Dare You to Think Different as you Parent Your Teens

This week I dared to be different.  

You see, I spoke at an all women’s christian leadership retreat and wore hot pink nails.  Now I know that some of you are saying, “So what?  I do that all the time.”  Others are saying, “You are kidding, right?”

But let me explain further.

I tend to be a conformer.  I don’t want to rock the boat and I don’t want to offend.  I don’t want other people to see something about me and judge me, so I tend to dress conservatively, behave conservatively, and make sure I know my audience before I speak.  After all, I want them to listen.  Right?  

But my daughter taught me something different–something that I think all parents could learn from.

Dare to be yourself.

It is okay to be unique.

So I wore my hot pink nails to the conference in memory of my daughter who loved everything hot pink.  She challenged me to be bold in my thinking, to step out of my comfort zone, and that fun versus conservative can be a good thing.

The christian women attending the retreat were from  different denominations of churches and they dressed in various outfits that may or may not have conformed to a given church’s style.  Some wore shorts, others wore long dresses. I saw long pants and Capri while some wore head coverings.  But regardless, of what we wore, we all had something in common on the inside — the love of Jesus.   

We accepted our differences–without judgment or condemnation.

My question to you is are you trying to make your tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings conform to your idea of how they should dress or act based on possible negative perception by your friends or church?  Are you pushing them to do things your way because you want them to walk, talk, and think like you?

Can we laugh at their hot pink nails, or bold blue hair, or live with the fact that they want to do something outlandish in a fun sort of way?

Or is our identity wrapped up in our kids’ looks or behavior?  Are we trying to clone ourselves?  Or are we wanting to duplicate the people with which we are associated?

A few years ago I picked up a book entitled Bringing Home The Prodigals by Rob Parsons.  I expected the author to give me ways to connect with my challenging child who was making choices that put her in the ‘prodigal’ category.  But as I read the book, I was challenged at all my “rules” as a parent.  I’m challenged to look at “church” from my teen’s perspective.  If church is boxing my child in to conform a certain way, is that what I really want as a parent?  Will that push my kid to be a prodigal?

Yes, it is easier to parent a child who is a “rule follower”.  

But I want to raise kids who are world changers!

I want my kids to follow their calling in life that God lays before them, not what I think the world should be.

I want kids who are dripping with the love of Jesus such that others can see Him.  And sometimes wild and crazy will attract the non-believer and give opportunity to share Jesus in the midst of what we might consider someone else’s chaotic life.

Because of my “prodigal”, people have entered my home who I would never had opportunity to interact with because our lives would never have crossed.  Because of my “prodigal”, drug users have attended my church.  Because of my “prodigal”, people who would have never seen a different side of life have found that there is hope and a different way of living.

 Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The bottom line is that God’s will might not be our will.  He may be creating a world changer in your home.  

Dare you to focus on the love of Jesus in your home rather than the rules of conformity.  And if you do, maybe you’ll have kids wildly devoted to Him.

“Let go…and Let God”,


Interested in leading a parenting Bible study that will have women sharing on a deep level from the beginning?  Want them to walk away with a WOW! experience?  With All Due Respect will do just that and we promise to make it easy to lead.  You don’t need to be a perfect parent; you don’t need to have perfect kids; and you don’t need to have ever led a group before.

A Small Group Leader’s Guide is also available with questions for group discussion. 








He Wants a Tattoo? Don’t Panic.

“Mom, can I get a tattoo? It’s a really big deal. All the guys on the squad have one.” Oh my, the dreaded words.

As the mother of four with this one being my oldest, a 17 year old son, it was a big deal! I wanted to scream at him, “No way!” Typical parent thoughts coursed through my mind, “You’ll be scarred for life! What will people think? I won’t be able to stand looking at you with that thing.” Somehow, in the course of this conversation, I managed to keep my cool. Maybe it was because he had so calmly asked the question. Maybe it was because I knew he couldn’t get one without my help since he was underage. Ha! I was in a position of power!

“Hmm,” I calmly responded. “Why is it a big deal?” We then dialogued about why it was so important to him.

“Don’t you need a parent signature since you are under 18?” I managed without a whisper of sarcasm.

Luckily, I had an out, “Guess your dad and I need to talk about this one.”

As my husband and I spoke about the situation wondering how we should approach it without alienating our son, we did several things that helped determine our response. The first thing we did was agree that we did not want him to get the tattoo. Yeah, we could issue a dictatorial response, but was it a hill worth dying on? Was it something that our son would hold against us in years to come? Would the decision potentially set a precedent that might impact our other children? Oh my, such heavy questions we were beginning to embark on in our parenting journey.

I know that some of you are out there saying “WHAT? YOU EVEN CONSIDERED SAYING YES? YOU MUST BE OUT OF YOUR MIND!” But please, hang in here with me. As we began the prayer vigilance seeking God for guidance, I started the research. Ugh! It would have been so much easier if God had just said… “Thou shalt not get a tattoo”. Meanwhile, my husband set off to discuss it with friends who had already been down this path, hoping to get perspective.

We continued to discuss the topic with our son, not making it an issue between us…but with sincere concern as to what was best for him. He had his opinion; we had ours. We learned all the reasons this was a big deal for him. The dialogue became similar to one with an adult friend. Back and forth…things we understood…things we were having difficulty with.

We agreed to give him our decision in a few weeks after we returned from vacation. That would give us some “fun, connecting” time before we gave him our “No”. You know, the let them down easy “no”.

As we enjoyed the beach together, my husband and I agreed that our son was really maturing well. For the most part he seemed to be making good decisions. How badly would our decision impact our relationship?

And then my husband and I did the unbelievable, the unthinkable, the ‘whatever possessed us to do this’ thing… WE WENT TO VISIT A TATTOO PARLOR!

It was really quite by accident. While hanging around the dock with the kids off doing water sports, we saw it…a Tattoo Parlor on the corner…within walking distance. Knowing there was absolutely no way anyone would recognize us, we went in to look at tattoo drawings. As I walked into the shop, I kept thinking, “Father, forgive me…I know not what I am doing!” Standing there among several employees with more color on their skin than I have in my wardrobe, I sheepishly asked prices and told the girl behind the counter what we were considering for our 17 year old. She immediately had the owner to come speak with us.

As we explained our dilemma, I then asked him, “What would you say if this was your kid?” I have no idea what possessed me to ask an artist such a stupid question, but he looked just a few years younger than me. “Maybe he had kids of his own?” I thought skeptically.

Surprise of all surprises, he responded, “You’re the first person to ever come in here to ask me that! There’s no way I’d let a kid of mine get a tattoo until they’re at least 25, especially a male. Their body changes too much with muscle growth that skews the artwork, they also haven’t figured out who they are and what is important to them. If it was my kid, I’d say no.”

SHOCK resonated within me as my husband and I left. Speechless, but absolutely delighted, we laughed our way out of the shop. God had given us plenty of ammunition to back up our response!

As my husband and I sat down to discuss our decision with our son, we gave him both a biblical response and an expert’s response. Knowing why this was such a big deal to him, we created him an out. “Son, here’s the deal. No, we are not going to sign for you get a tattoo now and we’ve outlined the reasons why. If you will wait until you are 25 to get a tattoo and you still want one, I’ll pay for it,” responded his dad.

“No matter how big?” he asked.

“Ask me when you are 25.”

YES, it was a gamble. YES, we might later have to eat our words. But we were willing to take a risk at more maturity in eight years.

(FAST FORWARD to six months before his 25th birthday.)

I decided that I really didn’t want to deal with any surprises for his birthday. I had no idea what tattoos were costing these days and I certainly needed time to get used to the idea of my son with a tattoo. “Honey,” I ventured, “your 25th birthday is right around the corner. Have you given any thought to whether you still want that tattoo we offered?”

“You’ve got to be kidding, Mom. Of course, I don’t want a tattoo. You’re off the hook.”

As I sighed with relief, I kept remembering a scripture verse, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

BOTTOM LINE: We are sometimes tempted to respond to our children’s requests with a resounding “no” when the relationship would be better served in letting them know we will respectfully consider their requests. If you do, maybe God will provide a way to let you off the hook.

Dare you to pause in your response to your child’s next earthshattering request and create dialogue instead of anger.

Double dare you to send me your earthshattering parenting situations. Maybe I’ll have a story that will give you hope!

Enjoy the journey!

“Let go…and Let God”


4 Things Parents Can Do When Their Teens Complain About Church



Keeping our teens in church can sometimes be a major point of stress for Christian parents.  We realize the value of worship with other believers but we want our kids to find that same purpose for their lives.  When our teens start rebelling about getting up on Sunday morning or complaining that it is boring or they don’t like the youth group, it’s a wake up call to make sure we are fully engaged.  

If indeed our faith is  important to us this rebellion needs to be handled with a Christ-like spirit of love and patience.  We need to talk about our faith with our kids so that they see that we have a heart of relationship with a living God and we want to have that same relationship with them.

Parents need to assume that the church is there to help in their child’s spiritual development rather than to be the driving force.  George Barna in his book Revolutionary Parenting makes the statement that “typical parents know little about the content and conduct of their church’s ministry to young people beyond details related to time and place.”

If we want to our kids to stay in church, we need to lay the foundation at home and make sure that the church is there to support our values and training of our teens in a way that provides depth in character and a deeper faith.  While it is great when youth programs provide entertaining activities to help the kids get to know each other in a more relaxed environment, we need to find a church that focuses on their calling of being like Jesus and loving others in such a way as to woo them into the kingdom of heaven.  If pizza parties and Frisbee golf or Lazar Tag ‘to bring them in’ is the church’s mentality, and all they are providing is friendship and fun, then as our kids get older they can find that same appeal from any group whether or not it is faith-based.

If we want our kids to remain in the church it is our job to make it an integral part of our parenting strategy as our kids enter the turbulent teen years.  Making sure it is the right church is the key.

So what are the steps we should take when our kids start complaining about church?

  1. Don’t freak out.
  2. Create safety for them to share their frustrations with you.
  3. Ask permission to allow you to share a different perspective.
  4. Be prepared to problem solve with a spiritual perspective.

Several years ago my son was complaining about our church.  He didn’t feel connected to the kids in the youth group partially because we lived in a different community.  He knew some kids at a different church and asked to attend there.

We agreed to take him to the other church to try it out  on Sunday mornings for a few weeks. I would attend the new church with my son and my husband attended our church with our other three kids.

The first week my son was enthralled with the new experience.  He loved the new church and was convinced he had found the place where he belonged.  A week later he attended an overnight event so that he could connect with the guys and have some male bonding.  Within a month he was ready to return to our church.  When he returned he was much more content and willing to engage.  

Conflict avoided.

Sometimes our kids just need to be heard.  They need to know that we respect that they might not always like what we like in a given church and that our real desire is for them to cultivate a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Church should be a place where our teen can grow and thrive.  Be open to the potential of a new church for a period of time if necessary.  It will not only strengthen your child’s faith but will bolster his identity as he feels respected by you.

By feeling accepted and valued, your teen and soon-to-be twenty-something will most likely see the relevance of being part of the church long before they start having their own family.  Hopefully, it will become a way of life.

“Let go…and let God”,


Sign up for our on-line eCourse which starts September 26, 2016.  You’ll have an opportunity to go through the new book With All Due Respect:40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens with me and a group of moms just like yourself.  Learn and interact while gaining new communication skills. Be sure to get in on the discounted price while it lasts.  I’ll be available for personal interaction in the class.  Hope you’ll join me.  Click here for more information.








Ways to Deepen Your Teen’s Faith

happy young teens group in school have fun an learning lessons

Keeping our teens in church consists of multiple facets.  Community, relevancy, acceptance, and resolution in times of conflict are all important in keeping them involved.  However, if you are like most parents, your true desire is to help deepen our kid’s faith.  It is one thing to hear the Word; it is quite another to see it played out.

Find a church where teens have opportunity to serve.

As Shaunti Feldhaun’s research points out — our teens want to feel significant and respected. Being a part of something bigger and walking beside adult leaders is a great way for teens to learn leadership and servant hood skills.  It makes their faith relevant.  Teens want to feel as if they are needed in the body of Christ.  It gives them purpose while watching adults truly model their faith.

Many churches get creative when it comes to getting teens involved.  One church we attended had a full-blown Easter drama each year where teens were able to use their musical and acting talents.  A youth program had a week of serving widows and single parents by doing odd jobs around their homes.  Another did outreach to the inner city kids with VBS.  An AWANA program used teens to listen to younger kids’ scripture memory.  Whether it is a mission’s trip where teens can work alongside adults or a youth team led by a strong leader who can model mature godly character traits for the students, teens take on their faith when they are plugged into mentors who truly want growth toward maturity for them.

One mom shared a story of the great youth program her kids were involved in.  The youth pastor saw the need for leadership and outward focus.  For kids that wanted to be involved in leadership, once a month after Sunday service he’d bring in pizza and have the kids meet in their team of interest.  One of those teems was coined ICU which really meant ‘I see you’.  The purpose of that team was to find the fringe kids who didn’t appear to be connected.

One summer her freshman went on a weekend retreat with the group and started wondering around by himself because he didn’t really know anyone well.  One of the students from the ICU team spotted her son and befriended him.  He went from a back row, “I don’t want to go to youth group” kid, to a front row, “hurry up we have to get to church on time” kid in a few weeks.

After that, he couldn’t wait to be on the ICU team the following year.  He saw value in what another student had done for him and he wanted to pour into the next kid who might be feeling the same way.

Isn’t that what Christian living is all about—multiplication of our faith in a way that builds each other up such that our teens will want to pour into others.  It makes them realize the significance of their part within the body of the church: both to serve and be served.

“Let go…and let God”,


Sign up for our on-line eCourse which starts September 26, 2016.  You’ll have an opportunity to go through the new book With All Due Respect:40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens with me and a group of moms just like yourself.  Learn and interact while gaining new communication skills. Be sure to get in on the discounted price while it lasts.  I’ll be available for personal interaction in the class.  Hope you’ll join me.  Click here for more information.




How Do You Handle Your Teen’s Frustration With People in the Church?

young music player and band friends have training in home garage

Let’s be honest.  There is no perfect church.  Any time there are people involved human nature will play out and conflicting opinions will surface.  Part of life for us as parents is to navigate those difficult waters with our kids so that it doesn’t trample their desire to be part of the church and to follow Christ.

I love what Benjamin L. Corey says in his blog, “The Church of all places should look like Jesus!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if the church was filled with authentic people who were others  focused and conflict was worked through and resolved.  Truth is that everyone we come in contact with is on a journey and not everyone is at the same place of maturity in their faith.

So what do we do as parents when problems arise for our teens and they are hurt by people in the church?

Shaunti Feldhaun’s research in For Parents Only says that teens tend to stop talking because parents don’t listen. They want to feel heard.

It is only natural when we as parents feel strongly about our Faith that we would want to defend our decision as parents to attend a particular church.  After all, we want our kids to not only take on our faith and live it out in their lives but we also want them to see the value in being part of a church body.  All too often parents tend to freak out because of the emotion involved when our kids decide they don’t want to attend church any more which can turn the situation into a downward spiral.

When your kid tells you they no longer want to go to youth group or they don’t want to go to church anymore, take the time to listen and understand.  Don’t dish out judgment, condemnation, or threats.

LISTEN and problem solve. 

Here’s some suggestions:

  • Listen with ears to understand. Watch your body language and tone in the conversation.
  • Ask probing questions that lead to further understanding.
  • Once you’ve identified what you think the problem is, ask your child for time to look into it further and seek information from other trusted adults.
  • Don’t panic. What was a problem one week might totally blow away by the next week.  If it persists, continue investigating.
  • Know that sometimes a persistent problem may have been going on for some time and your child is just now telling you about it. Be aware that the wounds from the offense might be deeper than you think.
  • Be honest with your child about your concern that a situation could taint his view of God and the church.  Talk about it.
  • Work out a win-win for your child and you. Offer up options to solve the problem and try to do so, but know that in the end the goal is to make sure your child knows that you are on their team.

Several years ago one of my kids signed up to play keyboard on a rotating youth worship team.  He was so excited.  As a freshman, he would be playing with a group of mostly juniors and seniors who had been leading worship for several years.  I knew the kids and their parents.  They were awesome kids so I thought it would be a great experience for him.

I also had met the adult leader who had responsibility for the group.  She loved music and she loved the kids.  Another big plus and reason to believe it was a perfect situation.

His excitement was high initially.  Even though the youth group had a keyboard, it was marginal at best.  My husband went out and bought a case for my son’s keyboard so that he could be more successful.  We ended up hauling it back and forth for practices and Sunday worship—a huge commitment on our part.

About five months into the experience I sensed something might be going on.  I would cart my son and the keyboard to practice and sit in the parking lot only to find out that practice had been rescheduled but my son hadn’t been notified.  About a month later, my son started complaining that he didn’t think the other kids liked him.  Soon after he had not only quit the team but refused to go back to youth group.

What I discovered was that the older kids were leading the band.  The adult leader saw her job as supervisor only to make sure the kids didn’t do something stupid while they were in the building and to make sure they had a set list put together for Sunday morning.  She didn’t involve herself in the practice at all.  She was strictly in the building.

These kids didn’t have the experience of working with a keyboard player nor were they quite mature enough to lead a group of varying instruments.  I knew my son had the skill set to play well.  I heard him when he practiced regularly at home.  However, the kids didn’t realize that it is much more difficult to change keys for voice range on a keyboard than it was on a guitar.  So when they were giving my son the music, he was playing it in the key that it was written while the guitar players were using their capos to play it in the key they wanted.

The teen leader’s solution was to turn off the keyboard from the sound booth on Sunday morning.  This left my son frustrated because he didn’t understand the problem.  No one was invested enough in what was going on to try to hear the issue, let alone solve it.  My son’s solution was to leave the youth group because he felt excluded and humiliated.

After trying to fully understand the issue, I realized that it truly wasn’t anyone’s  malicious intent to exclude my son.  They were each trying to do the best they knew how in having teens lead in their sphere of influence.  My son’s feelings were a result of insufficiently skilled people doing the best they could do given what they knew.

Was my son hurt?  Absolutely!  Was my son justified in wanting to quit the team?  Absolutely!  Did I try to explain what was really happening and how sorry I was that he had been hurt?  You bet!

After a year of sitting in the main church service with us, I asked my son if he would be interested in trying the youth group again.  I even agreed to volunteer to work with the youth for the year if he wanted me to.  He said ‘yes’.

Luckily the next two years were a success for him.  He even played on the worship team that was now under the direction of someone who understood and worked the music issues.

As parents, our job is not to defend the church, but to defend our kids.  For that, we need to listen and help solve the problems or at least give them context for the imperfection of other humans.  The only way our kids will stay involved in the church as they mature is if the can come to realize that the church isn’t perfect but the benefits outweigh the difficulties.

“Let go…and let God”,


Sign up for our on-line eCourse which starts September 26, 2016.  You’ll have an opportunity to go through the new book With All Due Respect:40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens with me and a group of moms just like yourself.  Learn and interact while gaining new communication skills. Be sure to get in on the discounted price while it lasts.  I’ll be available for personal interaction in the class.  Hope you’ll join me.  Click here for more information.

Church = Acceptance or Judgment?

brunette Cute young woman with colorful scarf posing outdoors in nature

Keeping our kids in church through the teen and twenty-something years requires many factors.  Peer friendships, adult community, and relevance to our teen’s world being several pieces to the pie.

Finding an accepting environment is also critical in the process.

Shaunti Feldhaun’s research  attempted to get into our teen’s head to understand them better.  The information she gathered indicates that kids at this age are insecure and are fearful of rejection. They want people to accept them for who they are and to be seen as a significant person within the group.  This is especially important as the child moves from junior high to high school.  Typically the freshman year is where the big shift in acceptance is made.  Still immature in their relationships, 14 year olds sometimes struggle with who they are because they are now at the bottom of the rung in age range with the shift in peers.  It’s as if they are suddenly found swimming in a pit with bigger, stronger, faster, prettier 15-18 year olds.

The problem is that clicks can easily form in any youth group, especially in churches where kids have grown up together. New faces might not be readily accepted or worse, be totally ostracized or go unnoticed.

Kids can sometimes be harsh in their “who’s in – who’s out” mentality.  While parents might not see it, kids typically identify rejection quickly.  While it is easy to think that our kids are not trying to connect, it is important for parents to see what “truth” is for the teen and encourage ways to get involved.

Keep in mind that this acceptance needs to also come from the adult youth workers.  I can’t say this strongly enough.  As parents we want to think that youth workers or pastors will connect and treat all the kids the same.  However, truth is that they are human just like us and some kids will naturally become favorites.

Every youth pastor and adult volunteer is serving in that capacity for a reason—and it may not necessarily be for the reason you want.  For some it is ministry and they want to connect with your child and love them unconditionally.  If that’s the case for your youth group, you’ve probably found the right church.  Just know that for others it is a job, not necessarily a calling.

Volunteers are often there because their child is part of the group and they want to protect their child or be part of their child’s world or they’ve been coerced by someone to get involved even though their goal isn’t necessarily to love the kids where they are at.  Maybe the adult leader is a big kid at heart and loves teenagers and enjoys the energy they breed, but doesn’t have the maturity to pour into your child in a healthy adult-like way.

Youth workers also have varying degrees of experience working with kids and parents.  Knowing who these people really are and their true heart’s calling can have a huge impact if your teen starts complaining about attending.

This played out with a friend of mine whose daughter attended an out of town youth conference.

Running a little behind to get to the arena, my friend’s daughter Rachel (name changed) rushed out of the hotel room to catch up with the other girls.  As luck would have it Rachel ran into one of the adult youth workers and was not only ordered on the spot to change her top but received a tongue lashing for breaking the rules for dress code.

Seems reasonable, right?  Depending on the amount of tongue lashing?

Here’s the rest of the story.

It turns out that Rachel who was 14 was sharing a hotel room with three older girls.  The four girls had gone shopping earlier in the day and one of them had suggested they buy matching tops to wear to the conference that night.  Rachel had bravely spoken up and told the girls that the tops they had chosen didn’t meet dress code.  However, the older girls told her that because it was so hot outside no one would question it.  She gave in wanting to be accepted into the group.

Truth is that all the girls wore the same top that night.  Only the 14 year old was reprimanded.  When Rachel questioned why she was the only one made to change she was told “The others just didn’t get caught; besides you have more to show than the rest of the girls.”

When the mother heard what had been said to her daughter, she invited the youth worker to lunch to apologize for her daughter’s behavior and to also try to connect with this woman and understand what really happened.   At lunch the youth worker responded with, “You know our job is to play traffic cop for these events.  If we see them break the rule, we nail them.”

No compassion. No apology. No pulling all the girls together to talk about the reason behind the dress code and make a heart connection — just judgment and sentencing.

Let’s face it, mistakes happen, relationships need to be mended, and hopefully our teens can learn from those experiences.  But sometimes when those difficult people in our teens’ lives are part of the church they can have a negative impact on our kid’s spiritual life.

When these things happen get involved.  Once you’ve had opportunity to assess the situation, use it as a launching pad for a spiritual conversation with your teen.  Talk about adults not always getting it right, forgiveness, and her mistakes in the situation.  Then decide for yourself if judgment is a congregation mindset or just a problem for the adult involved.  

If it is pervasive, find an environment where your child will be accepted and cherished.  You’ll be glad you did.

“Let go…and let God”,