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Village Blog

Equip Kids for Making Good Choices

Posted by David Wood on

Articles

Decisions, decisions. Teenagers face lots of choices, ranging from what to wear to which career to pursue. Every day, young people also deal with social and moral decisions that can impact their faith and their future.

Making the right choices can mean the difference between life and death, so it’s important to help kids connect their choices to real-world consequences. Showing off in a car may impress friends, for example, but it can also put lives at risk. The developmental challenge is that the part of the brain that processes cause and effect isn’t fully developed in teenagers. Although kids sometimes have to learn things the hard way, we still need to show them grace and compassion, as well as loving support and guidance.

Parents may not be able to make decisions for teenagers, but we can equip them with the right tools so they can make wise choices of their own. The solid foundation for decision-making is God’s Word. Jesus urges his followers to spend time in prayer and to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Making good decisions can be hard, and the pressure can leave kids stressed out. But God offers an alternative: peace. He wants to give us extraordinary peace in the midst of making easy or hard decisions. All we need to do is seek him and his wisdom.

Tips

Guy Talk, Girl Talk 2 (Simply Youth Ministry) offers tips for dependable decision-making:

    • The focus must first be on who, not what. Instead of asking “What am I supposed to do?” ask, “Who am I supposed to be?” Who you are is defined by whose you are. If you’re first concerned with becoming a more devoted follower of Jesus, then decisions become clearer and wiser.
    • It is possible to live worry-free about your future. The stress of big decisions trickles all the way down to junior high these days. But Jesus commands us not to sweat it (Matthew 6:34). Is he really in control of your life?
    • You have a destiny in this life and the next. Jesus offers us abundant “full” life on earth (John 10:10) as well as indescribable beauty and eternal adventure in heaven. Our decisions today affect our ability to enter the destiny God offers.
    • Who you are determines where you end up. Decide where you’ll be tomorrow by deciding who you’ll be today. Who you are is seen in the fruit you bear (Galatians 5:19-26).
    • Who you listen to can make or break you. Build your future on solid rock by listening to Jesus and to wise people he puts in your life.

When a choice looms, ask: Does it honor God? Does it help me grow? Does it help others grow? Does it cause me or anyone else to stumble? Do my Christian friends and family support my decision? If not, why not?

The View

    • A majority of teenagers say they’d make more responsible decisions than their peers from 20 years ago did. (girlscouts.org)
    • More than 9 out of 10 teenagers admit to making poor decisions while driving. (cnn.com)
    • 46% of teenagers say parents most influence their decisions about sex, while 20% of teenagers say friends most influence those decisions. (thenationalcampaign.org)
    • 71% of teenagers say they feel prepared to make ethical decisions when they enter the workplace. (gactaern.org)

Questions to Ask

    • How do you approach tough decisions? What role does your faith play?
    • If you could go back in time and make different choices, what would some of them be, and why?
    • What are the most important decision-making lessons you’d like your teenagers to know?

The Role of Emotions

Expert Insights for Parents of Teenagers | By Jerry Varner

Teenagers are very emotional beings who face a lot of forks in the road. Those emotions often get the best of kids and their decision making, whether those decisions are social, mental, academic, sexual, or even spiritual.

We receive our emotions from an emotional God who created us in his image. Emotions can be powerful, effective gauges that help us navigate spiritually. When we submit them to God, emotions can help reveal our passions, our fears, and even our direction.

It’s important to keep in mind that all teenagers (male and female) are hardwired with emotions given to them by God. One of our roles as parents is to help them sort out what’s from God and what’s sheer emotion. Involving our emotions in the decision-making process is so very natural, but allowing emotions to drive decisions is where we get into trouble.

Here’s how you can help teenagers separate emotionalism from God’s clear directive:

Remind kids that their choices have to be lived out in the open. After all, how hard can it be to take a stand when no one sees it?

Speak clearly with kids about what God’s Word says. You can use sensitivity in your communication without adding fluffiness that dilutes God’s Word.

Offer teenagers questions to consider and clearly defined steps to take in the days and weeks after they make a decision. This allows the “dust to settle” on the emotions that undoubtedly played an important role in their initial choice.


Let’s face it: Teenagers are prone to allow emotions to rule the day. But we don’t want to be making disciples who follow Jesus and live for him only when it “feels” right.

Bible Focus | Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Media Reviews

MAINSTREAM MUSIC

Snoop Lion

Background

Snoop Dogg changed his name to Snoop Lion after visiting Jamaica, where he became Rastafarian. His new reggae album features big-name guests such as Drake, Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, and Miley Cyrus. Rastafari’s mish-mash spirituality—along with the spiritual use of cannabis—makes it a tempting and dangerous “religion” for teenagers. Snoop Lion has been very successful as a hip-hop artist, with numerous multi-platinum albums. 

Albums

Reincarnated (2013), Ego Trippin’ (2008), Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss (2002)

What Snoop Lion Says

“It’s not that I would ever push weed on our kids, but if they wanted to, I would love to show them how, the right way, so that way they won’t get nothing put in their [stuff] or overdose or [try] some [stuff] that ain’t clean.”

Explore

His music is available on Spotify, last.fm, Pandora, and other music services.

CHRISTIAN MUSIC

Andy Mineo

Background

Mineo grew up in a single-parent home. With no male authority figures, he struggled with aggression and profanity. Mineo became a Christian at a junior high camp but didn’t have a church home. He grew to love music and bought equipment with birthday money. Since getting connected to many names in Christian hip-hop, Mineo has produced and worked with people such as Lecrae and Trip Lee.  

Albums

Heroes for Sale (2013), Formerly Known (2012)

What Mineo Says

“All throughout high school, it was really difficult to follow Jesus without having any community. I didn’t have any home church or men to disciple me. When I went to college…God put me around a bunch of people that loved God, and looked and talked like me.”

Explore

Mineo’s music is available on Spotify, last.fm, Pandora, and other music services. 

MOVIES

Iron Man 3

Genre: Action, Adventure  

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: Tony Stark has a new adversary who’s willing to take everything Stark holds dear. To overcome this threat, Stark must find out who he really is.

Our Take: Iron Man 3 is what you've come to expect from a standard superhero movie, then. It's chock-full of glossy graphics. It boasts frivolous (kiss kiss) sensuality and mounds of discomforting (bang bang) violence. It's somewhat ironic, I suppose: A movie that forces Tony Stark out of his suit is itself unwilling to take the same chance, cocooning itself in piles of popcorn when it could've showed us its soul.

Read the Full Review

VIDEO GAMES

Grid 2

This racing game promises to straddle the fine line between realistic-handling cars and accessibility. There are lots of cars, tracks, and options to keep your foot to the floor. There likely won’t be anything objectionable here. (Rating pending; Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Metro: Last Light

This follow-up to the hit first-person shooter is changing gears to focus more on exploration and stealth than on firefights. But it will still be gory and bloody and not suitable for teenagers. (Rating pending, but almost certainly M; Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

For more media reviews, visit http://www.pluggedin.com

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