How to Help Our Kids Stand Secure When Body Image Issues Surface

K-W-3033One recent evening I was sitting in the living room with my laptop doing some research for an upcoming talk. But with all the laughter coming from the backyard, I was having a hard time focusing. From my chair I could see my twelve-year-old son and his friends – another boy and a couple girls – in the pool and became transfixed.

As I watched, they moved from playing Sharks & Minnows to trying to tip each other out of the raft to Categories. When my son jumped out of the pool to take his turn calling out the category, I couldn’t help but chuckle at how cute he looked to me. Unlike his fourteen-year-old muscular brother, his body is still soft and round. And he had on goggles and the biggest, goofiest grin.

I realized then they all had their goggles on, despite face masks not being anyones’ best look.  But at this point my son was totally uninihbited by what he looked like or why his appearance would even matter to his friends.  He was just focused on having fun and from what I could tell the same could be said of the others, too.

But I know this won’t be the case for much longer for these rising middle schoolers. Over the course of this school year, sadly they will become much more body conscience and concerned about what other think about them.

Ironically, the topic of social media’s effect on body image, self-worth and eating disorders was just what I was researching that evening. Maybe having this topic on my mind is the reason I even noticed how refreshing it was to see these kids on the cusp of their teen years being silly and unworried about their appearances. But after having already seen with my older two how quickly things change, I am not naive about what’s coming.

In fact, the teen survey I conducted shed light on just how often alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, cutting, burning, sexual immorality and depression, among other issues, become the coping mechanisms for dealing with insecurities, stress and not measuring up. I don’t say this to scare parents about the teen years but to emphasize the importance of talking to our kids about their true identity and worth.

Telling our kids how great we think they are will only go so far. What they need to hear is how great Jesus is for them! To be told of the One who left his throne in heaven to experience all the suffering, sadness and sin of this world in order to identify with us. But he didn’t stop there. By living the perfect life we can not, he shed his identity and took on ours. He became sin in order to bestow us with His righteousness. Because of this great love we can stand eternally secure as Sons and Daughters of the King.

When this is not the identity our kids know, they will try to find their identity in a million other ways.  Through idols that say they need more “likes” and “followers” on social media. Or, that they must dress a certain way or acquire more material goods so they look better.  Idolatry that lead them to elevate themselves, tear others down or exclude even friends so they get the most attention and therefore feel better about themselves.

In the future when my son realizes he is not as muscular as the next guy or when someone makes fun of him for having acne or for something he says, the only thing that will keep him present – enjoying having fun with this friends and not consumed with how he looks or is perceived by others – will be if he knows his secure standing in the love of Christ. 

The story of Jesus is the gospel applied to all of life and what they must hear to get their story straight. It is the only place to discover the real solution to struggles with body image and worth. Anything else falls short of the true security they are looking for and need.

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Another Peak Behind the Scenes of our Teens’ Selfie Society

IMG_2898If the title of this blog sounds vaguely familiar you may remember reading my post in which I initially shared the teen survey link that I have used as foundational research for a manuscript I am currently working on. Today I have the privelege of sharing some of the information cultivated from these surveys in a guest blog post for Rooted Ministry.  

Rooted seeks to transform youth groups by focusing on grace-driven and Christ-centered teaching. They believe, as do I, the solution to preventing the mass exodus of students involved in youth ministry from leaving the church once they move on to college and adulthood is prioritizing the preaching of Christ’s work and worth. Hearing about who He is for them, as opposed to a focus on law-driven, morality-based teaching, is the life-giving message they must hear to be firmly rooted in Him.

I encourage you to read more on the Rooted site after picking up my post there today. You can read it by clicking here.

The Power in Our Words

When my son walked in the door on the last day of school he immediately pulled out his yearbook to show me what one of his fifth grade teachers had written. All year she has praised him for his journal writing and commented on how many journals he filled. He never was without a story to tell, which even surprised me, as a writer, knowing there are just some days that I’ve got nothing!

When I opened his yearbook to see her note I knew exactly why he was smiling and so eager to show me this…FullSizeRender Because she thinks he will be a famous sports writer, he believes he will!  

All year he has said this is what he wants to be when he grows up (after his professional baseball career ends, of course 🙂 ) But, it wasn’t until the next morning when she texted me that I realized the extent to which the power of her encouraging words have impacted him. IMG_7975

“YOU ARE THE REASON I WANT TO BE A SPORTS WRITER!”

Of course! She is the one who has fostered this dream! Her encouragement has given him the confidence to believe he is a good writer and just having that belief is enough to motivate him to keep writing and to not be afraid to put his thoughts down. What a gift that is to him whether becoming a sports writer is ultimately what he pursues or not!

Simple words of encouragement can change our kids (and anyone else), just as simply as negative feedback changes them too. Our words are either a gift or a curse, but too often we forget to consider the real power of our words. Too often we only see what needs correction or change and neglect to give the life-giving words of praise.

I am so guilty of this. I see it in the faces of my kids when the first words out of my mouth communicate they have fallen short of my expectations. Just as I see the satisfying smile when they know I am proud of them.

The truth is my love is not tied to their performance and neither is God’s. But I see how they could think otherwise. 

By God’s grace I will speak more words of encouragement and affirmation instead of words that sink them into thinking they are not good enough and stifle their self-assurance. Words like-

  • “You look beautiful!” instead of “Is that what you’re wearing?”
  • “You make me laugh!” instead of “I’m trying to do something and you are so loud.”
  • “I’m proud of you for working so hard” instead of “Why didn’t you get an A?”
  • “You are so thoughtful!” when they treat their siblings special or help around the house instead of just remarking on where they fail.

Words like-

  • Thank you for being so patient when I was not.
  • I love how compassionate you are toward those who are hurting.
  • I love how your eyes light up when you smile.
  • I love that you aren’t afraid to try something new.
  • I love that you acted as your “brother’s keeper!”
  • I love you!

Words that breathe confidence and life. Words we should also be speaking to our spouses, friends, neighbors, kids’ teachers, pastor, the woman checking us out at the grocery store, the man in line next to us at the post office and the young mom with the crying baby on the plane.

You get the point – we all need to be encouraged and we all have the ability through our words to bring light and encouragement. So, thank you to my teacher/friend who reminded me of the power of words by the way she communicated to my son that he is a great writer. Perhaps someday you really will see him on ESPN 🙂 !

Don’t want to miss a post? Interested in receiving my future monthly newsletter? Enter your email to sign up in the top right-hand box!  For an additional post on the power of words, you can read: Hurtful Words or Sticks and Stones?

Finally Coming: My Book for Teens…BOOKS, that is!

For a few weeks I’ve been sitting on some news. Not sure why or what I’ve been waiting for, but today I thought I would fill you in on some happenings at the House of Hatton.

Many of you know I have been in the book writing and publishing process for awhile now. For those who don’t know – I’ve written a teen devotional book, for both girls and guys, being published by New Growth Press, called Get Your Story Straight: A Guide to Learning and Living the Gospel! If you click the link you’ll see its already up on Amazon and can be PRE-ORDERED!FullSizeRender

Though the journey of waiting, writing and editing has been long, seeing it on Amazon and finally having a release date is amazing! October 12th is the day!

Since this whole process is new to me, I continue to learn alot as I go.  What is very clear though is the truth of the gospel I so passionately want teens to hear can’t happen without your help!  

As a first-time author, I especially need people who will spread the news of this book through social media, sharing my blog posts, writing Amazon reviews and asking your church or youth ministries to pre-order books in bulk, host book signings or speaking engagement for me. And starting now is not too early.

Will you partner with me in this way? For the sake of our teens?

Teens need to understand how the gospel applies to all of life. They need to see how Jesus is life. There is a disconnect between believing the gospel and really believing what that means practically in very specific situations. There is also a void in books for teenagers focused on deep issues of the heart. Most simply skim the surface of topics teens face, but don’t adequately apply the gospel as the only true and lasting solution.

This is the reason for this book and you can be certain you will hear lots more about it in the coming months. Hand in hand with this is the other part of my exciting news… In February I submitted a new book proposal and have recently been offered a contract on it!

This second book will be specific to teen girls and related to the Teen Survey some of you may have helped circulate or remember reading about in my post: Behind the Scenes of a Selfie Society for a Teen.  Actually, I still need your help getting it out. I need hundreds more surveys back. Would you please share the link below with teens and/or youth pastors/leaders who can send this out to more teens? 

This will be so helpful in collecting research to be used in my next manuscript. The purpose for it is to help teen girls find their true worth and identity in Jesus. In our social media age, the struggle for acceptance, approval, of measuring up, performing well, popularity and the like has only intesified.  And, issues such as eating disorders, stress and depression among teens is at an all-time high. Parents often don’t know how to deal with the problems or even know what is going on in the mind of their teen who may be secretly comparing themselves to everyone around them while sinking into a dark emotional and spiritual place.

The only answer is Jesus.

I don’t mean this in a Sunday school answer kind of way, but truly unless our identity is found in Christ, we will continue turning to other things to give us worth or make us feel okay. This is true of all of us, not just teens. But how much better life will be for our teen girls if they come to know and rest in their identity, firmly rooted in Him, nowI wish this book was out on the market currently, but by God’s grace He will give me the time and the words as I work to get it submitted by August.

I could not be more excited about the opportunity to author two books – something I never even would’ve dreamt of. But both of these have been born out of a growing passion for teens, my personal experience as a mom and Bible study teacher for teens and the void in gospel-centered teaching and material available to them.

Thank you for following me and reading what I have to say. Thank you for encouraging me and thank you in advance for helping me any way you can to share the word of these books and circulate the survey! Look forward to hearing from you!

Survey link to share with any teen you know: http://www.surveyface.com/study/Behind-the-Scenes-of-a-Selfie-Society-for-a-Teen-15022.php?l=y

Parenting Upstream Stinks!

Parenting is an exhaustive job, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of the ages of your kids. Though the physical demand dissipates as they grow, the emotional and mental energy only intensifies.  As our pre-teens and teens face a range of issues, we become increasingly burdened with tough decisions requiring much guidance, thought and prayer.  At least we should. But over the years what I’ve discovered in various situations is parents tend to respond by either-

  1. Abdicating their authority and allowing their teen to run with whatever plans they wish.
  2. Abstaining from speaking out against/changing plans they don’t agree with so as not to be the “party pooper” or for their teen to miss out.
  3. Aiding their kids with the plans but failing to prevent or address red flags out of naiveté.

Now I know this post runs the risk of sounding judgmental or stepping on toes, but to be honest, I am tired of feeling judged and dismissed for putting my foot down. Some may presume because my husband is a minister we are stricter, though I don’t think so.  As we’ve told our daughter countless times, “This has nothing to do with Daddy being a pastor, our decisions come from our core convictions as Believers!”

Thankfully, even when she hasn’t initially seen eye to eye with us, she has accepted our stance without too much argument. It hurts me though that she often feels alone in having restrictions and it angers me to feel as if we are swimming upstream alone in an increasingly permissive “Christian” culture.

imagesHaving ministered to college students for nearly eight years my eyes were opened wide to the effects of hidden sin and struggles in the world of teens. And still today being behind-the-scenes in ministry exposes us daily to the reality of the sinful, brokenness that is in all of us. So, while my daughter has never given us reason not to trust her, why would I hand her over to opportunities of extra temptation and lack of protection?

The truth is none of us are above doing things we never thought we would do. We can have pure intentions and absolute resolve yet still fall to temptation. The deceitfulness of our own hearts and Satan’s relentless pursuit make us easy prey. Don’t you know this to be true from your own heart and experience? Whether we love Jesus or not, we are all prone to wander and at any given moment something other than Christ becomes more desirable.

The answer, however, is not to shelter our kids from everything of the world since sin comes from within us and not outside of us. Instead, allowing our teens to learn through things like experiencing formals or navigating social media can lead to opportunities for deeper dialogue, growth and learning while under our roof… and with the loving protection of boundaries.

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Though boundaries restrict they are designed for our flourishing by providing and protecting. Author Paul Tripp in his devotional New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel DevotionalNew Morning Mercies describes boundaries well by saying, “It may seem constricting that the train always has to ride on those track, but try driving it in a meadow and all motion stops.” 

We, too, are most free when we are within the boundaries of God’s grace and provision! Anything outside of that (appealing as the freedom of doing whatever we want seems) will actually enslave us to our own desires and expose us to Satan’s snares.

Jesus says in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Let’s prepare kids who can swim upstream by shephering them in awareness and wisdom of the lurking evil – not just in the world – but in their hearts, while simultaneously setting perimeters to help them remain pure. To do so, we must also be willing to swim upstream from popular opinion, new cultural norms and fear of man.

Having to parent upstream stinks, but by God’s grace I intend to keep going that direction. Will you join me in swimming against the tide?

If Helicopter Parents Switched Gears…

Unknown-2By now we’ve all heard about the negative effects of “helicopter parenting” though it sure hasn’t it stopped it from happening. Probably because the driving force behind it is control and one thing is for sure: giving up control and trusting God with our kids is one of the hardest things.

But for a majority of helicopter parents the control is about doing everything in their power to ensure their kids get into the best college and the brightest future of opportunities. To secure this end-all be-all of ultimate parenting success, parents relentlessly go to bat to help their kids secure straight A’s, a spot on the most competitive teams and involved in as many resume-building, extra-curricular activities and charitable organizations, even at the expense of the family. But it doesn’t stop there.

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Parents also want to control their kids’ social status because somehow, like their college acceptances and future careers, we think their popularity is a reflection on us.  So if they hang out with the right people, get invited to the right parties and make the right choices than we must be “good” parents.

Really? Is that what quantifies doing a “good” job? Certainly, if we are basing it on the world’s standards. 

But, what about in parenting the things that really matter – our kids’ hearts, character and love for others?  What if we turned our helicopter tendencies to shaping their core, who they are on the inside, instead of trying to make them stand out on the outside?

I write this post quite simply out of sadness in thinking about a few stories I’ve heard just this week. Situations that may have gone differently if parents were more involved in this aspect of kids’ lives instead of leading them to entitlement and self-focus.

Take just these three samplings to see what I mean…

  1. Teenagers being asked by the teacher to read a paragraph out loud in class refused to do so because they didn’t feel like it. The same class in which they chose not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. What does this communicate to the teacher? To the other students in class, perhaps even some who have family members serving our country?                                                                                                                  
  2. Then there is the teen who was deleted out of a group text as a supposed joke without any friend standing up to add them back in for days. Though it may seem trivial, how is being “kicked out” of a group text any different from other types of bullying? For the ones who are still in the group – not a thought, but for the one left out – devastating.                                                          
  3. And there was a student feeling down after losing an election.  Only the seeming rejection was intensified when only one person even reached out to her via text. Everyone else ignored it. Probably because they didn’t know what to say, but quite possibly because it didn’t happen to them so it was just a blip on their radar screen with no further care.

Things like this happen everyday, everywhere. At some point your kid is likely being hurt in this way and in other situations they may be the ones disprespecting, dismissing and ignoring. But largely these things pass, even the helicopter parents, right on by. 

Unfortanetly I’m afraid the lack of concern our kids have for others is because we as helicopter parents have inadvertantly taugh them to think the world revolves around them. 

Well, what if helicopter parents switched gears?

  • What if we focused as much energy as we have on the external on shepherding their hearts?
  • What if they understood manners to be a sign of respect to those they are with?
  • What if they turned off their cell phones when they were hanging out with a friend?
  • What if they were taught to extend grace instead of spreading gossip?
  • What if they worked to build others up instead of doing whatever it takes to make themselves great?

(What if we did this too?)images

How would school and community environments change? How would our kids’ self-worth and security be affected? How would relationships benefit? How better prepared for the world would they be?

Seems like they would be set up for success no matter where they go to college or what they pursue, because they would’ve learned to put others above themselves instead of only seeking things to the benefit of self.images-1

Would love to hear your thoughts on how switching gears would change our kids and maybe change you too:)

 

A Needed Perspective when your Child Faces Try-outs or Election

‘Tis the season for many middle school and high school kids to try out or run for next year’s squad, Student Council or the like. It’s agonizing – and not just for them!

This was our week this week, times two.

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During the first part of the week, my daughter ran for a school-wide Student Council officer position that she did not win. Because of the loss, she had to turn around and run for a Senior Senator spot the following days. This made for one long, stressful week with lots of talk, analyzing and prayer. 

Both races I wanted badly for her – something good, something to look forward to, something to reassure her and give her purpose. Yet at the same time I knew neither position could ultimately fulfill or make all things right. Only – it sure is alot easier to keep that in perspective after (or when) things go the way we want. FullSizeRender

The truth is even if our kids get what they try out or run for, we must help them see “life” is not found in these things and their identity is tied to something so much greater.  (For that matter, we must see this for oursevles, as many parents try to find their identity wrapped up in who their kids are!)

Whether are kids are on a varsity squad, any squad or no squad, a Student Council officer, represenative or not involved, popular or could care less, straight-A student or barely hanging on, turn heads with their beauty or just blend in, none of this is who they are at their core.  And none of this makes anyone more or less important than others.  

If we live as if these things are “life,” we will constantly be striving to measure up and looking for something to make us okay. We will be crushed in defeat and prideful in our accomplishments. But, if our true identity and unchanging value is found in Jesus, nothing can shake our security.

Jesus bore the suffering, humiliation and pain of death on a cross and thought it nothing in comparison to the joy of reconciling his children to the Father. He literally became sin, so we could have his righteousness. We therefore live under the smile of God and not his condemnation.  He views us as perfect, because Jesus was perfect for us.

This is how great his love for his children is and this is where our most true and secure identity lies. This is the doctrine of justification and why theology matters.

When we know our standing before God does not change, when we know his love and acceptance, when we know he is “life,” than we can stand secure when things don’t turn out how we want, when we face disappointments and rejection. 

So when my child loses an election, she finds assurance knowing because God has accepted her and declared her perfect, she is not a loser or failure. And, when my child wins an election, she can take no pride in her own performance or view herself as better than those who didn’t succeed because it is Jesus’ perfect performance for us that defines us.

Who he says we are – treasured, loved, accepted, included, significant, wonderfully and fearfully made – is who we are.

We need to understand the everyday implications of this truth and by God’s grace live out of its reality. This is the foundation and comfort as parents we need to give our children. This is how we help them be okay with who they are and where God has them.

It’s not easy to rest in his truth and love when other things seem so much more tangible. But, nothing else can give as secure an identity as knowing the God of the universe who created us and cast his love upon us sings his praises over us! Only in our titles as “Sons and Daughters of the King” do we have a stable and secure identity that will not shatter, no matter what. images-1

Behind the Scenes of a Selfie Society for a Teen

images-2If you have a teen or tween, cell phone use and social media has most likely been a concerning conversation.  I have had countless conversations with other parents frustrated by their kids’ constant phone use and worried about what they are exposed to.

I too am concerned and have seen first-hand the effects on my own daughter. But you wouldn’t know it from the outside because these are inward struggles and sin she and other teens are wading through in the confines of their own head and heart. That is why my greater concern is that as parents we either miss the real problem or we see it but don’t know what to do about it. Either way opportunities for deeper sheperding of our kids’ hearts are often missed.

imagesWe know social media is not going away but the solution is not taking away their phones, prohibiting all online interaction and keeping them completely sheltered.  Although tempting, “law” does nothing for their hearts.  How much better if we helped them evaluate the real issues – the underneath the surface issues – these external forces are pointing to.

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As my husband says if you detect a crack in the ceiling of your home, the crack is not the real problem. The crack is pointing to something more foundational – somthing behind the scenes.

Same is true of social media and cell phones. They are not the root problem. Just as the real problem with bad behavior isn’t because of the temptation or something outside of us, but what is going on inside us.

So how do we uncover what is hidden in our kids’ hearts? Do we even see what is hidden in our hearts?

UnknownThese are tough questions and unless we dig below the surface to uncover the ‘soul holes’ and how they are falsely being plugged, our kids (and us) will sink deeper and deeper into Self.

If we don’t help them see, believe and rest in Christ as their identity, righteousness and worth, we will never adequately address social media stress.

To this end, I have created a couple of online anonymous surveys, which some of you may have already taken or seen. One is for teens, the other for parents of teens. Some I have already received back with many of my own conclusions confirmed and to be shared in future posts.

imagesIn shedding light on ‘Selfie Society’ issues, my hope is to help us see how to practically apply The Light of the gospel on to the lies eating aways at lives. Perhaps in some small way by sparking conversation, initiating public parent forums, small group gatherings and/or potentially a future book:), together we will be instruments of true change impacting our kids far beyond their teen years.

But I need your help. I need hundreds of surveys submitted back. I would appreciate greatly if you woud share the links below with teens, parents of teens and also youth pastors and leaders, Young Life or other ministry staff members, coaches, teachers – really, anyone who works with teens or parents of teens who would help circulate this around. Would you please?

Here are the links:

FOR TEENS: http://www.surveyface.com/study/Behind-the-Scenes-of-a-Selfie-Society-for-a-Teen-15022.php?l=y

FOR PARENTS: http://www.surveyface.com/study/Behind-the-Scenes-of-Parenting-Teens-15061.php?l=y

For future survey results, be sure to subscribe to this blog. In the meantime, Joy in the journey.

When You Stop Beating Yourself Up

My thirteen-year-old son wrestles for our high school’s junior team and on Friday had a school day tournament. All wrestlers were to arrive at the host school at 6:45 that morning for weigh-ins. So at dinner the night before we discussed what time we needed to leave and what food and drinks I would have ready for him to take. What we did not talk about was his gear.

He went up to bed early wanting to be well-rested for the long day of matches ahead.  But, an hour later came back down the stairs with a look of panic.

He left his head gear at school, in his gym locker. Could we leave earlier to go get it, he asked.

I reminded him it would be too early for his school to be unlocked. Then he really panicked, admitting it wasn’t just his head gear, but his wrestling shoes left in his locker!

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Thankfully he could weigh-in without either and my husband could get them before warm-up started. This reality didn’t matter to my son. He put his head on the kitchen table and proceeded to beat himself up over it.  

Coincidentally, at dinner the night before we had just talked about how he needs to work on his organization and preparedness. Case in point. While I was tempted to revisit that conversation, this is not what he needed to hear at that moment.

What my son needed to be reminded of was Grace. He needed to know who he is in Christ and rest in this identity that does not change based on his performance.

Now skip over to my sixteen-year-old daughter who has been overwhelmed with stress all week. She was in charge of a Student Council charitable fundraising event – a swim-a-thon – that had not ever taken place before. Putting it together had been challenging, especially without having a previous event or the experience to draw from. 1458425_870354149676682_3654803730887213614_n

As a former event-planner I could see things that could’ve been handled differently. But in this moment would it really benefit her to tell her what she should’ve done instead or what I would’ve done to make it better?

Absoltutely not! Doing so would actually add to her stress, fear of failure and temptation to beat herself up for not measuring up.

What my daughter needed to be reminded of was Grace. She needed to know who she is in Christ and rest in this identity that does not change based on her performance or the success or failure of this event.

It’s not just my children who beat themselves up over a mistake. Don’t we all – at times? 

Why do we treat ourselves so harshly?

Could it be we are often not okay with making mistakes or being less than perfect because our identity is tied to it?

What if this wasn’t the case and instead we really rested in who Christ declares us to be? What if we stopped beating ourselves up, berating ourselves and bottom-line – believing Satan’s lies? What would that look like?

Freedom! 

Freedom from fear, rest from worry and peace for our anxious hearts.

We would be free to make mistakes and learn from them without feeling like failures.  We would be free to confess our sins without condemnation.  We would be free to live as deeply loved imperfect sinners! 

This is what I want my children to wrap themselves in – not their failures or their successes!

The Root of Our Teens’ Stress

IS YOUR TEEN STRESSED?

imagesNot just because finals are looming.  It’s the end of the semester so they probably are a little stressed – or maybe should be!  But, the stress I’m talking about is more pervasive than this season’s busyness – both for teens and adults. The stress I’m talking about is a constant pressure hanging like thick dark clouds.

DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR TEEN FEELS THIS WAY? 

I DIDN’T! 

I really didn’t get how dibilitating stress had become, even though we talk very openly.

She is in tough classes, beginning to think about college and balancing many responsibilities and activities. To that end – just like with finals – some stress is to be expected. But in a concerted effort to not be controlling or a helicopter mom, I generally let her manage her own schedule and assignments. All I ask is that she be responsible and do her best. If that means a “B” or “C” instead of an “A” so be it.  So when I recently began to absorb the amount of stress she felt, I was confused as to the primary source.

What I discovered goes deeper than school and schedules.  

What I discovered as the root of the stress is the enormous pressure to measure up! A pressure put on herself, but coming at her from every direction.

There is little room in our culture to not be the best. Whether we as parents place that expectation on them or not, it is what our world says is necessary and important. Therefore, our kids are constantly bombarded with these messages:

  • You need to be in AP classes.
  • You need to have a high GPA.
  • You need to score well on the ACT.
  • You need to excel in your sport.
  • You need to be involved in every student organization possible.
  • You need to always be building your resume.
  • You need to show up at every extra-curricular event.
  • You need to be skinny and toned.
  • You need to dress in name-brand clothing, everyday.
  • You need to be popular.
  • You need to constantly have a witty SnapChat story.
  • You need to be retweeted and “liked.”

The list goes on and where they don’t measure up feels like failure.

Determining how they stack up against their “frenemies” comes with constant comparison scanning. But no matter how great they are, what they find is never enough – in their mind, someone else always looks better, is doing more and doing better at it.

So the stress mounts and the treadmill never stops. 

As parents we think as long as they haven’t fallen off this treadmill of go-go-go/do-do-do they are managing well, not realizing how desperately they may need the “stop” button pushed. And in many cases, we not only aren’t hitting “stop,” but are actually increasing the speed with our own expectations.

Either way, there is need for deeper, more frequent probing conversations with our kids. Conversations that go beyond my own typical default question of ‘how was your day?’ to more heart-revealing dialogue to help them see what aspect of God’s truth they are failing to believe. 

By this I mean…

  • Do they need to be reminded of their value in Christ? To see an identity built on anything other than being in Him will always disappoint.                       
  • Do they need to hear only His opinion matters? To see how other’s approval is an idol. 
  • Do they need to know His love is not based on anything they do? To see it is all about His perfect obedience and performance, not theirs.
  • Do they need to know Jesus came to free us from the bondage of sin? To see how the fear of looking bad and focusing inward robs them of the joy and freedom we have in Christ.
  • Do they need to take their fears and worries to Him? To see that He is in control.
  • Do they need to rest in His finished work? To see all is by His strength and grace and mercy!

Do we need to see these same things? Are we filled with undue stress, worry and fear because we to are looking to people and other things to give us significance?Unknown

If this is you or your teen, I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, I pray you will find Rest this Advent Season and all year long at the only place true rest can be found – at the foot of the cross! 

 

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