Physical touch is an important way to connect with the people in our lives, teenagers included. It is especially important for people whose primary love language is to give or receive love through touch.
Photo courtesy of dollarphotoclub.com/leungchopan
Unfortunately there are a multitude of factors preventing adults from connecting with middle school boys through physical touch. Here are a few:
This guest post is written by Jackie Tysdal
, who had a son in my ministry a few years ago. I asked Jackie to share about how her relationship with her teenage son. I respect and appreciate how she tries to connect with him in healthy, age-appropriate ways. I know you’ll benefit from her wisdom!
You know those opinions and advice you get from everyone once you have kids? When my son was 3 years old someone told me that as he gets older he is going to be more into his dad and forget about mom for a while. I thought “WHAT? Not MY son!”
The real Jackie with her real son!
That was not going to happen to us. I pray he is close to his dad but he is NOT going to drop mom! So, that was the starting point of my intentional relationship with my son. I do not want to be just a teacher and bystander in his life. I want to enjoy life with him and be an active participant on his journey. Here are 5 things I do stay connected with my teenage son:
Parents and youth workers should assume and hope for the best regarding the middle school boys they serve. However, I have seen enough young men stumble into a pornography addiction to know that even the best-behaved boys from the best homes can get caught up in it.
Photo Courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/BlueSkyImages
There is much to be said about teenage boys and pornography. However, in this post I would like to focus on the following 10 ways to help when you find out a middle school boy under your care is struggling with pornography:
Three years ago I was graduating from seminary and looking for a new project to pursue outside of work. My friends Josh and Danna strongly encouraged me to start this blog. I’m grateful for their initial prodding and for the encouragement that you, my readers, have provided along the way.
Here are some fun stats from the past three years at joebudish.com:
- I have made more than 200 posts, many of them coming from guest writers.
- Three of my top ten most-viewed posts are from guest writers. The #1 most-viewed post was one written by my friend Susan about parenting teenage boys. The most popular post that I wrote myself was, of all things, about blow dart wars.
- More than 20,000 different people have viewed my blog at one time or another and all those people have contributed more than 50,000 total page views.
- My blog readers are located in the US, Russia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, and Japan, among other countries.
- A majority of my readers are between ages 25 and 44. Roughly half are men and half are women. I don’t know how Google Analytics can track all that stuff, but it’s fun to see the data!
I can’t explain why God has given me such a deep admiration and respect for middle school boys. All I know is that middle school is a critical stage and I love helping other adults embrace such an exciting, weird, and eye-opening time in boys’ lives!
Bert Fulks Blog
February 23, 2017
Confession: I live in a Christian bubble. I work at a church, I regularly interact with church families, and most of my close friends go to my church. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for connecting with people outside of the church. This imbalance bothers me because Jesus calls his followers to make disciples of all nations, which includes the people right in front of me. Something is out of whack if I’m not making disciples in my personal life.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/Syda Productions
Over the past year, God has begun to increase my desire to make connections with people who don’t know Jesus. I sense God calling me to increase my personal level of outreach in everyday life.
“They might as well have set a stack of porn magazines in my room.” That’s what my young adult friend said as he reflected on his parents allowing him to have a computer in his bedroom when he was a teenager. Looking back, he knows it was a bad idea.
Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/goldencow_images
During middle and high school he got mired in pornography for a few years because of that computer. His porn addiction made him feel gross and ashamed and he had little self-confidence. His parents’ greatest fault was providing little to no accountability with his computer use.
I know you believe and hope for the best in your middle school son, as you should. However on behalf of all teenage boys I would plead that you don’t give him total freedom with a computer, iPad, iPod, or cell phone. Don’t make an exception for your son and turn a blind eye just because “he’s a good kid” or “he’d never look at porn” or “he’s not like other boys.”
Many of us look back on our own middle school experience and say, “You couldn’t pay me enough money to go back to that stage of life!” Middle school was a rough time for a lot of adults. What I find interesting is that so many of us have negative associations with those years but we don’t remember exactly why middle school was difficult.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/WavebreakMediaMicro
If that’s you, here’s a little refresher.
In my work with middle school boys I find myself repeatedly having the same conversations. It turns out they all struggle with a limited set of issues that just look slightly different for each boy based on his specific personality and specific life situation.
Every year in our middle school ministry we do a “Love Spectrum” series where we talk about love, sex, dating, and relationships for an entire month. At the end we always have a Q&A session where students can write questions and hear answers from volunteer leaders. Every year, multiple students ask “When should I start dating?”
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock/zaikina
For clarity, when I use the word “dating” I’m referring to the middle school conception of dating, which is usually synonymous with the phrase “going out.” Middle school dating involves one boy and one girl going public with the fact that they like each other and their relationship is more than “just friends.” They may or may not communicate with each other more than normal friends and may or may not spend time together outside of school or church activities.
How would you react to either of the following scenarios involving your middle school son?
Scenario #1 (This is a story I observed first-hand): You are almost done cleaning the kitchen after dinner. The dishes have been rinsed and put in the dishwasher. The food has been put away in the refrigerator. You’ve wiped down the table and are attacking all the smudges and crumbs on the counter.
As you turn to wash your rag in the sink, your son and his friend start a Nerf war seemingly out of nowhere. In the blink of an eye, they have emerged from a back room each wielding a loaded Nerf gun and a pocket overflowing with extra darts. All you see is a blur of bodies ducking and hiding behind furniture and under the table. Occasionally you hear a yelp of delight when one of the boys gets hit.
Nerf darts are flying everywhere. They whiz by your head, land in the sink, and disappear behind pictures on the counter. To make things more chaotic, the boys are using you as a human shield while you maneuver around the center island to get the last of the crumbs.
How would you react?