Why I’m Launching pluggedinparenting.com
Have you heard of the Guinea worm disease?
The Guinea worm is one of the largest human parasites. People get infected when they drink or swim in parasite-filled waters and unknowingly ingest the larvae of Guinea worms. In about a year, the worms pierce the intestinal wall, grow to adulthood, and mate. The worms eventually mature to a length of as much as three feet. They make their way through the body to the surface of the skin causing swelling and burning blisters.
Here’s where the problem intensifies: To soothe the burning, an infected person often runs to local water sources and immerses his or her infected limbs into the water for relief. Unfortunately this is exactly what the female (males die off inside the body) Guinea worm wants: access to water. Once in water, she lays lay hundreds of thousands of more eggs. And the cycle continues.
In many ways this horrific process is one that is repeated over and again in the spiritual lives of teens everywhere. In their search for relief from life’s “diseases,” countless teens run to the infected waters of the world: drinking, drugs, cutting, sex, partying, binging, porn, and more. In the moment their choices may appear as soothing and innocent as the local waters appear to those infected by the Guinea worm. But below the surface lies a raging and burning consequence that will never satisfy and will only leave them desperate for more.
I met a teen named Katie at a conference I spoke at. She recently sent me an e-mail. It reads:
“For as long as I can remember I wanted a boyfriend. I finally met a guy in eighth grade who told me I was beautiful. We slept together. I was a Christian and so was he. We dated about a year, but then he broke up with me. I was so crushed I wasn’t sure if I could keep living. I don’t think I had ever felt that kind of hurt before.
But shortly after, I started dating another guy. We began having sex within a month. We broke up too, and that hurt like anything. But then I started dating another guy. Over the next few years I dated a lot of guys, many of whom I slept with. I always think I believed that the next guy would be the one; the next relationship would stick and he’d be around forever… What am I supposed to do? Help.”
I wish I could say that Katie’s was an isolated story. She picked the wrong goal, then in an attempt to heal her hurts, she hastily jumped into other relationships, only to continue the same mistakes again and again. I hear from countless teens just like Katie from across the country. The specifics of their stories are different, but inside all are seeking help from the “diseases” of the world, and many are jumping into infected waters.
As parents who love God, it’s important for us to guide the teens within our sphere of influence to real safety. I’m convinced that Christian teens are desperate to be taught how to stand for what is right. But many aren’t sure how to do so.
This is why I am launching pluggedinparenitng.com. The war is a fight for your teen’s soul, and the consequences can be deadly. But there is hope. Ephesians 6:10 encourages us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” The Bible gives us tools for suiting up in armor, taking up shields of faith, and holding firm the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. We’re going to see how we can join the fight on behalf of the teens in our charge. It’s not to render them helpless, but to bolster and undergird their passages through the teen years.
Are you ready? My prayer for us is that we would be fearless as we begin this fight together.
Every teen is in a battle. Parent—did you know that? I’ll say it again: every teen is in a battle.
A few summers ago I spoke at a Christian camp. After the session one evening, one of the guy counselors asked me if we could talk. Josh, a clean-cut 19-year-old, was heading into his sophomore year at a well-known Christian college. There was a sadness in his eyes that I couldn’t quite trace, until he told me his story. He had a lot of nightmares, he said, and a lot of guilt.
During his senior year, Josh and his girlfriend, Emily, considered themselves fairly typical Christian kids. They were both active in youth group, had pledged to stay abstinent until marriage, and were known in their circles of friends as “good kids.” During Spring Break that year they both went on a missions trip to Haiti.
But on the night of their senior prom everything went crazy. At a pre-prom party, “We pretty much did it all that night,” Josh admitted. “Drinking, drugs… you name it.” Emily overdosed, went into a comma, and never came out of it. A week later, Emily died.
This is an extreme story. But it happened. As I speak to high school age students around the country, I hear stories you wouldn’t believe. Welcome to the world of today’s teen. It’s about the Internet, MP3s, texting, unlimited access to online porn, MTV, oral-sex parties, cutting, and more. It’s a wild world, moving at a pace you and I would have never dreamed of when we were teens. It’s a world where a crush is no longer only considered to be a soft-drink, hooking–up has nothing to do with a fishing lure, spam isn’t something you eat, and farming doesn’t require a tractor. Almost weekly, teens write to me about addictions to drugs and alcohol. At seminars across the country, I meet many students yearly who have contracted sexually transmitted diseases. Countless teens share with me heartbreak stories of hooking up, going all the way, or trying oral sex for the first time. By the time they graduate from high school, most seniors tell me they have consumed alcohol and been offered drugs. Most teens I know say that marijuana is easily accessible. It doesn’t matter if they attend public or Christian schools, students know where drugs are used, kept, and sold. Many tell me they know a friend or classmate who has abused prescription drugs.
Here’s the fact that keeps me awake at night: Josh and Emily could have been anyone’s teen. They are from a generation of teens bombarded by lies, hungry for help, and desperate for truth. Every teen won’t face exactly what Josh and Emily faced, but every teen is facing a daily war. Including yours.
Maybe you’re thinking this blog isn’t for you. Your teen appears to be doing well. It’s true: there are many Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, church-attending teens who desire to live a God-honoring life, daily surrendered to Christ. Your teen may be one of them.
Maybe you’re at the other end of the spectrum. The choices your teen has made so far have left your family at the breaking point. You’re feeling hopeless, ready to throw in the towel.
Wherever your teen is at in his or her journey, this blog is for you. No matter what it looks like on the surface, every teen faces struggles, temptations, issues, fears, and challenges.
Every teen is only one choice away from hurt, addictions, heartbreak, and more.
As was the case with Josh and Emily, one night changed it everything. One night could change it all for your teen as well.
The thing with teenagers is that often we don’t know exactly what they’re thinking or feeling—even when they live under our very own roofs! For the past twenty-one years I’ve been touring the country speaking—and more importantly listening—to teens. Some 350,000 teens check out my website annually, and more than 50,000 read and respond to my blog. Teens tell me things they often don’t share with their parents. That’s why I’ve launched this blogsite —not to break their confidences, but to give you the inside scoop on what I’m hearing so you can help your teen in the battle.
The struggles teens face share a common underpinning: the Devil hates your kid. He’s your teen’s number one enemy. His task is to steal, kill, and destroy, (John 10:10), and he wants to convince your teen that God is no longer real and relevant. Satan wants to lure your teen away from the truth and lead your teen toward destruction. Sure, the path toward destruction is evident in some teens more than others. But no teen is immune to spiritual warfare. As a parent, your call is to roll up your sleeves, jump into the ring on your teen’s side, and be ready to give it all you got.
I want to help you do exactly that! More to come…