IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 20 NOTES

In our first remotely recorded EPISODE, we talk about some of the questions and concerns facing us during the COVID-19 situation. We particularly address some of the unique circumstances parents of teenagers are finding themselves having to navigate.

Here’s a few of the thoughts we covered for parents to help their children process this event:

  1. Ask Questions. You need to help your children process their emotions and fears. You will most likely have to initiate and guide that discussion. Check out our Episode on Asking Good Questions.
  2. Create New Routines. Life definitely isn’t normal right now, but try to create some stability with a new normal. Last week’s Episode on Creating Rhythm and Schedule might be a helpful resource.
  3. Stay Close to the Lord. We need to make sure we are finding our strength from God and helping our families do the same.

We also discussed some great ideas to help our children with schooling and social interaction during this time. We’d love to hear some of your ideas and stories as well, so please comment or contact us. Bottom line is that we must be more intentional than ever about helping our children seek God and seek answers. It’s a great time to Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 19 NOTES

This EPISODE was recorded prior to some of the current world situations, but has so much to say about finding that routine in the chaos of life. In our discussion we explore the challenge of time management and talk about some resources and principles to help us create manageable schedules for our families. As many of us are having to manage new and different situations this week, we hope you find some encouragement and help.

Here’s some tools and ideas that we have found helpful:

  1. Finding something to help you manage and organize. For us, we tend to use digital resources – our phones, shared google calendars and docs, notes functions, etc. Mark’s wife likes a paper calendar and organizer. The one she currently uses is the Living Well Planner by Ruth Soukup.
  2. Creating a Posted Schedule. Mark’s family literally has an hour by hour schedule on their wall. This can be a great tool to help keep your sanity and train your children. A good resource for more info and ideas is Managers of Their Homes
  3. Creating Systems. To help your family, you must have systems in place for household tasks, communication, calendaring, school and work management, and much more. A great resource for that process is Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman.
  4. Fixed Schedules. We referenced some articles by Carey Nieuwhof – like this one and this one – that talk about scheduling the important tasks of life and deciding ahead of time what you will do with your time.

While we know that the specifics of these ideas will look different for each person and household, we ended with some UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES:

  1. Work from your energy. You must schedule the time you have the most energy to do your most important work.
  2. Establish goals and work backwards. You must decide what you want your family’s life to look like first. Then plan your schedule and systems accordingly
  3. A Schedule for Man; Not Man for a Schedule. The schedule is a tool to help us do and be who we are called to be, but you have the freedom to make adjustments as unique circumstances occur.
  4. It will be hard. Whenever you create momentum, you also create resistance.

We hope that you will take some time with these resources and principles this week and make a plan for the next steps towards creating time for God, yourself and your family. We’d love to hear your comments and questions. Until next time… Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 18 NOTES

In this EPISODE we have special guest Ryan Akers (and a squeaky chair!) Ryan is a long-time Youth Pastor, and we got to catch up with him while we were attending the COLLIDE Youth Retreat. We had a great conversation and found that he was thinking about a lot of the same things we have been talking about on our podcast.

We challenged Ryan to predict the future and help us see some of the important trends that parents need to be aware of:

  1. Generation Z Thinking: Ryan shared some insight on generational studies and helped us see how young people today are intrinsically thinking differently. One great point was that Gen Z tend to learn through images, personal experiences, and conversations.
  2. Parenting Style Shifts: We talked about some of the differences and challenges in parenting today. One observation that really stood out is adults tend to use the term “concern” over “care” or “caution” when talking about young people. The advice there is to be careful to not move to a controlling parenting style.
  3. Rise of Technology and Shift of Human Relations: Ryan covered a lot of ideas on this topic. He cautioned about the tendency our current culture has to pull away from personal interaction. He shared some of the language he uses in his house – to reflect a good thing, a God thing, and a kind thing each day. He also challenged parents to make conversation about the Bible normal in their houses.
  4. Lastly, Ryan encouraged parents to be faithful to what God has called you to do. Then we trust Him for the outcome.

A few resources Ryan mentioned were Generation Z Unfiltered by Tim Elmore & Andrew McPeak and Jean Twenge, who wrote the book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – And What That Means for the Rest of Us. Twenge also shares a lot of great content on Twitter.

Oh, and if you want to watch that video about Star Wars looking like the future but actually being a long, long time ago, you can watch it here.

We are looking forward to next week as we talk about how to get it all done! Until then…Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 17 NOTES

In this EPISODE, we have the privilege to interview Dr. Ron Hunter, the CEO of Randall House and the director of D6 Conference. D6 is an event, a curriculum, and a philosophy based off of Deuteronomy 6:1-9. From this scriptural challenge to parents, Dr. Hunter has created a family discipleship filter for all of his organization’s offerings.

In this interview, he covers some great places for parents to start fostering faith in their homes. He also gives us lots of great resource ideas.

  1. This website is full of blog posts, podcasts, book links, and parent prompts.
  2. The D6 Family App – this app, available at the App Store on your phone totally for free, has a database of questions for parents and families to use in building healthy communications. It also has parent activities and other resource links.
  3. The Heart of Your Teen by Lissy Rienow is a great book for the parents of teens.
  4. Family Faith Talks is a great resource for families with smaller children at home.

In the end, Dr. Hunter strongly encourages parents to do the hard work of making connections with their child and learning to ask good questions, but he also acknowledges it isn’t easy. So…Stay the course…Ask the Questions…Embrace the Awkward…Have Fun….and when we make these things consistent in our lives, we’ll find the Abnormal becoming Normal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 16 NOTES

In this EPISODE we explore that elusive experience of helping our families love and know the Bible. We identify some of the big barriers and then move to SIX WAYS to overcome and foster that love for God’s Word.

Here are the SIX WAYS:

  1. READ THE BIBLE. We explore the need to read the Bible to our children, read the Bible ourselves, and read the Bible together with our children. Some of the resources we discussed were the Christian Standard Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, and YouVersion. A couple of great introductory YouVersion reading plans are Deeper into Scripture: Ephesians and Together in Scripture: The Crucified King.
  4. FIND GREAT RESOURCES TO HELP LEARN AND APPLY GOD’S WORD. We discussed parent components to standardized Sunday School curriculum, revisited YouVersion, and addressed the need for a tool to learn a systemic theology. A few ideas on that lasts part are The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Mere Christianity, and Experiencing God.
  5. SERVE TOGETHER IN JESUS NAME. We encourage you as a family to look for ways to be involved in ministry together. This acts as a way to make Scripture come to life.
  6. PRAY FOR THEM. Ultimately, we can only offer opportunities. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict our children’s hearts, and the personal decision of our children to accept God’s invitation.

Lastly, we remind ourselves that this is a process and a journey. There will be hard days but do not despair; the fight is worth it! So grab one or two of these ideas and put them into practice.

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 15 NOTES

We are so glad you are checking out our notes page for this EPISODE. If you are new to our podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen to EPISODE 1 – RAISING ABNORMAL KIDS and EPISODE 2 – The Best Youth Leaders….PARENTS where we unpack our heart and vision.

As we try to help and resource parents, we also want you to know that you are not alone, even in those really tough days. Here’s some of our thoughts on what to do when you have one of those days:

  1. KEEP YOUR COOL. Look for a way to take a breath, calm down, and not make a bigger mess than you already have on your hands.
  2. OWN YOUR PART. We always have to model as well as set the tone of humility by admitting any fault on our part first.
  3. HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR PART. We must be willing to hold our children accountable for their actions and allow natural consequences.
  4. MOVE TOWARDS RESOLUTION AND RESTORATION. We must always remember the goal is to move towards a healthy place and better choices.
  5. LAUGH IF APPROPRIATE. Sometimes the best thing to do is to de-escalate.
  6. OFFER AND ENCOURAGE GRACE WHEN THEY ARE READY. While it may not be today, eventually we must help them get to a place of grace and forgiveness.

Join us next week as we talk about helping our children fall in love with the Bible! Until then, Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 14 NOTES

In this EPISODE, we discuss the rising occurrence of anxiety and other mental health concerns in young people. This is the third in a series on mental development in young people. You can check out Episode 12 – They’re Literally Losing Their Minds and Episode 13 – Nobody’s Perfect if you’d like more info.

Clinical researchers all agree that depression and other mental health concerns have skyrocketed since 2012, which coincides with a major increase in smartphones. We’ve discussed some great ideas on how to approach and handle smartphones and devices in both Episode 1 – Raising Abnormal Kids and Episode 9 – Much Ado About Devices. But this also isn’t a new problem. It’s the issue of self-regulation.

Here’s some ideas we gave on what parents and adults can do to help foster a healthier approach to these issues:

  1. SPEND TIME WITH THEM. An intentional increase in in-person interactions will create a decrease in screen time. And as we do that, watch for clues of deeper issues if you are noticing anxious or depressive behaviors.
  2. HELP THEM GET PERSPECTIVE. Asking them good questions to show them that they are currently safe is a great practice. We also shared some Scripture that give good perspective on the fact that they aren’t alone. (1 Peter 5:7 and Philippians 4:4-8)
  3. SEEK HELP. We also noted that if symptoms are severe or persistent, you may want to seek professional help. If you think there is an immediate danger you can reach out to the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or Burrell Mental Health’s Crisis Hotline at 1-800-494-7355. If you are in the Springfield, MO Area there are several Christian based counselors, such as My Counselor and Gateway Counseling Center.

We encourage you mostly to continue investing spiritually and emotionally with the young people in your life. Implement some depression decreasers and Scriptural truth and maybe just plan some fun, stress-free, face-to-face time together this week.

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 13 NOTES

This EPISODE deals with the first of two development pitfalls – Crippling Perfectionism. This is a follow up to Episode 12 – They’re Literally Losing They’re Minds.

We discussed how researchers and educators (and parents) are beginning to notice this phenomenon of young people becoming paralyzed from completing the necessary tasks of life. Many people are proposing this is fueled by increased cell phone use and decreased in-person interactions, resulting in us thinking everyone else’s life is perfect.

In response, we looked at the root issue of identity and talked about how Jesus and the Apostle Paul both addressed this tension. We looked at Matthew 5 and Romans 3 and determined that the only way to address the gap between our performance and the desired perfection was to come to our Creator to find forgiveness and restoration.

As parents trying to help our young people through this tension and move them towards that healthy, biblical response, we need to:

  1. Use this as a Teachable Moment. If you have a young person who is struggling in this area, begin the dialogue on identity and value, pointing them to the truths we looked at from the Bible.
  2. Be a Good Example. In order to help our young people face their shortcomings and move forward, we as the adults in their lives must show them an example of how we deal with our failures. That starts by being willing to say “I’m sorry.” It also includes us telling them our story and how we found our need for God’s forgiveness.
  3. Make a Culture of “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay”. We need to make a safe place for our young people to address their failures and their feelings, and then help them to pursue the redemption cycle. We must model this often.

Next week we’ll revisit and build on these concepts as we tackle the next pitfall – anxiety. Until then, Be Abnormal

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 12 NOTES

Today’s EPISODE dealt with some of the science behind what is going on inside the brains of young people. We explored some of the key things we need to know and how to respond as parents and adults in their lives during this stage of development.

If you’d like to read some more about the brain studies we referenced, you can check out the one from the University of Pennsylvania here, the one by Dr. Jay Giedd here, and the one from John Hopkins University here. Some of the big take-aways from these studies are:

  1. Their brains are losing mass by about 1% a year following puberty.
  2. This is the “Use It or Lose It” time of development
  3. This process may not be fully complete (aka their brains aren’t fully developed) until they are 22-25!

Some advice for parents and adults as a result of this information is:

  1. Remember they are still developing
  2. Emphasis rest, nutrition and healthy habits during this time period
  3. Be present and involved as they need a lot of guidance and direction.
  4. Also remember they need a lot of grace and patience from you.

We really hope this information is encouraging as you navigate these critical developmental years. Remember they are literally losing their minds so Be Abnormal!

IS THAT NORMAL? Podcast – Episode 11 NOTES

If you’ve ever struggled with getting your kids to give you more than a one syllable answer, then this EPISODE is for you! This is the third episode in a series on communication. if you missed EPISODE 9 – Much Ado About Devices or Episode 10 – Are You Withing? – we recommend you check them out as well.

In this episode we started out by talking about some KEY APPROACHES to asking good questions that create productive conversations:

  1. Prioritize Time For Talking. Find those spaces in your family’s routine where you can make it a point to talk to one another. That might be commutes, meal times, or late evenings. Use those moments to ask prompting and follow up questions to discover what’s on your young person’s mind and heart.
  2. Find Out What They Love and Do It With Them. Even if you don’t love it, too! This is a great way to show them your willingness to invest in them. It’s a great way to get them talking because people love to talk about what they love. And it creates captive time you are together. Some of our ideas were going to the movies, attending sports events, or just going out for ice cream.
  3. Watching Our Mouths. Words are powerful. We need to watch out saying things that put them on the defensive, like “When I was your age…” We do need to use language that shows interest and concern, like “Tell me more.” and “I’m sorry.”

We also covered some great question ideas to help discussions on some of the most important and concerning areas of young people’s development. (Word to the wise – don’t attempt to cover all of these at once):

  1. Friends
  2. Independence
  3. Family
  4. Struggles/Problem Solving
  5. Future
  6. Emotional Health
  7. Relationship with God

Lastly, we remind you that this won’t be comfortable the first several times you practice it. But pick a strategy and an idea and try it out. If you’d like updates on future content from us, sign up for our email list. And as always, Be Abnormal!