Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 40 – Do You Know What Time It Is?

Setting healthy boundaries for our teenagers and young adults is important and challenging. In this episode we share some of our experiences with curfews and give some thoughts on how to set them for your children.

While the concept of curfews is not a one-size-fits-all approach, there are some basic ideas that have helped us in this area:

  • Clear communication. Talk about your overall plan ahead of time. Make the boundaries clear. Set an expectation of how your children will ask you about going on an outing and setting a curfew.
  • Blanket rules with situational provisions. Setting a basic guideline for week nights and weekends with the provision that we can adjust either way situationally upon discussion.
  • Established consequences. Again, decide ahead of time and communicate what the consequence will be for a little late, a lot late, a breach of trust, etc.
  • Have an Umbrella of Grace both directions. Establish this is a work in progress as our children grow and mature. Have good conversations. Involve them in the decision making. And have the understanding that the parent reserves the right to say no.

Until next week – Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 39 – I <3 This Episode!

Our language is not static. It is constantly changing as forms of communication advance. Today’s young people are speaking and navigating an enormous digital communication landscape, and parents often get lost in the lingo.

Here’s a few points of awareness in this area for parents:

  • Young people have grown up in this environment; it’s their native tongue. This is not frivolous or a fad; it’s the future.
  • What you type has deep meaning. Things like ALL CAPS, exclamation points!!, and emojis and gifs all have significant meaning beyond just the words we type.
  • Young people are looking for connection. Whether its mindless streams of images or constant text messages, the basic need is to feel known, loved and accepted.

If you would like to do some further reading on these topics, we recommend Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch and Viral by Leonard Sweet.

Take some time this week to connect and communicate and maybe even learn some new language from a young person. Until next time – Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 38 – I’m Gonna Do What’s Called a Pro Gamer Move!

Video Games and all of the supporting things that go with them have grown to be a multi-billion dollar industry. With their marketing solidly pointed at today’s young people, we as parents need to know how to help them navigate this growing cultural phenomenon.

In today’s episode, we discuss how today’s video gaming culture has a unique set of challenges and benefits that need to be understood and addressed. Here are some of the major areas of discussion for parents:

  1. CONTENT. We need to be aware of the mature content found in many of today’s games, as well as the possibility of other gamers introducing content to the game. Make sure you know what the ratings and settings are for the games your children are playing. Also, review sites like common sense media and others now include information about the content found in games.
  2. DISRUPTION. Video games have been shown to be potentially addictive. We need to help our children have a healthy schedule and grow into the ability to self-regulate.
  3. ENGAGEMENT. We need to also be engaging our children in discussion about what they like about the games they play. Maybe we need to play some games with them. We also need to point out the skills that some of these games can develop, as well as help them research what real-life jobs could benefit from those skills.
  4. DEVELOPMENT. We must remember that we are trying to teach, guide, train, and model for our children to grow up to be adults. Use these discussions as a way to help them prioritize goals and make healthy choices.

In conclusion, do the hard work of helping your children navigate this enormous cultural issue. Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 37 – Biggest Parenting Fails

We could probably all list a few parenting moments we wished we could forget. But rather than ignore them, what is the healthiest way to respond? In this episode we talk about common “fail” traps and what to do when we fall into them.

First, common “biggest parenting fail” pitfalls:

  1. Demanding without Explaining. “Because I said so” is not good parenting.
  2. Controlling rather than Leading. Are you trying to get what you want or guide towards what is the best for everyone?
  3. Dismissing rather than Listening. Lots of issues cause us to not listen well – margin, pride, frustration. Taking time to listen can diffuse a situation and gain trust and compliance.
  4. Avoiding rather than Addressing. We must remember our goal of training and leading our family to better spiritual health. Sometimes that takes hard conversations and tense moments. Be courageous; it’s worth it!

When we do fall in to one of these traps, we need to admit it, correct it, evaluate how to not do it in the future, and look for the opportunities to make this fail a win. (We cover some of these ideas more fully in Episode 15) Those corrective conversations can be a great place to remind of what our family goals are and the value of forgiveness. Take some time this week to do those evaluations and have those conversations. Until next time, Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 36 – Discipline, Consequences, and Contracts

Dealing with unmet expectations, crossing of boundaries, and disobedience are some of the most challenging and least fun parts of parenting. In today’s episode we explore some ways to make that situation a lot better along with presenting a concept that might help more clearly communicate with your children.

When we don’t know what is expected of us or when people don’t meet our expectations, it can be extremely frustrating. One way we’ve found to alleviate that is to decide ahead of time what those boundaries, expectations, and consequences will be. One tool parents can use to achieve that is a family contract.

Here’s a link to a template for a family contract. Some of the key elements are:

  1. Parent agreements. Start with what kind of resources, support, and encouragements you are going to provide.
  2. Outline children’s agreements. Make sure these go all the way down to heart and character issues. You need to include some of the specific household mechanics, but also include things like respect and honesty.
  3. Define wins. We want to catch our children doing what is good, so make sure you let them know what meeting the expectation looks like.
  4. Lay out consequences and rewards. We want to both reward compliance and give appropriate consequences for different levels of noncompliance.
  5. Include special sections for different age groups and technology. We need to make sure that we take into account the needs and challenges of different stages of development.

So take a look at the contract. Look for other resources. We recommend Walker Moore’s book You Want to Pierce What? which also covers some of these matters. (We discussed this book in Episode 0008 – Drinking Coffee and Rites of Passage) Start brainstorming and craft a plan for how to best communicate your expectations and the appropriate consequences for not meeting them. Until next week, Be Abnormal.

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 35 – Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept It

Each summer thousands of teenagers converge on college campuses all over the country to experience Christ In Youth’s MOVE Summer Conference. We have been taking students to these events for over twenty years. This year, however, things are very different, but the mission and message of CIY MOVE continues!

In our interview with CIY MOVE director Lane Moss, we hear about their journey to retool what they do. “We have always said ‘we are not an events organization; we are a calling-students-to-Kingdom-work organization.'” Moss defines Kingdom work as a biblical concept that is “simply using whatever you have to point people to Jesus’ kingdom and not your own.”

Our students, along with many others around the country, will be participating this week in MOVE/AT – the do-it-on-your-own version of CIY’s program. We encourage you to pray for those students, their leaders, and Christ In Youth. If you would like to know more about Christ In Youth, visit their website at

If you are a parent of a student at MOVE/AT, Lane gave some great questions for you to ask when they get home:

  1. What did you talk about?
  2. What did you learn about the Holy Spirit?
  3. Did you feel like something needs to be revived?
  4. Did you open a Kingdom worker card?

Enjoy listening to what God did in your students’ lives this week! And remember, Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 34 – Dad Jokes and Dad Bods with Josh Burchell

They say laughter is the best medicine, but can humor help us relate and direct our teens and young adults in their journey towards maturity and faith? In today’s episode, we talk about how we’ve handled that and explore some of the pros and cons of comedy.

Some of the goals in humor we discussed were:

  1. Affirmation and Acceptance. A well placed or inside joke can help us make our children feel special and connected to us.
  2. Recreation. Life is hard and serious. Sometimes we have to lighten the intensity with some laughter.
  3. Therapy. It takes an act of faith to rise above the hardships of life and gain a more balanced perspective.
  4. Correction. This is one we have to be very careful with but can be used in the right heart in the right way to point out inconsistent or incorrect thinking in our children.

We also discussed how to find the right boundaries and balance, focusing on the building up of others and the betterment of our relationships. And we ended with a fabulous discussion on whether or not Jesus was funny.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. Make a comment. Post a review. And, for the first person to SUBSCRIBE (click the here to do so), you will get contacted about getting your “Dad Bod/Father Figure” t-shirt to match Josh Burchell! Until next time, Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 33 – When Your Family Doesn’t Look Normal

In today’s episode we interview Brandon Mankey about the nearly decade long journey his family took that culminated in a recent adoption. As we celebrate that event, we also talk about what led them to that decision and why we as Christians must be concerned about fostering and adoption.

Brandon discussed some of the “why’s” that led them to their decision:

  1. It is VITAL. In 2019, there were 440,000 children in foster care, which include 30,000 youths who will age out of the system never having been adopted.
  2. It is BIBLICAL. In James 1:27 it shares, “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”
  3. It is DIFFICULT. While it was a challenging and long road that Brandon’s family went through, he reflects that most things in life worth doing are hard.
  4. It is WORTH IT. The value of investing in lives is incalculable.

Brandon also reflects that while everyone’s involvement won’t look like theirs, we should ask ourselves how to be involved in caring for widows and orphans. Here’s some steps he suggested:

  1. Prayer together as a family in regards to what God would want you to do.
  2. Seek unity with your spouse in this decision.
  3. Talk to a foster parent or someone who has adopted to get their perspective. While fostering or adopting may not be in your future, you can come alongside these parents in prayer and support.
  4. Contact a licensed case worker with the Children’s Division in your county to find out more. You can also visit the Missouri Children’s Division website for more info.

Until next week, Be Abnormal.

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 32 – Hot Sauce and Jawbones

In today’s episode, we discuss an unexpected drop-in to a friend’s house that ended two hours later with leaving with hot sauce and a jawbone. And we learned some lessons about being “in the moment” with our family too.

As we navigate life, often the “to-do” lists, expectations, and responsibilities begin crowding in on our ability to stop and enjoy the moment we are in. Today we gleaned some principles to help us resist that tendency:

  1. Follow Jesus’ example of being relaxed. Jesus shows us over and over again that he was not worried or anxious in the face of storms, crowds, obstacles, or even death. We need to follow His example of remembering what is important and who is in control.
  2. Be a part of the process of people. As parents and disciple makers we must remember the goal is progress in being who God called us to be. Every moment is an opportunity for us to invest in that process with the people around us.
  3. Embrace the biblical concept of whimsy. God often shows His love for us in spontaneous and unexpected ways. We need to learn to do the same for our kids. Take the time to play, offer adventure, and give simple but meaningful gifts.
  4. See things through a child’s eyes. In Luke 18 we see Jesus rebuke His disciples for keeping the children from coming to Him because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these children. We must remember that kids are soaking up the big world around them and every situation can be a teachable moment to introduce them further to the maker of that world.

So take some time this week. Relax. Play. Live in the moment. And learn more about the Jesus that we follow. Be Abnormal.

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 31 – Rub Some Dirt In It

In a time of chronic anxiety and social uncertainty, we must learn to help our teenagers and young adults find their feet and persevere through the tough things of life.

In today’s episode, we talk about helping our young people move from a fan to a follower of Jesus and the process it takes to get there. A lot of the ideas we discuss here come from the book Spiritual Grit by Rick Lawrence. There is also a companion devotional for young people called Growing Spiritual Grit.

Here are the big points from today:

  1. Let your kids face hard things. Jesus didn’t sugar-coat things for the disciples and we shouldn’t for our kids. They must learn to take personal responsibility and learn from hardship and mistakes.
  2. Focus on building character. This stage of life is a training ground for who our young people are going to become.
  3. Develop Problem Solving Skills. We need to allow our young people to take some risks, face their fears, and be involved in increasingly important decisions.
  4. Lead our young people to experience Jesus; not just study Him. This will take wrestling with truth and asking hard questions and us not trying to fix it but to help guide the process.

Let’s not give in to the temptation to over function, but lovingly guide our children to stand firm in their faith and find those eternal goals. Until next time, Be Abnormal.