QUESTIONS ABOUT DATING:
“When do I need to talk to my student about sex and dating?”
Today. If you want to know why and how, read this. One of the parents in our student ministry recently had “the talk” with his two middle school boys.
“When will I know that my student is mature enough to start dating?”
The purpose of dating is to find a potential spouse. A bible believing Christian affirms marriage is a life-long institution of faithfulness, sexual integrity, and servanthood to your spouse. I would advise caution against allowing your middle school student to “date” because of their emotional, physical, and spiritual immaturity. Prerequisites for dating should include knowing and affirming the purpose of dating, parental accountability, and oversight including warnings concerning the potential pitfalls of sexual temptation.
“My student is already dating. How do I navigate this?”
Again, I would caution allowing your middle school student to date as stated above. Also, remember your role as a parent. Middle school is a very formative time in the life of your student, and your role is to train up your child in the way he or she should go. Allowing your student to divert their eyes from God, and onto another human being, may sow seeds of idolatry towards relationships in a crucial developmental stage
“How can I talk about godly relationships when I’m divorced?”
Remember that the blood of Jesus Christ covers all of our sins if we are repentant, faithful, and obedient to the Lord. Even after Paul lists unrighteous sinners including “adulterers” (1 Corinthians 6:9), he says “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). In other words, you can talk about a godly relationship that God commands regardless of your past. Your mistakes serve as a testimony to God’s grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, but not an excuse to disobey or contradict God’s standards for relationships. His Word remains unchanging, and we are called to conform to it.
QUESTIONS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY:
“What apps do I need to make sure that my student avoids?”
“When should I purchase a cell phone for my student?”
I would encourage parents to view cell phones as a privilege, and not as a need. Remember that smartphones allow your students access to inexhaustible and unfiltered information including mature content. If you do purchase a cell phone for your student, utilize internet restrictions and even app restrictions. Set controls that limit the websites your student can search, and even the apps they can download. For more information concerning monitoring and controlling your student’s cell phone usage, read below.
“My student is addicted to video games. How do I help him?”
Jesus said, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:30). Addiction to video games produces laziness and selfishness. Both of these are sins, and Jesus says “cut them off” because tolerated sin left unrepentant will guide you to the gate that is wide and the road that is broad that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
“How should I monitor and control my student’s cell phone usage?”
“How should I monitor and control my student’s use of the wireless and movies in our home?”
Monitor usage by establishing a rule that your student can only use the wireless or watch movies with your permission. If you are away, have them contact you and establish consequences for disobedience to the rules.
QUESTIONS ABOUT FRIENDSHIPS:
“How should we respond if our student is bullied?”
Contact the appropriate authorities depending on the circumstances and context of the bullying. If your student is bullied at school, contact the principal of the school or speak with the teachers. If your student is bullied outside of school, speak with the parents of the bullying student. If your student is being bullied online, restrict your student’s access to the online bullying and seek the appropriate means to report the bully.
“My child is an introvert and doesn’t like groups. What do I need to say to get him to attend the student ministry?”
I would ask you to explain the difference between a sports team, classroom of students, or an extracurricular activity involving a group of students. Some students will not try something that their parents won’t make them try. We are all hesitant towards the unknown, and fearful of that which we are unfamiliar with. Perhaps you need to say, “you have to attend one time” or “I’m dropping you off and won’t be back until it’s over” (Parental discretion advised).
“What are the signs of teenage depression?”
Focus on the Family can help here.
“How can we encourage our students to build healthy friendships?”
Tim Kimmel has some wise words to say.
“We want to be involved in our student’s life. How can we be involved without being weird or too intrusive?”
Questions, questions, and more questions. Ask questions in the car, at the dinner table, and before bedtime. Encourage conversation through questions, and allow your student to share. When the sharing diminishes, increase the questions.
“Is my student normal?”
I would ask you what is the definition of normal? The only definition that matters is your student’s faith, obedience, and submission to God and by consequence, to you as a parent.
QUESTIONS ABOUT FAITH:
“Our student hasn’t committed his/her life to Jesus yet. What is he/she waiting on?”
Trust in Jesus, the author and perfecter of our salvation. The gospel is preached, and sinners respond when the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin (John 16:8-11).
“My student doesn’t want to attend church service. Can you make it more exciting?”
Let’s ask a different question. “My student doesn’t want to listen to me as a parent, can you make parenting more exciting to him?” The question may seem absurd, but so does the original question to me. The problem with this question is an assumption that emotional excitement equates spiritual maturity. An additional issue with the question is assuming church attendance equates spiritual maturity. I am clearly an advocate of church attendance (read the last question below), but simply wish to convey that emotions are fallible indicators of spiritual maturity. Your role as a parent includes training up a child in the way he should go, and church attendance is mandated by God. Your child not wanting to attend church is not the church’s problem, it’s his and your problem. If your student has legitimate issues with the church such as doctrinal and behavioral issues, those should be raised to the elders and pastors of the church.
“What do family devotions look like for families with teenagers?”
This question may look differently for every family. May I simply suggest a regular time or day where you and your family meet to hear from God’s word. Reading Scripture together, listening to a sermon, or working through a bible study together are appropriate avenues for family devotions.
“I want to purchase a teen Bible for my student. What are some great options?”
“My student is overcommitted with sports, school, and activities. How do I help them maintain a connection to church while honoring other important commitments?”
I think the problem is in how this question is worded. By equating church with “other important commitments” we are essentially qualifying church attendance with soccer practice. God commanded the Israelites to keep the Sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8), and we see the same principle carried out in the early church but meeting on Sunday instead of Saturday (Acts 2:42, 20:7). The author of Hebrews tell us not to neglect meeting together as some are in the habit of doing (10:25). Ask yourself, is our habit neglecting church or honoring it? Then ask yourself, am I instilling in my children a habit of allowing other commitments to compete with church and by consequence God? Ask yourself if your commitments are on an equal basis with God, and if they are, you are sorely mistaken.