Homeschooling Teens with Confidence and Joy
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton, welcome back to the School House Rocked Podcast. I am really excited! This is the first time that we have had a return guest on the Podcast. Connie Albers was on at the very beginning of the first season, and her podcast episode was very well received. We had a lot of really great comments on it, and it was really fun. And she is back because she has a new book that just came out. I think actually, we talked a little bit about it in her first podcast, but now the book is out. And so I want you guys to know more about it, and it’s all about parenting teens. So Connie, welcome to the podcast again.
Connie Albers: Hey Yvette. It is so good to be back with you and your audience. Oh my goodness, to be your first returning guest is such an honor!
Yvette: I am honored to have you back again. I know there should be some kind of award for that, right?
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Connie: Just between us, that’s good enough.
Yvette: Yes, okay, okay well we are definitely glad to have you back on. I know that the response from the last one was really good, because we talked a lot about parenting. Really quickly, tell us about your family, and then let’s get right into your new book that you’ve got.
Connie: Okay so I’m a mother of five grown children, and three are married. So we had our last one, not our last one but our third marriage, was October 27th. It’s going to be bad if I can’t remember my child’s wedding date. So anyway-
Yvette: As long as you remember your own.
Connie: Yeah, right? That’s hard enough. But no, I have five grown adults. They were a catalyst for me writing this book. They all live in the area, so they haven’t moved away, and we are really enjoying having relationships with our adult children and their spouses.
Yvette: Yeah, well we’ve had a chance to meet a couple of your kids, and I feel like I know them, because you talk so much about them and you have a great relationship with them. And so, I’ve loved seeing that in you and in your family. And, of course as a mom with a 13 year old, we’re just getting into these teen years, and I have to say, honestly there are parts of it that are, I wouldn’t say harder than I thought, they’re exactly what I thought. The rolling of the eyes, and the huffs and puffs and things like that, which we’re working through. But, I will say that so far it is so much better than I expected it to be at this point. I absolutely love having a teenage daughter. She is just an absolute delight. I love being friends with her. I am her mom first and foremost, but I am also her friend and I love that. And I know that that’s one thing for you, that you really focused on with your kids, was that you were their authority, but you also built a relationship with them.
And I love that homeschooling has allowed us to be able to do that. Because I’m with her all the time. I mean I know her better than she knows herself, most of the time. One of my favorite things is when I say, “I know you’re thinking this.” And she’ll kind of get those big eyes. “How do you know mom, that I’m thinking that?” I’m like, “‘Cause I was a teenager once too, and it was I guess it was a long time ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday.” So, anyway let’s talk about your book through, ’cause it is amazing. I am so privileged to have been part of the launch team on this book. It is called Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy. For those of you who are watching this on video, this is the book here. And it is a fantastic book. I am reading through it right now, and I am being so encouraged. So let’s talk about it. What is your hope for this book, in writing it?
Connie: The biggest goal is, my husband and I had a desire to change our family legacy. Neither one of us were really raised in a Christian home environment. We both kind of went to church, but we knew that the legacy we wanted for our family was to be different of that which was how we were raised. And you know, unfortunately that’s like a lot of people. And we just kind of started mapping out, what was it we wanted our family to look like.
So, as we were parenting the children, I would just kind of make these mental notes in my mind of what was working and what wasn’t. And we started to do a lot of Bible Studies in our house with teenagers, which is you know some people say is crazy. But, they ate it up. And it also gave me an opportunity to hear conversations that they would have about their families, what was working, what wasn’t. So our goal with “Parenting Beyond the Rules,” is that we reach even, I mean I’d like to say we reach the parents of 63 million teenagers. That would be our ultimate goal. But it would be to reach as many parents that are in the season of tween and teens. And provide hope and help for the teen years, because I love what you said Yvette. You’re enjoying this season.
I was probably one of the rare ones, and it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I was one of the rare ones who would say, “You know what, this is an awesome time.” I mean they’re in transition from child to an adult, and you get a front row view.
Connie: To see it all unfold. How cool is that? Even amidst eye rolls, or the comment, “I know mom, you’ve already told me that, mom.” It happens, but that is our goal. We really want parents to not think about their teen years as something to merely survive. Or get through, or just can’t wait until they can finally turn 18 and get them out of the house. No, we want families transformed. We want relationships transformed, because what studies show, not just my experience, but what studies show is that parents are the primary influence in their teenager’s life. And that’s contrary to what the news media or what many would have you believe, that you’re just supposed to hands off and let your kids go. The reality is, unless you forgo that opportunity to shape and influence, you will still have the primary influence in their life during their teen years. I always tell parents I would rather have my child at 20 calling me saying, “What time are we having dinner on Thanksgiving?” Than me picking up the phone and saying, “You are coming for Thanksgiving, right?”. It’s like a no-brainer. So I am focused on helping parents build those kinds of relationships that kids long to continue doing life together, not just a season of parenting.
Yvette: Yeah, and we are the primary influence, good and bad.
Connie: Oh yeah.
Yvette: And so, you know, it can be a little bit scary sometimes, especially when we see ourselves and our own sin manifesting in our children, and our attitudes, and the rolling of our eyes. We see our kids do that, and we think, oh shoot. But it’s true I mean we really are their primary influence, and so that’s a very big task that God has, and responsibility that he’s put in front of us.
Give us a glimpse of the book. What do you talk about in the book? I know you talk obviously about raising teens with confidence and joy, but maybe break it down a little bit.
Connie: So I start off with basically painting a picture, and the cover of the book is really a good indicator of where I’m going with the whole book cover. Yes, so you see the paint brushes, they’re varying sizes, different colors, and you see the paint swath, those are bold and thin and dotted, because our children are also unique. And when we paint a picture, we have to use a variety of I want to say, painting it with grace, and truth, and color, and light. And sometimes we’ll paint something then we’ll have to come back a little bit, see if it’s dry, and say, “No, I think I need to add a little bit more, there’s a character weakness right there, let me add a little filler right there.”
So I want parents to learn how to paint pictures of possibilities within their child, because it starts with a foundation. When you consider the foundation, you have to think about the child’s heart, I always say that you’ve got to really go for keeping the heart of your teen.
Connie: Some of the soil, you know an analogy with our teens heart is it can be kind of rocky. It’s hard to plant because maybe they’re a little tough or jaded or maybe they’ve been hurt or wounded. You know, that soil just isn’t quite as tender. Or maybe you have a mercy child who melts just with a look on your face can bring them to tears, you don’t even have to correct them. And so I really start with the basics, and that is get a vision for your family. Paint pictures of possibilities for them so that they can grab hold of what you’re trying to do, what family you’re trying to build and create, and where do they fit within that family. That is so, so important. And then throughout the book, I take parents deeper through specific aspects like monitoring your mouth. I mean so much is done by the words that we say. And more than just words can either build up or tear down, I’m talking about the words that they hear, not the words that you say, the silent words. Are you listening to them? Listen up parents. So I talk about monitoring your mouth, I talk about listening, and I also talk about understanding their world, because you alluded to the fact, I was a teenager once. The difference is, it’s a very different world.
Yvette: Yes, it is.
Connie: And they are living in a world of technology, which is not evil, it’s neutral. It’s what is done with it. And unfortunately there are quite a few bad actors. And unfortunately that’s the world that your children are living in. So I really talk to parents about understanding their teen’s world. We tackle some tough topics. I talk to them about how do you squash fear. I mean fear can grip us. We can think that we’re going to ruin our child. If we come down on them a little too hard, or if we say something brass that we really shouldn’t have said, an we deeply regret it, but we know it’s still bouncing around between their ears. What do we do with that fear?
So those are some of the topics that I take parents through to help them unpack. How do you create defining moments within your family that become lasting memories? That’s a very critical aspect in parenting overall. So I take them through, and that’s probably like half of the things that I cover throughout the book, but those are some of the chapters, and we deep dive on them.
Yvette: So you talk about creating defining moments, can you give maybe a couple of examples of how you’ve done that with your kids?
Connie: Yes. All right, when you are noticing them, I tell parents, “Observe what your child’s doing.” And where could they be, spend hours and hours, especially a teenager, and yeah I’m not talking about video games, ’cause some kids can spend hour and hours on video games, or text messaging, or on YouTube. But when I talk about creating defining moments, I’m talking about
capturing something that they have done, and then picturing it and framing it for them. And then retelling that story, telling them that story, reminding them of that story. And here’s an example. Once my daughter was doing something with another family that was very ministry oriented. I wanted my kids to learn to serve others. I mean it’s very easy, we like to serve ourselves, but I wanted my teenagers to serve others. And as she was ministering and serving this other family, I would often hear back from these moms comments, like for instance she would be babysitting, and they’d make a comment of, “She actually vacuumed the floor when the kids were napping or having room time or something.” When I would hear that I would bring that back to my kids and I’d say, “This is something that so and so has said to me.” Now I’m starting to create that, define that moment, that they may or may not have really thought much about.
Connie: And now I’m putting it in a picture for them, and I’m saying do you know how it did this, or how it blessed her, or how it spoke to her, or how now she’s going to be teaching her kids to do what you have done. And then we would talk about it, Yvette, throughout the years to this day. We’ll still talk about different moments when that has happened. Whether it’s been caring for somebody, whether it’s been an act within the own family of coming up alongside a sibling who really messed up, and felt discouraged, or you know, just dejected.
Connie: And they came alongside it, and I could come up to them and point out, you know you really had a lot of empathy. And I could see how you could come alongside that, you know, your sibling, and once you have noticed what has happened, you form the story around that. You don’t embellish it, you just form the story around it. And then you talk about it often. And that becomes like a little roadmap for them to want to do again.
Yvette: Yeah. I love that so much, because I think that as parents, often times we’re correcting all the time. At least I feel like that. And maybe that gets better as they get older, but I feel like so often it’s you know, don’t do this, don’t do that. Go do this, go do that. And so I love that you’re focusing on the good things that they’re doing, and the ways that they’re serving, just fulfilling those fruit of the spirit, you know the fruit of the spirit in their lives. And recognizing those things in them, because that encourages them to do more. I mean with any child, when you say, “Wow look at that beautiful picture you drew.” What do they want to do? They want to go draw another beautiful picture again. You know, they don’t crumple it up and throw it in the trash can, and so I love that encouragement.
Connie: Yeah, one of the things that is so often true, especially in middle school, there’s a topic that I speak on. It’s probably one of my more popular topics, it’s discover what’s right with your middle schooler. Often times all we can see is what’s wrong with them.
Connie: They’re not picking up their clothes, they’re not getting their chores done on the chore chart. They didn’t unload the dishwasher. For some reason, they just can’t seem to hang the towel back up in the bathroom. And you’ve physically shown them how to do it, and it only takes 10 seconds or less. But there’s a disconnect.
Connie: So I love to focus on the fact that your child, your precious daughters, Yvette, they’re uniquely designed and created with a special calling. And I want to help parents to learn how to unpack that. Discover their strengths. Discover their love languages. Discover how God has uniquely wired and formed and fashioned them.
Connie: So that you’re not left wondering, okay how do I do this? I don’t know, I’m nothing like you. Or, I can’t even identify with what you’re doing. I want to give the parents tools so that they can learn to speak in a way that their child will hear them. And that requires, I wrote about this actually to our girls in the launch team, teens change, parents adjust.
Yvette: Oh, I love that, yeah.
Connie: And what do we often do? Teens change, we’re like what are you doing changing? You’re not supposed to change. I told you to do this. I’m giving you permission. It’s okay to adjust. You need to adjust, they need you to adjust. That does not mean it’s like throw away everything, rules don’t matter. But that’s why we put the key word was beyond the rules. Teens need rules. I mean, We all have rules, we go drive our car, we’ve got to follow the rules, if we don’t get a ticket.
Connie: So they need rules. They need limits. They need boundaries, but there’s more that they need, and it’s the one thing they can not get from their devices, Yvette.
Connie: And that is the relationship with you.
Connie: They can’t get that anywhere else, but from you.
Yvette: Nope, they can’t.
Connie: From their parent.
Yvette: You were talking about how they can’t build that connection through technology, and that’s something that just crushes me, every single time. Every time, and I know you see it too, hands down, whenever we go out to a restaurant, or a store or anywhere in public, you always see families, and it’s not every family, but you always see families who they sit down at the table, and out come the phones. And there’s no connection, there’s no interaction between the parent and the child.
Yvette: We saw a dad, this was a couple months ago, we were at i Hop, and there was a table right next to us, and there was a dad with his little girl. And she was probably five years old, and it was just the two of them. And he was sitting there on his phone the whole time, and he was flipping through Facebook. It’s not like he was doing business, you know? I mean he was just literally flipping through Facebook, and the poor little girl was sitting there, she didn’t have her own phone. And she just was sitting there quietly just kind looking around the restaurant, and my heart literally just broke for her, because I wanted to go over him and say, “You are missing an opportunity with your daughter right now.”
Yvette: And it’s not going to get better. I mean just as she gets older and then has her own phone, then you’ll both be sitting there on your phones. And I think that’s so heart breaking. What are you seeing? I know you talk a lot about technology and you mentioned this earlier, that parenting today is very different than it was. I’m even going to say different than it was when your kids were teens, which wasn’t that long ago.
Yvette: Because your youngest is what, 25?
Connie: 23, not yet.
Yvette: 23, okay.
Connie: Oh, yeah 24. See this is bad if I can’t remember their wedding dates, I can’t remember their birthdays.
Yvette: Birthdays. You know I just feel like even in the last five to ten years, there has been a huge culture shift. And so, talk to those parents who are just kind of going into this, these teen years, and these parenting years, and kind of like ahhh. What do we do? What do we do with all of this stuff coming at us through culture and media, and TV and Facebook? I mean it is overwhelming. And how do we protect our kids from it.
Connie: That’s like a full time job.
Yvette: It is, it really is. And you talk about that in the book a little bit.
Connie: I do.
Yvette: So talk about that for a little bit, encourage that parent.
Connie: All right, so for the mom and dad that’s dealing with the technology onslaught, I would often have to tell parents, “Think about it in this way.” When social media started coming on the scene, I could see the powerful influence, and the reason it all goes back to something that we started at the very beginning, and that is the relationship. We are designed for a relationship.
Connie: And you talked about the father who was scrolling on his Facebook, even adults, they suffer from FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. They don’t want to miss out on something.
That’s why we’re seeing generationally, I mean we’re seeing across the board, people are waiting later and later to RSVP to something because something better might come along. So to the parent that has, and the child that is enthralled, just loves technology, or maybe they’re really looking for their identity in social media. They have to realize that there are some real positive steps they can take. And that is help their child learn to create a positive social footprint. Just write that down, help them learn to create a positive social footprint.
And the reason this is so important is they’re going to want relationships. They’re going to want to make a difference. Let’s face it, generationally, this generation, your children, my readers children, they’re going to be making the most significant impact in society in the next decade. It’s just going to be a wold unlike anything most of us can even imagine. And they’re on edges of that now. They do control, kind of like where we’re all going to end up going. So instead of cutting them off, and I know there are many people who will say cut it all off, wait, wait until they’re 18. I’m not telling an age.
Connie: I’m saying you do have to be very very careful. I’m saying technology is neutral. The internet is not safe. So you think, Connie, that doesn’t make sense. Well it does in how we use it.
It’s not going anywhere, but when we teach our children, like let’s say your daughter is really interested in adoption. I know we talked about this a little off camera, but she’s just passionate about adoption. Just oh, she just wants every baby that’s not wanted to have a loving home. Well then you come alongside her and start teaching her how to use those social platforms. To create a positive impact. Meaning find some of those groups, and start contributing to some of those groups. Not talking about those groups that create havoc and chaos, and are anarchists, or activists.
Connie: I’m talking about they’re creating an awareness to something. It could be the pug society, or it could be the save a cat society. But whatever it is, that is passionate to them, show them through your time and effort, how to utilize it. This is why, I was at a conference I was speaking last weekend, and one of the college admissions counselors was there, and we talked about social media. Yvette, your kids are facing over 50% of colleges look at your child’s social media footprint before deciding if they’re going to accept you into college.
Yvette: Right, employers as well.
Connie: Yes, and employers, and you get fired for the same reasons.
Connie: And so when you start young and you start helping them realize they can make a significant positive impact, then they start utilizing a tool for good, and not for evil. And they’re not as tempted then, to maybe slip under the covers at night when they’re supposed to be in bed, and you see the sheets illuminated, because they had the cell phone light on. But that’s an important part, is just help them learn how to create, how to do it. They technically do need to learn how, because the bad actors out there are teaching and destroying children by the seconds. Because of things they’re posting that parent’s don’t even know about.
Yvette: Yeah, yeah. Well I think that’s an important point, and I think that goes along with everything in parenting and in life, with our kids is that we can’t just expect them to know it because we know it. You know, we have to come alongside of them, just like we have to come alongside of them and teach them how to do math, and how to read, and how to do all of the other things. We have to come alongside of them and train them and teach them.
You know the Bible says train up a child in the way he should go. And that is part of training. And we think that, well it’s obvious kid, you should know how to protect yourself, and you should know how not to stumble upon these inappropriate sites. And you should know how to do this, and this, and this. But we have to be intentional, and actually that’s one of the things I’ve heard you talk about. Is how parents can be proactive, instead of being reactive. And I would actually love for you to talk about that a little bit. What are some actionable steps that you can talk about? ‘Cause it’s so important as a parent to be very intentional in raising our kids. And I love that you say to be proactive, not reactive. Talk about that.
Connie: Alright, to be proactive, a real good example is show them examples. Pull up some online examples of how inappropriate things have been posted or shared. How reputations, you don’t have to look very far, turn on the news, and you’ll see somebody’s reputation has just been destroyed because of an act of foolishness or an act of thoughtlessness really. So I always take, and I show them every decision has a consequence. So look at this one. This particular person made a conscious decision, and it was caught on video, and a year later, somebody thought it would be funny because they were going through their photo feed, decided to share it.
Connie: It went viral. And the virality of that caused this young person to absolutely end up having to have some serious counseling, because it was one of those things where mom and dad didn’t know. She got caught in something that was innocent, so to speak, but it was twisted. So being proactive just means not being afraid to point out poor decisions. And the consequences of them.
Yvette: Yeah, yeah. Oh, it can be scary being a parent today. And I’m so grateful that God has given us his word that we can lean on it, that he gives us clear instruction, even though times have changed, there’s nothing new under the sun.
We were talking about that as a family. I think either this morning or last night. You know everything that’s happening today, it’s not new. God is not surprised by it. He’s not sitting back going, oh man, I didn’t see all this stuff coming. What am I going to do about all this? He’s given us his word to be able to speak life into our kids, and to give us the wisdom. We’ve been talking a whole lot about Proverbs Eight, and about seeking wisdom. And that’s two fold, we’ve been talking to our kids about that, to our girls about seeking wisdom, but as parents I think just digging into God’s word together as a family, and then being on our knees.
You know Heidi St.John says if parenting doesn’t bring you to your knees, you’re doing it wrong. And it’s true. I mean we need to be on our knees daily asking God to give us the wisdom that we need in order to raise our kids. Because this is the next generation. I mean our kids, this is it. They’re going to be our leaders of tomorrow of course, and so what are we doing to be proactive in training them?
We have just a couple of minutes left, and I would love for you to talk about the parent who’s in the trenches of the difficult teen years. You know one of the common mistakes that we can make is to attempt to control our teens instead of guide them. I feel like often times I error on the side of control. I try not to be the fearful mom, but I often times find myself, you know if they’re walking, even on a water fountain, that they might fall into the water. It’s not like they’re going to die, but I don’t want them to get wet. And so I’m always kind of like, okay be careful, don’t walk on the edge, don’t do this, don’t do that. And I don’t want to be that controlling mom. I don’t. I want to guide them instead of control them. How can we go about doing that?
Connie: It’s a mindset. It’s a mind shift. There’s three things that a child, a teenager, and every child, but there’s three things a teen has to know. And [inaudible 00:27:12] has to know that they belong. They belong in your family. That is obviously, they’re part of the Lord’s, but I’m talking about God gave parents to teach and train, so he has entrusted us with his treasures. They need to know that they belong, and that comes through communication. They need to know that their identity is first found in Christ if they’ve accepted the Lord, but it’s found in the family. The Hampton family, we are the Hampton’s and our family means something, and our reputation, and our character, and who we are, and what we do, and how we do it, and how we glorify the Lord, that matters. So that’s where they seek their identity, and they need to know that they’re safe. That their secrets are safe. That this whole thing about control, that’s an illusion anyway. Because we don’t control our teenagers. We may be able to manipulate them and coerce them, and ground them, and make them to behave externally, but there is something going on in the heart that we have no control over.
Connie: So we have to realize, some of the things that are going on in the hearts of a kid are, they didn’t choose their parents. You know? They don’t choose their parents, they’re not choosing their school, they’re not choosing their zip code. They’re not choosing their birth order. They’re not choosing their siblings. They’re not choosing like who even makes the rules.
I mean they don’t make any of that. Those are all things that are decided without them having a say. So if you’re in the trenches, let your child know they do have a say in what’s going on within the family. Some of the decisions that we make, how we’re going to implement or maybe even create a rule. They want to have a voice. They want freedom. They’re trying to grow up. So when we think about they want freedom, and they start pushing back on our rules, let’s step back for a few minutes, and let’s just remember to see it through their lens. They see very differently than we see.
Connie: Where we maybe see it as, I’m keeping my sweet daughter from falling and breaking her leg. They may see that you’re just trying to control me. Keep me from having any fun whatsoever. So I would say always remember to look through the lens of your child before you start to speak and make a whole bunch of knee jerk reactions and decisions.
Connie: And that will help you to set realistic expectations.
Yvette: Yeah, I love that. ‘Cause I find for myself, that often times when I get naggy with my girls and I’m constantly saying don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t do this. When I have a real message for them, they just kind of shut me out in a sense, ’cause I’m constantly nagging at them. So I try really hard to choose my nags wisely.
Connie: And I used to say, I’m careful about how I cut the carrots. Your kids know you so well, I think we forget that. They have been with us since birth. They know what we believe, they know why believe it. They know how we implement it. They even know how we’re going to answer their questions, before they even ask them. Because they know what our values are. And I think as a parent, we often forget. My kids would walk in the kitchen when I was preparing dinner, Yvette I don’t know if I shared this with you before in another topic. They would kind of check the atmosphere. What’s the thermostat and the temperature in this room before I broach any topic? And depending on how I was cutting the carrots, they could tell my mood. If I was in an approachable mood, or if it was a I could be mad at your dad mood, I could be mad at them. I could be having a bad day, so you gotta to remember your kids can sense. They already know what you think, what you believe, and why. And they can sense your attitude, and your heart. So when you’re praying and you’re asking the Lord, really ask the Lord to make your heart tender toward them. To make your love unconditional, not I mean literally without condition, and it is possible, which is why I end the book with, you can celebrate the teen years. They’re not something to be survived. They’re something we can thrive and have the best years of our parenting season.
Yvette: Yeah, well I love it. That is a perfect way to close this out. The book is Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy, By Connie Albers.
Yvette: So thank you friend, we love you.
Connie: Thank you for your support.
Connie: Love y’all.
Yvette: We are grateful for you and we’ll have you back again another time.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Photo by Karina Carvalho on Unsplash – Ferris Wheel
Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash – Kids Laughing on the street