Landmine Parenting

Jennie Smith
K-12 Principal

Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart.  The teenage years are riddled with landmines as kids begin to assert independence and to formulate their own thoughts and opinions.  As a parent of three boys – two of whom have graduated from teenagers to men in their twenties – I have walked these waters and navigate them on a daily basis with the teens I am privileged to have in my classroom.  If you asked me to give you one piece of advice it would be this: open the lines of communication early and often.  The students I have been the most effective with are ones I was willing to talk to and listen to no matter what they wanted to say – and showed them great love even when they told me hard things.

Parents of littles, please be advised this begins when they are young.  As parents and educators, we need to be ready to listen and speak into whatever situations our kids want to talk about.  Fostering open communication and a readiness to talk about ANYTHING – and I do mean ANYTHING – lays the foundation for the needed open communication that is necessary for discipling and developing your teens into well-functioning thoughtful adults.  Have I had some unpleasant conversations with my boys?  You bet I have!  I often joke that I am the den mother at a frat house.  But have I avoided conversations and topics and lived to regret it?  With great sadness I have.

Sometimes, I don’t have a pulse on the culture or the language that they are using or understand how to engage them.  I have found some very helpful resources that have changed that for me.

First, I HIGHLY recommend that all parents use the resources at  Here is a little peek from their website: “Our vision is to see all caring adults equipped with the conversation, discipleship, and culture translation skills needed to reach the next generation for Christ.”  And they do an exceptional job of equipping adults with what they need to impact young people.

I highly suggest you subscribe to their free weekly newsletter called The Cultural Translator.  This will arrive in your email inbox every Friday and will discuss current issues coming through in  movies, music, Youtube, social media, and all the things your kids are talking about.  It gives you some Biblical perspectives and some questions to ask your teens to engage them on the topics.  My favorite part is the dictionary – they help an old lady like me understand what those young ones are trying to say in that new fangled vocabulary of theirs.  Don’t wait another day to subscribe and devour that newsletter.

Axis also provides parent guides for all the important and hot topics with which we need to engage our children.  These are downloadable pdfs on all kinds of topics that dive in deep to provide parents, educators, and people who love young men and women Biblical perspectives and talking points.  Check out this list of topics:  drugs, alcohol, phones, bullying, anxiety, racism, manifesting, body positivity, grief, politics, all social media platforms, gender issues, LGBTQ, video games, anime, dating, conspiracy theories, influencers, friendship – and this is just a few.

If you are more of a book person, check out So The Next Generation Will Know by Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace.  It is a quick easy read for parents, educators, and youth workers on how to reach Gen Z without pushing them away.  There are very helpful strategies within the book and talking points provided that will help you shed light on issues with great Biblical truth and in a way that this generation will respond to.  This book is more of a how-to guide.  The authors say “….this is not a ‘what is true’ book; it’s a ‘how to explain what is true book’” (pg. 26).  I very much enjoyed reading this book and have started to implement some of the strategies as I work with young people at the school.  (PS…big secret – you have got to do A LOT of listening and loving before you do the talking! 😉)

I know that if you are reading this, you have a young person (or two or twenty) that you truly love and you desire them to be a faithful follower of Jesus.  None of us can do it alone; resources and help from others give us renewed strength so we don’t become faint of heart.  If you have great resources that have been a help to you in navigating the landmines, please share them in the reply section below!  Start the conversations with the young people in your life today – you will not regret it!

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