Helping Parents Understand Their Teenagers

This past weekend, I was speaking to several hundred parents at a seminar in the San Francisco Bay Area. I asked them, “How many of you received good, healthy, value-centered sex education from your parents?” A total of three people raised their hands. I then went on to tell them something that youth workers already know, “The more positive, value-centered sex education kids receive from their parents the less promiscuous they will be.” I went on to talk with these parents about the private life of the American teenager, and most of my material came from my experience in youth ministry.

As a youth worker and a parent, it is very safe to say that parents need help understanding their kids. Youth workers can see ministry like crazy by doing just that for the parents of kids in their church. Recently, Doug Fields gave a three-week series of parenting advice at Saddleback Church. Combining his years of youth ministry expertise and his own parenting experience, his messages were some of the best I have ever heard. He spoke with authority in part because he was a youth worker. You can have the same type of very important influence on families in your church, and if you don’t feel comfortable preaching, there are other ways to influence parents on a regular basis.

One of the most effective ways to come alongside parents in your church is hosting parenting seminars on a regular basis to assist the parents in understanding their teenagers. A parent seminar at your church (or combined with other churches) gives you the chance to bring great content together for the parents in your church, a time of sharing together, and frankly, an opportunity for you to serve them (and win!) without you usually creating the seminar.

There are basically three ways of bringing the content to them:

  1. You can study a topic yourself and deliver the content.
  2. You or a volunteer can facilitate a video-based parenting seminar or small group experience.
  3. Use an expert in your area on a specific subject. (Bring in the OB/GYN to talk about sexuality and the police to do a seminar on drug use.)
  4. Hire out one of the many people or ministries who put on parenting seminars on a regular basis. (More on those in a moment.)

I have found that even non-Christian parents show an interest in seminars that offer to help them with their relationship with their kids. Always keep in mind this thought: When you reach the family, you reach the world. Below I have listed 12 of my favorite topics for seminars for parents and then some of the resources if you are looking to bring someone in to do a seminar for you. Some of these seminars are more spiritually oriented than others, but I don’t know a parent of teens who doesn’t need some help.

Seminars That Will Keep Them Coming Back

  1. How To Help Your Kids Get a College Scholarship
  2. Drug-Proof Your Kids
  3. How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex and Sexuality
  4. Energizing Your Kid’s Spiritual Life
  5. Building Healthy Morals and Values
  6. Understanding The Youth Culture
  7. Kids and Families in Crisis
  8. Consistent Discipline
  9. Communication With Your Kids
  10. Pre-Marriage or Marriage Seminar
  11. Building a Healthy Self-Image
  12. Teaching Your Children How to Handle Finances

These are all seminars that I have seen work very well. They are practical, needs-oriented, and the good news is you can often find people in your church or area to do seminars on these subjects if you don’t want to pay to bring in the specialists. However, if you do want to bring in some of the best parent seminars, here are some of my personal favorites.

Organizations You Can Hire

Understanding Your Teenager – This is the best parent seminar I have ever experienced. Wayne Rice, cofounder of Youth Specialties, has created a fast-paced “experience” that parents love. The speakers like Wayne and Duffy Robbins are some of the best in the world. The seminar is much more economical then I realized. You can get information at www.understandingyourteenager.com.

Traits of a Healthy Family Seminars – I may be partial because these are HomeWord created seminars, but as one of the speakers, I love the way parents respond to the topics of Building Healthy Morals and Values as well as Energizing Your Families Spiritual Life. HomeWord and Understanding Your Teenager have just combined to provide even more quality parenting seminars. (www.HomeWord.com.)

Life Skills for American Families Seminars  Tim Smith brings some very practical and excellent material for parents. His background is also youth ministry and he has written extensively on the subject of parenting. (www.parentscoach.org)

Strong Families in Stressful Times Seminars – John Trent is one of America’s finest seminar leaders on the family. I love his positive, practical message. (www.Strongfamilies.com)

Parenting Teens for Positive Results Small Group Video – This is a series I created for the church. It is mainly discussion-oriented and in each segment, I speak for about six minutes as well as give a fun drama around the topic. The topics include:

  • Attitude is Everything
  • Self Image Struggles
  • Communicating with Your Kids
  • Navigating Sexuality
  • Developing Media Discernment
  • Helping Teenagers Grow Spiritually

You can order this video with a leaders guide and participant manuals through www.SimplyYouthMinistry.com.

In a previous generation, we didn’t have the outstanding resources to help parents understand their teenagers. Today we can do so much for our parents with the help of other ministries.  

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Jim Burns
Jim Burns new claim to fame is that he was Doug Fields youth pastor. He is the author of The Purity Code, Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality, Accept Nothing Less: God's Best For Your Body, Mind and Heart and a bunch of other books. He is also the President of Homeword and has a daily radio broadcast.