Stop doing these 8 things for your Teen this School Year

The following is a great starter list for raising an adult. Read. Cry. Laugh. Feel judged. But for the love, make necessary changes.

Source: Stop doing these 8 things for your Teen this School Year

Stop doing these 8 things for your Teen this School Year

September 19, 2016 by Amy Carney 388 Comments

Don’t judge me if you happen to see my kids eating packaged Ritz crackers for school lunch.

Don’t judge me if they’re on the sidelines of PE because they forgot their uniform.

Don’t judge me if they didn’t turn in their homework because it’s still sitting home on their desk.


What some may view as a lack of parenting, is what I deem parenting on purpose, as we work to build necessary life skills in our kids.

I stopped making daily breakfasts and packing school lunches long ago.

I don’t feel obligated to deliver forgotten items left behind at home.

School projects and homework are not any part of my existence.

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?

Let’s parent our kids to be capable adults! I love this Ann Landers quote!

Walk away from doing these 8 things for your teen this school year

1. Waking them up in the morning

If you are still waking little Johnny up in the mornings, it’s time to let an alarm clock do it’s job. My foursome have been expected to get themselves up on early school mornings since they started middle school. There are days one will come racing out with only a few minutes to spare before they have to be out the door. The snooze button no longer feels luxurious when it’s caused you to miss breakfast.

I heard a Mom actually voice out loud that her teen sons were just so cute still, that she loved going in and waking them up every morning. Please stop. I find my sons just as adorable as you do, but our goal is to raise well functioning adults here.

2. Making their breakfast and packing their lunch

My morning alarm is the sound of the kids clanging cereal bowls. My job is to make sure there is food in the house so that they can eat breakfast and pack a lunch.

One friend asked, yeah but how do you know what they’re bringing for school lunch? I don’t. I know what food I have in my pantry and it’s on them to pack up what they feel is a good lunch. It will only be a few short years and I will have no idea what they are eating for any of their meals away at college. Free yourself away from the PB and J station now.

3. Filling out their paperwork

Have kids fill out and sign all school paperwork and put on clipboard before you sign

I have a lot of kids, which equates to a lot of beginning of the school year paperwork. I used to dread this stack, until the kids became of age to fill all of it out themselves. Our teens are expected to fill out all of their own paperwork, to the best of their ability. They put the papers to be signed on a clipboard and leave it for me on the kitchen island. I sign them and put them back on their desks.

Hold your teens accountable. They will need to fill out job and college applications soon and they need to know how to do that without your intervention.

4. Delivering their forgotten items

Monday morning we pulled out of the driveway and screeched around the corner of the house when daughter dear realized she forgot her phone. “We have to go back, Mom!” Another exclaimed that he forgot his freshly washed PE uniform folded in the laundry room. I braked in hesitation as I contemplated turning around. Nope. Off we go, as the vision surfaced of both of them playing around on their phones before it was time to leave.

Parents don’t miss opportunities to provide natural consequences for your teens. Forget something? Feel the pain of that. Kids also get to see, that you can make it through the day without a mistake consuming you.

We also have a rule that Mom and Dad are not to get pleading texts from school asking for forgotten items. It still happens, but we have the right to just shoot back “that’s a bummer.”

text message

5. Making their failure to plan your emergency

School projects do not get assigned the night before they are due. Therefore, I do not run out and pick up materials at the last minute to get a project finished. I do always keep poster boards and general materials on hand for the procrastinating child. But, other needed items, you may have to wait for. Do not race to Michaels for your kid who hasn’t taken time to plan.

This is a good topic to talk about in weekly family meetings. Does anyone have projects coming up that they’re going to need supplies for so that I can pick them up at my convenience this week?

6. Doing all of their laundry

laundry time

“What? YOU didn’t get my shorts washed? This response always backfires on the kid who may lose their mind thinking that I’m the only one who can do laundry around here. Every once in awhile a child needs a healthy reminder that I do not work for them. The minute they assume that this is my main role in life, is the minute that I gladly hand over the laundry task to them.

Most days I do the washing and the kids fold and put their clothes away, but they are capable of tackling the entire process when need be.

7. Emailing and calling their teachers and coaches

If our child has a problem with a teacher or coach, he is going to have to take it to the one in charge. There is no way that we, as parents, are going to question a coach or email a teacher about something that should be between the authority figure and our child.

Don’t be that over involved parent. Teach your child that if something is important enough to him, then he needs to learn how to handle the issue himself or at least ask you to help them.

8. Meddling in their academics

National Junior Honor Society middle school induction ceremony Cocopah Middle School

Put the pencil down parents. Most of the time, I honestly couldn’t tell you what my kids are doing for school work. We talk about projects and papers over dinner, but we’ve always had the expectation for our kids to own their work and grades. At times, they’ve earned Principals Lists, Honor Rolls and National Junior Honor Society honors on their own accord. At other times, they’ve missed the mark.

These apps and websites, where parents can go in and see every detail of children’s school grades and homework, are not helping our overparenting epidemic.

Every blue moon I will ask the kids to pull up their student account and show me their grades, because I want them to know I do care. I did notice our daughter slacking off at the end of last year and my acknowledgement helped her catch up, but I’m not taking it on as one of my regular responsibilities and you shouldn’t be either.

What is your parenting goal?

Is it to raise competent and capable adults?

If so, then lets work on backing off in areas where our teens can stand on their own two feet. I know they’re our babies and it feels good to hover over them once in awhile, but in all seriousness, it’s up to us to raise them to be capable people.

I want to feel confident when I launch my kids into the real world that they are going to be just fine because I stepped back and let them navigate failure and real life stuff on their own.

So please don’t judge me if my kids scramble around, shoving pre-packaged items into that brown paper lunch bag, before racing to catch the bus.

It’s all on purpose my friends.

A prayer for the year


I’ve had verses of the year before–theme verses, if you will. And the intention is good. I have that verse in mind for a few weeks. But it isn’t long before I’ve moved on in the busyness of life and ministry–both at church and school–that I lose sight of the verse.

I had never really thought of a prayer for the year. There was the whole Prayer of Jabez craze several years ago, which there’s nothing wrong with Jabez’s prayer . God did answer it after all. But there are other prayers I’m more drawn to.

There are, of course, Jesus’ prayers. One could spend a lifetime devoted to His prayer in John 17. Maybe it’s just because I’ve lived in the ministry world for some time, but Paul’s prayers for the various churches have pulled me in for as long as I can remember.

And his prayer for the Ephesians has struck me in a particular manner early in this new year.

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength. Ephesians 1:17-19

This is my prayer for 2017:

  • a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God
  • that the perception of my mind (eyes of my heart) would be enlightened
  • to know the hope of His calling
  • to know the glorious riches of His inheritance in the saints (God’s inheritance is the body of Christ!)
  • to know the immeasurable greatness of God’s power to those who believe
  • all of this according to the working of His vast strength

I’m coming back to this as much as I can. I’m praying over it, meditating on it–chewing and gnawing as a dog with its favorite bone.

Do you have a prayer for the year? I look forward to the end of 2017, Lord willing, and reminiscing over how God has been faithful in answering this prayer.

Is your life absurd?


The word gets thrown around quite a bit. I probably use it in reference to my kids more than anything. Because, well, they’re absurd. They are foolish, illogical, and unreasonable. And I love the mess out of them.

But to use absurd appropriately, it most literally means “out of tune,” stemming from the Latin root surdus, which means deaf or dull. It’s that root I want to linger on for a moment.

Henri Nouwen made the spiritual connection for us all, writing that absurd living–illogical, out of tune living–is living deaf to the still small voice in which God makes His presence known.

[If you’re a Christian blogger, you’re require to include”still small voice” in at least one post per year.] QUOTA MET

This deaf or absurd living, Nouwen continues, is evinced in 

“being filled yet unfulfilled, being busy yet bored, being involved yet lonely, these are symptoms of the absurd life.” (read more in The Dance of Life

If there’s a more apt description of American’s lives I don’t know what it is. And what an indictment that it’s as much  descriptor of life in the church as well. Which leads me to believe that the bulk of evangelicals don’t spend much time listening for the still small voice. One more podcast. Another conference. Oh a livestream? There are endless diversions to make certain we remain deaf. 

Perhaps, like Elijah, God will drive us into a cave for some reason and then we will pay attention to what matters most. 

What space do you create to listen? When are your antenna attuned to the still small voice? 

Haven’t we lived absurd lives for long enough? 

My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2016

According to the number of views, even if it was my dad viewing the same posts multiple times (thanks, pops), here are the top 5 most viewed blog posts from 2016.

  1. REPOST from Dec 2011: Why We Don’t Wait to Share the Good News of a New Baby
  2. Happy Birthday to My Beloved
  3. “Get to the Chopper!” -Helicopter Parent
  4. Weary Mama, Jesus has been there

And rounding out the top 5. Real Life is (often) a Better Education than Seminary

Thanks to everyone who stops by and takes the time to read and the chosen few who comment, like, and/or share.

I most verily wish you a happy 2017 and would ask you what Ray Ortlund asked his Nashville church January 1, 2017–

What will you do in 2017 that outlasts 2017?

You can get smart alecky in answering. But seriously, what will you do that will outlast this year and any subsequent ones?

Grace and peace

The whole “if it’s healthy it grows” thing….


A recently established church growth consulting business is fired up about getting you fired up to get your people fired up about growing your church.

One of the recurring phrases on the website is healthy things grow or healthy organisms grow. To this guy’s credit he at least takes the next step in qualifying that tagline by talking about “healthy growth.” 

Upon reading this, I was transported back to my days on staff at megachurches. Full disclosure: I have nothing against megachurches. Love them…when they’re healthy from the top down. Same is true for church at any size. 

I recall sitting in multiple staff meetings and hearing the mantra, “Healthy things grow. Healthy things grow. Healthy things grow.” Now you say it…


this tree grew

Also, cancer grows–is it healthy?

(That borders on making too little of those suffering under the oppressive hand of cancer.)

Righteous indignation. That’s what I felt in those moments. I say righteous so as to distract from the fact that, more often than not, I harbored a sinful spirit towards those espousing this half-truth.

Two questions I have that come to mind.

1. What constitutes healthy?

2. Should we assume that if a church grows it’s because of health?

When healthy is used to describe a church that should grow are we talking she barely passed her physical or she is an Olympic hopeful?

There are certainly various levels of healthy when speaking of the human body, so what about the church body? What markers are we mapping to determine the condition of the church?

I would submit that in a majority of cases, the primary diagnostic factor is whether the church is and has been growing. A simple syllogism for this:

Premise 1: If a church grows, then that church is healthy

Premise 2Church X has grown

Conclusion: Church X is healthy. (Classical education rules!)

This isn’t to disregard other factors such as community outreach, missions involvement, care for the poor, etc. Primarily, though, the aforementioned formulation is adopted.

Let’s move on to question 2. Is all church growth healthy? After all, unhealthy things–flesh-eating organisms, rumors, diseases, mold–grow. In similar fashion, unhealthy churches can grow.

For instance:

  • Church staffs can experience significant internal discord while the overall numbers of the church increase.
  • The primary leaders can be unhealthy in any number of ways and the overall church numbers increase.
  • The church body, though more rare, can be unhealthy and numbers increase, at least for a while.
  • A church that teaches false doctrine and embraces heresy can grow.

Did you know that a church that gives out ipads, ipods,  cars, sporting event tickets, guns, houses can grow, too?

Why bother writing this post?

Therapy, perhaps. But also to encourage church staff or others who hear the growth mantra and are either frustrated or unfazed. I’d encourage you to respectfully (privately) press against this prevalent proposition. Do it without talking to other staff or church members first. These are mistakes I made. I let my suspicion breed disrespect. It grew.

I’ll do a follow-up post with a working response to how we can talk about growth, numbers, and health. 

Happy New Year!


An election night psalm

An election night Psalm.
Psalm 146
1 Hallelujah! My soul, praise the LORD. 2 I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save. 4 When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die.
5 Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, 6 the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, 7 executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry. The LORD frees prisoners.
8 The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD raises up those who are oppressed. The LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD protects foreigners and helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The LORD reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations.

Ever feel like you’re serving in a ministry of death?

Death // Spirit

Condemnation // Righteousness 

Fading // Enduring

These are the contrasts employed by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11. For the sake of context, please take it in

“Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to look directly at Moses’ face because of the glory from his face — a fading glory —8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness overflows with even more glory. 10 In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious now by comparison because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was fading away was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious.”

— ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:8-11‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

It’s a weird text, really. Paul is saying that the old laws (e.g., 10 commandments) were a ministry of death and condemnation and, ultimately, are fading. Makes you want to jump into Deuteronomy and read it all right now, doesn’t it?  

But when you compare the old law, now fulfilled in Christ (Matthew 5:17-18), with the law of the Spirit, now you’re talking about something different. It’s the law of life and peace (Romans 8:6). Life and peace or death and condemnation…tough choice. Yet we choose the latter so often.

This got me thinking about just how easy it is, given our various ministries contexts, we to feel, well, dead. Whether that ministry is on a church staff or in a Christian school or at a dentist’s office, unless it is being lived out though the Spirit at all times, it will feel like death, like condemnation, like a fading fad. 

See, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” writes Paul later in 2 Corinthians 3:17. Freedom. Do you feel free–more free!–in your work because of Jesus? Because the Spirit of God dwells in you and leads you? 

If not, something’s off. If I work day in and day out and feel dead or condemned or like the work is petty, then I’m not living life in the Spirit. I’m living by my power, for the approval of others, or something lesser than the Almighty God. I’m certainly not living by the Spirit. 

If it’s really better for everyone that Jesus left us the Holy Spirit and ascended into heaven, then how about showing the world how it’s better? I think the world is calling our bluff, dear church. It’s our move. 

What would a life of freedom lived in and by the Spirit look like? How radically different would it be from the mostly mundane lives of death we’re living now? 

Here’s why you should keep collecting those acorns


You may be doing something right now that seems so small, so insignificant that you struggle with why it’s worth doing in the first place.

But most everything that is large now had similar beginnings. Small. Insignificant.

The Majestic Oak (Savannah, GA) was, about 400 years ago, an acorn. Less than the size of a quarter.

Facebook wasn’t always Facebook (it was an insignificant project called Thefacebook).

Google was supposed to be Googol in the beginning. It averaged about 10K searches a day when Will Smith was ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’. Now it’s processing 40K searches a second (that’s 3.5 BILLION–with a B–per day).

The Church and all the denominations and non-denominations therein, that massive, universal reality that has thrived no matter the challenges faced, was sitting at about 120 people in Acts 1 before it began multiplying.

Big things have small beginnings. Keep doing the small things well. Better often precedes bigger. But regardless of growth, God is honored when we work as unto Him, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Haunted by Eden


100% historically accurate recreation of Eden

To read of Eden is to read of perfection. A world without suspicion. Full trust. How amazing would that be? Expecting the best of everyone with a pure heart. Having pure motives in all endeavors.

Well, tough. It doesn’t exist any more. Not yet anyways. That’s the new creation, which is the old creation 2.0.

But we sense Eden lingering all around. It’s an innate feeling that this thing, that person, this experience should be better.

I’ve written before about being a dreamer. It’s tough being a dreamer while haunted by Eden (a phrase I borrowed from John Eldredge but promise to give back when I’m done).

Because I basically live in a fairy tale world.

In said world, I have the perfect job. I do only the things I’m good at and that energize and excite me and NONE of the other stuff. It’s an amazing world. I also get paid very well in that world.

But we live east of Eden. Beyond perfect but with the taste left in our mouths.

So to those dreaming of perfection or complaining about imperfections, it’s time to get real. Let’s own who we are and the world in which we live and choose to do the most to make the best of it.

And not just make the best of it, but to make it better. Do something better. Anything. Anyone is welcome to join me in the endeavor to become more of a doer. But some of you doers may need to sit and dream a bit. You do you.

Out of the chopper and onto the lawnmower–more on parenting

Without realizing it, I’ve gotten myself into a parenting mini-series.

The last two blogs have been about helicopter parenting and motivations for disciplining, respectively.

Today’s post is a companion to the helicopter post. If you are tempted to stop reading, skip to the bottom and read the article I’ve reposted. Then come back and finish my little ditty.

To review, helicopter parenting is when one or both parents hover over their child, keeping a close watch on any danger that may come his way, always ready to land and rescue the kiddo from danger (or any difficulty whatsoever).

An acquaintance of mine shared a new term she picked up this summer–Lawnmower parents. As she explained the term it became quite clear that there has been an increase in mower purchases over the last decade.

Lawnmower parents don’t mow down their kids. No no.

They instead mow down any 700-590742obstacles in the way of their kid’s success. (Clear the path of weeds, stumps, or anything else that might cause them grief).

Much of what I would have deemed helicopter parenting is more fittingly categorized as lawmowing…lawnmowering?..whatever.

Example: Dad sees that son is not getting playing time dad thinks son should receive. Son complains a lot about this situation at home but never says anything to coach. Dad sets up meeting with coach, or, better yet, surprises coach after practice. Dad expresses frustration. Coach doesn’t seem to care. Dad either (A) pulls son from team and complains loudly on the way out, and/or (B) pulls son from team, complains loudly, and starts own team so that son can always play.

I heard a story recently of a mom who was writing her high school son’s papers for him. She got caught plagiarizing. The son was upset at mom. (You can’t make this stuff up)

Whatever I have to do as the parent to make sure my kid excels with minimal effort, that’s what I’m going to do. They deserve better or more or first or nicer or higher…

Lawnmower parents hold a fundamental position of skepticism towards the other party. In other words, that other kid, teacher, pastor, coach, etc., is out of line and needs my help to see why my child is right or better or smarter.

And what does this produce? Please read the following news story and see for yourself. It’s the destiny of a generation that doesn’t have to struggle or fend for themselves. Sadly,  some parents are too late. But for those of us just getting started, there’s hope for our kids because there is hope for us.


 (the highlighted portions are my emphasis)

A skyrocketing number of students are seeking crisis counseling at East Carolina University, prompting the school to make sure it educates pupils not just on academics but also on how to cope with life’s challenges.

ECU reported a 16 percent increase in student counseling appointments in the past two years. Those involving a crisis were up 52 percent, according to a July report that shocked officials on the Greenville, North Carolina, campus.

“It wasn’t just the numbers, it was the intensity and severity,” said ECU Director of Counseling Valerie Kisler-van Reede. “It felt like something very different was going on — a lack of resiliency and the ability to cope.

As a result, the college has boosted its counseling staff and resources and also introduced a new program — Recognition, Insight and Openness or RIO — to teach students self-talk, journaling, mindfulness and other cognitive-affective stress management techniques. RIO was adapted from a California Polytechnic State University workshop and originated with Central Washington University.

The more quickly students can rebound from setbacks, the more likely they are to be successful, say college officials.

  For years, college students cited depression as the main reason for seeking counseling help, but that has shifted.

“The number one complaint is anxiety — the feeling of being overwhelmed, and panic attacks,” said Kisler-van Reede. “A lot of it is worry about college, but [students] are also worried more generally about managing their lives.”

And it’s not just at ECU.

A 2015 survey from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State revealed that half of all students who visit the counseling services at the nation’s colleges are experiencing anxiety.

Some say this generation of college students is having a difficult time “adulting” — a slang term for behaving like a responsible adult.

But ECU officials say the problem is deeper, about resilience, and it begins long before they arrive at college.

“They say the millennials have failed, but have not experienced [that] failure,” said ECU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy.

“They have received a lot of recognition for participation and all get something for being involved,” she told NBC News. “But they didn’t have to manage the emotions that come with not being successful.

In Hardy’s presentation to the ECU Board of Trustees, she said the higher demand for counseling services was a result of these trends:

  • Students are “significantly” more anxious and stressed. Social media and the “24/7 culture” has contributed to anxiety and bullying.
  • Many students seefailure … as catastrophic.”
  • Decision-making skills are poor and students find it “difficult to cope with the unpleasant or unexpected.
  • This inability to cope increases thoughts of suicide.
  • Substance abuse has “escalated,” especially the use of narcotics “being used as a coping mechanism.”

Some of the stress is developmental, especially in the first year of college, according to counselor Kisler-van Reede.

“[Students] get here and have to learn about living on their own, academics and the social aspect of living with a roommate … when they had their own room at home,” she said.

But college officials say they also see this anxiety overload among so-called “over-achievers.”

“There is a lot of pressure to get it all done correctly and right now,” said Hardy. “Some individuals stress over SATs and good grades in high school, so when they get to college and get a ‘C’ … [i]t can be catastrophic for them.”

Hardy also blames social media that encourages “emoting and talking anonymously.”

“They can say and do what they please because there is not any accountability,” she said. “They can’t manage face-to-face in the real world and can’t resolve conflicts in the residence hall.”

Even a healthy debate in the classroom can be difficult for some, Hardy said. “We talk a lot about civil discourse, because we are seeing that students can’t agree to disagree in a respectful manner.”

In addition to teaching better stress management through the RIO program, ECU will launch with this year’s freshman class an evidence-based longitudinal study, “The Resiliency Project.”

“We are going to look at the data and hope it will inform us on what we need to be doing,” she said.

In the meantime, Hardy says ECU is doing what colleges are supposed to do: give students “some resiliency in their decision-making skills that will help them wherever they go in life.”

Conclusion: Kids aren’t growing up. Parents aren’t raising adults. It’s the classic Peter Pan syndrome. I’m never gonna grow up!

And why should I if mom or dad will bail me out any time I’m not happy or get my feelings hurt.

If this feels spiteful or angry, it’s not. Don’t be so sensitive.

For the time being, get off the mower or land the chopper and throw away the keys.

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