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Facing the Fear Factor

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Teen boy sitting on the edge of his bed with his hands cupped over his mouth, looking like he’s troubled or shocked
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Does your teen function out of faith or out of fear? Find ways to encourage your anxious teen.

My family loves visiting Cox Farm every autumn to pick pumpkins, drink cider and enjoy a hayride. The highlight is riding the giant slide. Although sliding on a burlap bag is good old-fashioned fun, the slide is big enough to scare small children. And that’s exactly what happened to my 5-year-old son, Josiah.

But I knew that if my son didn’t face his fears, he’d forfeit all the fun. So I bribed him with kettle corn. Riding down that slide together was an unforgettable memory and a teachable moment. When it was over, I explained to Josiah that fear keeps us from experiencing life to the fullest. Then I came up with a family mantra that I’ve repeated countless times since: Remember the slide!

One of our responsibilities as parents is to help our kids face their fears. During the teen years, our kids encounter new fears, bigger fears. The fear of failure becomes more acute. The fear of rejection intensifies. And fear of the future enters the equation as they approach life after high school. No matter what form their fears take, our job remains the same: to help our teens make faith-based decisions rather than fear-based ones. As our teens learn to trust God, their decisions will be guided by confidence in Him rather than by the fear of what might happen.

We need to help our kids find their security in a relationship with Jesus Christ. As we model the love of our heavenly Father, our kids find security in that love, and it gives them the courage to live by faith.

Although the teen years are fraught with insecurities and fears, our teens can live with confidence. Here are four keys to helping teens face their fears:

Conquer our own fears
We can’t encourage our kids to face their fears if we’re not doing the same, so we need to start by asking ourselves, Do I function out of faith or out of fear? When we take a fear-based approach to life, our teens will sense it.

We also need to set the example. A few years ago I hiked the Inca Trail with my oldest son, Parker. After completing the four-day trek, Parker wanted to go paragliding over the Sacred Valley. Although I have a fear of heights, my love for my son helped me face that fear. Parker knew I was scared, so in facing my own fear, I set an example for him to follow.

Let teens make decisions
It’s essential during the teen years that we let our kids make more and more decisions for themselves. We need to establish clear boundaries like curfews, computer limits and relationship rules, but once those boundaries are established, we must give our kids room to make mistakes. We get to teach them, pray for them and then put some faith in them. We need to parent out of faith in God and faith in our teens. Our trust will help to build their confidence.

Challenge teens to take risks
Small steps of faith can result in giant leaps of spiritual growth. Whether it’s going on a missions trip, trying out for a new sport or volunteering at an inner-city ministry, it’s important that we encourage our kids to take steps of faith into unfamiliar territory. Overprotection just might short-circuit the development of a teen’s faith because trying new things is how we discover our limits and build faith.

Keep the focus on God
In my family, we believe this to be true: Your focus determines your reality. If we focus on fears, they become bigger and God becomes smaller. If we focus on God, He becomes bigger and our fears become smaller.

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There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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