Parents Archive

This is the archive of notes in our weekly email (subscribe here) regarding youth culture and parenting. There are many references here to other websites. CGCM does not necessarily endorse, support, or condone everything on these links--they are provided for educational and general informational purposes only. Note that this information is specific to our youth group and time sensitive.
New Information Coming Soon!!!








6/24/14: How do you use God's word to correct and train your children?
6/16/14: How to be an awesome dad.
6/10/14: Why is it that we want our kids to be so busy?
5/27/14: Should Christian parents want good, happy, safe kids?
5/20/14: Why is it that daughters fight so much with mothers (one person's perspective)?
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/13/14: How to monitor apps on your kid's device.
5/6/14: Do this and your kids will be more productive, better rested, and happier.
4/29/14: Summer movies are beginning next month. Here's one Christian website's previews and opinions on what your teenagers will soon be talking about or watching. When they mention watching a movie, you should know or learn about it!
4/22/14: What’s the best way to help with homework? You might be surprised to find out.
4/15/14: Why does your family go to church? Have a discussion about it with your kids. Here are reasons why some Christians go. Why do you?
3/31/14: What do handheld devices do to your kids (not just little kids but also teenagers)? Do you need a tech basket?
3/25/14: How to keep your cell phone from running your life. Advice for parents who want to invest in their family and set a good example.
3/17/14: Interesting perspective on praising your kids. Do you praise your kids and how do you do it?
3/11/14: 73% of adults use their phone at least once during each meal.
2/18/14: Use your cell phone too much in front of your kids, and they might get a "No Cell Phone Ball". Get off your cell phones!
2/10/14: Among teens, soda is down but coffee is up. Is that a good thing or any better?
1/21
/14: Don't underestimate how crucial your influence is over your kids.
1/14/14: Should you reward your teenagers for good behavior or success? Maybe shame and guilt are not the only ways to parent or encourage.
1/7/14: Three common traits of youth who grow up and stay in church.

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/31/13: Are you aware that many apps and cell phones regularly track and use your physical location? It's good to talk to your teens about these kinds of things and internet safety.
12/24/13: What are your goals in raising your children? Is it just (or mainly) academic or are you thinking about how you help them to focus on Jesus and think about their calling?
12/17/13: What are you hoping your kids will get out of this Christmas season? And what is your goal in raising them in general?
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/14/13: Create a Sunday tradition in addition to worshiping at church. Maybe you get ice cream on Sunday nights, eat at a certain restaurant for lunch, or watch a movie or TV show together.
12/10/13: Talk about how faith is connected to a current event. You might say, “Have you heard about _____?” Your kid might say yes or no, depending on the event. Ask an open-ended question or two such as, “What do you think about that?” or, “I wonder what the people in that community are feeling …” Then, if appropriate, you might share your own reflections. For example, “It’s just interesting to me as a Christian …” or, “It makes me wonder …” It’s not the time for a sermon, but it could start great dialogue about faith and life.
12/3/13: Start conversations in the car. Many families have shared that the car offers the single best place for them to talk about faith together.
11/26/13: During any meals that you are together, ask questions. Simply asking about daily activities strengthens communication and relationships for other times when the conversation might plunge even deeper.
11/19/13: As a family, try to share a consistent meal together. If not daily, perhaps there’s one dinner a week that can be set aside as a family time.
11/12/13: We know it, but we need to be reminded, that media usage (TV's, computers, tablets, phones, etc.) continues to increase with our kids, and that isn't always a good thing.
10/29/13: Here are a few thoughts on Halloween.
10/22/13: Do you know what a "selfie" is? This article talks about it and is good to think about, but leaves out remembering the most important person's (God's) approval and affirmation. That's up for you to teach your kids!
10/16/13: Twitter has now overtaken Facebook as the most popular social media among teenagers, but more importantly, what is your child interested in? Go to your kids and ask them, "What app or sites do you like the most and why (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Snapchat...)?" It can start a good discussion...
10/1/13: We now have an offering time during the English worship service. Consider asking your kids about it, and spend time talking with them about money and giving.
9/25/13: What are your kids doing? They are "watching TV".
9/10/13: The beginning of the school year is a great time to start a new resolution! Like having your youth attend Sunday worship, Sunday school, and Friday night fellowship weekly. Yes, it takes more effort and commitment, but make your youth's spiritual health a priority!
9/4/13: Moms (and dads) have great influence on their daughter's body image.
8/27/13: Something to think about, how do you use your cell phone and what does it teach your kids?
8/13/13: Here's an interesting commercial video to watch. As you view it think about how you talk to your teenage kids. What do you say and what do you not say (even though you think it)? What message does your son or daughter receive from what you say (what do they think about it)?
7/29/13: From the book "Worlds Apart: Understanding the Mindset and Values of 18-25 Year Olds" here are four questions to think about or discuss with your spouse this week: What do I value about my child? Do I allow my child’s life and results to reflect on me so much that they dictate my relationship with and my counsel to my child? Do I really value my child for who he or she is today, regardless of what he or she does or becomes? Do I place a higher value on what I personally want for my child than I do what he or she wants?
7/23/13: Back to school trends... things about youth culture that may be relevant to your kids.
7/9/13: Do you Want God’s Best for Your Children? Scroll half way down the page to the points 1-7.
7/2/13: A few years ago we used to talk about youth on Facebook. Not really anymore...
6/25/13: Want to try this out over the summer? The tech-savvy parent can make their kids do their chores.
6/18/13: Dads, here are 21 Simple Ways to be an Exceptional Dad. And for those with daughters, here are some Words Girls Need to Hear from their Fathers.
6/12/13: Young men: A hero for you? Husbands and fathers: Don't waste your summer!
5/29/13: Here are some fun questions to ask your spouse. Pick one and ask it over family dinner tonight.
5/15/13: Our teenagers are constantly bombarded with advertisements, which oftentimes challenge our Christian values. Have you ever talked to them about how to intelligently think about them? There is a book called "The Pitch: How To Analyze Ads" that can be downloaded (opens a PDF file). If you do not have the time to read all of it, take a look at chapter 4, starting on page 28.
5/7/13: Does your teenager have a smartphone or an iPod? Can you help keep them safe on it?
5/1/13: As the summer months and movies start coming, I would like to remind you that Plugged In is a great place to find Christian reviews on movies. When your son or daughter mentions that they want to see a movie, you can look it up and find out more about it!
4/24/13: This is a long article about Instagram, social media, and parenting, but I think it is well worth your read and thoughts.
4/16/13: I'm sure many of you regularly tell your stories to your youth. Yes, they do matter!
4/10/13: They say that teenagers rule the web. Take a look at some of the statistics.
4/3/13: Why do youth stay in the church when they grow up? One pastor gives a few ideas for youth ministries and parents (scroll down to point #3).
3/26/13: Learn a little bit more about your teen and their world this week. Ask them to show you something cool that they've seen on youtube before. Say, "Hey, show me something cool that you have seen on youtube," and then watch it with them.
3/13/13: I think many of our youth are "good" kids that wouldn't get involved with much of what this article talks about. But I think #7 on time limits is relevant to ALL youth.
1/2/13: How about a new year's resolution to have devotional times with God? Youth will best follow good examples from you. What kinds of rules or guidelines would YOU have for your youth and their iPods and phones? One mom gave her son an 18-point contract (secular website).

12/19/12: Please remind your youth to bring Bibles when they come to church. They don't have a Bible? Check out the FAQ on our website and talk to Tim about getting them one.
12/12/12: What are your kids learning about marriage?
12/5/12: More and more kids are struggling with anxiety and depression, often linked to a combination of over-scheduling and sleep deprivation, which is further often connected to two main contributors: electronics use and extracurricular activities. What should you do for your kids?
11/28/12: Why is your teenager always on the computer, ipod, or phone? More than just having great content on it, it could be FOMO!
11/21/12: Here is an upcoming book for parents to learn about teenagers and social media.
11/15/12: For a variety of reasons, I have deleted my Facebook account.  Some of our youth have noticed, and it might be a good opportunity to talk about Facebook.  Ask questions like, what do you think about Tim deleting his Facebook account?  What would happen to you if you were to delete or deactivate your Facebook account?  What would you miss about Facebook?  Do you need it?  How important is it to you?  Remember to ask these questions in the spirit of understanding your children and their lives more, not to force them to do something or criticize their answers.
11/7/12: Is your daughter obsessed with One Direction? Here are some thoughts that could be helpful for parents to consider (skip down to the "Quick Tip" numbered points).
10/31/12: Having issues with your kids and their cell phones? Here's one parent's take on how to work with them on it, and what to do when you continue to have problems.
10/10/12: Have you been afraid on how to have some accountability online when talking to your kids about internet safety? See this article about some thoughts on how to handle it.
10/10/12: Here is a new youtube video featuring Jeremy Lin and Kevin Wu, a famous American born Chinese comedian, that challenges parents to think about comparing their kids to other kids.
10/3/12: Have questions about some of the things your teenager is listening to, watching, or playing? Plugged In is a Christian website run by Focus on the Family that can be useful in understanding more of the media that is out there. When your youth talks about music they listen to, watching a movie or TV show, or playing a video game, you can look up information about it from their website and read what these Christian reviewers and analysts have to say about it. It's a great way to understand more about the media your children are consuming so that you can talk and discuss with them about it.
9/26/12: Here is a non-Christian (government sponsored) info sheet on teaching your kids about money. Compare it to what your kids might know about money and think about what Jesus would say about these principles.
9/19/12: Last week I think I forgot to mention that the two new books on understanding teenagers are VERY SHORT. 54 and 64 pages long. It might be worth a quick read, especially if you download the digital version of it onto your Kindle or Kindle app on iPad or smartphone. "A Parent's Guide to Understanding Teenage Guys" and "A Parent's Guide to Understanding Teenage Girls".
9/12/12: There are two new books out from this summer called "A Parent's Guide to Understanding Teenage Guys" and "A Parent's Guide to Understanding Teenage Girls" written by a veteran youth worker and former president of one of the largest youth ministry organizations in the US. There are kindle versions of it (guys/girls) as well as traditional physical books available (guys/girls).
8/29/12: Even though your child is a teenager, it doesn't mean you have to spend less time or talk to them less. Don't forget that even though friends are becoming a more influential peer group that you still have a role of importance and influence through adolescence. Try to listen as much or more as you talk, and don't be discouraged if it seems like they don't often want to open up. Take the opportunities that do come up, no matter what the topic, when it is, or even if you're busy.
7/11/12: Here are a local pastor's thoughts on what are some things that you can do to protect your children by creating safe boundaries.
7/4/12: "My parents don't let me have a life!" Teenagers say that often enough that it's important for parents to understand how a typical American teenager perceives his or her social life. Here is an infographic that helps understand it, the usage and the perception of it.
6/26/12: Did you know many Asian American Christians are full of shame?
6/20/12: Asian-American Christian Sam Louie shares about his experience of understanding shame, "Guilt can be healthy since it helps us acknowledge mistakes we need to correct and leads us to think of ways to rebuild ourselves and our relationships with others---including with God. Shame, by contrast, is a perverse and distorted belief that we are inherently unworthy of love."
6/13/12: Deadliest Driving Days for Teens: What Parents Can Do
6/6/12: There are some studies that show that Facebook is weakening, while other social networking sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest are growing. Among our youth we have not seen that yet. However, as far as communicating with each other, texting is definitely dominant, over face-to-face, phone, email, or other types of messaging.
5/30/12: Here is a good article written by a local pastor on how this digital age helps us see the desires and needs that our teenagers have (for things like connection, relationships, intimacy, boundaries, control, and relational skills).
5/23/12: This new, young generation loves to share about their own experiences online. It's the new form of community (online connections), and there is a strong desire to share with others. We hope, though, that the church and the youth group can be a place where this community can be found and sharing can happen, alongside youth's virtual experiences.
5/16/12: "You’ve got to help me. My son won’t return my calls from college, he’s failing three of his classes, and he’s gotten written up two times in his dorm for alcohol use." What makes the difference? What allows one college freshman to walk with courage and faith amidst temptation, while another leaves Jesus at home, succumbing to seemingly every impulse? One student ministry pastor and parent shares his insight.
5/6/12: More and more kids are experiencing or participating in online harassment called cyberbullying. Your kids may not know the term “cyberbully”, but they have probably seen other kids being mean online. Tell your children they do not have to accept any online activity that is meant to intimidate, threaten, tease or harm them. And remind them of the golden rule--they should always treat others how they themselves would like to be treated. Here are some questions that can be conversation starters with your teenager (pick one or two to ask, don't read these like a check-off list): Do you know about teens being mean to one another online? Can people spread rumors online? Have people ever said mean things about you online? Have any of your friends felt uncomfortable online? Have you felt uncomfortable online? Remember when you were young? We’ve all been in uncomfortable situations, and when we were young, we often didn’t know where to turn. Share stories with your kids, and remember that a big part of growing up involves exploration. Your kids have probably explored a lot of things online, and they may have run into something that was confusing or made them uncomfortable; encourage your kids to come to you whenever something makes them comfortable online.
5/1/12: Here is the other half of last week's successful tips for family devotions.
4/25/12: Always wanted to do family devotions but don't know how to start? Here are some tips.
4/18/12: Over April break, encourage your student to set aside time for both studying and play/rest. Not only is it unrealistic for them to study from 7am to 10pm every day, it probably isn't healthy for them to not get meaningful rest and relaxation. Most students that are "forced" to study for long periods of time end up zoning out anyway, so even when someone looks like they are working it doesn't mean that they aren't daydreaming. Encouraging your kids to have good, fun breaks may help them better focus on their studies during those times when they are working. Every child is different, but I recommend this based on what I have seen from typical American born Chinese youth.
4/11/12: Want to have better family time? Start with eating dinner together every night. Make it a no-iPod/DS/cell phone time from the opening prayer until all the dishes are put away. It might seem forced (especially at first), but maybe even try a sharing time as the meal is concluding. Here's an idea: take turns sharing "a high and a low" of the day. Each person shares a high point and a low point of their day, and maybe even noticing where God was present in both the high and low moments. Just because kids don't like it, doesn't mean it's not good for them. Kids don't like eating their vegetables or wearing their seatbelts either.
4/3/12: How can you influence your kids with such a busy schedule? Cut down their schedule. Or at least do this.
3/27/12: As I'm sure many of you have heard about The Hunger Games movie which came out last week, here is a Christian's interesting look at the book series and the themes in it.
3/22/12: Deuteronomy 6:4-9... raising our kids to have an authentic faith doesn't happen automatically. We need to be intentional about building times into our daily schedules and routines which to help them grow. The average church has about 40 hours a year to help a youth grow. The average parent has about 3,000 hours a year to influence a child. Here are some helpful ways to do that.
3/15/12: Not all middle school and high school dances are like this example, but there are some that are. Be aware of what your kids are going to when they go to at school dance.
3/7/12: Don't like that your kids wear headphones all the time, even at home? Here's one parent's perspective and solution.
2/29/12: There is a new trend among young teenagers to make and post youtube videos asking the world, "Am I ugly?" (or "Am I pretty?"). This has all sorts of implications for our youth today, but I think at minimum it is a reminder for parents to affirm their kids as being beautiful because they are created by God, and to set the right example as far as how to value and view physical beauty. For example, how do we emphasize and use our appearance in clothes, makeup, etc. or how do we treat or view others in relationship to how they look?
2/15/12: Here is a cool "periodic table" view of the books of the Bible. Set it as the desktop wallpaper for your family computer and take a look at it with your kids. What is interesting about it? Was there anything you didn't know of realize about it?
1/25/12: Here is a popular video called "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus" which highlights how young people (even Christians) view religion.
1/17/12: Ericsson has a consumer lab report called "Talking, Texting, Poking and Dating: How teenagers are using technology in their social lives." Maybe that's too much for you to read? Here are six simple suggestions to understand more about what your kids are doing with technology.
1/9/12: Along the same lines, there was an interesting article recently at a religious (non-Christian) site called Patheos titled, "Asian American Religion and Depression, Killing the Hope of Our Youth?" It challenges Asian American Christians to consider issues of community, strictness in church, cultural values, and how religion and depression could be related to each other.

12/28/11: Did you know that teens who express differences with mom might also resist peer pressure? If you feel that you have built a good foundation for your children when they were little, know that many teenagers are just learning to exert and stand up for themselves as they grow into adulthood.
12/21/11: Are you up to date with the past few years of teen slang? See how many of these ten popular words you know.
12/14/11: Here is an interesting and informative article from a non-Christian perspective which tries to explain why teenagers think differently than adults. And as the New Year approaches, here are some great suggestions to throw out for your family as far as resolutions you guys can try to work on together.
12/7/11: As you know, we have some helpful links and info on devotionals at our webpage. There is a new one uploaded this past week called "Family Christmas Devotionals" that can be used during this Advent and Christmas season.
11/29/11: This is a short "book" about being a good Dad that comes from a compilation of sermons given by an American pastor. I recommend it to you because many of the youth are American born Chinese. Sometimes, there are aspects of their American side that would benefit from a typical, good, immigrant Chinese father understanding what a good, American, Christian father might be like.
11/23/11: Online bullying may still be less common than bullying in real life, but I think what you should be aware about is the fact that Asians are typically bullied more than any other racial group, and actually, more online than in person. How do you deal with bullying? One important aspect is to keep a good relationship with your kids where they feel open to share about what they are experiencing and feeling. From there, it is also important for an American born Chinese to know from their parents that the solution is not always to just ignore, but that standing up for themselves or reporting it to authorities is appropriate.
11/16/11: This past week an 8pm show targeted towards teenagers and taking place in a high school featured two teenage couples each losing their virginity--a homosexual couple (Kurt and Blaine), and a heterosexual couple (Finn and Rachel). This is an outrage given the type of show it is, it's targeted audience, the age of the participants, and the fact that it was shown at early primetime. It is striking to me that just the day before the show, one of the most prominent youth ministers of our generation posted that parents need to use three buttons on the remote control. However, we will be using no buttons unless we are actively involved with our kids lives. Read that article and stay connected with what is showing on the TV in your house!
11/8/11: Husbands are the heads of their wives? (see Ephesians 5:23). Last link on preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving for this year!
11/3/11: 15 years ago, a woman named Helen Lee wrote an article called the "Silent Exodus: Can the East Asian church in America reverse the flight of its next generation?" It was an incredibly significant article at the time, and it still remains so today. It is the starting point and basics of understanding 2nd generation East Asian Americans and church. It is a long article, but I highly recommend that you read it as you think about your kids at CGCM. You can skip over the section on Koreans and Japanese, but do set aside a good 10 minutes to sit down and read this. I deliberately send this email separate than the weekly updates so that it is not lost at the bottom of an email. The article is here.
11/2/11: If you have a teenager with a license, you should be aware of some of the common causes for teenage accidents. But even if your child is years from driving, note that some of these causes (like tailgating) are often learned from your example as a driver right now! Here are some other ideas to do together as a family for the month of November to grow in thankfulness.
10/21/11: Did you know you can help your teenager manage the stress of overscheduling?
10/11/11: Comcast has a helpful guide on talking to your kids about internet usage. Even though it comes from a secular perspective, I think it is worth reading and considering! Note that the foundation for talking to your kids starts from the very beginning!
10/4/11: Did you know that students who said they got less than eight hours of sleep on school nights were more likely to engage in behaviors that put their health at risk? Actually, it is likely that the same can be said of any age group, but we as parents have an opportunity to guide our kids in many areas of their lives, and should do so!
9/26/11: A new study links more family dinner times to less risky behavior in teens. Please treasure that time together and try to have it as often as possible. Also, a youth worker and parent of three teenagers addresses how we graciously handle extracurricular activities when they interfere with our gatherings at church.
9/21/11: Ever hear your teenager say, "I need my space!"? Here are one author's suggestions on how we as parents can do that, for us to think about.
9/14/11: Here’s a quick quiz for you. At what age do you think your teenager should be allowed to make his or her own decisions, without parental interference, regarding the following issues? Their choice of friends. Their curfew. The music they listen to. How to spend their money. What movies or videos they see. What classes they take in school. Whether to attend church or not. Whom they date. Getting their homework done. How their bedroom is decorated. Read the rest of the article here.
8/31/11: And as school is starting for everyone again, here are some suggestions from other parents on managing your kids' media (cell phone, computer, TV).
8/23/11: As school starts as early as next week for some, here are seven tips for your family on having a successful school year.
8/17/11: Don't look now, but kids who hang out on Facebook do worse in school! Obviously, that isn't something we should be surprised at, but what is more important than making Facebook the enemy is being intentional about our relationships and time spent with our kids. Doug Fields, a famous youth pastor whose kids have grown up, suggests being intentional might have goals like this: Each day, show direct attention to your kids and also display your love to them. Each week, spend one on one time with each of your kids. Each month, have or do something special for or with them that will be a memory-maker. Each year, go on a family vacation and take lots of pictures and videos.
7/26/11: If you didn't know, your kids actually want you to set boundaries for them, so here are some suggestions on how to set up boundaries and a belief system for your home.
7/19/11: Don't forget, although your kids may not be getting up as early as they do during the school year, they should still eat a healthy breakfast, and get into that good habit. And since soda drinking is still too high, and exercise is way too low, try to find ways to get your kids some exercise. Telling them to just go outside and play may not work that well, if they haven't done it for the first 10+ years of their life. But try to think of ways to keep them active and not just staring at the screen all the time. Obvious ideas are things like mowing the lawn, but even going to the mall involves more walking than siting on a couch. Even going to Six Flags or a water park can be a lot of exercise and moving around, and a lot of fun, too! Fun family trips going out are also a great idea (beach, museum, park, etc.).
7/13/11: Is Facebook killing your family? Maybe not... maybe it just "reveals and amplifies what’s already there." This summer as they are out of school, try to have some good quality time with each of your kids and as a family. Spend time with them, talk to them about what they are doing every day (did you know some teen books are basically X-rated? and many kids are continuing to play video games intended for adults), and discuss what kinds of things you can do together.
7/6/11: Do your kids get upset at you (or even scream) when you discipline them? That's OK, watch this 2 minute video on why.
6/29/11: Many times we hear about Dad's who "play catch" with their kids. But I think part of us know that good fathering is not really defined by "playing catch" but by having intentional relationships with them. In fact, some say the new "playing catch" is actually now "playing video games" with your kids. Whatever it is, again what is important is that you as a father are there for your kids, spending time with them, teaching them, and having a healthy relationship with them. Your impact on them is huge, and actually even continues after they've moved out of the house!
6/22/11: Please read this article, on how to make your kids HATE church.
6/14/11: Also, if you have a little more time, read this article on a Father's Critical Role.
6/8/11: And for you dads out there, in honor of the upcoming Father's Day, here are six tips on becoming a better dad. Please take just a couple minutes to read and think about it.
6/2/11: As we enter the summer months, note that this is the most dangerous time for teenager drivers. And here's also an interesting article on how technology is influencing families (from the Barna Group).
5/25/11: This is addressed more to families in the children's ministry, but it might apply to some of you if you have younger children. Sixeeds.tv, a non-Christian website had an interesting stance against younger users using Facebook, and why you should "quit being a wimp and deactivate those accounts!"
5/18/11: A new study finds that most American kids are media users by their first birthday; by age six, they are going online without supervision; by age 11, half have their own cell phones. In light of that, here are some questions to consider: As a parent, what principles and guidelines do I have for my kids in the time and energy spent in their usage of media? How will I deal with the often unbiblical advertisements, images, and priorities communicated through secular media? In a time where we're all supposed to be more connected, why do more and more teenagers feel lonely and struggle with depression? Are my kids addicted or without self-control in regards to certain media experiences? What do my children learn about how to use media from my own personal example?
5/12/11: And speaking of teaching your kids, did you know that 82 percent of teens report seeing their parents drive carelessly on the road? As parents, it’s important to be aware of how you drive and what potentially bad habits you may be doing while your teens are watching.
4/27/11: Did you know that 70% of colleges say that Facebook profiles of candidates are used in the application process? And here's an interesting article for parents on ways to turn technology from an enemy to a friend.
4/12/11: Feel like your kids are always lusting after the latest Apple product? A recent survey shows that most teenagers do. Also, while you might not have heard about Rebecca Black over this past month, it's likely that your daughter or son probably has. This is a teen culture topic that could be interesting or fun to discuss with your teen. Try: "What do you think of Rebecca Black?", "What do you think about her song, 'Friday'?", or "What do you think about how people have responded to her song?"
3/30/11: Two weeks ago we talked about kids being "too sexy, too soon" from the commonsensemedia.org website. Just a couple days later, the WSJ had an article on "Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That?" Even though it might not be talking about you (especially if you immigrated more recently), because of those reasons, our daughters are around other students who come from those backgrounds and are thus in the temptation to act and dress like them. This past week, Abercrombie & Fitch, one of the most popular teenage and pre-teen stores, came out with a push-up bikini for 7 year old girls. Because of many horrified parents standing up against it, including a discussion on the Today show worth watching, A&F have now changed the name of the product to a "push-up triangle". Other articles about it can be found by doing a simple news search, but my point here is that we need to be aware of the kind of marketing and messages sent by retailers and advertisers to our kids.
3/23/11: Please no energy drinks, though, no matter what the trend! Other trends to watch: Seventeen magazine goes upscale, and online shopping is like entertainment to teen girls.
3/16/11: Again from the secular website Common Sense Media, comes an article well worth thinking about, especially if you have daughters. In our society where sexuality has been twisted from something good and beautiful as God created it, into something warped, twisted, and dirty, girls especially are caught indoctrinated into a culture that teaches them the wrong thing about how they ought to look. I find this article challenging to our own daily acceptance that what we see on TV, on the computer, in magazines and newspapers, or on signs or in the mall is "normal". It definitely is not and we need to challenge that assumption, and teach our children otherwise. At least read the "tips for parents" part.
2/16/11: Also in light of all the snow we've had this winter, here an interesting article about teenagers and shoveling snow.
2/2/11: There's a very popular store among teenagers (mostly girls) these days called Forever 21. Your kids may actually shop their quite frequently. Interestingly, last week Business Week magazine had a long article on its success and controversy. I find the article interesting not just from a business perspective, but because Forever 21 was started in 1984 by Korean American immigrants. As one commentator says, "it's the story of the American Dream: an immigrant family's faith, incredibly focused business savvy and extraordinary success. On the other hand, you could also see it as a story of exploitation, copyright infringement and profit-by-any-means-necessary--in a way, also the American Dream."
1/26/11: Here is an interesting article on an experiment that a mom did: she unplugged her teenagers for six months!
1/19/11: As the year of the Tiger ends, the big news of this past week in the Asian American community is of course Amy Chua's "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" article on the Wall Street Journal. Probably most of you have already heard about it, read it, and discussed it a bit. Notice that there's a video tab that accompanies that article at the WSJ page. In addition, there are various follow ups, such as a CNN video interview, Chua's follow up answers to readers, Chua's own daughter's response, and many other commentaries (NPR, MSNBC Today, and others you can search for on your own). I have heard much discussion from immigrants, American born Chinese, non-Asian Americans, both Christian and non-Christian. Much more has been said and continues to be said than could be summarized here, but I think the most important question for us as parents of youth at CGCM is to ask, "what is our picture of success?" In other words, while many are discussing how do we raise "successful children", by using western, eastern, or even Christian principles, the real question (as suggested by Elder George) is actually, what are the goals of "successful parenting"? Because if they are academic excellence, relentless work and discipline, and a secure financial future then we approach this whole discussion quite differently than if our goals are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, a Christ-like heart and character, and a life of sacrifice to advance of the Kingdom of God. Your goals of parenting will guide your values of how to parent.

12/14/10: There is a movie that came out this fall called Race to Nowhere. It deals with the pressures that American teenagers deal with in school and academics. I have not seen it, but there is an incredible amount of buzz among Asian-Americans (in other words, your kids when they're grown up), and the overall sentiment is one of, "Asian parents need to see this!" So of course it has peeked my interest. At the website you can find out more about the movie, and there some upcoming screenings in January in Concord, Medford, Newton, and Stow. Again, I do not know much about the movie so I cannot quite recommend it, but just in case it's something you might want to check out...
11/16/10: "Asian parents love their children. Really, they do. It’s just that their way of expressing their love to them is to point out their faults." That is the opening line to a thoughtful blog entry I read this week. Read the rest of it here, not just because it talks about Asian parents and their children, but because he goes on to talk about Asian-Americans (your kids) view God and the power of (your) affirmation on them. An interesting perspective to consider.
11/2/10: In the past two years, it's been amazing how texting has grown and changed among American youth, and even in our youth group. If you are not familiar with it, here is a helpful resource that gives some basic information on it. Every parent of a teenager should be aware of this, whether your child texts or not.
9/22/10: Here's a potential tool for parents (especially of younger children) to identify possible leadership potential. It's called a "Social Influence Survey" and it can help point out qualities that often appear in leaders. There are many characteristics that I generally look for in youth that show a potential for leadership, but not all of them are the obvious ones. For example, it's typical that good leaders are usually listened to and respected by their peers. But among youth, it's not uncommon for potential leaders to be opinionated, restless, disruptive, non-compliant, or even a troublemaker. Those qualities which are perceived as negatives in the teenage years can turn into strengths as they mature into adulthood. If you believe that your youth is a potential leader and might be willing to take leadership roles in the youth group, let me know!
9/8/10: As we know, high school grades are sent to colleges as part of the application procedure. But unless your middle school student is at a private school which might send those grades along with it, grades in middle school are not on your students records. This gives parents of middle school students a unique opportunity to actually begin to let their students learn about self-discipline and time management. After the elementary years where parents tell their kids to do everything, and before the complete freedom of college and important grades time of high school, lie the 2 or 3 years where middle school students can learn the consequences of their actions. Don't be afraid to begin to let middle school students manage (with some guidance) their time and energy to do their homework and chores on their own. To some extent, letting them stumble a little because of irresponsibility, laziness, or poor time management is much safer to do in the middle school years than in high school, college, or while working.
8/25/10: Finally, a word on TRUST. It seems that in the high school years there eventually comes an argument between parents and youth that ends with the teenager saying something like "Don't you trust me?!" or "Why can't you trust me?" It might be related to what kind of friends they are hanging out with, borrowing the car or having certain items or privileges, curfew times, or many other things. The teenager is angry that the parents don't trust him or her, and the parents are upset that they are forced to either let their kid have their way, or else admit that they do not trust him or her. But trust is not an all or nothing thing. You might trust your youth in some areas of life, but not in others. In fact, it's pretty normal for every individual to have certain strengths and weaknesses, and some areas where they are more responsible than others. At these times, it's important to affirm to your kids that you love them, and that you may trust them in many different areas of their lives, but you have some concerns (or worries) about this particular issue. So it's not that you "don't trust them (at all)", but that you may have problems trusting them in this one or few issues.
8/17/10: So the latest statistic among evangelical Christians today is that only one of four teenagers participate in youth groups. Thankfully, our Friday attendance is better than that (probably closer to one in three), but we would still like to see more involvement and participation! It is typically considered in American youth ministry that attendance to the youth program (not the Sunday morning service) is the benchmark for youth that are seriously engaged with their faith. I would encourage all parents to consider bringing their teens to church on Friday nights for fellowship, Bible study, and small groups, as it will help them grow deeper in their spiritual walk.
8/4/10: In other news, I'm sure many of you have heard a month ago that Massachusetts was banning texting for teeangers under 18. But we know that legislation can only do so much, and that the real influence on youth lies right in their home from their parents. As studies this week show that most teenagers are still driving with distractions, I implore you to consider that you set the example for your kids. Using a GPS while moving, checking your smartphone (even at a stop light), or even talking on the phone might seem harmless to you, but for others, especially those who are just learning how to drive, it can be quite hazardous. Your kids are most likely to act with the same kind of responsibility as their parents. In my experience with suburban American born Chinese youth, it isn't unusual for 50% of students to get into accidents between getting their license and going to college (a 1-2 year time period)!
7/27/10: Here is an interesting article on "What is 'Success' in Parenting Teens?" It may be long, but it might be worth reading and considering its perspectives!
7/13/10: I happened to read this interesting article last Friday morning on the same topic that we presented on in the evening, for parents of high school students preparing to go to college.
6/23/10: As we celebrated Father's Day this past weekend (and as we were also reminded by our president), let it be a reminder to all of us fathers to stay involved and active in our children's lives. Both with quality and quantity time, both as a whole family and with each individual child. Despite all the demands that work and vocations place on us, we know that our most important commitments are to model spiritual growth and maturity, love, cherish, value, and support our wives, and invest time with our children.
6/14/10: And this week, let me highlight the usage of locational apps and in youth culture. For those of you who don't know, almost all of these digital devices can pinpoint the location of a user based on GPS services (GPS units, cell phones, etc.), triangulation of cell phone towers (ANY cell phone), and even IP addresses (through the internet service providers from a wifi connection). In other words, your youth's physical location can be tracked through the usage of not just electronics with GPS units, but through their cell phones and even iPod touch's that connect through wifi. But regarding location apps in particular, here is a short (four minute) video that talks about safety in using them. I would note that this is not currently a concern for many parents of youth in our group, but a trend that all parents should be aware of for the future, since its popularity could increase quite quickly (like texting, silly bandz, Facebook, and other past trends).
6/9/10: As texting continues to grow at a tremendous rate (now clearly overpowering email and even Facebook messaging among teenagers), it's important to set guidelines for your youth on the usage of and access of their phone. This might mean only having some no-phone times, like family meal times or activities, or after a certain time at night. Speaking of sleeping at night, even though many studies insist that teenagers still need 8-9 hours of sleep a night to operation most efficiently, the average teenager (including probably yours) gets a bit less. Lack of sleep among teenagers has even been tied to higher chance of depression.
6/1/10: Generation Me, By Lisa Belkin. As my colleague Judith Warner writes in an essay in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, demographers and pundits have given this latest generation many names — “Generation Y — also known as the millennials, echo boomers or, less flatteringly, Generation Me.” If I could add one to this list, it would be the “T-Ball generation.” It’s telling that kids (many of them now young adults), born between 1982 and 2002, started out by swinging at an unmoving ball held in front of them at a hittable height and were given as many swings as they needed. Is this a problem? It certainly looks like one. This generation has “been depicted … by employers, professors and earnestly concerned mental-health experts as entitled whiners who have been spoiled by parents who overstoked their self-esteem, teachers who granted undeserved A’s and sports coaches who bestowed trophies on any player who showed up.” And yet, Warner argues, all these years spent building their self-esteem might have been just the inoculation they needed for the times they are inheriting. Jobs are tough to find. Mom and Dad are the only landlords they can afford. But data shows that they are still confident and finicky — certain they will find fulfilling work on their own terms. So are they hardy or delusional? Warner makes a persuasive case for the former. What do you think?
5/26/10: Did you know that some kids want to spend more time with their parents? But what may surprise you is that even if they don't show or seem that they want to, teenagers sometimes actually do appreciate more time with you, both quality and quantity. Spend some extra time with your kids this week!
4/5/10: In the same way that your retirement or college fund grows with small, consistent, and regular contributions, or how a blizzard is made up of millions of individual snowflakes, your youth will grow spiritually by regular attendance at church, on Fridays and Sundays!
3/31/10: Common Sense Media is a non-religious organization that tries to give trustworthy, informative information to parents on media and technology. They exist because "children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school". You can browse their website for many great reviews, but recognize that they are NOT a Christian organization. But if you don't have time or don't want to do that, here are a couple suggested links based on what some of you have expressed concern about and what I know about our youth: on the privacy settings on Facebook and on responsible text messaging tips.
3/18/10: Meanwhile, this past week Facebook finally beat Google as the most popular site visited. And if you have a teenage daughter, see this article about shopping, peers, and fitting in.
3/3/10: I read two interesting articles this week, for those of you who might be interested. One talked about some of the emerging trends among tweens, the youngsters who are no longer little kids but not yet full blown teenagers. The other investigated the religious/secular attributes of young adults in this generation, noting how things are changing and may continue to change. Both articles are relevant for youth ministry as we consider the youth that are growing up into teenagers, and what kind of environment and direction these youth may be headed among their peers.
1/12/10: Every parent of a teenager today should know what Facebook is. And even if you have an elementary child or tween, you should know that more and more of them are signing up for Facebook before the minimum age of 13, even though the most growing demographic is college students and young adults. Every parent of a child born in the 90's should ask themselves, what does this mean for my youth and our family? Since it is the new place where teenagers "hang out", especially during the school days and evenings, what does it mean to your student in regards to their academic and social life? I would suggest that Facebook is a part of many teenager's lives today, but the question is, how much should it be part of their lives, especially as it relates to how their closest friends use it?

12/20/09: It's hard to find a good daily devotional for teenagers these days. There are many books out there, which can be hit or miss with your youth, and it's best to bring them along to a Christian bookstore to check them out. Here's another one that has been relatively popular among the other Chinese churches in the Boston area: www.ourjourneywitw.com. Our Journey by Walk in the Word has gone through many changes in it's name, demographics, philosophy, and style. But in the end, it still continues to provide a consistent, Bible based, relevant, and daily opportunity for people to reflect on God's Word. A year's subscription is available for a donation (I believe of any size), so consider signing up for 2010 to try it out, and to encourage your teenager to spend time in the Bible each day!
12/14/09: Do you have difficulty keeping up with the latest technology and related internet and computer advances? There's a website for you, called the "No Parent Left Behind Cafe". If you don't have much time to browse through the site, scroll down on the right hand column and see the starred "Popular" articles. With limited time, maybe just pick a few of those to start with!
11/11/09: Did you know that "stressed" backwards is "desserts?" Your teenager is most likely stressed, and maybe even more than you are! In there it also refers to an article from the American Psychological Association on how to talk to your children about stress (opens PDF file).
11/4/09: Also, here is a great clip entitled "Hold that thought, God. Need to check my email" that would be a good follow-up. Watch it with your youth!
10/27/09: Finally, though many of our youth may not be considered high risk for suicide, I don't ever think it hurts to at least think about the topic and be reminded about it. See this link for some warning signs and tips. Even if you think that your youth is not likely to struggle with suicide, please take one minute to at least skim through that article. Did you know that Asian-American women ages 15-24 have the highest suicide rate of women in any race or ethnic group in that age group?
10/20/09: Halloween is coming, and I am sure many of you have stances and/or traditions based on your beliefs on how Christians should handle the holiday. Here is a good place to read some articles and get information about Halloween.
10/13/09: If your youth is in need of a Bible, or a new Bible, I would recommend the New Living Translation. The NLT uses the most recent archaeological findings and scholarly research, while translating the holy texts in a comfortable, easy to read, 21st century English. It is the translation that we use in the youth service each Sunday. Here are some particular suggestions in hardcover, softcover, and compact size. You may order it online from CBD or Amazon, or contact me and I can arrange the purchase as well.
10/6/09: Texting itself may not be a bad thing, but you should be aware of the current trends and changes in texting practices, and its impact on your teenager. It is highly recommended to have certain guidelines, like no texting after a certain hour (bedtime?) or no texting during a family dinner! Have the phone be put away, or else, taken away...
9/22/09: Low self-esteem and even depression can be related to self image issues such as acne and being fatter or thinner. Our goal as parents is to help them maintain healthy lifestyles, praise and encourage them for the positive things in their lives, and help them find their worth and identity as a child of God.
9/15/09: Are You Raising a Socially Illiterate Child? An interesting thought and some practical suggestions on how to encourage your teenager in a better direction.
9/8/09: A reminder to always make sure that your teen is buckled in. A good habit when they are with you will be more likely to translate into good practices when you are no longer around. Almost half of 16- and 17-year-old drivers killed in crashes - roughly 2,500 teens - in 2007 were unbelted.
9/2/09: Many of you are familiar with the term "sexting", but if you are not, there are plenty of articles and opinion pieces that explain and teach on how to deal with it. You should note that not EVERY youth is involved with this, but at the same time, there are many that are. It's something that some parents need to be very concerned about, but all parents should at least be aware of. Of course most of what we read these days on sexting or posting revealing, seductive, or inappropriate pictures on Facebook deal with how to handle and minimize the situation. As important and practical as that is, I think as parents we also have to ask the question of why youth do this. Does it have to do with self image? Is it related to the friends and influence around them? What can parents do to help youth navigate through these times? Something for us to consider, talk to our spouse with, and pray about...
8/26/09: You may not have heard of Common Sense Media. It is not a Christian organization but they take a good look at today's media and consider the implications of what we take in, reviewing and rating things for families. Their latest survey indicates that parents are unaware of how teens use their social media like facebook and texting. As they're on social networks, we think they're doing one thing, but they're really doing something else. Or even just in general internet usage, you might be shocked at a few of the top ten online searches! Some things we can do: 1) Keep communication lines as open as possible with teenagers. Difficult to do when they are resistant, but try to talk to them about their lives and the things they are interested in, without judging them. 2) Keep computers in public areas. Basically, anywhere is better than a bedroom, and place screen facing in towards rooms and doors. You don't need to constantly be watching what they are doing, but the openness encourages good behavior and habits. 3) Decide on limits to usage of computers and texting. Sure, they need to sometimes ask people about homework, but they need to be encouraged to learn how to balance social and fun activities with fulfilling responsibilities. Each youth, depending on their personality, experience, and age will be different in how we implement these kinds of guidelines.
8/5/09: Hey, parents, it's time for that great summer ritual: Nagging your kids to do their homework before school starts.
7/29/09: Summer is half way through! Have a lump on the sofa this summer? How to get your teen out, doing things. This past Sunday we went over all of those various random practical life skills topics. Don't remember what they were supposed to be? Ask your youth--I'm sure they learned something! Take the next month (when there is no lunch service) to eat lunch as a family. Whether it's going out, BBQ, or a peanut butter and jelly picnic, there's nothing like family time together.
7/19/09: Some parents have asked before about what Bibles to get for their youth. Given where the youth group is as a whole, I currently use the NLT translation. It is based on excellent 21st century scholarship and research, and intended to be highly readable. There are many kinds of NLT Bibles, paperback, hardcover, leather, noted, cross-referenced, "youth" (usually a reference to the aesthetic design), "study", etc. Here are some that I would suggest: http://bit.ly/wdh8H, http://bit.ly/WTvxT, and http://bit.ly/YTVm0. If you want to see a whole category of youth NLT's, you can see http://bit.ly/CASlM. You can also compare these prices with amazon.com or other online retailers. Every youth that comes to church should have and bring a Bible!
7/14/09: During the months of June, July, and August, about an average of 17 teenagers die each day from fatal car crashes. Even if your teen is not driving (or in a car with another teenager driving), it's important to understand that "when parents run red and yellow lights, speed down the highway at 75 miles per hour, weave in and out of traffic, ride the bumper of the car in front of them and exhibit signs of road rage, they are telling teens that rules don't count — and this can be fatal. Be a role model for your teen." See the full article at: http://bit.ly/IAgLd
7/7/09: Here's an interesting article about helping your teenagers through websites like MySpace and Facebook: http://bit.ly/CB41b. It talks about how to interact and guide your youth with the internet and social networking sites.
6/28/09: Here's an article entitled "Parents should guide teens through social networking, not take hands-off approach, speaker says" at: http://bit.ly/CB41b
5/18/09: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/more-teens-like-their-parents/
4/20/09: One reference that was of great help for me as I prepared for these two talks was a book called "Following Jesus Without Dishonoring Your Parents". Written by a group of famous Christian Asian-Americans, it helps youth (targeted mostly to college students) understand the cultural differences and how to work through their faith while being between these two worlds. It was a ground breaking book when it came out about ten years ago, and an extremely helpful read. I am not sure how a middle school student might read it, but it would be well worth considering to buy for a high school student. Can be purchased from Amazon.

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timothy lo,
Jun 19, 2013, 11:41 AM
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timothy lo,
Jun 19, 2013, 11:41 AM