Modest is Hottest!!

Before I jump in let me start with a warning. I am talking about girls’ attire that is in middle school and high school. Once these kids are out of your homes, it is up to them what they wear.

So over the past weekend there were several Christmas dances at several schools. I saw parents posting pictures and I was left dumbfounded at some of the dresses that parents are allowing their teenage daughters to wear. I was floored actually. Cut down to the navel, split up to the hip, shorter than short, and barely-there was a theme running through a lot of photos. I have a teenage daughter who is tall, thin, beautiful, and has a hard time finding dresses that fit her figure that are not skimpy. So, I get that finding conservative dresses is difficult to do. I also am not one for denim skirts to the floor either. It is ok for a teen girl to dress pretty and nice in a nice dress. It is however a parent’s responsibility to not allow them to dress provocatively.

So how do we address the issue as parents? When my daughter was trying on dresses for prom, she sent me pics. Some I liked, some I loved, some I hated, and some I just said absolutely not. Now, the idea is to have your teen ask your opinion and you have to withstand the urge to say certain things about the dress. Communication is key here. All these teen girls are trying to be “sexy” because that’s the culture around them. let me say this, no teen girl is sexy. As a parent, I do not crush my daughters’ self-esteem by saying anything negative about her appearance. I want to encourage her to feel comfortable in her skin, and for her to understand how important that is. I know so many women that deal with body image issues, and as the father figure, I do not want to add to that issue. I want my daughters to feel comfortable in their skin and understand how much that body is changing and will change going forward. Think about all the women you know that struggle with those issues and are constantly unhappy with their bodies. I, as a parent, do not want to add to that. My oldest daughter is very leggy, meaning she is long-legged and every dress is short on her. So when she asks my opinion I always start out positive. “That color is good” or “That cut is nice” before any critiques I have. It helps open up the conversations. That is the key. I will say as a dad that it is hard to see your little baby daughter growing into a woman. I asked my wife once, “When did our daughter get a woman’s body?” It takes us by surprise. When mine sent me those prom dress photos, I had to take a moment and just realize she’s getting older and that’s tough on us dads.

I also want parents to see the hidden dangers out there too. There is a huge sex trafficking business in America and young teenage girls are a premium. There are creepers and nefarious people out there and they are scouting out our daughters. Lots of money in that business. So modesty goes a long way to cover up a lot of issues on that front. I always tell parents these three things

  1. Do not post pictures of your teenage daughters in their swimsuits online.
  2. Do not allow your daughters to post swimsuit photos on their social media or from their bedrooms.
  3. Always check your privacy settings on your social media. You never know who is watching.

So remember this, modesty springs forth from a conversation about empowerment. I want my daughters to feel comfortable in their skin and love their bodies. It starts with conversations about modesty and develops into tackling the culture’s take on “sexiness”.

TikTok is Bad for Your Teen? No kidding.

An article from the Wall Street Journal came to me from a friend about the dangers of TikTok. I read it and was like, no kidding it is not a place for teens. I could have told you this real quick. Why? The content. However, the Wall Street Journal created dozens of accounts for fictional users between the ages of 13 and 15. The findings should leave parents dumbfounded, but I am sure that parents will not be phased. They found this startling number.

“TikTok served one account registered as a 13-year-old at least 569 videos about drug use, references to cocaine and meth addiction, and promotional videos for online sales of drug products and paraphernalia. Hundreds of similar videos appeared in the feeds of the Journal’s other minor accounts.”

So what is a parent to do? Sadly, most will do nothing and allow their highly impressionable child, and make no mistake, a 13-15 year old is most assuredly a child, to continue on TikTok because of the amount of blowback their child will give them. My advice, get your young kids off of TikTok. It is unhealthy for them. The WSJ article also found that “others encouraged eating disorders and glorified alcohol, including depictions of drinking and driving and of drinking games.” TikTok is like Alice in Wonderland, your kids are Alice and they get lost so quickly down the rabbits hole. They will see things that they shouldn’t be exposed to. Told things about themselves that they shouldn’t be told at that age.

One last point. Their is porn on TikTok. Not your run of the mill porn but porn nonetheless. Porn is about arousal and there is plenty of that on TikTok. For example “I gotta small waist, pretty face with a big bank” TikTok that all these girls do, is by definition porn. I can not even pull up TikTok without seeing at least one of those videos. With TikTok’s powerful algorithm, I will now see more of the same. This is how it is fed to your child. Parents, listen to me, I know we did not have social media growing up, and a return to that would be great, but it is not gonna happen. So be a parent and talk to your kids about it and get them young kids off the TikTok for now.

The Quest For Purity

As a youth pastor, one of the biggest hurdles that I face is talking to students about sex and purity. I will say that our teens are way more sexually active at a younger age and higher pace. They are marinated in a sexualized culture. Sex is everywhere around them. It is prevalent in their movies, tv shows, music, and their social media. They are so imbedded in that culture that telling them to abstain until they get married is a foreign concept to them. I mean just the looks they give, the chuckles, the comments, and the sheer fear in their eyes is enough to try your soul. I am going to give you three things I hear from youth when engaging in talks about sex and sexual relationships.

#1. Monkey See, Monkey Do. This one will step on some parents toes, but truth is truth. If you as a parent are “playing house” or “shacked up” have you stopped to think what message that sends to your kids? Maybe you have a revolving door of lovers or change boyfriends or girlfriends every two months. Maybe you are older and don’t want to mess up your checks. Maybe this, maybe that, whatever the reasons, what are you telling your kids? The phrase “more is caught than taught” is exactly what happens when it comes to teens observing their parents and their parents relationship. If you as a parent are casual in your sexual exploits, your kids will be too. If you are cool with significant others living with and then moving out, your kids will be too. Oh and by the way, your kids hate that. I hear it all the time how much teens hate their parents moving somebody in and then moving them out when it all falls apart and the drama it causes. Teens crave a safe place and a steady foundation. A revolving door of lovers just does not supply that foundation.

#2. How far is too far? I get this question a lot from teens. Now parents, hold on, it is about to get rough and real. Teens want to know where the line is. Is oral sex too far? Is anal sex too far? Is mutual masturbation too far? Is kissing too far? Is hand holding too far? Is this too far or that too far? They are looking for lines in the sand and the problem is, there is no line in the sand. The issue is a spiritual issue. Jesus calls us to live Holy lives. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” This is where the main issue lies. Purity is a Holiness issue. How do we become Holy in our sex lives? See you can not tell a teen where a boundary line is because they will push against that boundary ever single time. You have to start with their mind and their soul. We will talk about their mind in the next point, but their soul is all about their salvation. If they know Jesus and have accepted Jesus, then their soul is secure for eternity. Now comes the path of sanctification. Sanctification is a fancy theology word that means the process of becoming Holy. Heres the good news, we will never be completely Holy here on Earth, we will receive perfection and Holiness when we come into Heaven. That is great news for us. Now the bad news, here on Earth after we are saved we begin a journey down the path of Sanctification. This path is the learning path. It requires disciple, prayer, growth of Christian character, and grace. It is here where a lot of Christians fail to discipline their sexual characteristics. Teens need guidance in their lives in all facets. My last blog was about money, where teens definitely need guidance. Well, sex is another place where they need guidance. You as the parent are equipped to give that guidance. When we talk about purity, the only people talking about it that your teens here from should not be the pastor, the youth pastor and some random person at school. It starts at home. It starts with you parents. Here is a tip parents, it needs to start earlier than you think. The age of the first exposure to porn is 12. So before 12, you have to be talking to them about sex and all the things around sex. Heres a little phrase for you to keep in mind. “Your kids are going to talk to someone about sex, who is it going to be?”

#3. G.I.G.O. This is a computer term for Garbage In Garbage Out. This is where the mind comes into play. Our culture is saturated with sex. Last summer I made a Facebook Post about the song W.A.P. and asked the parents if they knew about it and the TikTok dancing to go with it. Most parents did not. One parent messaged me about her conversation with her then 8th grade daughter. She asked her teen if she knew what it meant and said the color left her face and she stuttered, yes. Mom asked her what it meant and she said I can’t say that to you! Them mom responded with what I think is an absolute gem of a parenting quote. “Well if you cannot say it to me maybe you shouldn’t be listening to it.” No judgement, no rash behavior, just good clean communication in the parenting. As parents we have to be diligent about our kids social media. As the father to a teenage son, it is amazing how many half naked girls are on social media these days and are not afraid to show it off for these teenage boys. So I have to be diligent about keeping up with his social media inbox and text messages. At my house we do talk a lot about sex. It is not a off limit, hushed topic. It is front and center and talked about. It is not something any teen should be ashamed or embarrassed about. What we have done and continue to do is monitor the types of music, types of shows, and types of movies that we allow to be watched. We keep an eye on the friends, girlfriends, and people in their lives. We encourage healthy communication about sex. Is it easy? No. Is keeping an observant eye easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.

How many people have broken lives, broken hearts, and broken families because of sex? The number is super high and it may be you. Our teens are not immune to it either. “He said he loved me!” I have heard more teenage girls say that to me than I would care to admit after a boy played them and was only interested in the sex. What is left is a teenage girl who is broken, guilty, and ashamed and that is not how God wants us to live. It is why sex is for marriage and marriage only. It works best in that design. So what do I tell those girls? My standard answer is that God forgives, forgets, renews us, and strengthens us anew. As the father of a teenage boy, I have always guided Him that a Godly man waits until marriage and does not force girls or manipulate girls into anything. The idea is that as the future head of the household, a man leads himself, his wife and his kids to be Holy. That starts the first date. He should lead her to be Holy. Not spiritual, which is based on feelings and appearances , but Holiness based on Jesus and His plan. A couple that follows that plan has nothing but the opportunity for success.

Parents, talk to your kids about sex often. Keep a tab on their media intake and most importantly, model a Godly example in your own lives. If you struggle with that part, find you a local church and get plugged in. Read that Bible and seek God in prayer. I know that seems old school and old fashioned but it works!!

Money Habits Start Early

For the past five or six years I have taught a program at a local community college in Adult Education. Most of my students are coming through my course to get credit for the High School Diploma or their GED. During this time I always ask two questions. First, did your parents talk to you about sex while growing up? Secondly, did your parents talk to you about money growing up? I can count on one hand the amount of students who say their parents did talk to them about either subject. That is a total disservice to these students. The two problems most adults struggle with are sex and money. They plague our society, they are out of control across the country, and rampant in the church. We have to do better about educating our teens about their financial future. Let me give you this thought. At 18 years old teens are given the reins to a student loans that could lead them to debt up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, where as 3 months ago they had to ask permission to go to the bathroom. We have a student loan crisis in this country right now. Over 44 million Americans hold over 1.6 BILLION dollars in student loan debt. The average student loan debt is $36,510 per person. Our teens are going to become one of those statistics if we do not educate them on finances. So where to even start? Lets look at three p[laces to begin.

Save, Spend, and Give. Those are the three places to begin with when laying a personal financial foundation. Everything builds on this concept. Savings morphs into college tuition and later in life morphs into retirement. Spending gives limits. We live in a world where we are constantly told we have to have the next newest thing or this popular item. We love credit and credit is nothing more than accumulated debt. So a rule here is to only spend cash for what you want. Finally, giving. This is the one most people struggle with. Why? Because it is not natural to us. As Christians we are instructed to give a “tithe’ to God through our local church. Tithe is an old Hebrew word for tenth. So 10% of our income should go to our tithe. Now a question I hear often is, “What if I am not a Christian?” and my advice is to find a charity of your choice to give to. Why? Because giving teaches us that our money flows and we control where it flows. Besides, who doesn’t love to help people?

College Tuition. This one is going to be directed at parents. I hear all the time the phrase, “I want my kid to go to _________________.” Now if you as a parent are going to pay your kids way to said college, then you can make that statement. If you are not paying for your kids college, then let me say this gently, help them make the best financial decision that you can. Look close to home. Look for scholarships. Look at a community college. Look at a trade school. Look at your kid. Do not get caught in the trap of “what will people say” nonsense. If your child cannot afford to go to the major university, or if they just are not ready to go off to college, it is not a personal offense to you. We ask college students all the time this question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and the majority have no clue. If that is your student, do not send them to college, send them to work. Let them work, make money, spend, save, and give with that money, and figure out what they want to do. It is why the dropout or “retention rate” at colleges are so low, students are not focused on a bullseye and therefore they hit nothing. Want to know how much a college degree is going to cost your kid? Go here: https://www.ramseysolutions.com/saving/college-savings-calculator

Monkey see, monkey do. Sure it is an old saying but it is true when it comes to finances. These kids see how you are with money. Do you talk about it in hushed quite tones. Do you struggle with keeping the lights on? For some unknown reason we just do not talk to our kids about money and expect the school to teach them personal finance. I hear it all the time, ” I wish they taught personal finance at the high school.” Ummm, no you don’t. Most of them are struggling financially. Teach it at home. Model it in your financial behavior, and for goodness sakes, talk to your kids about money. Teach them what a budget is. Talk about IRA’s and 401ks. If you do not know about them yourself, learn. Go here: https://www.ramseysolutions.com/retirement Just take the time to learn and teach your kids the important financial lessons. Let them know about your money issues both success and failures. I am a 45 year old man, only child, and I have no clue about my parents money situation. I am sure there are or were lessons to learn about finances or investing. So do not let your kids miss out on those lessons because you do not want to talk money or admit that your finances are a huge hot mess. Maybe if you address the problem you will seek solutions, and your kids will watch and learn.

Vaccines, Christians, and love thy neighbor……

Recently I have seen a advertising campaign for the Covid 19 vaccine that is about getting the vaccine because we as a country should “love our neighbor”. While that is just a guilt trip advertisement, it does bring up some good points. “Love thy neighbor” is often referenced when trying to get a population to do something. However, it is a second step commandment. The first, or greatest commandment is “Love God with all thy heart, all thy soul, and all thy mind.” which is found in the Gospel of Matthew 22:37-39. See we do not love our neighbor naturally. We are by nature selfish and self centered. We are focused on our lives, family, jobs and our future. President Obama said “We are no longer a Christian nation” and I absolutely agree with that statement. The proof is in how we as a country behave both as a nation and individually. Homelessness, poverty, childhood hunger, drug abuse, human trafficking, and all the other things that plague our society and our lack of ability to focus on and eradicate them are all signs of selfishness. There was school district that would call DHR on a child if they had an outstanding lunch balance. Mind you this school was located in a impoverished community. As a country we have failed so many people in this country. As people look for reasons, I simply point us back to the Greatest Commandment.

Matthew 22:37
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

This is where we as a nation and as individuals must return. If we want to love our neighbor, then we must start by acknowledging that God does exist. Then we must yield our life to Him through belief and faith in Jesus Christ. See, loving our neighbor does not come naturally to us, it only comes to us through our relationship with Jesus and as the Holy Spirit works through and in us to soften us and open our hearts to the struggles of our neighbors. It is why Jesus answered the way He did. He put the steps in order for us. Love God and from there love thy neighbor.

If we are to truly “Love our neighbor” then we must as a nation and Christians repent of our sins as a nation and as individual Christians.

2 Chronicles 7:14
if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

So, this is where we are as a nation. Do we repent or do we continue down the path we are on? Do we truly want to love our neighbors? Are we even trying to love our neighbors?

Trash is in the trash can

We were talking about dating these days among youth and college and career. We got into the topic of using dating apps to find people. We started talking about Tinder. Tinder is a notorious dating app designed for hook ups. I made the off hand comment that “If you look in the trash can all you will find is trash.” We all laughed and then thought about how true that statement is. I mean if you are a Christian, dating apps should not be on your radar. Why? The app Tinder is for hooking up. That is not our dating goal as a Christian. We date to find a spouse. We use dating as a means to weed out the fit and unfit. So why use a dating app to find someone. We are designed to be married, have kids, and life as a family for the Lord. Now of course we all want that special someone. I get it and totally understand. Here is the rub though, there are no such things as soulmates. I know, calm down. I can prove it though. My in-laws are prime examples. My mother in-law was married to her first husband for 25 years. He passed away from cancer on Thanksgiving after 25 years of marriage. She has now been married to my wife’s’ dad for over 25 years. If there was only one soulmate for her, she would have been single these past 25+ years!! So stop with the fairy tale and start looking for a good mate.

Now after I had said this to the students, they asked me what I thought was qualities of a good mate. So, I made a quick list.

  1. Do they love Jesus? Thats the #1 most important question. Is He on their lips and in their heart?
  2. What is their family like? Family matters. No matter what. Their upbringing, their family dynamics, and how they function as a family matters in your relationship.
  3. How do they view money? I am a big Dave Ramsey fan and follower. One of the biggest issues he deals with on his show is marriages and money. When one person in the relationship is going one direction and the other going the opposite direction, conflict arises. So It is best to find a person who is similar to you financially.
  4. What is their love language? Let us start with this, there are 5 Love Languages and we all have them. We all have a top two and we should know ours and know our significant others love languages. You can find out yours here: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language
  5. What is their plan? A date should play out like an interview. Whats your goals? Whats your 5, 10, 20 year plan? Now whether or not those plans come to fruition is irrelevant, it is the fact that they have a plan.

Dating in this day and age is so hard and different than when I was dating. Social media, dating apps, FaceTime, and all the technology have changed the game. It has opened up the dating pool area. You can meet people from all over online. So use some judgment and rely on your friends and family to help filter out candidates.

Prepared Through and By Prayer

One of my former youth students is in dire need of a boyfriend. She wants one, craves one, and is focused on one. Her whole world will crumble and her lifetime plans will fall apart of she does not have one by the end of the upcoming college year. The other day I gave her advice and thought it was good advice. (I surprise myself sometimes.) I told her to be patient, be watchful, and be prepared through prayer. That last line got me thinking that we all should be prepared through prayer for things we are wanting to happen in our lives. We cannot just wander into the things we are wanting, like relationships, jobs, promotions, or anything, if we are not in prayer about it. It is normal to want a significant other. It is normal to worry that nobody will want you, but it is a whole other issues to be ready when all of that comes into your life. When that person that God has created just for you comes into your life, you have to be ready. You have to have been prepared by God through prayer and supplication, which is a five dollar word meaning to humble yourself before God and to allow yourself to be transformed by God. Pray for your future significant other now, (I am sure my wife prays for me more now than she did before we met) so that you will know when you meet that person. Meeting the person that God has prepared for you is like stepping into a swift moving stream, it moves fast and you had better be prepared. Prayer is designed to get us adjusted and tuned to Gods will in our life. We like to run ahead of the plan and timing, I am guilty, and then when we turn around we then only see how far we have out run God. So then we have to backtrack or worse, wait. It happens to the best of us.

One last thought. Being prepared through prayer requires us to be vigilant when it comes to prayer. We have to make a point to spend time in prayer. One of the questions I get from the students is “How do I pray?” So I have a acronym for them to guide as an outline for their prayers.

P= Praise. Start with a praise report to God. Praise Him for what He has done for you and those around you.

R=Repent. Repent means to acknowledge and ask forgiveness for ones sins. Here is the place to ask God to show you your hidden sins.

A=Ask. God is already very aware of your wants, needs, and dreams. So ask Him for them and express the why behind them.

Y=Yield. The most important thing to do is to yield to Gods plans for our lives. This allows us to become more attuned to His plans and paths for us.

To wrap it up I always tell students this, write them down and do not pray before bed time. Use a prayer journal to keep up with your prayer life. It helps document the journey and train of thoughts. Never lay down to pray before you go to sleep because you will wake up hours later still in prayer! We have all done it! So be prepared through prayer.

Overcoming Fear

I was able to share at the Alabama Adult Education Conference. I spoke on Overcoming Fear in students, and adults. Below is my outline I used.

What Causes Fear?

While each one of us struggles with fear, we all probably have different backstories surrounding that fear. Your story is unique, your students’ story is unique and it’s a good idea to spend some time reflecting on the root cause of your fear. Here are a few reasons we develop a fear of failure: 

  • Perfectionism: Often, we don’t want to try something new because we’re afraid of feeling dumb or not doing it right the first time around. The key to overcoming perfectionism is to give yourself the permission to be a beginner.
  • Comparison:It’s easy to fear failure because we care so much about what others think. We compare ourselves to people around us instead of focusing on who we want to become.
  • Past trauma: All of us carry scars from painful things we’ve experienced. You might be afraid to put yourself out there because you don’t want to risk a repeat of what happened last time. “Your past is a context‚ not an excuse.” We can’t blame our past for our present—at some point, we all have to choose to make changes in our lives.” 
  • Belief systems: Our values and beliefs are often engrained into us from a very young age. Your family’s patterns of talking and relating with each other shaped you more than you realize. You are bringing a unique perspective on life to the table. And that’s a good thing! But sometimes, our beliefs can hold us back. For example, if you were told by your parents that you weren’t smart enough to be a (fill in the blank), then you might struggle to believe you can accomplish great things, even as an adult.
  • Negative thoughts: Often, we’re our own worst enemy! You probably hear all sorts of discouraging lies in your head about who you are and what you can accomplish. 
  • Tying your self-worth to your accomplishments: If you’re like me, it’s easy for you to find a sense of meaning in what you can accomplish. But when you find your worth in what you can do, failure becomes devastating, because it reflects on who you are at your core. We all need to work extra hard to separate our sense of self-worth from our jobs or our goals. 
  • Fear of Success: Yes, success brings its own challenges. Our adult education students have had so many failures in their life that success seems so distant to them, so unattainable. 
  • Fear of Change: This one is the one nobody likes. Change. Change brings out the fear in all of us. 
  • Fear of College: As crazy as this sounds, college campuses can be intimidating for adult learners. 

Helping Overcome Fears

  1. Identify Fear: Fear hates to be identified. Fear hates to be named, highlighted, and confronted.
    1. Journal it out! When fear starts to creep in, and it will, write those fears down in a journal. No matter how small, how trivial, or how silly, WRITE IT DOWN!
    1. Read it OUTLOUD! Once you have written them down, read them out loud to yourself or to somebody else. 

THEY WILL SOUND RIDICULOUS!

  • Eliminate Fears: We must overcome fear by eliminating negative people, circumstances, and voices.
    • Internal Voices:
      • Self-Doubt
      • Parents and Upbringing
      • Internal Negative Voices
        • “Don’t have time”
        • No opportunities
        • Risk disapproval
        • I should be content with where I am
        • I’m scared of the risk
    • External Voices
      • Friends
      • Family
      • Co-workers
      • Kids
      • Parents
  • Plan: Fear and Doubt thrive in chaos. A plan helps deal with Chaos
    • Chaos=Complete disorder and confusion.
    • Use S.M.A.R.T. GOALS
      • Specific
      • Measurable
      • Attainable
      • Realistic
      • Time-Bound
  • Motivate, Motivate, Motivate
    • No Negative Talk
    • Money, Money, Money
    • Lead by example

Satan, culture, and economic success.

By now we have all heard about Lil Nas X and his new video where he is giving Satan a lap dance. He also released a shoe that contained human blood and satanic symbols. Those same satanic symbols are obviously spread throughout the video and across his brand. I had numerous people ask me about it and my thoughts on the whole thing. I think some were shocked when I said its just a rerun. My whole life I have seen music artist do this. They use satanic symbols, language, and imagery to sell records. It is all a ruse to get attention and sell records and in turn make money. Ozzy Osborn, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Billie Eillish, and now Lil Nas X, have all used the same ideas and imagery to sell albums and garner attention. It is an old trick to get us to talk about and listen to or watch their videos or music. Which in turn makes them money, which is their whole goal. Look how fast the Lil Nas X shoot sold out. Look at the backlash against him and against Nike who had nothing to do with the project. Shoes are selling for thousands of dollars on the secondary market, the video has millions of views, and he has plenty of attention. Thats the name of the game folks, attention. Attention leads to views and views lead to profits. PT Barnum said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” That has been proven true numerous times.

So, lets talk Satan for a moment. There is true evil in this world, Satan is alive and well. He is not red and does not have horns. He is not interested in the Satanic symbols or their church. He wanted to be like God and therefore he wants the worship of Gods people. He wants his own kingdom. He is the master of camouflage. The modern church and society has done a poor job of putting Satan and his plans in front of the church. His plans and methods remain the same, imitation, deception, and guilt. So be aware that evil is real and it always has a plan, to steal, kill and destroy.

Conversation Starter #1

Parents, you know that teenagers are hard to talk to. They give you short answers, no answers, or just noises. So, I thought that I would give you some conversation starters to help you and your teens communicate more efficiently. People love to talk about themselves and their dreams, goals, plans, and beliefs. So why not take advantage of that insight and use it to get some dialogue flowing with your teen. So here is the first conversation starter.

“If there were no risk, what would you try tomorrow?”

This is a great question to get dialogue flowing. It may jam their developing brains up at first but it will soon get them talking. Why? Because they have dreams that we as parents have no clue about. They have dreams hidden in their brains that stay hidden and locked away because of fear, rejection, or lack of information. I would love to take credit for this question, but it is a guy by the name of Ken Coleman who asked this question first. I ask my students this question all the time and it always is fun to listen to them dream outloud. It is exciting to see them open up and expose their dreams to the light. It is a great exercise for them and it empowers them to overcome fear and objections.

Now parents, please watch what you say in response to this question. You may have the tendency to reply with something negative, DO NOT DO IT!!! Just listen and watch them. See if they light up, see if they get passionate, see if they have a dream concealed from you. It is not a time to offer criticism or to try and redirect them. It is a time to shut up, listen, and observe them. Ask follow up questions to encourage them to dig deeper into why that is their dream. This is not a conversation about your thoughts but about the dream but the opportunity to gather insight into your teens brain, passions, and thought process. So take this opportunity to ask the question and observe them.

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