Transitioning into Adulthood
About the Guest
All of us eventually transition from the teen years to adulthood. Today, Dennis Rainey hears from various young men and women about what it’s like preparing for college and leaving behind the safety net of home and parents.
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
All of us eventually transition from the teen years to adulthood.
Transitioning into Adulthood
Bob: Not long ago Dennis Rainey had an opportunity to sit down with a group of young men and women and to talk candidly with them about their teenage years. Well, about 100 preteens listened very carefully.
Dennis: What was the biggest change you experienced as you became a teenager?
Andrew: Well, mine was dealing with all the insecurities coming along with junior high and trying to fit in and be cool, and that really was probably the biggest thing. We spent most of our time trying to be cool, and it really was a waste, because there were so many opportunities there to share Christ with your friends than be worried about how you look and how you're acting.
But stats show that most Christians accept Christ in this age group, so the ground is fertile, if you would just not pass up opportunities to share with your friends instead of just worrying about all the things that go along with junior high and trying to fit in.
Bob: Welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thank you for joining us on the Friday edition.
That's sound advice from a young man -- one of two young men on a panel that we hosted a number of years ago. We got together -- two young men and two young ladies in their early 20s, and had them talk to a group of preteens and to offer advice and, I'll tell you, I have thought, since that time, how good it was for those preteens to be able to sit there and hear sound advice from somebody other than their parents. They were probably paying more careful attention to what was being said because it was coming from those older teenagers. I would guess the credibility factor was pretty high don’t you think?
Dennis: I think they were listening. In fact, you remember that evening -- those young people, the preteens, the sixth graders, they kind of moved to the edge of their chairs. You could tell they really wanted to know what these older teens, young men and women, had to say on the subjects of dating, sex, peer pressure, relating to parents, what their best advice was as a young person entered the teenage years.
Bob: Yeah, in fact, we're going to hear their response to that question in just a minute. I know there were some parents in the back of the room that night who were waiting to drive their sixth graders home.
I talked to a few of them later, and they said, "We had some interesting conversations on the way home," and I guess we would encourage churches, youth groups -- and this is a great opportunity that you have at your local church to get some mature young people who are at the end of the teenage years and have them pass along wisdom and godly counsel to the sixth graders. I know that one of the things we've tried to do, as parents, is make sure that godly counsel for our kids is coming from a lot of different directions.
Dennis: Let me just tell you another way that you can do that without using a panel -- Barbara and I and our son, Samuel, and daughter, Rebecca, have written a book called So You're About to be a Teenager, and this book would make a great gift to give a whole class of sixth graders in your church. In fact, we've heard of this occurring, where a Sunday school class will give this either as a beginning gift as they start the sixth grade and begin the school year or as a graduation gift to a young person who is about to move from the elementary education years to junior high.
It's a different ballgame in junior high, and you need other voices alongside your voice. A good book like this, So You're About to be a Teenager, is really something that every parent ought to add to their library for their children, especially if they want their child to go into the adolescent years having already made up their mind in advance what they're going to do before they face drugs, alcohol, sex, peer pressure. These are days that are challenging for us, as parents, and I think we need all the tools we can get.
Bob: Samuel and Rebecca share their own personal insights, their stories, illustrations from their teenage years, and I think that's what captures the attention of the preteen as they go through this book. It's not just Mr. Rainey and Mrs. Rainey telling them about the teenage years, but it's somebody who was there not long ago, and you've been recommending that, along with the book, you slip in some incentive, a little cash on the barrelhead, a little moolah, right?
Dennis: A little bribe, as you called it earlier in the week.
Bob: But they've got to earn it. Don't give them the money until the book has been read …
Dennis: … and they've looked over the Extreme Life Promises at the end of the book.
Bob: There's something you have done with your older children, as they've graduated from high school. You've gathered together a group of men or a group of ladies and had a breakfast with the boy and some older mentors right as they were transitioning to a new phase in life. You could do the same thing with a 12-year-old, couldn't you? Couldn't you have a breakfast, where you get together some older mentors who could talk to him, kind of like this panel did with all of those children?
Dennis: You could. In fact, what I try to do is, I taught the sixth grade Sunday school class, was bring this panel into the class and share with the class their best advice prior to going into the junior high years. Bob, I always found that when these panelists, who were not that far removed from being 10, 11, 12 years of age, when they reflected back on their early teenage years, they did a better job of giving advice than some of us older fogies.
Bob: Had some pretty good insight -- in fact, we asked that question of our panel the night that we gathered with a group of preteens, and we want you to hear what they shared with the kids that night.
Bob: You could give them your best piece of advice about the next five or six years of their life?
Grant: I'd say that, you know, you all are a lot younger than us, but we're really kind of in the same boat. Basically we're ignorant and arrogant concerning most all of life. The problem is we want to think and talk as if we weren't, but to do so is silly and presumptuous.
What you need to do -- the next logical question is what do you do about that ignorance? You basically learn to listen. Proverbs 6:20-23 says, "My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you wake, they will speak to you, for these commands are a lamp; this teaching is a light; and the corrections of discipline are the way to life."
I'm not saying when you're ignorant and arrogant, I’m not saying you're not intelligent, that you should stop developing opinions or stop thinking critically, but to do those things, realizing where you are in life, and taking your thoughts and your opinions and comparing them to those who have experienced life, who do know things and have your best interests at heart; namely, your parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, and whatnot. So that's what I'd say to you -- is to value your parents' words and just learn to listen.
Katy: I would say definitely just to guard your heart. The Bible says guard your heart first the wellspring of life and that just comes in a lot of areas. It comes in the area of movies and peer pressure and guarding heart -- and not, you know, let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth and be careful what comes before your eyes. Just guarding your heart in that way because purity is precious, and you girls are a princess to the Lord. He loves you all so much, and He's crazy about you, and He wants the best for you, and to know that and realize that and to guard your heart is totally what I would say to do.
Andrew: Just learn to listen to the voice of the spirit in the back of your mind and the still, small voice that will tell you not to do something or to do something. A lot of times you can just ignore it and go on about your day, and a lot of little things that could be big in the end are missed out on. Don’t miss opportunities to tell your friends and to influence others about Jesus and take every one that you have in this age group, because life is just too short not to and just encouraging that.
Rebecca: Wow, I don't want to repeat, but I would totally agree with everyone. I would say -- and this is something that I'm learning to do, even now, is just falling in love with the Lord, and I know that sounds -- I don't know -- it may be a little difficult for you guys to really comprehend, but just making Christ your first love and falling in love with Him and just guard your heart and to fill it with His knowledge and His wisdom.
Make good girlfriends, girls and guys have a lot of good, good guy friends, and you know who is good and who is not. You know those that are going to lead you astray, and I would just say have a lot of good same-sex friendships, because those will stay with you through it all. And you'll see, as you grow older, through junior high and on to high school, you'll see those that are taking one path, and you're taking another one, and I would just say just keep doing the right thing and keep going that way, because it will pay off, and you'll not have regrets, and regrets are not good to have.
Bob: Well, that's pretty solid advice from four young teenagers. Do you notice how they went to the Word, and they talked about listening to your parents and guarding your heart and heeding the Voice of the Spirit, paying attention to what your conscience has to say, falling in love with Christ -- I mean -- I sat there pretty impressed with these four young people.
Dennis: And, as a dad, well, I'm reflecting back on watching Rebecca make her statement and think about the process of a young lady growing her faith -- the ups and downs, the emotional moments …
Bob: … she was the last one who spoke on the panel, right?
Dennis: That's right, that was Rebecca talking about loving Jesus Christ, and that's what you're wanting your children to catch, and you're wanting them to embrace. That’s not done at a point in time. It's done repeatedly over and over and over again, pointing your children to the Scripture, back to the Savior, and encouraging them to develop that relationship with Him.
I'm really proud of Rebecca as she shared, has had her struggles and her difficulties, and has made some choices that, as she said, she regretted, but she has also made a lot of good choices, and that's what I'd want to encourage parents to just catch here. The battle is never just over in an instant. It is the daily grind. We have to hang in there with our kids and just keep on pointing them to the right person.
Bob: Let me ask you -- when Rebecca was 13, 14, 15 -- right in the thick of those teenage years -- did you and Barbara ever pull back and go, "Do you think we'll ever hear her talk about a passionate love for Christ and guarding her heart and those kinds of things?"
Dennis: Oh, I think we've thought about that with every one of our children -- wondering would they ever really catch the picture of it making our faith their faith because you're really involved in a relay race. We, as parents, have a baton that we are putting in the hands of the next generation, and there comes a point where you have to put the baton in their hand and what do you have to do?
Bob: You've got to let go.
Dennis: You have to let go of the baton so they can pull it around front, and they begin to run. And they're going to drop the baton, but we need to be there, help them pick it up, put it back in their hands, and cheer them on to keep running the race of life well.
Bob: And there is a great joy that comes for a parent as they do reach a point where you see them up in front of a group of other people talking about having a passionate love for Christ and about their convictions and the standards they're going to hold to. I know, in the back of the book, So You're About to be a Teenager, you challenge preteens to make some commitments at an early age about what they're going to do and what they're not going to do, right?
Dennis: We call these "Twelve Extreme Life Promises." The whole concept of extreme, you know, that's this younger generation's word. Us older folks kind of look at that, and we kind of go, "Extreme Life? I'm not sure about that."
But here are just a couple of them -- number one, "I will make Jesus both Lord and Savior of my life and serve and love Him joyfully with all my heart, soul, and mind." And then it has a place for the child to sign his name or her name and then date that commitment. There's another one in here that says, "I will honor God by obeying my parents and having a good attitude toward them." You'd like to get fingerprints on that one as well.
Bob: I'm wondering, after they've signed it, then can you pull that out and wave it in front of them?
Dennis: I don't think I would, but it might bring some temporary hope that they did it. Here is another one -- "I will guard my heart and mind by not watching unclean movies or pornography or listening to music with words of violence or sex."
Here is one -- "I will honor members of the opposite sex by dressing appropriately and modestly; by not flirting; by not being physically aggressive; and by keeping my sexual desires under control." Now, there are some parents thinking, "Is this too young to challenge my little 11-year-old, 12-year-old, 13-year-old …
Bob: … his voice hasn't changed yet, or she still looks like a little girl.
Dennis: Let me promise you something -- your 10-year-old, 11-year-old, 12-year-old is ready to consider these Extreme Life Promises. In fact, I'll go further -- I think every young person needs to consider each of these 12 issues before they turn 13. Because the time to confront them is not when someone shoves a beer can in front of their face or a boy is sweet-talking them in a car when they're 16. They have to make up their mind, as Daniel did in the Old Testament, when he decided he would not defile himself by eating the king's food, and he did it in advance before he was faced with the banquet that the king offered him.
Bob: One of the promises that you challenge young people to consider is the purity promise, and we've talked before about challenging young people to more than just sexual abstinence but to a standard of moral purity, a higher standard, and it's one that was addressed by your daughter, Rebecca, that night as we talked with her as a part of the panel discussion, and I want our listeners to hear what she shared with the fifth and sixth and seventh graders who were there.
Dennis: And if you have an 11- or 12-year-old, holler at them right now and let them listen to Rebecca now.
Bob: Say, "Come here, come and listen to the radio."
Boy: What's that piece of paper?
Rebecca: This is my purity covenant, and I -- man, this is hard -- the guy that I had been dating for a year, we just broke up this past month, and this was our purity covenant, and this is what we -- we drew this up together, we signed it, we dated it. We didn't have a witness or anything like that, but I gave one to my mom, and I gave one -- he gave one to his parents, and I gave one to my best friend to keep me accountable.
This is our purity covenant, and the verse at the top says -- it's Romans 12, and it says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- His good, pleasing, and perfect will."
I think that is where it starts. Your standards, your boundaries, everything that you're going to draw the line on -- it starts in the Bible. This is where you go if you want to know where the Lord wants you to draw your line -- just read the Bible. It's good to get advice from your parents and your friends and you know people like us, but that is where you draw it. I mean, don't conform to the pattern of this world and offer your bodies as living sacrifices.
And so, anyway, we came up with four things that we were not going to do. We were going to "refrain from any form of kissing; we would not lay down together; we would not have any inappropriate touching, especially the face; and we would refrain from spending time alone in the dark.
Anyway, we committed to uphold these challenges, and we are motivated out of our love for Christ, our respect for each other, which is huge, and our commitment to purity and holiness. To God, our family, and friends, we promise to keep ourselves pure." So that's what we did, and it was really helpful to get it out on paper, because I can look at this, and I am proud of that relationship, and I'm proud of the way that we handled it.
Bob: Well, that is Rebecca Rainey talking about a purity covenant, talking about a commitment not to kiss the guy that she was going out with for months. There are a lot of listeners who are going -- you talk about Extreme Life Promises that sounds like a pretty extreme life promise.
Dennis: Well, you know, in light of the extreme life choices that those in media, movies, and magazines are representing, I think it's about time the other side had its day in court as well, don't you?
Bob: I can't disagree with you.
Dennis: I mean, some of the other garbage that is being promoted to our young people today -- I think it's good to hear maybe what some may consider to be an ultra-conservative approach. Why not? We've heard the ultra-liberal for years. Let's hear somebody who is talking about playing it safe for a while.
Bob: And I've also heard you say many times that Christian parents or Christian kids don't have to have this standard as their standard, but they better have a standard, and it ought to be a godly standard, right?
Dennis: The question for every parent who is listening to me right now -- what is your standard that you are going to challenge your son, your daughter to as they go through the teenage years. And you know what? Don't give me this baloney that we don't need a standard.
Your child, if they are going to go through the teenage years today, they need an older person, a parent, in their lives helping them set a standard, a goal, a number of boundaries around their lives. If they don't, there are going to be all kinds of people stepping into their lives taking advantage of them.
Bob: Yes, and that's really what's at the heart of the book, So You're About to be a Teenager, and it is time to get on the offensive early, rather than playing defense in the middle of the teenage years, start with an offensive game plan, get with your kids before the hormones rush in, before the herd starts to drag them off in the opposite direction and say, "Let's talk about what God wants for you, for your life, during the teenage years. Let's talk about some standards, and let's see if we can't come to some agreement about how you want to live your life and how God wants you to live your life."
Dennis: This little book, which your preteen can read probably in less than a couple of hours -- this is like a precision tool, like a scalpel, a laser-edged instrument that can get certain truth into the life of your son or your daughter before the hormones hit. This is a good book. It's one that I just want to encourage every parent who has a preteen to give us a call and get a copy and then go to the bank and get a crisp $5 bill or a $10 bill …
Bob: … a Lincoln or a Hamilton …
Dennis: … that's right, whatever would motivate your son or daughter to read this, and pop that bill real carefully -- this is not a new one, though -- just pop it, see if that motivates them a little bit, and just tell them you won't embarrass them with too many questions about the book, but you do want to just interact with them a bit.
Bob: Before they earn the money, you've got to have the interaction, right?
Dennis: Oh, absolutely, and you have to make sure they get to that section at the end of the book that talks about those Extreme Life Promises.
Bob: Here’s the drill. You go to our web site FamilyLife Today.com and order the book from us online. Or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to get a copy of the book. Let me just say if you haven’t already taken your son or daughter on a FamilyLife Passport to Purity weekend get that kit as well. In fact you ought to do that before you motivate them with the money for the So You're About to be a Teenager book. If you took the kids on a Passport to Purity weekend last year and you haven’t given them a copy of So You're About to be a Teenager now is a time to bring a copy of the book into the house and incentivize them and reinforce the things you talked about on your Passport weekend.
All that you need is online at FamilyLife Today.com. Or call 1-800-FLTODAY. 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. When you contact us we can let you know how to receive the resources that you’re looking for.
I got a voicemail here at the office the other day from a friend of mine. He was calling to say that he and a group of people had been out doing something together and the radio had been on in the background and FamilyLife Today had come on and all of a sudden they stopped talking and started listening to what they were hearing on the program. He called and said it was powerful for all of us to hear this particular story. He said just keep up the good work and we wanted to cheer you on and let you know that you are making a difference.
That kind of encouragement is always great to hear. Whether it’s folks like you who drop us an email to let us know you are listening or those of you who add your comments to the end of our daily transcripts. We transcribe each day’s program and folks often leave comments about how God has used a program in their life on our web site at FamilyLife Today.com. Your feedback is very much appreciated. It’s a great encouragement for our team.
I also want to say thanks to those of you who are able to support the ministry financially. That’s a great encouragement for us as well. We’re listener supported so all the costs associated with producing and syndicating this program is covered by listeners who make a donation from time to time to support this ministry. We do appreciate your partnership with us.
If you are able to help with a donation today we’d like to send you as a thank you gift a card that Dennis and Barbara have put together called The Five Essentials for a Thriving Marriage card.
This lists the elements of a strong growing marriage relationship and the card is designed to keep these priorities in front of you during the week so you can continue to focus on what needs to be at the center of your marriage and family relationships.
We’d love to send you The Five Essentials for a Thriving Marriage card as our thank you gift when you support FamilyLife Today this month with a donation of any amount. If you’re making your donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com type the word “thrive” in the key code box that you find on the online donation form or if you’re calling 1-800-FL-TODAY to make your donation over the phone. That’s 1-800-FL TODAY just mention that you’d like the five essentials card and we’ll send it to you as our way of saying thank you for your support and it’s always an encouragement to us.
Well, have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when Susie Davis is going to be our guest along with her husband Will. Susie has written a book called Loving Your Man Without Losing Your Mind. We’re going to talk about some of the challenges that couples face in a marriage relationship and I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back on Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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