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On the final Sunday of the “Parenting and Other Scary Stories” series, we closed our time with a panel of parents to field and address questions from the RESTōR congregation. We didn’t get to nearly all of them – here is a follow up to those that were not answered.

What do you do when your teenagers only want to play video games and be on their phone and not come out of their rooms? When we try to spend time with them, it’s like pulling teeth.

Unfortunately, when teenagers withdraw into their own private worlds, it is difficult to reengage. From a practical standpoint, I wonder if you have a sense for when this started? If they have been allowed to do this since they were preteen, it is normative for them. And, although frustrating for you, it may be an opportunity for you to engage with them in their world. If we can keep building relationship with our kids during each stage of life, then we at least have some semblance of relationship that will allow us to speak into their lives as young adults. 

How do you deal with questions from your kids and have conversations about new and trending events in the secular culture?

Honestly. If they are very young, prepare yourself! The questions are coming and, while you want to be honest in your reply, to allow for a nuanced answer is also appropriate and necessary, depending on their age. But, don’t shy away from the difficult conversations. Hang in there with them and you’ll retain their respect. 

Did you ever see bad traits in your kids that were the same bad traits you grew up with? And did you ever try to stop them from making those same mistakes or act the same way as you did?

Absolutely! Our kids do what we do, often through osmosis. Just being with us, having our DNA will, by the nature of our human experience, create mini me’s. The significance of being self-aware enough as adults to recognize our weak spots cannot be overstated. This allows you to train your kids to live differently than the way that you lived. We call that changing the trajectory of your life, your kids’ lives and the generations that follow you. To do otherwise would be negligent and foolish. 

Technology/screens can be a very big challenge for the next generation. What has worked well for you to handle technology/screens in a healthy way with your kids?

Recognizing that screens are here to stay and not going away means that this question is super important. Being very strategic about the amount of screen time that kids are allowed to have, filtering what they view and making sure that there is good balance between screen time and helping them spend time with books, art projects, play time etc, creates a scenario that has the potential for kids that value a more well-balanced life perspective and have a stronger social acumen. 

How do you continue to keep the romance or even the closeness with each other as husband and wife when you have parenting, career, hobbies and personal interests all begging for attention?

Priorities rule the day. Getting lost in the daily grind of raising kids and, as they get older, chasing them from one activity to another can move you from investing in each other to constantly being parents on a hamster wheel trying to maintain a schedule that will deplete you and your marriage relationship. So, decide now to be strategic about what you will and won’t do with your schedule in order to make time for just the two of you. Remember, your children need, probably more than anything else, to see you and your spouse prioritizing each other as the most important human relationship in your home. Don’t neglect your hobbies and interests because, while you may need to reduce or shift your schedule with these things, they likely still are important to you and help replenish you. Without them you may not be at your best. By the way, incorporating your kids into your hobbies and interests is an awesome way to invite them into your world and build relationship with them. 

When did you decide your kids can be on social media ?

The results are still coming in on the effect of social media on young, developing minds. Suffice it to say, waiting to turn them loose on social media, contrary to their thinking about it, never hurt any child. We would suggest that it isn’t about fairness so much as it is about the knowledge you have about what each child and their particular personalities and maturity level can handle. Just don’t rush it…wait as long as you can. Keep the conversation going and, just like any other perks of responsible behavior, social media is a privilege that can be taken back if not appropriately handled.  

For those of you that have kids that are following Christ, share some success stories on how your kids arrived to that place.

All eyes are on you. No, really. All eyes are on you. Watching you, then joining you in consistently prioritizing church, being contributors, (serving others) not just consuming, will be absolutely essential in their spiritual development.  While our kids don’t automatically make the choices we want them to make, especially when it comes to living out their faith, the truth is when they see an authentic faith being lived out in our lives it will help them to own their own faith experience.

What advice would you have for those considering adoption?

This is a big topic! But, the guidance might land pretty close to those that are making plans for natural childbirth. Consider the following: Why do you want to bring a child into your home? Be really honest! Noble intentions don’t always hold out when reality comes flooding in and our lives are turned upside-down in every way possible.  Is there anything you need to uncover emotionally, spiritually or psychologically in your life that would keep you from giving your child a healthy, vibrant experience? Have you made yourself aware of the potential pitfalls and risks of adoption? There are some really unique aspects of adoption that you’ll want to consider. The truth is, we can do everything possible to prepare and there will still be times we wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into. Just do your due diligence, pray and give it your best!

The proverb “spare the rod, spoil the child”… what’s your stance on spanking? Is there more of a positive approach to discipline instead of something that is fear-based?

Perhaps the assumption is that we should read Proverbs 13:24 literally or that sparing the rod really means corporal punishment…it might. But, we should also consider that, in the time that this was written, shepherds were prevalent in the culture and the writer would have known that they would use their rod to guide the sheep. This could mean prodding, touching the side of the animal so as to steer them a certain direction, etc… Instead of assuming this scripture is a directive to spanking, what if it is an admonition to provide guidance, which includes discipline that is appropriate for each child? Maybe that does includes spanking, but we should ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in this. Just because the instruction is to not “spare the rod”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the directive is for physical punishment. 

What’s your scariest parenting moment?

For me (Gene) it was when Morgan drove down our driveway and into adulthood on her way to her college apartment the summer after graduating high school. Was she ready? Did I do everything I could to prepare her for adulthood? Will she be safe? Does she know how to karate chop? Will pepper spray work if needed? In that moment, I had a whole new awareness of what I could and couldn’t control. Trusting God came at me at a whole new level and I had to release her to Him and believe that, no matter how much I loved her, God loved her more and no matter what happens, He’s got her! 

What if one spouse wants to talk about parenting as a team but the other doesn’t care to?

It is essential that the two of you are on the same page when it comes to the parenting of your children. It typically doesn’t work for only one of you to make decisions about this and the other one just tag along. Healthy kids are dependent on both of you being engaged in their raising. Having said this, it doesn’t mean that one parent isn’t more interested in new methods or conversation about it. It simply means that if that is the case, the less interested one needs to allow for time to converse about what is being learned and, if agreement is reached, talking about implementation. There are many factors that may cause disinterest in the conversation. If you need help exploring this, we have resources for you to consider. 

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