Three Simple Ways to Connect With Your Teen

Written by Mark Gregston.

Teen DiscussionAny problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication.  Someone isn’t listening – Emma Thompson

Around the dinner table, or over the weekends, what do you and your teen talk about?  If you’re like most parents, the conversations fall into a few standard categories: academics, work, behaviors, privileges, sports, friends, clothes, chores, or the rules of the house.  This is a long list, full of important topics that are worth discussing.  But can you think back to a conversation with your child that didn’t revolve around these typical aspects of a teen’s life?  Unfortunately, most of what we talk about relates to what our teens are doing (or in many cases not doing).  But we often forget to ask what they’re thinking—what their passions and goals are in life.

Good communication is essential to establishing a healthy and loving relationship with your teen.  When I mention this, many parents of struggling teens tell me, “But Mark, my teen and I talk all the time!”  The truth is, talking to your teenager does not necessarily mean that you’re communicating.  In fact, too much talk can cover up what really needs to be said or asked.

Mom and dad, do you want to connect with your teen in a way that helps them share their deepest hopes, biggest concerns or growing fears?  Or is the standard mode of communication between the two of you an endless stream of superficial words, demands, and lecturing?  Let me share with you three simple ways you can improve your communication and make a meaningful connection with your teen.

Communicate By Asking Questions

One of the most powerful tools in a parent’s toolbox is a good question.  With the right question, you can gain entrance into your child’s world and have a greater opportunity to speak into their lives.  It’s the same way with adults.  When someone asks our opinion, we feel valued.  When someone shows interest in our passions and interests, we feel appreciated.  Our favorite subject is often ourselves!  Ask even a reserved teenager a good question, and you’ll probably find yourself waist deep in a stream of conversation.  

So what counts as a good question?  You can go ahead and forget about questions like “How was your day?” or “What were you thinking?”  If a question can be answered in a single word, then it won’t build good communication.  And if your question is laced with sarcasm, judgment or meant to embarrass, chances are your teen won’t even hear it.  Good questions convey a sense of value and relationship.  They are a way to move toward your teen by asking what they think, how they feel, and giving them the freedom answer honestly.

Some examples of good questions include:

  • What would be one thing I could do for you to make your life better?
  • We’re all known for something.  What would you like to be known for?
  • Do you think the music (or movies, TV shows) you watch or listen to influences you, or is just an expression of what you feel, or what you’re in the mood for?
  • What would make school better for you?
  • What’s a lesson about life you’ve learned this week?
  • When you hear someone talk about a “real man” who comes to mind?
  • If you could change one thing about your appearance, what would you choose?

It’s crucial we keep our mouths shut long enough to hear a child’s answer.  And when the real answer comes out, regardless of how shocking it may be, don’t respond with anger or disappointment.  Just listen.  Establishing a line of communication is far more important at this point than scolding or saying “I told you so.

Often, just by asking questions, you empower your teens to apply the values you have already taught them.  Your questions might also encourage your teen to ask questions of you, so be ready to give thoughtful and honest answers!

Communicate Respect in Times of Conflict

Maintaining an attitude of respect is a large part of healthy communication.  If you demand a level of respect from your teenager, then they also expect a measure of consideration from you.  This spills over not only into our words, but also into our tone and demeanor.  You wouldn’t yell at, belittle, or talk down to someone you respect, so why would do that to your teen?  Show grace and respect in the way you communicate with your child, and they’ll be quicker to respond in the same way with you.

Conflict is inevitable when it comes to parenting teenagers.  Try and make it your goal at the end of any argument to provide an opportunity for a hug.  Just because there’s conflict doesn’t mean the relationship is ruined.  Even if I can’t agree with my kids, I still want them to know that they are loved.  Being respectful has nothing to do with the consequences you may need to enforce, or the problems that need to be dealt with.  Instead, it means maintaining the right approach in communicating with your teen.

When you need to address a problem or behavioral issue, I again recommend asking a good question.  It can help engage a teen’s thinking process and the system of beliefs you’ve taught them.  You may be surprised to find they come to the right conclusion all on their own!

Communicate by Listening More, Speaking Less

Staying silent when our teen is talking isn’t necessarily the same thing as listening.  We may hear the words our teen is using, but do we really understand what they’re trying to say?

In the many years I’ve worked with kids, I’ve found that they often say things not to communicate valuable information, but simply to process life.  Your daughter isn’t necessarily looking for a response when she vents about issues with a homework assignment.  Your son may not need an opinion or a solution when he explains his problem with a friend.  They may just need a listening ear.  Take time to hear what they have to say—without putting in your two cents.

A Sunday school teacher once asked the ten-year-olds in her class, “What’s wrong with grown-ups?” A boy responded, “Grown-ups never really listen because they already know what they’re going to answer.”  I’ll admit; many times that was me.  And if this sounds like you, it may be time to own up to the fact that your listening skills could use some improvement.

Being consistent in listening to your child goes a long way in determining his or her willingness to share their deep concerns with you.  If a teen shares her heart and it’s misunderstood or met with quick judgments and opinions, they will eventually quit sharing.  If our teen is in the shutdown mode, there is a reason.  And the reason may be that we aren’t listening anyway.

Maybe your connection to your teen is a bit frayed at the moment.  A little bit of intentionality and care will go a long way in this area!  My prayer is that these three communication methods can help you reconnect with your son and daughter, and help you establish more open, loving relationships in your home.


Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas.  For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website.  It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent.  Go to  Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.  Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at

The post Three Simple Ways to Connect With Your Teen appeared first on Parent Tips from Mark Gregston.

The Honest Truth About Teen Dishonesty

Written by Mark Gregston.

Merry Christmas from Parenting Today's TeensAlways tell the truth.  If you can’t always tell the truth, don’t lie. –Author Unknown

Have you ever told a little white lie?  Ever crossed your fingers behind your back when you did it?  One of the legends regarding that little act originated with Roman persecution of Christians. It was said that to escape death, those who lied about their faith in Christ, just as Peter did, made the sign of the cross behind their back to ask God’s forgiveness.  It seems that somehow, sign language would nullify the deceit!

The legend of crossing your fingers seems like a myth to me.  But what is not a myth is the fact that many teenagers today are making a habit of “crossing their fingers behind their backs.”  A recent Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth, by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, shows that 61% of teens admit to lying to a teacher about something important, and a whopping 76% admitted to lying to their parents last year.  Another study, this one conducted in Britain, indicates that an overwhelming 84% of teens said they’ve regularly copied information from the Internet and pasted it right into their homework.

But it wasn’t necessarily those numbers that shocked me.  What really rocked me back on my heels was that this recent study of American teenagers reported that while over 50% of teenagers admitted lying, cheating, or stealing within that last year, 93% of those same kids said they are “satisfied with their personal ethics and character.” In addition, 81% of those teenagers said that “when it comes to doing what’s right, they are better than most people they know.”

It would seem, sadly, that while dishonesty is taking a hold of more and more teenagers, they are blind to the fact that it is morally wrong. While it is in no way an excuse, we cannot overlook the way our culture glorifies all forms of dishonesty. I think we’d all be hard-pressed to name five unimpeachably honest public figures today.  Who hasn’t turned on the TV or read the news in which a politician, business leader, sports figure, police officer, teacher or even a judge — those people we look up to as role models — has been caught in a lie, or has had a scandal exposed?  And let’s not forget the explosion of popular, so-called, “reality” TV shows, whose strategy is usually based on deception and lying in order to gain a monetary prize or fame.  While we should stress to our kids that we are all accountable for our own decisions, it’s difficult to reinforce the standards of honesty in a society that seems to broadcast that dishonesty is the far better road to travel.

So how can we reverse those statistics, and help our kids embrace truth over the lies?

Monitor the Media

Due to its anonymity and ease, the Internet is often a place where dishonesty abounds.  Within the safety of the web, teens can speak or act out anything they desire, regardless if it’s the truth.  Parents should be realize that such web-based deception can spill over and fuel an attitude of dishonesty in other areas of a teen’s life, as well.

When it comes to the Internet, or other forms of media, I tell parents to follow their instincts. Even if there is no obvious cause for concern, they should keep a wary eye on their child’s online surfing and make it a policy to know all of their teenager’s web passwords.  In fact, I recommend parents install good monitoring software to track all of their teen’s Internet activity.  Knowing that mom and dad are monitoring will go a long way toward keeping the teen honest in what they see, do and say on the Internet.

Make it a point to discuss with your teen the values they see in movies, television, or music.  Though we cannot control all the input that our kids receive on a daily basis, we can use media opportunities to have discussions about life, morality and values.  After a watching a television program or movie, ask your child afterward, Why did that character act that way?  What do you think they were trying to gain?  Do you think they will ultimately achieve something by acting dishonestly?  What would you do differently? These types of questions can steer your child into interpreting what they see and hear in more honest ways.

Reduce the Pressure to Perform

Lofty academic expectations can put a lot of pressure on a teen to cheat. Holding kids to unnecessarily high achievement standards can often spur kids to achieve good grades at any cost. These looming stresses at school are more troubling for kids than many parents realize.  In fact, the Journal of Adolescent Health found that the stress to perform well in school keeps 68% of students awake at night.  With a lack of sleep, students have a reduced ability to think clearly and handle stress, so it becomes a vicious cycle.  As they fall farther behind, overwhelmed students may be tempted to cheat and lie their way to academic success.

If your child has been caught cheating at school, perhaps it’s time to bring the expectations down to a serviceable level for your teen.  Of course, we want our kids to do well in school, but we’d all agree that we want them to do so honestly.  It’s far better to have “C” student who came by their grades fairly, than an “A” student who was compelled to cheat because of unrealistic pressure at home.  By your words and actions, tell your children that grades and academic achievement don’t matter as much as honesty.

Don’t Avoid or Ignore the Problem

While dishonesty may seem like a minor issue in comparison to other problems like drug abuse, sexual promiscuity and eating disorders, it is a vice that parents should not ignore. Dishonesty is rooted in an attitude of disrespect—disrespect for others, authority, possessions, family’s values, and disrespect for oneself.  If you ignore your teen’s dishonest actions today, you may have to deal with bigger problems later.  Deceit won’t go away with the mere passage of time.  It will reappear at significant stress points later in your child’s life—when they go off to college, get a job, or get married.  Getting away with lying, cheating or theft today can lead to a lifetime of dishonesty, and that can land them in real heartache in the future.

If you’ve seen dishonesty creeping into how your teen talks or acts, or if you’ve learned they have cheated or stolen something, today is the day to expose it.  Here’s how to deal with the problem properly.  First, briefly describe the dishonest behavior, so you both know what happened.  Second, tell your child how you feel about it and how it that action is neither wise nor moral.  Then, most importantly, affirm that you know they can do better.  Let your teen know that you believe they can change their behavior.  Give them the confidence to do what’s right.  After your discussion, have your teen right their wrong, including confessing to whomever was wronged from the dishonesty, cheating or theft.  Finally, enforce appropriate consequences and make sure they know that you will be on the lookout for any form of dishonesty in the future.

Also, be sure to model honesty yourself, and make it a habit to be truthful.  If you think you’ve hidden dishonesty from them in the past, think again. Teens are extremely intuitive and they can spot hypocrisy a mile away.  If you know you’ve been dishonest in front of your teen, ask their forgiveness, and give yourself some consequences for the bad behavior, so your teen knows how important it is to be honest.  Teens need some good role models in regard to honesty.  Live out Proverbs 8:7, and your teen will follow suit; I always speak the truth and refuse to tell a lie.



Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas.  For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website.  It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent.  Go to  Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.  Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at

The post The Honest Truth About Teen Dishonesty appeared first on Parent Tips from Mark Gregston.

Helping a Boomerang Child

Written by Mark Gregston.

Merry Christmas from Parenting Today's TeensLet me share a desperate e-mail I once received from a father who was struggling with his 25-year old stepson, who was still living at home.  Here’s what he wrote:

“I have asked my stepson to leave our home six times now because of his disrespect for my authority (since we have two other teen children in the home).  He lacks respect for his mother, and fails to follow the rules of our house.  He never finished high school, was in the military, and also spent time in the Job Corps.  We had hoped that these experiences would help mature him … they didn’t.

Each time I’ve asked him to leave the home, he moves in with friends, only to take advantage of their hospitality.  He then eventually calls to tell his mom that he has no place to stay, and she repeatedly talks me into letting him back into our house.  He makes her feel guilty because of her earlier failures, and she feels horrible for not showing “grace” when he is in need.

He promises to do what is expected every time we sit down and discuss the expectations of him staying in our home.  In a matter of days, he goes right back to his old behaviors and the cycle starts all over.  He’s never really been repentant or ever turned from his ways.  We’re at our wit’s end!  Any thoughts?”

The problem this father is having is not uncommon in our culture.  According to the Pew Research Center, more than 21 percent of adult children ages 25 to 34 are currently living in their parents, or grandparent’s, homes.  We’re experiencing a generation of “boomerang” kids, that no matter how far away they fly, they always end up coming back to roost.  But that is not to say that sometimes kids have a very good reason to come back home.  They may have medical issues, and need time for recovery.  Or, they may need your support to get their feet back on the ground after a traumatic event or financial loss.  It could be they may be there to help you take care of sickly parents, or siblings, or need transition time between college semesters.  These are all good reasons to allow an adult son or daughter to remain in your home.

However, often these “boomerang” kids resemble “boarders,” like this 25- year old young man, who doesn’t have a pressing need to stay in the parental abode, but finds it easier to do so.  And in these cases there is lack of mutual respect, an unwillingness to engage in life rather than escape from it, and an absence of healthy relationships where people are communicating and understanding how the home will operate.  It takes a change in attitudes and principles to help permanent “boomerangers” to become “temporary guests” and successfully launch them into the next stage of life.

Developing Respect

The key to any healthy home is respect.  Everyone in the family, whether they’re eight or eighteen, needs to adhere to the rules of the house.  If an adult child either ignores or is unwilling to adhere to level of respect for your home or the people in it, then it’s time to issue a choice.  Either the child will work toward offering more respect or leave home.

This ultimatum may seem harsh to you and your adult child in the home.  But there must be respect in the house.  You can’t have one person undermining the rules and authority of the home.  It sets a bad precedent for the other members of the family, and can cause stress and turmoil in many relationships.  Of course, there could be any number of reasons why a child is acting out of disrespect.  But at some point, a young man or a young woman must realize that regardless of any wrongdoing in the past, they have to grow up, move on, and quit being controlled by something that might have happened years ago.  No matter what, mistakes from the past never give license to disrespect a parent.

Setting a Good Example

Just as children pick up patterns and behaviors from watching their parents, they also learn by watching older siblings in how they interact within the home.  So when a “boomerang” kid starts running amuck in their parent’s home, other members of the family are learning by observation, and soaking up ideas that manipulation works, respect is not necessary, and that Mom and Dad will bail them out when they get into trouble.  Parents have enough inherent issues to deal with without adding to the confusion of another adult at home who’s offering a bad example.  Even if this was the only reason not to have the older son or daughter at home, then it’s justified – especially when coupled with a lack of repentance and unwillingness to turn from his or her old ways.

Working Towards the Future

The young man mentioned in the e-mail had an unfinished high school education.  What could this be about?  Does he have some learning disabilities?  Perhaps high school graduation or a GED should be made a higher priority so that he can take better care of himself in the future.

I recommend asking that boomerang son or daughter what they want from their parents—where they want to end up, what type of help would they like to see, and how they’d like to see Mom and Dad involved.  If they are responsible enough to drive, vote, and rent a car, then those adult children are capable of answering some of these tough questions.  And if they can’t, then they need something to shock them into coming up with one.  In the parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15, the reckless youth came to his senses only when people stopped giving him things.  Change happened when he needed to stand on his own and be responsible for his future.

An out-of-control boomerang kid will never grow up if mom and dad always provide a place for him to fall back on, even when he shows no motivation to improve his life or make changes.  And because that young adult always has a place, he’ll never have to learn how to solve those life problems or work towards something better in the future.  They’ll continue in that foolish thinking until someone gives them the opportunity to think differently.  Proverbs 19:19 states that if an angry man is rescued once, he’ll have to be rescued again.

Resisting the Manipulation

Within the stepfather’s e-mail, I also noticed a trap that many parents find themselves in—getting manipulated by their adult children.  This 25- year- old man is not only playing with his mom.  He’s shaming her.  And Mom is falling for it hook, line, and sinker.  She may think that because of some mistake in her past she’s been the cause of all the trouble in her son’s life.  Thus she rescues him continually, justifies it with scripture, and is hurting herself and her son in the process.

To moms who have feelings of regret like this woman (and I’ve talked to hundreds) I want you to know that no matter what mistakes you have made in your life by your actions or lack of actions, your child is capable of growing through them.  If a child is using your past failures as a manipulative tool to meet his own needs, take action!  One of the best messages for your son to hear is that this manipulation is no longer going to be effective with you.

When parents allow their older children to become dependent on them as young adults, they aren’t doing themselves or their adult children any favors.  When a son or daughter chooses a lifestyle of escape, or continues in unacceptable behavior, the refining heat needs to be turned up in that child’s life.  It doesn’t have so much to do with the living arrangement as much as the bad attitudes and unwillingness to take on responsibility.

I often share with parents that the definition of lunacy is to continue doing the same things in the same way and expect a different outcome.  It’s unrealistic for Mom or Dad to think that they’ll get different results if they continue along the same path that they have been taking with their adult child.

If you are the struggling parent of an adult child still living at home, let me offer you some hope.  The situation and conflict can change for the better.  With the proper actions and attitudes you can turn that boomerang child into a high-flying arrow.

A special message from Mark

I do hope and pray that this holiday season is a wonderful time of celebration and reflection for you and your family.  It’s a special time for all of us at Parenting Today’s Teens, and the only time that we ask folks to partner with us financially to help support our work with teens and families.  If these newsletters, or any of the Parenting Today’s Teens resources have been beneficial to you, would you consider a gift to our ministry in your year-end giving?  You can do so by clicking here.

Give Your Gift Today


Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas.  For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website.  It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent.  Go to  Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.  Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at

The post Helping a Boomerang Child appeared first on Parent Tips from Mark Gregston.

Making This Christmas Better Than the Year Before

Written by Mark Gregston.

Merry Christmas from Parenting Today's Teens“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager.’  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.’” ~ Luke 2:10-14

Have you ever wanted to have that Norman Rockwell kind of Christmas?  The type of holiday where the relatives visit with smiles and hugs, the kids are pleasant and happy, the Christmas dinner looks like something from a gourmet magazine and everywhere you look there is peace and harmony?

Maybe you desire a perfect “Christmas card” holiday because your Christmases resemble something more like the painting The Scream.  Emotions run high as you try to mend fences with the family, cope with a struggling teenager, purchase gifts in time and get through Christmas without killing anyone.  But let’s face it—no one’s holidays are perfect.  Just because it’s the twelfth month on the calendar doesn’t mean that all the problems of the year melt away like the snow.  But while it’s not possible to have a picture-perfect Christmas, it is possible to make this season better than the last.

Start A Tradition

What are the Christmas traditions in your family?  If you can’t think of anything other than Aunt Ethel yelling at Uncle Joe, or you burning the Christmas dinner, then it’s time to start some brand new traditions.  They don’t have to be elaborate or costly.  My family and I started a tradition of working on a puzzle together during the holidays (of course, I’m the one that always has to finish it).  Sure, it’s a little bit nerdy, but it has become a cherished custom that brings us all together each year.

Consider starting a tradition of cutting down the family Christmas tree, walking through the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights or throwing a holiday party for your kid’s friends and their parents.  Whatever you choose to do, make sure it involves the entire family and allows you to relax, have fun and enjoy being together.

Write a Christmas Blessing

The Christmas season is an opportunity to lay aside the grudges of the past year and embrace peace.  If you want to make this Christmas worth remembering, take a break from the shopping and decorating to write out a blessing for everyone in your family.  It’s a meaningful gesture I learned from my friend John Trent.  Start by writing three paragraphs about someone in the family, whether it’s a spouse, a child or even your extended family.  The first paragraph should focus on a character quality that you admire.  You could say, “Son, I noticed how easily you make friends, and it is amazing to see.  You truly have a gift for connecting with people.

The second paragraph should be about a trial that the person is dealing with currently, or has struggled through.  An example would be, “Honey, I know that you have been dealing with some mean girls at school, and I want to say how proud I am of how you’re dealing with them.  It’s been a struggle, but this year I’ve seen you really mature and grow in spite of cruel comments.”

The third and final paragraph should include your prayer for that person’s future.  Let them know what you’re asking God to do for them in the coming year.  You could write, “My prayer for you this year is that you would experience God’s love in whole new way, that you would stay away from things that could hurt you, and that you would discover the strength of God in your life!”

Then, at dinner one night, hand your Christmas blessing to each person and see if it doesn’t strengthen your relationships this season.

Find the Joy

I know Christmas can be a difficult season for many people.  Maybe it brings up painful memories.  Or perhaps the season is already so far removed from “good” that you can’t imagine it any different.  I may not know the exact problems you face this holiday, but I can tell you that it’s still possible to rejoice this Christmas.  Even though it is hard, strive to find the joy in your circumstances.  Be thankful for the family God has given you.  Find happiness in the love of God and the birth of His Son.  Discover peace in knowing that God has brought you to the end of another year all in one piece.

Our attitude will make the difference between experiencing a wonderful Christmas and dragging ourselves through another miserable holiday.  So reflect on all the good in your life this holiday, and stop dwelling on the negative.

Focus on the Experience

I think we can all agree that Christmas gifts receive a little more attention than they really deserve.  Last year alone, Americans spent $563 billion dollars during the holidays.  All this materialism is definitely getting out of control!  But Christmas is not about the presents; it’s about living in the present.  It’s all about enjoying the experience of the season.

I can’t remember what I got for Christmas when I was a kid.  But I can relate in detail all the wonderful memories and experiences I had growing up with my family.  Those are the things we remember and take with us.  Just look at the gift God gave us.  It wasn’t anything material.  It was the person of Jesus Christ, who now offers us a meaningful relationship with Him and the Father.

I’m not saying we should throw the presents out the window, but I am saying that great Christmases aren’t about the gifts under the tree.  Instead, it’s about time together.  Maybe you’ll choose to sit around the fire, drink hot chocolate and share stories.  You’ll take a trip to the grandparents, and sled down the nearby hill.  This year, look to experience the season with your kids, not with toys or money but with memories that last a lifetime.

End the Year Well

It’s a common saying, but it’s so true: “It’s not how you start that matters—It’s how you finish.”  This year may have started off poorly.  But now you have an opportunity to end the year on a high note.  So make the time count.  Offer forgiveness to that child who has been breaking your heart this year.  Seek peace with the family member that has hurt you.  Defuse the problems in your home instead of escalating them.  Overlook offenses in the spirit of Christmas.  End the year on a better footing than you started.  It will make for a happier, more peaceful Christmas, and may even carry you into the next year!

I understand that the Christmas season is a chaotic time full of stress and anxiety and maybe a few family issues, as well.  But it doesn’t have to ruin our celebration.  You can make this a better holiday than years past.  It will take some effort, but the result is a lasting memory of a peaceful, loving and happy Christmas with your family.

From all of us here at Parenting Today’s Teens, wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!


A special message from Mark

I do hope and pray that this Christmas season is a wonderful time of celebration and reflection for you and your family.  It’s a special time for all of us at Parenting Today’s Teens, and the only time that we ask folks to partner with us financially to help support our work with teens and families.  If these newsletters, or any of the Parenting Today’s Teens resources have been beneficial to you, would you consider a gift to our ministry in your year-end giving?  You can do so by clicking here.

Give Your Gift Today


Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas.  For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website.  It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent.  Go to  Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.  Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at

The post Making This Christmas Better Than the Year Before appeared first on Parent Tips from Mark Gregston.

Boys to Men

Written by Mark Gregston.

Angry 15 year old boyThirty-five years ago, a pastor of the church I worked and I were eating lunch at a local restaurant and he asked me, “Mark, do you see every person in this room?” I knew there was a lesson coming.  He then said something that has been with me every since.  He said, “Each person here feels like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.”  You might not think that too profound.  Over the years I have learned that his comment was utterly profound.  I think it especially applies to fifteen-year-old boys.

The Wrong Crowd

Written by Mark Gregston.

Dad's BlessingIn school, kids are always trying to fit in with the crowd. Everyone goes through that and feels peer pressure from that. I know I did when I was growing up. I definitely wanted to hang out with the cool kids and tried to be something I’m not.”  ~Joe Jonas

There is a group of kids that parents fear most.  Moms and dads spend a great deal of time and energy cautioning their kids against this motley band of miscreants.  It’s most commonly referred to as “the wrong crowd.”  The group is usually made up of the kids who smoke the things they shouldn’t, boast about sexual conquests, bully others, or get involved in other harmful or destructive behaviors.  These are the kids that you warn your children to avoid at all costs.

Pass the Blessing

Written by Mark Gregston.

Dad's Blessing“And [Jesus] took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.”  Mark 10:16

The word “blessing” is a rather archaic word.  Other than a courteous response to a sneeze, “blessing” someone has really fallen out of favor.  But if we go back to its original meaning, we find that the word simply means, “to show favor.”  It’s an intentional way to give someone our stamp of approval, to validate their uniqueness and their place in your life.  Of course, blessing a child means more than saying, “I love you” (though that may be a part of it).  It’s about taking active steps to display your support of and appreciation for your child.  As parents, we spend a lot of time correcting and pointing out negative behaviors in our kids, but do we spend an equal amount of time focusing on the positives?

Events/Retreats/Mark’s Schedule

Date Event Location
Apr. 18-19 Heartlight Parent Retreat Longview, TX
Apr. 26 Friends of Heartlight Dinner Portland, OR
Apr. 26 Tough Guys & Drama Queens Seminar Portland, OR
Apr. 27 Mark to speak at Grace Chapel Wilsonville, OR
May 2 - 3 Evening with Mark Gregston Flagstaff, AZ
June 26-28 Families In Crisis Conference Longview, TX
Parenting Today's Teens is produced and sponsored by the Heartlight Ministries Foundation. You can visit our family of websites below.