of the brain. And during this remodel, what happens is that teens’ sensitivity to peers increases. This is something we can see neurochemically. It’s really exciting for them and terrifying for us because, as parents, we see them sometimes gravitating to people that we are not excited about them hanging out with. Even the people that we are excited about them hanging out with - I know you mentioned, before the broadcast started, about your wife having a Bible study for your sons. They’ve tracked with one another for all these years. But it’s also a grief to see them want to spend more time with these...

Jim: Yeah, that’s true.

Jerusha: ...Even if we love these people than they are to - to us. So it was very helpful for me to understand that God designed their brain to move away from us so that they can ultimately prepare to have their own life and families. That is tough for us to swallow but so important. So just like in every other chapter, we break things down into what’s happening biologically - we call that Bio 101 - psychologically - Psych 101 - and then spiritually - Faith 101. In this chapter, we talk about the social brain, and then we talk about its implications. Because a lot of parents are really afraid of what we’ll call “peer pressure”. But one of the things we discuss in this chapter is that our teens don’t suddenly do things just because someone else is doing them. What is inside a teen is hooked by things are going on outside. So it’s always a matter of getting to the heart. What do they believe about friendship? What are they seeing in you? Are you a gossip? Are you negative? Are you a lone ranger and don’t develop your friendships? I’m not saying that a parent is the sole source of example, but you are a big one. So in this time of change for our teenagers, we’ve got to evaluate how are we doing on the friendship front? I know for you gentlemen out there sometimes it’s easy to kind of go at things on your own. But your teenage sons need to see you develop good friends. Your sons need to see you committed to things. And ladies, we’ve got to be good friends in order for our daughters to grow to be good friends. So obviously, the chapter’s a lot more than this. But yeah, the teenage friendship issue is such a key thing God uses.

Jim: Well, and to speak directly to the bad relationships - that a - the parent with a bit more life experience, obviously more wisdom, can sniff it out. I mean, you’re the dad. You’ve got daughters.

Jeramy: Yeah.

Jim: So I can’t imagine - your “friend-o-meter” is probably...

Jeramy: You know what? If I...

Jim: ...High-paced.

Jeramy: Right. If I could pick their friends, wouldn’t that be amazing?

(LAUGHTER)

You know, as parents, I want to pick ‘em.

Jim: Well...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: ...Some parents do feel that they should.

Jeramy: Right. Well, I think there should be involvement, and you should know your kids friends. And so we...

Jerusha: Influence, not control.

Jeramy: Right.

Jerusha: Influence, not control, yeah.

Jeramy: Absolutely. And so one of the things that we try to do is we have their friends over. We invite their friends over. We make sure that we are driving them to wherever they need to go, and we’re trying to stay involved and invest. And we ask those questions to engage their prefrontal cortex where - where there - there’s wisdom, and there’s discernment and where oftentimes it’s lacking. So we ask them, “What kind of influence is this person having in your life? Is it a positive one?” We don’t know everything that’s happening, but we want to stay involved, and we want to invest. And we want to make sure that we’re helping them make wise decisions. Yeah, I would probably, um, X out some of my kids’ friends. I’d say, “Yeah, I don’t really care that you’re around some of these, but - these kids. I don’t know how positive they are.” Here’s something that’s heartbreaking, and I think a lot of the listeners can identify with this - um, sometimes church can be “clique-y”.

Jerusha: Mmm. Yeah.

Jeramy: And - and as a youth pastor...

Jerusha: It’s heartbreaking.

Jeramy: ...Over the years and now watching my girls try to integrate into friendship groups in their - their high school ministry, it’s difficult.

Jerusha: Yeah, it can hurt.

Jeramy: And let’s be honest, as - as adults, adult relationships are difficult.

Jerusha: Mmhmm.

Jeramy: And so it’s something we have to work at. It’s something that we have to continue to - to cultivate and mature. But when it comes to our kids, we want to stay involved, and we want to have influence, and we want to ask the questions to make them think. And when needed, we’ll say, “No, I - I am not supporting you spending time with this particular person.” They still live in our home, and we still need to appropriately lay down boundaries.

Jim: So engage it? Don’t...

Jerusha: Yes.

Jim: ...Look the other way?

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: And that’s really important - that influence you’re talking about.

Jerusha: Yeah, that - you know, some people say, “Oh, it’s a fine line between influence and control.” But we have the Holy Spirit. He gives us that discernment. We don’t have to - I mean, yes, there are - there are hard times in that. But I’m constantly just asking for guidance from the spirit moment by moment. It’s not just a pray in the morning and then go on your merry way. It’s like, “Okay, she just brought up this person that I’m very uncomfortable with. Um, what can I engage with on this that will help her see...”

Jim: Yeah.

Jerusha: “...The reason that I’m uncomfortable?” You know, it’s a very...

Jim: Well, yeah.

Jerusha: It’s an ongoing, all the time...

Jim: And it...

Jerusha: ...Kind of - it’s work.

Jim: Yeah.

Jerusha: It’s work!

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: And in that environment, that’s really, you know, where the questioning helps. But...

Jerusha: Yes.

Jim: ...How would you approach that? I - role-play a bit with this.

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: If, for example, your teen daughter is, you know, just spending time with, uh, a boy that you feel there’s just something concerning you...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: ...What kind of questions would you ask her?

Jerusha: Yeah. Well, for instance, one of our daughters got involved, um, at her school with a program where there were a lot of older students. And one of the seniors invited her to go drinking. Our daughter was a freshman at this time. And I was so grateful she told me. But, of course, I’m freaking out. You know, and I said, “Well, why do you think this young man asked you to do that?”

Jim: That was very composed to ask that question.

(LAUGHTER)

Jerusha: Jim, inside I was like, “Aaaahhh,” you know. Sorry.

Jim: (Unintelligible).

Jerusha: Can I yell into the mic?

John: Yeah.

Jerusha: I mean, it was...

Jim: Repeat the question again because we’re all lost...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: ...In our anger. Go ahead.

Jerusha: No.

(LAUGHTER)

Just, “Why do you think he asked you to go with him?”

Jim: Huh.

Jerusha: And she said, “Well, I think he thinks that’s what’s fun.”

Jim: Hm.

Jerusha: And I said, “You know, you’re probably right. If - you know, do you know if this person knows God, you know?” And - and she said, “I don’t think so.” So this is a conversation with my 14-year-old. This actually happened, you know. And we just - I - I tried to stay as calm as possible. Of course, my emotion’s right on the surface, so I’m not telling you to just be a stone wall, but trying to just go step by step. And finally, she came to the conclusion, “You know what I want to do? I want to start praying for him.” And I was like, “Thank you, Lord,” you know.

Jim: Yeah, no kidding.

Jerusha: I mean, I’m sure not every - and please, don’t misunderstand me, listeners. You know, we’re not in this situation where our kids are just saints, and we’re - you know, everything’s going right. We can certainly share our - our struggles and heartaches. But in that one moment, it was like, “Thank you, thank you that that one conversation went well.” And just trying to hold onto that gratitude for what God enables us to do.

Jim: And it’s a great enabling, too. You’re really teaching her - I’m assuming she did not go out with him?

Jerusha: She did not.

Jim: At least not at that point, yeah.

Jerusha: No, I tied her to her bed. No, I’m just kidding.

(LAUGHTER)

John: Well, that was a good backup plan.

Jim: Plan B!

John: After all that influence, yeah.

Jerusha: Plan B was just chains...

Jim: But it does...

Jerusha: ...And...

Jim: It’s giving her the capability to think through...

Jerusha: Right.

Jim: ...The circumstance. That’s outstanding.

Jerusha: She’s gonna be in...

Jim: And that’s the goal.

Jerusha: ...College at some point, and there’s gonna be people inviting...

Jim: Oh!

Jerusha: ...Her to do that stuff, and I’m not gonna be there.

Jim: Right.

Jerusha: So if she has those questions stocked away where she’s - I mean, just hoping...

Jim: Yeah.

Jerusha: ...You know. Again, this is all in the Lord’s hands.

Jim: Yeah.

Jerusha: This is not like you have to be perfect parents. You know, that’s the thing that...

Jim: But I love the question. I mean...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: ...That’s great.

Jeramy: Well, we can get real, too. I mean, in today’s...

Jim: That’s pretty real.

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jeramy: That’s pretty real. There’s some difficult things that aren’t going as well. And we live in a culture right now that’s really accepting of alternative lifestyles. And there’s this culture of just acceptance. And - and I don’t understand it to the way our adolescents are being literally pulled into...

Jim: Oh, yeah.

Jerusha: Mmhmm.

Jeramy: ...And almost to a dividing place in homes. And there is some real challenges that we’re facing, as parents, to engage with and understand even people within the church that are very open and accepting to levels that I would be uncomfortable with. And we’re having to continue to have these conversations and grow ourselves. And that’s something that we really - at the heart of all of what we’ve written is all about growing and going on this journey and not checking out...

Jerusha: Mmhmm.

Jeramy: ...And challenging ourselves to continue to press in and to trust God and - and pray like never before that God would help us gear up for the conversations that we need to have. So...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jeramy: ...It - it’s a challenge. There are some very difficult things that we are facing that - that we’re having to go back to the drawing board and pray about. And...

Jim: Yeah.

Jeramy: ...Sometimes we don’t handle it right, and we say the wrong things.

Jerusha: Yes.

Jeramy: And we have to keep growing and - and doing the best that...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jeramy: ...We can to stay...

Jim: Yeah, I...

Jeramy: ...On the same page.

Jim: I really appreciate that because I think that is so true...

Jerusha: Mmhmm.

Jim: ...Especially if your kids are in charter school, public school, private school...

Jerusha: Oh, yeah.

Jim: ...Even Christian school. I mean, the culture’s saturating our children with that kind of open approach to God’s design...

Jeramy: Right.

Jerusha: Yeah, any listener...

Jim: ...In sexuality and marriage, et cetera.

Jerusha: ...Who’s out there is - and has a teenager who’s facing this, um, it’s something that 10-15 years ago, we didn’t even imagine it would be...

Jim: Yeah.

Jerusha: ...Like this. But even if you’re a home-schooling parent, and you go to Target, and you just...

Jim: Right.

Jerusha: ...Look at the advertisements, or you go to a check stand, and there’s all these flashy images on, you know, magazines, and they’re proclaiming lies...

Jim: Yeah.

Jerusha: ...About gender, about our bodies, about our - even about how we’re to operate just on a daily basis with money. And, you know...

Jim: Well, I...

Jerusha: ...Everything is just yelling at us - yell - literally yelling.

Jim: And one of the difficulties is we need to know the theology...

Jerusha: Yes.

Jim: ...Of this.

Jerusha: So true.

Jim: Uh, when God has created us, man and woman - He created us in His image. And when you marry, the two shall become one flesh. We’ve got to really understand the spiritual connotation of that - that God’s very essence is put into us for that purpose so that we can declare the goodness of God in our physical nature - in our sexuality, emotionally together. The bond of marriage is so much bigger. It’s the actual image of God in - on this Earth...

Jerusha: Yeah.

Jim: ...For us to see and to experience. And I don’t think we do a very good job expressing that to our teenagers...

Jerusha: Mmhmm.

Jim: ...Who can understand it, and it gives them a framework as to why male and female is so, so important to the spiritual nature that we’re created in.

Jerusha: It’s a scary conversation. But I’ll tell you both, Jeramy and I are - our desire is to be a home in which anyone can come and receive love, acceptance and grace.

Jim: Right.

Jerusha: That’s difficult sometimes. But we have deliberately opened our home to people that maybe some years ago I never would have imagined being, you know, part...

Jim: Well, that...

Jerusha: But...

Jim: Yeah.

Jerusha: ...Being able to be that Christian family that says, “We’re not the stereotype.”

Jim: Yeah.

Jerusha: We’re not haters. We are people who love, and we have convictions.

Jim: Right.

Jerusha: That is...

Jim: Exactly.

Jerusha: ...Such a - it’s a great model for our teenagers that you can absolutely love people, and you can have convictions and follow Christ wholeheartedly without being a hater. It’s a...

Jeramy: Well...

Jerusha: It’s a great thing for our teenagers to see.

Jim: And we need to equip them in that way and to believe that no one’s beyond the reach of God...

Jerusha: Absolutely.

Jim: ...Which I know the Lord knows.

Jerusha: Absolutely.

Jim: So, Jeramy and Jerusha, this has been a terrific start to the discussion, uh, but we haven’t covered all the material I’d like to cover, so let’s come back next time and pick up in some of that dynamic of, uh, the teen-parent relationship. Can we do it?

Jeramy: Yes.

Jerusha: Oh, yeah.

Jeramy: Sounds great.

John: All right.

Closing:

Jim: This is one of the reasons that Focus exists - uh, to be here for you. And what a great resource - Your Teenager Is Not Crazy. I love the title by the way. And, uh, we want to get this into your hands. And we also would love for you to participate in joining the ministry here at Focus on the Family. Be a part of helping literally, hundreds of thousands of parents do the job in a more godly way. That is the goal. And I’m telling you, you know, you look down the line 40 years of history at Focus, together we have been able to impact, literally, millions of parents in a positive, God-oriented way. And be there and stand with us. This isn’t just our ministry, those that are here. It’s our ministry, you the listener and the supporter and certainly the Lord working through all of us to help people at their point in need. So give a gift to Focus on the Family. If you can make a monthly contribution and be part of the monthly team, that really helps us, or a one-time gift. And for either, we’ll send you a copy of Your Teenager Is Not Crazy as our way of saying thank you.

John: Make a donation, get resources, including this terrific book, at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or call 1-800-232-6459 - 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back tomorrow as we have Dr. Jeramy Clark and Jerusha Clark back with us, and once again, help you and your teenager thrive in Christ.

Jerusha: Yes.

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Guest

Jeramy and Jerusha Clark

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Dr. Jeramy Clark received his Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Talbot Theological Seminary. He served as a youth pastor for 17 years before becoming the Pastor of Discipleship at Emmanuel Faith Community Church. His role includes overseeing men's and women's Ministries, care and counseling, youth ministries and small groups. Jeramy and his wife, Jerusha, have co-authored four books, three of which are bestsellers. Jerusha has her own writing and speaking ministry, focused on helping others glorify and enjoy God. She recently completed her twelfth book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You. Jeramy and Jerusha have two teen daughters. Learn more about the couple by visiting their website, www.jandjclark.com.