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Middle Schoolers Are All About Change
Parenting Help Subtitle
by Mark Oestreicher

I’m convinced that understanding middle schoolers is the second most important thing you can do to increase your effectiveness as a parent. Yeah, it’s the second most important thing. So we’ll return to it in a couple of paragraphs.

The most important thing you can do to increase your effectiveness, as a Christian parent of a middle schooler, is to deepen your own connection to God. See, parenting a middle schooler flows out of who you are, not what you know. You can have all the best tricks for getting conversation going, an almost mystical ability to motivate your child, a deep understanding of middle schoolers, and the relational ability of Oprah Winfrey, but if you aren’t authentically and deeply connected to God, how would you stand a chance of pointing kids in God’s direction?

But I want to focus here on the second most important thing you can do to increase your effectiveness in parenting a young teen. And that, as I’ve said, is to understand young teens. Deeply.

JONATHAN'S BLOG: At what age should I let my kid have a phone?
I hear the question at every parenting workshop I teach. It comes in many forms:

“How young is too young for my kids to have their own phone?”

“I didn’t get my kid a phone… I just got them an iPad. Is that dangerous?”

“My 11-year-old daughter wants an Instagram account. Should I let her?

“What age should I let them have access to all of this stuff?!!”

Let me give you the quick answer: 13-years-old.

It’s a question I have to keep answering again and again for parents. So let me show you a few places where it’s been addressed in detail lately.

1. Last month I wrote an article on our PARENTING HELP column on titled “Are Smartphones & Social Media Too Dangerous for My Kids?” In that article I addressed the ‘age question’ specifically. Here’s just a snippet:

For years experts have been recommending parents wait until their kids are age 12 to give them their own mobile devices. Notice I didn’t just say “phones.” When I say devices I mean tablets, iTouch, laptops… especially devices that allow them access to the Internet and social media.

I’m not alone in this age recommendation. In fact, most experts recommend kids do not begin using social media until age 13. Most social media platforms require kids to be 13 to sign up because of the Children Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents sites from collecting select information from kids under 13. Parents who allow their kids to sign up before then are allowing them to lie about their age.

I realize this is difficult when every other parent out there is giving their kids devices before they cut their first tooth. Our kids are sure to complain, “But Chris has his own iPad!”

This is where parents need to stop and ask themselves, “What is my role?” If you want to be the friend parent, or “peerant,” who gives into their kid’s every whim… then by all means, give em’ a phone. If you see your role as the Sherpa who will guide them along the road to adolescence successfully to adulthood, then wait until they’re 12…


 2. Then two weeks ago my friend Adam McLane, author and social media guru posted an intriguing article on his blog answering the ‘age question’ in excruciating detail. If you want to the letter of the law, see what he has to say. Here’s just a snippet:

The FTC has added some important clarifications which parents need to know about. And, despite what most parents seem to think, the FTC actually strengthened the laws/rules for online companies… they didn’t weaken them! So as much as your 11 year old seems mature enough to handle an Instagram account or she only exchanges Snapchats with her older sister… it’s still against the rules.

Here’s what has changed: (again, these rules are only for users under 13 years old)…


I realize this is one of those difficult situations as a parent. Let’s face it: parenting is hard! Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with all of this (which is probably why 74% of parents just give up trying and “hope for the best.”)

Let me encourage you:

  1. Don’t give up. Your love for your kids doesn’t require you to be a drill sergeant or a disciplinarian… but it does require being educated enough to warn them of dangers and placing a few realistic guardrails to protect them.

  2. Keep current by doing exactly what you’re doing right now—reading an article from someone who did the research for you. Subscribe to articles like my blog, our PARENTING HELP articles, our YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW articles… all FREE… all easy to subscribe to in this one location right here.  img class="alignright size-thumbnail wp-image-8120" src="" alt="Should-I-Smash-My-Kids-Phone" width="150" height="150" />

  3. Spend a little time talking as a family and agreeing on some realistic boundaries that really work. Don’t be afraid to use a workbook like the one my friend Doug Fields and I wrote to help guide you through this process.

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Season Three, Episode Ten, Home
by Thom McKee Jr. What does the word “family” mean to you? Is it your mother and father and your siblings?  Does it include people that you aren’t related to? Perhaps, the people you call family aren’t even related to

  • More Than Just The Talk
  • Get Your Teenagers Talking
  • Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent
  • Should I Smash My Kids Phone
  • Zombie Survival Guide
Summer at the Movies (Part 1)
The Heroes, Hilarity, and Harshness of 2016's Blockbusters
David R. Smith

A break up in the Avengers? A house full of scantily-clad sorority girls? Another alien invasion? Some ninja turtles, a lost blue tang fish, and a fat Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? 

Yep, that’s how the summer movies are going to start this year. 

Every spring, The Source for Youth Ministry compiles a list of the films that are expected to make the biggest impact at the summer box office. This year's films include comedies... 

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