Parenting

Are You Creating an Insecure Child?

If I were to ask your 5 yr. old a question that he/she could answer like, “Do you like going to school?”  Do you answer for her?  

Recently I was discussing this with a friend who had just experienced the ‘parent answering’ when asking a 14 yr. old boy about his hockey experience.  The father would not allow his son to answer even the most basic question like, “Do you prefer to play offense or defense?”  The father just habitually ‘jumped in’ to answer on behalf of his son.  Why was he doing this?  

Every time parents jump in to answer for a child that is capable of answering the question himself it can communicate several things to the child:

1-you're not smart enough

2-you're not capable 

3-I have a better answer

And in almost every case it loudly communicates: YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH

I believe there are many reasons why a parent may answer questions on behalf of thier child in everyday conversations, do homework or a project for thier child and more.  Whether consciously or subconsciously most of these parental decisions are made with fear as the driving force.   Fear of what others will think of the answer their child gives, fear of what may be the result of a bad grade, fear of thier child being embarrassed etc…   The fear is then accompanied by worry, which occurs when one fearful thought becomes a list of bad ‘problems.’  An example of this would be a parent that does the homework for their child for fear that he would get a bad grade otherwise, and a bad grade on a paper would be a bad grade on his report card, which would mean a low GPA, bad college options, poor job options, financial stress, and eventual homelessness (that’s dramatic I know, but you get the point).  

 

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The problem is, when we allow fear to make our decisions and drive our actions we are more likely to create the very thing we most fear. “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” Job 3:25 NIV. In the example above, a parent who constantly fixes, edits, or does a child’s homework is more likely to create a child that is incapable, incompetent and insecure.  Those traits are more likely to yield enormous amounts of anxiety for the child when they find themselves in a situation where there isn’t someone to ‘jump in’ with an answer to the problem.   These insecure children are also less likely to have fulfilling lives, robust careers or even love and follow Jesus with thier whole hearts.  

Encourage your children to ask tough questions of adults when necessary and appropriate, switch thier own classes in middle school if they don’t like the teacher, look people in the eye and answer the question respectfully, to embrace the lessons “failures” teach and so on.  Above all, teach them to rely on God in all things….Because there’s only one Savior and it’s not you or me!

Written by Jamie Shaver

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Can I Really Trust God...with My Children?!

This week I was on the phone visiting with someone I love dearly who’s battled cancer for the past 4 years and will be undergoing surgery next week to remove several tumors. We were discussing some of her concerns regarding the surgery and what would happen if something went wrong during the surgery or if it isn’t ultimately successful. My friend said to me,  “I do trust God. My issue is just with my kids.” She has two unmarried children in their 20’s; understandably, she desires to live to see them get married and have children of their own. She also would like to be around so she can make sure that their lives will turn out all right. 

 I’ve known her for years and we always speak frankly to one another, so I said, “The kids really aren’t the issue. The root of your concern is: “Can you really trust God?”  

 Whenever we say, “I trust God, but…” we reveal that we really do not trust God. Not totally. Not in the way that He’s called us to trust Him. And not in the way that will enable us to experience total peace—regardless of the circumstances that we face. The ‘but’ shows that we believe one or more lies that stand in the way of our seeing God for Who He is—totally, completely, at all times and in all situations, trustworthy

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 Our children are a priceless, precious gift from the Lord! However, they also can be ‘idols’ in our lives and the greatest stumbling block to our fully  putting our trust in God and His Word. Anything we love more than God is an idol in our lives, and we’ve been commanded to love and put our trust in Him above anyone or anything else, including the love we have for our children. We must dispel lies about our children and our relationship to them, and embrace the truth, if we’re going to ‘let them go’ and be able to experience the freedom and peace God longs for us to have. It is only in knowing and believing the truth that you will be set free from your fear, worry and anxiety regarding your children! (John 8:32)

  •  Lie 1: That our children are ‘ours’. Truth: Our children are first and foremost God’s-- Who created them for His ‘pleasure and glory’ (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 139:13; Isaiah 43:1,7; Colossians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11).  God has entrusted us with raising our children so that they will come to know, honor, love, and obey Him—which is for their ultimate good--and so that He will delight in them and be glorified through them. Yes, God wants us to take delight in our children too, but it is important that we remember that ‘our children’ are really ‘His children’.

  •  Lie 2: That we know what is best for our children. Truth: God is the wisest Person in the world and He always knows what is best, including everything that pertains to our children. His knowledge and His ways are infinitely higher than ours. (Job 12:13; Romans 11:33; Isaiah 55:8-9) He is also Love, and everything that He does is based upon His love for His creation. So not only does He know what is best, unlike us, God never has a selfish agenda. He always and only wants what is truly in the very best interest for ‘His’ and ‘our’ children. We can trust God Who knows all, and Who knows them best and loves them most! This syllogism always brings me joy: God is Love (1 John 4:8), and Love never fails. (1st Corinthians 13: 8) God= Love; Love never fails…therefore, God CANNOT fail. He can’t fail you, and He can’t fail your children! 

  •  Lie 3: That we can control our children’s lives and that we can keep them safe from all harm. Truth: God is Sovereign over all things, and He alone is all- powerful and able to keep us as well as our children safe from evil (Psalm 41:12; 91; 121:7; Proverbs 12:21; 18:10). Like me, you’ve probably heard countless stories of God’s divine intervention in situations-- like the person who miraculously survives a tragic car accident, escapes a home fire, or misses getting onboard an airplane that crashes. It’s easy to believe that God is Sovereign in those situations, as well as in the ordinary day-to-day issues of our lives.

    But what about when ‘bad things’ happen to people and/or their children? Have you wondered, where was God then? Have you questioned whether you can trust your children to a God Who allows ‘bad things’ to happen? I can assure you that He’s also Sovereign in those situations, situations you and I likely wouldn’t have chosen or allowed! Have you ever noticed that some of the ‘bad things’ in your own life were the very means God used to draw you—or someone else-- closer to Him? God is able to work all things together for good and for His glory for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! (Romans 8:28)! He longs for you to believe in your heart—not just in your head— that even what you consider to be ‘harmful’ , He is more than able to use for good! Consider Jesus. He learned obedience through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). And it was His very suffering and death that made possible abundant and eternal life for all Who put their trust in Him! God is able to make beauty from ashes! Even that which we most dread; our death, and especially the death of our child! A very close childhood friend of mine had her life ‘cut short’ in the opinion of many when she died of cancer. However, her prayers that her father would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus were answered through her ‘untimely death’. There is nothing that God cannot use for His divine purposes, and He always has an eternal perspective, something we all too often lose sight of. When we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus and upon eternity, we will be able to trust God to use even death for good and the glory of His Name! (2 Corinthians 4:18; Colossians 3:1; Romans 6:5) You can rest assured that you and your child will not live one day more or less than has been foreordained for him or her (Job 14:5;Psalm 139:16).

    You can’t control many things that you might like to regarding your children. However, there is something that is essential that you do if you want to protect your children from ultimate harm and evil and help ensure that they live a truly abundant life: Choose to love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, and model that kind of love for and trust in God before your children. Obey Him even when it’s tempting not to do so, teach your children that God gave us His commands to protect us and to ensure freedom from the bondage of sin, and instill in them a love for His Word and the assurance they can trust His every promise! Walk in humility and reality by letting them know that you may fail them, you cannot always protect them, and as much as you love them, that Jesus is the only One Who ‘will never leave or forsake them’, is always and only ‘Faithful and True’, and loves them with an unfailing, everlasting love! (Deuteronomy 31:6; Revelation 19:11; Psalm 107:8;Psalm 103:17)

Knowing-- and most of all believing--the truth about God and His Sovereign and Loving character—will lead you to the revelation that You can trust God with what matters most to you—whether it is the children that He’s entrusted to you, or anything else. Believing that truth with your heart, soul, and mind is the key to your experiencing the peace, joy, and true freedom God longs for you to have, regardless of the circumstances in your life.  That is your inheritance as the dearly beloved child of your all powerful, always loving, all wise, Heavenly Father, and the legacy He longs for you to pass on to the children He’s entrusted you to raise for His glory! May you find your rest and joy in fully trusting Him Who alone is fully trustworthy!

 Assignment: Write down on a list everything in your child’s life that causes you to be fearful, worried or anxious. Then scratch out everything you can’t control. Set goals around the things that you can control/manage. (Jamie and I will be happy to help you learn how to set measurable, achievable goals for those things you can control/manage—such as the time your children go to bed or come home from curfew, having a Bible study time with your kids, their screen time, etc. If you are interested, reach out to us at https://www.trueviewministries.org/contact.)

 Lord, help me to let go of the fallacy that I love my children more than You do; that I know what is better for them than You do; that I can control their lives or provide for them better than You can. Increase my faith in Your Wisdom, Goodness and Your Power so that I might truly ‘let go’ of my children—or of whatever else might be standing in the way of my fully trusting in You. I love You, Lord, and I long to please You by surrendering my will and desires completely to Your perfect will; may my will be consumed by Yours! I profess that I CAN and WILL trust the Man Who died for me with my greatest treasure…my life, and the lives of my children and other loved ones!  

Written by Julie

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

What's The Role of Parents of Adult Children? Part 2

The greatest need your adult children have is the need for an intimate relationship with the Lord and His Presence in their lives. They need Him more than they need you. Keep in mind that if you really love them, you will not seek to be their ‘savior’, but you will always point them to the One Who is their Savior—the One Who will never leave or forsake them, Who loves them perfectly, and Who knows them best and loves them the most!

Model to your adult children what it means to have a close, personal relationship with God. In order to model such a relationship with God, you must have such a relationship, which is only gained by spending time with Him. Time studying and meditating upon His Word, time in prayer with Him, and time in fellowship with others who encourage you in your faith. ‘You can’t give away what you don’t have’. We as parents of children of all ages must put the Lord above every other relationship we have—otherwise those other relationships are idols in our lives. I often see parents who put their relationship with their children above their relationship with the Lord, and when they do, they not only dishonor God, but they also are modeling idolatry to them. The best thing you can do if you love your children is to first love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, for it is only then that you truly will be able to love your children unselfishly and as they need to be loved by you.

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Below are some things you also should do if you love your adult children:

1) Pray! First, pray that God will give you the grace and wisdom to parent your adult children in the way that He desires and to put on your heart what He wants you to pray for them. Secondly, diligently pray for them, regardless of whether they are walking with the Lord or not.  Either way, they need Him and His Presence in their lives! Some things you may wish to pray for them include: praying that they will live for God’s glory and pleasure by walking by the Spirit so they will not gratify the desires of their flesh (Isaiah 43:7; Galatians 5:16); pray that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Who He is, that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened so they would know the hope to which He has called them, and know the riches of His glorious inheritance and the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe (Ephesians 1: 17-19); and pray that they would have the faith to comprehend how high, wide, deep and long is their Heavenly Father’s love for them, and that they be filled with the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3:14-19).  Do not ‘worry’ about them, but ‘cast all of your cares upon the Lord’. (Psalm 55: 22; 1st Peter 5:7)

2) Trust the Lord with your children’s care. Remember, although entrusted to you for their care, your children are first and foremost ‘God’s’.  You can ‘trust the Man Who died for them’ with their lives (Romans 8:32). As you ‘release them to Him’, BELIEVE that He is able to do ‘exceedingly and abundantly beyond what you could hope or imagine’ with them (Ephesians 3:20). Praise God that He has them in His hands and look to see Him at work in their lives as you truly surrender them to Him. I often derive comfort from knowing that not only does God love my children because they are His, but I also am confident that His love for me extends to my children-- since I am precious to Him and they are precious to me-- they also are precious to Him! I derive comfort from the scriptures that tell us that God’s faithfulness, covenant and steadfast love extends to those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:9; Exodus 20:6; 34:7)

3) Confess your sins before your children. If you have been convicted that you did not parent in the way that God’s word commands when your children were young—whether you were too harsh and unloving in your disciplining of them, or too permissive and failed to instruct them and mete out consequences for their disobedience-- then I strongly encourage you to not only confess your sin before the Lord, but to go before your adult children and humbly confess your sin to them. Share the insights you have gained from God’s word, that you wish you had known and applied that truth when you were raising them. Your children need to see authentic Christianity demonstrated by you; that alone can open the door to you having a closer relationship with them, and more importantly, help them to see that God is merciful and willing to forgive sins when we choose to humble ourselves and confess our sin (1 John 1:9). Share with them that He longs for us to walk in truth and righteousness for our sake, and that every command He has given is not to restrict our freedo, but to ensure our freedom from the bondage of sin. The recently released movie and true story ‘I Can Only Imagine’ is a great example of how God can restore a fractured parent-child relationship when a father confesses his sin to his son and asks for his forgiveness. We should always model true Christianity by being willing to humble ourselves and seek forgiveness from our children when we have misrepresented their Heavenly Father to them.

4) Listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading regarding how you can interact with your children to foster a closer relationship with them, and how you can help to foster their relationship with the Lord. Demonstrate your love for your children by truly listening to them and responding to them in a way that reveals God’s truth as well as His heart of love for them. For your adult children who do love the Lord and walk in His truth, your role is to continue to disciple them in the knowledge of God's truth and to encourage them in their faith and 'spur them on to love and good deeds'.(Hebrews 10:24) If your children are not walking with the Lord, you  certainly cannot force them to have a relationship with Him. However, you can be a stumbling block to them wanting to have such a relationship by: never or rarely saying anything positive about the Lord and what He means to you; by leading a hypocritical life before them; or ‘by shoving Him down their throats’. Jesus never forces anyone to be His disciple; He always gives us a choice regarding whether we will choose to follow Him. He lets us know what it costs to follow Him, and what it costs not to choose Him. If your children are not walking with the Lord, in a Spirit of love and humility you should let them know that you respect that is their choice—but also let them know that there is a cost both here on earth and for all eternity for not choosing Him. You can show love for your children without condoning their poor or sinful choices. Reach out and give them a word of encouragement when you can sincerely do so, express interest in them and their lives, and engage them in meaningful conversations about the purpose of life, their relationships, and their work in which you ask them questions without putting them on the defensive. Do not be afraid to ask them why they believe what they profess to believe if it is contrary to your belief in Jesus, and ask them what caused them to fall away from the faith if they once professed to be a believer. As you respectfully listen to them—even when their views differ from yours and God’s word, you earn the right to speak truth into their lives.  Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. And, be obedient to Him when He does tell you to speak.

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5) Confront your child in truth and in love if he or she is choosing a lifestyle of sin. I am heartbroken every time I read through the bible and come to the part where Eli the priest did not rebuke his adult sons, and he and they suffered the consequences of their sin, as did generations to come. King David failed to admonish his sons Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, which led to rape, murder, and the bloodshed of many ‘innocents’. Both Eli and David enabled the sinful behavior of their sons by remaining silent. Do you know of anyone who is enabling his or her adult children’s sinful lifestyle by saying nothing, or even indicating approval of their sinful behavior? I am heartbroken when I hear parents who state they can’t ‘do anything’ because their child is an adult, and yet, they have remained silent about their child's sinful choices. For example, I know of many parents who have a child who is living with someone outside of marriage and they say, “There’s nothing I can do about it.”  And when I ask them if they have said anything to the child they most often say, “No, it wouldn’t do any good to say anything because they’re going to do what they want to do anyway.” It may or may not change their adult child’s heart or their behavior. But you cannot remain silent because what is at stake is too great—it is the life of your child that has been entrusted to you! If we as parents humbly speak to our adult children and confront them with their sin in love, and the child continues in the sin, then the sin is ‘on their head’. If we, however, disregard our parental role of warning our children of their sin and its consequences, then we are sinning by omission and failing in our parental duty. You cannot force your adult child to do what is right, but you are to share the truth in a spirit of humility and love and to sound the warning that sin—unchecked and un-confessed-- always has negative consequences.   If we truly love our children as Christ—Who is ‘Truth’---has loved us, we will confront them with the truth of God’s Word regarding their specific sin, assuring them of our and God’s love, yet letting them know because of our love for them that we cannot condone their sin. If we really understand the nature of sin, we will know that it always is destructive by its very nature; if we love our children, why would we allow them to be on the path of destruction? There’s two reasons and both stem from self-love: we love ourselves more than we love God, for we fear our children’s rejection more than we revere God and His Word; and we love ourselves more than we love our children or we would be willing to risk their rejection in order to keep them from harm. God tells us clearly that if we love anything more than we love Him —including our family members and ourselves-- we are not fit to be His disciples (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26). We have been called to rebuke and admonish our brothers and sisters in Christ when appropriate for their sake. Should we not be even more willing to rebuke and admonish our own children whose care has been entrusted to us, and for whom our love should be so great that we will always desire that they know and live by 'the truth that saves'? (Matthew 18:15; Colossians 3:16; 1Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:15) There’s an expression you may have heard, ‘if you care, you have to share’, and that is certainly applicable when it comes to a parent sharing the truth of God’s Word with their adult children who are choosing to live a lifestyle of sin.

Lord, I am completely inadequate on my own to be a parent, and I ask you to give me the grace, strength, courage, boldness and wisdom to parent my children in righteousness, truth, and love, as You parent me! Amen

Written by Julie Van Gorp

You may also wish to read What's the Role of Parents of Adult Children? Part 1 https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/2018/6/15/whats-the-role-of-parents-of-adult-children

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

What's the Role of Parents of Adult Children? Part 1

Have you ever heard the question, “Will my job as a parent ever end?”  I have, and many times from parents who wryly make the comment after their child has moved back home post-college-- or for a number of reasons, they see their adult child’s life ‘imploding’ and they wonder what it is they can and should do.

This topic is near and dear to my heart as I am the parent of four grown children, and I want to make sure I am fulfilling my parental role at this stage in their lives. I have reflected upon many scriptures as well as God’s character to gain insight into what the role of parents is for their adult children.

Parenting doesn’t ever end; it is a ‘life sentence’. Regardless of the age of your children, your primary job is to represent to your children the heart and character of God and to reveal His truth and love to them. That includes helping your children of all ages to learn ‘to die’ to their selfish desires and to learn the joy of living for the glory of God, which truly is the key to joyous living! Although we always have parental responsibilities, how you carry them out changes when your children become adults who have moved out of your home. We in the West have been led to believe that the responsibility of parenting ends when a child turns 18, and although there are legal and financial responsibilities that may change at that age, parents have been entrusted with God-given responsibilities-- no matter the age of their child.

As hard as it may be for moms of babies and toddlers to comprehend, it can be even more difficult to be a parent of adult children because you have far less ability to influence their choices than you did when they lived under your roof. In addition, you can be haunted by the fruit of the poor parenting choices you made when your children were young, which can lead to great suffering for your adult children-- as well as for you. In general, your role as a parent of adult children is to be an advisor, counselor or coach to them rather than to be an instructor and disciplinarian as was the case in their youth. The degree to which you instructed, disciplined, and set the stage for open, honest, constructive communication when they were growing up will definitely impact how open they are to listening to your counsel when they are adults.

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If you instructed your child in God’s Word, in the spirit of His love when he or she was young, then parenting will be less challenging as your child grows older, even into adulthood. In fact, if you assumed the correct role of a parent when they were growing up, then when they are adults you likely will have the joy of a ‘friendship’ with them, and you also will have gained a ‘brother or sister in Christ’.

If, however, you did not teach your children in God’s word and His ways—likely because at the time you were ignorant of God and His wisdom—or if your children chose to rebel against the truth of His word that you taught them, then your children most likely are pursuing the 'desires of their flesh' and not ‘walking in the Spirit’ so they—and you---are now ‘reaping what was sown’ (Galatians 6:7-8). If this is the case with you, I want to encourage you: do not despair! God’s grace is sufficient for every need, and He is able to forgive every sin, and to make ‘beauty from ashes’—even from the parenting mistakes you made, and the sin your child has chosen! (1 John 1:9; Isaiah 61:3) You can be assured that your children will face trials in their lives that are bigger than their ability to handle them, and those situations are often the very door through which God enters and reveals to them that He is Sovereign and All Loving!

It is NOT your job: to try and control and micro-manage your child's behavior; to manipulate or 'bribe' them so they will comply with your will and desires; to assume responsibility for poor choices they made that were contrary to your instruction and advice; to 'rescue' them from facing the consequences of their poor or even sinful choices when doing so will not teach them anything positive and instead will enable them to continue in selfish, self-destructive, or sinful behavior. Your job is to represent the love of God, His character and His ways to your children, which you do by praying for them, trusting their lives into His loving and capable hands, speaking the truth in love to them, and applying His life-changing Word to all of your dealings with them and all of the situations in your life. It is a job we can only do by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. May you--and I--be found faithful to assume the parental role God has entrusted to us, regardless of our children's ages!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Look for next week's blog that will focus specifically on what you must do if you truly love your adult children.

You may also be interested in reading 'A Two Letter Word That Spells Love' that may help you with parenting--and all of your relationships. Click below https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/2018/6/7/a-two-letter-word-that-spells-love

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Planned Adversity

My youngest son is a big hockey fan and loves to play as well.  Last weekend he finished four days of very intense tryouts.  Initially there were only four coaches evaluating and everyday more and more coaches would arrive to evaluate the players, until the last day when there were ten evaluators.  Additional evaluators often led to additional stress.
In addition to the added evaluators; the last two days the organization covered all the windows to the rink and no spectators were allowed in, there was no father to give an approving nod, or mother to motion in “hockey sign-language” to ‘move your feet', instead, it was only the players and evaluators.

A typical ‘shift’ in hockey lasts approximately 40 seconds and then you’re back on the bench recovering, and players rotate seamlessly into and out of the game.  Tyler came home and shared that they were forcing each line to stay out for 4 minute shifts instead of 40 seconds; he talked about how bad his legs were burning, how a lot of kids were ‘giving up’, throwing-up or just gliding around on the ice.  I thought that was an amazing technique to use in tryouts to learn who will give-up early; who is in the best physical and cardiovascular condition; and who may have a negative attitude in difficult situations.  

The next day after Tyler had learned he made the team we ran into the coach, and that’s when he shared that ‘planned adversity’ will be a theme of this upcoming hockey season.  He went on to say that they are looking to develop the most elite hockey players in the world and that goal requires hockey skill along with mental and physical strength.  

What do you think?  Is ‘planned adversity’ a good thing for growth and development?  Is there a better way to make mentally and physically strong people?

Here are some Scriptures to ponder as it relates to this:

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James 1:2-4, 12 AMP
“Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].  And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing”… “Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Here are 3 simple things you can do to plan adversity into your child's life depending on their age:
1) Don't bail them out of consequences and situations that they caused by poor choices
2) Make them wake-up for school on their own
3) Have them do chores that are more difficult or time-consuming than he/she may think they can handle
After all I want my kids to be 'lacking in nothing!'

This verse also talks about ‘persevering when tempted’ and I realized that when I have had adversity I was often tempted to give up, or to lie (that I wasn’t really trying or didn’t really want it anyway.)  The times I have had success is when I expected adversity and saw that adversity as a learning experience to become stronger, to exercise my beliefs, to become an “elite” warrior for the Lord and for those lost or less spiritually mature around me.   

Has adversity in your life made you stronger?  Do you currently plan adversity into your life in any way?  

Written by Jamie Shaver

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Those Uncomfortable Talks: Moving Past the Pause By Anne Kerr of TrueNorth Freedom Project

Talking about sexual things is uncomfortable. I know. As a child, I looked at the porn I found, yet couldn’t tell anyone. In college, I fit the description of a “good” Christian yet crossed many boundaries sexually. My closest friends had no idea, and I carried a lot of shame. As my own kids grew, we had a few talks about sex. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t enough.

Most parents aren’t comfortable talking about sexuality. They pause, and in the silence, the sexualized culture rushes in. 

 Sexuality is God-given and one of the most common aspects of our being! Everyone is sexual. This isn’t the same as saying everyone’s ready for sex. At a deep level, even molecularly, we are all sexual beings from birth, male or female. A boy has a penis and experiences erections, a girl has a vagina and can feel arousal, but do we ever talk about that?

We discuss other body issues like skin and eyes and keeping them healthy. We teach kids to bathe. But when it comes to private parts and related issues, we Pause. It can feel uncomfortable. We learned to be reserved.

Many realize the importance of early and regular talks about bodies and sex. We all encountered something sexual early on without having a framework for it. Maybe you saw a more developed peer or a friend showed you porn. Maybe it was more harmful like inappropriate touch or exposure. Perhaps a sexualized scene in a book or a magazine ad felt arousing. In an instant, your light, innocent heart became heavy with shame, and sexuality became taboo.

Now you have little ones, and you want to lead them. But you pause, hearing excuses; “I have no idea what to say.” “I’m no expert on all this.” “I don’t want to make them curious about something they might be too young for.”

Did your first sexual encounter catch you off guard? Your loved ones will have similar experiences.

Did you make mistakes sexually? Most of us did, and your kids will.

Did you have someone to talk with about sexuality? Most of us didn’t, but your loved ones can.

Will it be easy to become a safe place for your loved ones? Maybe not, but it will be worth it, and God is on your side.

We have an enemy working to derail us in our sexuality. We are inundated with overt and subliminal sexual messages. Cartoon characters have shapely bodies, wear revealing clothing, and are targeted to young children. Viewers internalize messaging that may be contrary to your values. Children, teens, and adults may see pornography that is simultaneously exciting and shameful. These images can’t just be wiped away. Don’t think your kids would never look at porn. Remember things you did that your parents still don’t know about? ALL kids can fall prey to these temptations, and adults can too. We are sexual beings living in a sexualized world. You cannot protect your loved ones from every harm or temptation.

These questions can help you move beyond Pause:

How well was wholesome sexuality modeled for me?

Most of us received limited information about sex or learned about it via unhealthy means. You can learn the wholesomeness of it and forge a new way for your family. God redeems our past and equips us. Check out Authentic Intimacy, or God’s Design for Sex Series.

How did my experiences affect my understanding of sex or sexuality?

Are there wounds, past sexual sin, or areas of weakness God may want to redeem? We all have some level of sexual brokenness. Consider a Christian counselor, perhaps someone who specializes in trauma care or sexual addiction.

Are current sin patterns keeping me from living authentically?

God’s best for us is to live fully known and fully loved. His perfect love helps us live authentically. Bringing our sin into the light, confessing to others, repenting, and working to restore broken relationships are markers of an authentic life being conformed to the image of Jesus. Find a more mature Christian to speak with as a starting point, someone who will call you up into your holy identity in Christ. Satan’s power begins to diminish as we bring our sin into the light and God’s healing grace transforms us. Read my husband’s five-part blog series here.

How have I modeled healthy sexuality? Does it go beyond simply what not to do?

In terms of sexuality, we need identification as much as information. Remember confusion from your early experiences? Have you asked your children about feelings associated with things they’ve seen? Even a lingerie ad can be arousing. God wired the brain to respond to sexual things in various ways at every age. A friend’s seven-year-old had seen porn and said this: “It makes your penis hard!” Yes, it does! And porn might give a girl a funny feeling in her vagina. It can feel good, but children aren’t ready physically or emotionally for sex. Parents can help kids separate the good feelings from what is best for them and give them a plan for when they encounter something sexual. Teach about God-honoring sex and that porn is the opposite of that.

Could God have more for me?

Satan works to bring couples together sexually before marriage then keep them apart after. Sex is a sacred gift for marriage, bonding couples at a deep level. Science proves this. Brain chemicals released during sex bind us with the object of the encounter and remind us of pleasurable feelings associated with sex. This happens naturally in God-honoring sex or counterfeit sex. Begin to talk more authentically with your spouse, repent of past mistakes, and ask God to redeem this aspect of your marriage. A Celebration of Sex, shares biblical truth and practical application. Find other resources here.

Sexuality is precious, but also fragile and easily marred in a broken world. We need a guide. Become a trusted source of information for your kids and work to create a shame-free home where you can talk about anything, and prayerfully move beyond the Pause.

Written by Anne Kerr of TrueNorth Freedom Project

 

 

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Talking with Your Teen About Porn: Is Today’s Porn Harmless? Part 1 of 2  

Do I really need to talk to my son? It seems like viewing porn is pretty harmless and just a normal part of being male these days.  Isn’t this just a phase most boys (or young people) go through?

Yes, the male brain is wired for visual stimulation. So, yes, it is normal for boys (and men) to be aroused by and interested in the sexual imagery available through pornography.  Dr. William Struthers’ book “Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain” offers a fantastic explanation of how the male brain is designed to be captivated by the sight of the female’s body, without the typical “boys will be boys” (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) excuse-making our society condones. 1

Although it is normal to be curious and interested, the average young male today will not “casually” view pornography without being seriously impacted by what he consumes. There are several reasons for this and therefore several reasons parents need to be talking with their kids about pornography.

1.     The adolescent brain is in a critical stage of development. Extensive literature points to the negative impact pornography has on young people, developmentally.

The brain stores our first sexual experiences with a chemical stamp that makes them incredibly powerful. For example, most people can easily recall (in vivid detail) their “first love,” their first encounter with pornography, or their first sexual experience. This serves us well, where our first experiences are healthy, and where our first sexual relationship is with our spouse – bonding us to that person with a powerful chemical attachment. It can create real difficulty where our first experiences are unhealthy or harmful.

The arousal template (what a person finds arousing) is significantly impacted by and strengthened by early sexual experiences. So, whatever a young person is experiencing sexually (whether it is healthy or unhealthy) – is then paired with sexual arousal. The result is often that the brain easily grows attached to that stimulus. So, whatever your teen is experiencing and aroused by is also shaping what he (or she) will tend to desire. Repetition reinforces these patterns of arousal.

Although it is certainly normal to be curious and interested, the average young male today will not “casually” view pornography without being seriously impacted by what he consumes. There are several reasons for this and therefore several reasons parents need to be talking with their kids about pornography. Here’s a second reason that viewing porn might not be harmless.

2.     Advanced brain imaging scans now show us that viewing pornography creates a neurochemical high in the brain that compares closest to the high of using Heroin. The pleasure centers of the brain are impacted, neurochemicals are firing (ie., norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, endogenous opiates), and connections are made that reinforce the desire to repeat the behavior.4

The chemical high of arousal, pleasure, and euphoria serves to reinforce the false message that porn is an easy escape from anything dull, boring, or unwanted. Porn temporarily masks the pain of loneliness, rejection, fear, worry, loss, stress, or anxiety. This neurochemical reward cycle makes it easy to create a life-dominating habit.

"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman." Job 31:1 NIV

Written by Mindy Pierce, LPC

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