The Power of “I Don’t Know?!?!”

We love interacting with and helping parents, but we don’t have it all figured out. We run into roadblocks, challenges, and failures with the young people in our lives all the time.

One thing we often mention is how important communication is with young people – learning how to listen, ask the right questions, be available. But I [Mark] have one particular young person in my household who challenges that all of the time. When I ask open ended questions to foster communication and relationship, I often get the answer “I don’t know?”. I’ve had to figure out better and different strategies (and employ a lot of patience) to continue fostering open communication with this child.

We are still learning, and we want to share that journey with you so you can learn along with us. The famous aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun once said, “Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.” And that attitude got us to the moon! So don’t let the “I don’t know”s make you feel like a failure; let’s turn those around!

I was reading in 1 Corinthians this week and chapter 2 reminds us that we are to be “explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.” (vs 13). However, we cannot do that by our wisdom, but we must humbly seek the wisdom that only comes from God. So here are three steps to take this week as you continue raising your children for Christ:

  • Be honest. Don’t be afraid to admit when you know! Humility begets openness from others.
  • Search together. As we or our children have questions about faith, life, our world, or their struggles, we must foster a culture where we search for the answers in the right place. Take your children on that journey with you. When you are a part of the process, you own the answer.
  • Make it spiritual. Our ultimate goal is not just to have fully-functioning, self-sufficient humans, but to lead our children to live surrendered lives following Christ the King. Pray for and with your children. Share Scripture with your children. Talk about your spiritual journey. Ask them about their spiritual journey. And welcome questions about their faith, because that means they are thinking about spiritual things. And that is the goal!

We’d love to connect with you and be on the journey with you. You can comment on this post, reach out to us through our Facebook or Instagram accounts, or email us direct at connect@isthatnormal.org. Until next time, Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 64 – Are My Kids On Track REVIEW

This podcast episode reviews and outlines the concepts found in Are My Kids On Track by Sissy Goff, Melissa Trevathan, and David Thomas. In this book they discuss developmental stages and twelve emotional, relational, and spiritual milestones:

  • Emotional Vocabulary
  • Perspective
  • Empathy
  • Resourcefulness
  • Awareness
  • Reciprocity
  • Ownership
  • Boundaries
  • Foundation
  • Identity
  • Mercy
  • Meaning

This resource comes from a wealth of experience and knowledge, as this team has worked with young people and their families through Daystar Counseling Ministries out of Nashville, TN. It is a very practical resource as it has building blocks, stumbling blocks, and practical guides for each milestone.

We strongly recommend checking out this book and their other resources. You can connect with them through their podcast (the first season covers all of these milestones) and their website.

We also encourage you to connect with us through our Facebook page, Youtube channel, Instagram Account, and our website – isthatnormal.org. Until next time…Be Abnormal!

A Great Resource: Robert Morgan’s “Moments for Families with Prodigals”

Here at the Is That Normal? Podcast, we are always looking for great resources to help engaged parents.

Rob Morgan’s book Moments for Families with Prodigals is a fantastic source of encouragement for us as we wrestle through our children’s journey of faith.  It contains over one hundred short devotional thoughts from Scripture to help us stay grounded in truth and focused on hope. 

In case you missed it, check out our episode 63 – Should You Die On That Hill? where we mention Rob’s book and discuss the tensions of dealing with our children’s doubts.

Losing Your Religion One Year Later

Last April on Episode 23 of our podcast, we discussed the phenomenon of YouTube celebrities and particularly looked at the deconversion from Christianity stories of Rhett and Link, who had shared those stories on their podcast EarBiscuits.

Just a few weeks ago, Rhett and Link each took turns sharing their “one year later” stories, particularly sharing and critiquing the intersection of faith with the cultural occurrences of 2020. You can listen to Rhett’s updated story here and Link’s here, although I again would caution you in letting your children listen to it.

That being said, I believe as parents and Christians it would be good for us to listen to these stories. These are two guys who were not just casually attending church, but involved in leadership, discipleship, and evangelism. They were engaged with the church and faith in the way we would hope our children and young adults would be. So I think it is important for us to hear some of their turning points and criticisms so we can help our own children navigate them.

Here are a few of the big issues I heard them bring up:

  • That Christianity is an ideology. They often described Christianity as a set of beliefs to govern our lives. They also pointed out that the vein of Christianity they were involved in put a lot of emphasis on intellectualism and knowledge. Rhett particularly stated that his walk away from faith was one of rational decisions about what he thought was true (More on that in a minute). The concern I see with this point is that, while God gave us a brain to know and understand things, He also gave us His Son and His Spirit so we could know a real and personal God who is near us and wants a relationship with us. God isn’t an impersonal rule-maker or a philosophy to be understood. He is real and that reality must be pointed out and lived out in front of our children.
  • That truth is something I must discover and decide. Modern and Post-modern thought has said we are the finder and creator of what is true. In that worldview, man is the ultimate authority. This concept is heard loudly in these guys’ story. The problem with this viewpoint is the finite and flawed nature of man. We cannot be the originator of truth. We must look to a source and authority outside of ourself. Just because I think or feel something, doesn’t make it true.
  • That the response of the church to social justice and cultural issues is uncaring. There have been so many difficult and divisive situations occur over the last year. Rhett and Link both point out that in many of these Christians have seemed to either be silent or on the opposite side of caring about marginalized people. I think this one is a very complex criticism. Yes, there are those examples out there of those claiming Christ who have said and done awful things. Also, I agree that there is a level of apathy in the Western church, and we definitely have room to learn and grow. However, I also have seen glowing examples of churches caring for those who are vulnerable. So, to this point I would say we should own and confess our shortcomings, admitting our imperfection. And then we should point everyone to a perfect Savior, who has agreed to deal with my and your sins for the bringing of ultimate peace!

We want to encourage you to keep living in the tension of faith and culture with the young people in your life. Love them. Be patient with them. Talk them through these pitfalls and keep pointing them to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 63 – Should You Die on That Hill?

While our children will always disagree with us and push the boundaries, we have an underlying fear that they will one day reject all we hold dear and true about life. This episode discusses some of the tensions we must navigate as we deal with those kind of disagreements.

Here’s a few of the good questions we talked about asking when those moments occur:

  • “Why does this bother me?” Remember we are trying to grow them in God’s image; not our own.
  • “Why are they bringing up this issue?” Is it progress or a pitfall?
  • “Why do you believe that?” Talk them through their thinking, particularly asking them what they disagree and agree with you about this issue.

We also talk about how to help them establish the standard by which they make life decisions. Here’s some things to think about as you do that:

  • Remember the goal. Fighting with someone means I am trying to win. Fighting for someone means I am trying to help them win.
  • Help them set boundaries.
  • Teach them where and how to find answers. Be a resource, but also point them to other resources including other adults.

It’s okay to disagree with your children. It’s okay to be honest about what you believe and why. They need to see God’s truth and standard as they navigate life decisions, but also show them that you are willing to stay relationally connected as they go through this journey.

And last thought, seek God’s wisdom, strength and comfort. This is hard. Don’t do it alone or on your own strength. Another great resource for guidance and comfort in these types of issues is Robert Morgan’s book Moments for Families with Prodigals.

Until next time, Be Abnormal!

It’s Good to Ask Questions

One of the overarching principles in fostering a continuing faith in the lives of teenagers and young adults is to ask good questions…and then listen. One of the biggest fears in this principle is the concern about how to answer some of the questions that young people ask us back!

Good news: You don’t have to have all the answers, but you should be committed to finding those answers together!

Last week’s podcast was a highlight of several podcasts we like to listen to. Just last week, I listened to an episode of the Bible Project Podcast with my son that was a Q&A about a series they did on the Family of God. It was fascinating, informative, and sparked a great discussion full of more questions!

The Bible Project podcast and subsequent material is a great resource for helping young people and adults dig deeper into the truths of the Bible. Check it out. Listen to some episodes with the young people in your life. Ask good questions. Have great conversations. Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 62 – Podcasts We Love!

As we continue moving from the Information Age to a Culture of Recommendation, we wanted to share some of the podcasts that we love and that have influenced us. Particularly, we want to share with you the ones that will help you in your faith, your parenting, and your connection with young people!

Here’s a few we highly recommend:

SERMONS/CHURCHES:

PARENTING RESOURCES:

PODCASTS TO LISTEN ALONG WITH YOUNG PEOPLE:

Until next time, enjoy some other great podcasts and Be Abnormal!

The Nuclear Catalyst

Last week’s podcast episode had us discussing the changing family structures in modern culture. Particularly we pointed out how the loss of the nuclear family model is not necessarily all bad. In case you missed it, check out Episode 61 – What To Do When Your Family is at DEFCON 2!

We were greatly inspired by an article written by David Brooks for The Atlantic called “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake”. If you want to dig deeper into the concepts from our podcast, take the time to read Brooks’ compelling piece.

Until next time, Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 61 – What To Do When Your Family is at DEFCON 2

We all have an idealized picture of the perfect family in our mind. For a lot of us it’s the nuclear family. Not the one hiding in a bunker to avoid radiation poisoning, but the one that consists of dad, mom, and 2.5 children living in a detached suburban home that was popularized in the 1950s. Today, however, few families truly look like that. In this episode we take a look at why that might not be all bad.

A lot of our inspiration came from a detailed article by researcher and author David Brooks. If you have time you should read it. However, here are some of the points we gleaned as we applied it to our Christian families:

  • The nuclear family created independence; we are called to create interdependence. The Bible often examples and encourages an interconnected group of corporate families over an isolated family unit.
  • The nuclear family created insulation; we are called to be inclusive. We are not to just take care of our own needs but to look to the needs of others.
  • The nuclear family prioritized immediate economy; we want to prioritize investment. Our great challenge is to look to the future to provide hope, faith and health for our children and beyond.

Lots of good questions come out of this episode. Have those discussions this week evaluating who you need to include, where you need to plug in, and what hope looks like for the next generation. Until next time, Be Abnormal!