“Tending Middle Schoolers Hearts”

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Episode Summary

You have to seize the opportunities in this short season of parenting as it’s a pivotal time for children.

This is a vital season to be super intentional with your children, but there are a lot of obstacles that naturally arise in this season for parents making it challenging. The Tolpins cover important family dynamics, the realities of what’s happening to children in this age range, and practical insights on what to be doing.

Main Points From This Episode:

  • Reflect on the realities of what’s happening in the middle school years
    • Body changes
    • Opposite gender attraction
    • Identity solidification
    • Faith strengthening or weakening
    • Potential increase in insecurities
    • Increased independence
    • Peer pressure
    • Desire to be known
  • It’s vital to encourage the right family dynamics
    • Prevent identity-harming words from being said by older siblings
    • Remind older siblings to see their growth so they don’t stall their maturity
    • Cultivate strong sibling relationships

Scripture From This Episode:

Ephesians 6:10-18 –Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

Psalms 139:1-4 –Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”

Ephesians 5:4 – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Proverbs 18:21 –Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

Proverbs 26:18-19 – Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

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Full Transcript:

Note: This is an automated transcript and misspells or grammar errors may be present.

Welcome to Courageous Parenting Podcast, a weekly show to equip parents with biblical truth on raising confident Christian kids in an uncertain world.

Hi, I’m Angie from Courageous Mom.

And I’m Isaac from Resolute.

Man, We’ve been married for 21 years and have seen the fruit from raising our eight kids biblically. Based on the raw truth found in the Bible.

We can no longer let the culture win the hearts of children. Too many children from Christian families are walking away from their faith by age 18. And it doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. Join us as we start an important conversation about effective parenting and the following. Hey, welcome to the podcast.

Hi, guys.

Good topic today. Really needed. We felt like the Lord was pressing this on us.

Oh, you guys. Check it out. This is the title tending middle schoolers hearts so important.

Now, hey, even if you don’t have a middle schooler yet, this will help you to think about it. We need to think about things before.

Yeah. Actually, on that topic, we have a podcast that we just did a few weeks ago about vision and legacy, and this is exactly a perfect example as to why. What if you’re listening to this and your kids are too? If you’re pregnant with your first good job, you’ve got Angie and Isaac sitting here clapping our hands saying, Good job. You’re listening to this about middle schoolers, because that is what it means to actually have a vision for your legacy in the future. And you will not regret it because you need to foresee things happening before they happen so that you can proactively parent years ahead of time. And it will be less work like less hardship in the midst of what could potentially be a really hard season in parenting for a lot of people. Mm hmm. You know, I just I think about middle schoolers, and I can’t help but think what I used to think before we had kids about middle schoolers. I used to believe the lie that those years, those junior high years were, like potentially the worst years of parenting, because that’s what the world tells you. That’s even what the Christian world tells you. And I just as I’m going to be courageous and I’m going to go out on a limb and I’m going to say, you know what? I think that if you expect it to be bad, it will be bad if you expect it to be enjoyable and some of the best years that you could have as parenting, then guess what? You’re going to reap what you sow. And so I just want to encourage you guys, you know, on a practical level, how many kids we have. We have nine kids. You guys know that. But we’ve had five that have already gone through and graduated from this age category. And we currently have our sixth son is in this middle schooler range. He’s 12 years old.

It’s such an important season in their life because it’s just this period right before they go into their teenage years, which is right before they launch into the world out of your home. So it’s like, wow, this is all going to happen so rapidly. Once they’re in that middle school age range, they’re going to be gone before you know it. And so you have to seize this precious opportunity with your children during the season.

It’s so true. And I think, too, like as I look back and I go, wow, okay, So we’ve had five kids that we’ve already raised through this that are all surpassed the middle school years. So I definitely feel like permission, if you will, from the Lord that we can speak to this, because I truly look at all five of the kids that have gone through this season and these years where some of my favorite with them and it just they all were a true delight. I can genuinely say they all were a true delight during their middle school years. And I don’t think you hear that very often from people. And so I just I hope that that’s an encouragement to you. We by no means are perfect parents, so we’re going to be sharing some of the things that we’ve recognized and learned over the years. Parenting middle schoolers. But before we get into that, we just want to say thank you.

Yeah. Thank you so much for being part of the ministry. Whether you’re sharing your praying for us, we do appreciate your prayers. We just send an email out if you’re on our email list, asking for prayers for some very specific things. And it’s just so important because when you’re leaning out to do things for the Kingdom of God and impact people with with a ministry, there’s a target on your back and praise God. God is so much stronger than the enemy and more powerful and all those things. But when you pray for the ministry, it helps. Yeah, we feel it even. It’s amazing. And so we would really appreciate that.

And on that note, if you’re not on our email list, would you just go to be courageous ministry dot org and get on our email list? Isaac sent out an email this week just sharing some prayer requests. On a personal.

Level, you actually probably can’t get on our list from that site yet, but that is on the list to do. I think our social accounts courageous parenting on Instagram. You can get on our list and if you go to Craig’s parenting dot com, you can get our list too.

Yeah, but thanks for that clarification. Yeah, sorry about that, guys, but I just I share that because Isaac was really transparent in with some prayer requests and and we’re not going to dive into that today. But if you guys are on a prayer or email list, please do get on that because we love to share with you guys and get feedback. And we really appreciate everybody who’s been praying for him and praying for our family. We just really appreciate you guys.

Also, everything can be found to be courageous. Ministry dot org. Show notes for the podcast Free Resources, The Courageous Parenting Free workshop with us. So make sure you find that if you haven’t gone through that yet, obviously the parenting mentor. Program, things you can do to support the ministry. And it’s so important because we’re full time. We work at this full time. There’s so many moving parts and responsibility. And so if you buy something, it directly impacts our family, but also the ability to further the impact of the ministry.

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Yeah, Yeah. Awesome. Well, let’s just dive in, you guys. We the title of today’s podcast, as we mentioned before, is tending middle schoolers Hearts. And I don’t know if you know this, but we’re pretty careful with our titles. They’re pretty purposeful most of the time. They’re very, very purposeful in that if I was to break it all down and definitions, you’d be like, Oh wow, They really took some thought into that. And so I’m just going to share part of the process with you guys, tending for example, to tend to means to go to or move in a particular direction. Don’t we want to do that? We want to connect with our kids hearts. We want to move middle schoolers hearts in a particular direction, right? It also means to deal with problems. Don’t we want to deal with the problems that middle schoolers are having in their hearts and in their minds? Of course we do. It also means to deal with the needs of a person. And so I just love this word tending that we’re tending to our middle schoolers hearts. I think that, of course, obviously that could apply to any age of child. You want to tend to your child’s hearts for sure, but we are going to dive into what it actually what is going on with those middle school years and what needs to be tended to most.

Right. I can I love I’m going to use the analogy, even though it’s really Angie’s Department more than mine, but in the garden. Oh yeah, it is. So have you ever seen a garden? Not tended to. I have. Right. Gardens that haven’t been tended to. I’m just going to be honest. They’re pretty ugly. There’s like.

There’s hardly any.

Fruit, There’s hardly any fruit. Things are dry, there’s weeds everywhere. There’s little labels from plants lying around. The trellises are falling down. It’s just a mess. It’s very messy. And what’s cool about a garden is you can see it visibly. So, you know, So if you have a motivation to have a good garden, you can see the disarray and go tend it. What’s interesting about somebody heart, your child’s heart is you can’t visibly see it. You can see some aspects of it and behavior and things like that, mood and things going on with them. You can say some see some indicators, but it really takes an intentionality. And this is so important in this season of their life that we are super intentional to see the reality of the heart because it may actually look like an untended garden and we don’t realize it.

That’s so good. Isaac, I’m so glad that you shared it. I, I even think as a gardener and taking the time to tend a garden, it takes a lot of time to know your garden, right? Depending on the size. Right. It’s like if you’re not out there even for a day, then you reap what you sow. And I think that a lot of parents who their kids grow up into the high school years and they look back and they’re like, Why? Why do I feel so distant from my child? Or maybe in the adult years to where they only see their kids at holidays and it’s by obligation rather than just like, I really like you and you’re one of my best friends and I want to spend time with you and you see them often. Like there’s a difference in family culture based upon how much time you invest tending to it. And so for me, there’s really been a huge analogy in even teaching and modeling for my kids. Being a disciplined person and tending to the garden every day, I believe that they catch that purposefulness when they’re going out there with me. It creates a muscle and a habit. And what’s cool is like when you’re doing something on a regular basis like that, you can also make it purposeful by having deep conversations with your kids, which is what we’ve also done. But this isn’t a podcast about gardening, it’s a podcast about tending your middle school.

Or what is the reality of a middle schooler and pursuing their.

Hearts. Well, there’s a lot of reality. Is that middle schoolers definitely what they’re dealing with. Let’s just list some. So obviously middle schoolers, this is when hormones start changing and growing and their body begins changing and growing.

Which can create some insecurities, some hidden insecurities that might be part of an untended garden if you’re not knowing what those insecurities are intending to.

That’s right. And what would be the practical way of tending to those things? Right? So I just even think, you know, having conversations proactively with your kids before those things happen, like so that they are not alarmed when they start having odor, for example. Right. Or they get their first zit and maybe they they are embarrassed about it and they don’t feel like they can come talk to you. You haven’t prepared them ahead of time. So then they like maybe they pop it and they really like they overly do something to it, right? Like scratching it and squeezing it and then they end up hurting their face more, right?

Or they start having some whiskers and then maybe somebody mentions it, Oh, you’re getting your whiskers.

You know, you don’t even notice.

And they don’t know how to tend to their face.

That’s right. And so I even think like just body changing. Right. And they’re becoming more aware of their body and other people’s bodies as well. And kids at this age need to be taught to have discretion in what they say to one another. But let’s just be honest. Are most middle schoolers taught how to have verbal discretion towards other teenagers? Now, I would say this is probably they’re figuring it out. And so they stumble a lot.

In middle.

Schoolers, middle schoolers, and even just teenagers they like they’ll stumble a lot, in their words, because they haven’t been taught discretion. I would say that this is like a huge thing if you regarding body image, you need to have that conversation with your kids that, hey, listen, you know, acne is embarrassing, Odor is an embarrassing thing. Some kids get embarrassed when they start needing to wear different clothes because they’re starting to grow in their chest or they’re growing in different areas. Right. Like, don’t bring it up, don’t verbalize it and announce, oh, wow, look, this happened. No, you don’t point out the zit. Right? And so having that conversation, even with younger siblings, that maybe the oldest sibling is having acne for the first time, they shouldn’t be pointing it out on the way to church. Jenny has a zit. No. Like that kind of conversation shouldn’t be happening. Right. And and so I really if I can if there’s one thing that you can do to help your children, to have more security, it would be to have that conversation of verbal discretion, which we’ll talk more about that. In regards to different thing.

This is also when gender, the opposite gender, becomes very appealing, usually.

That’s right. Which is hopefully a.

Good that’s a really good thing. You know, when when I find out about that, I’m like, awesome, That’s how God made them. Yeah. I’m not alarmed by it.

No, no.

And this is great that we can have this conversation so that we can help them navigate those feelings.

That’s right. And I think, too, there’s a need for leadership. Wouldn’t you agree that there’s a need for leadership in regards to how you lead your child’s heart regarding how they view the opposite gender? And I get that today. I mean, you know that that topic of gender alone can be very controversial and it can be confusing for kids. But really, God’s way is not confusing. Very simple. It’s very simple. And I just it was interesting. I was having women’s group for our church last week and we were talking about this, how God named Eve female and he he named Adam Male. Right. And there’s man and woman and how womb is in the word womb? Man Right. Like and how beautiful that is that.

It’s Whoa, man.

That’s true. Right? She’s pretty. I think so funny. I think that that’s definitely a unique Isaac topic.

But you guys, like, in all seriousness, God was very clear. He’s simple. He’s not confusing. We are humans, but women are humankind with a womb. And that’s the distinction. It’s very simple. And so when we raise our kids with the confidence that it is very simple and there is nothing that’s confusing and right is right and wrong is wrong, when the world is telling them that right is wrong and wrong is right, We need to be solid in our convictions so that our children can have confidence in the convictions that they’ve been taught because it’s during these middle school years where they’re potentially going to be exposed to people who are trying to confuse them even more. So I definitely would say that there’s an attempt. Back on children today, even at a very young age. I’m sure you would agree we’ve all become very aware of this evil agenda that’s being pushed by the leftists. But truly, the middle school ages is when they’re actually proactively doing things like trying to convince kids to take blockers at school or or even worse, things where hysterectomies are happening to kids at different universities in Boston. And I’ve seen all these different interviews with doctors on staff, and I’m literally I’m sick to my stomach thinking that kids ages 11 to 14 are being mutilated and permanent things are happening to them. So this is the thing. I don’t think that’s going to happen to your kids. But there’s they may meet another kid their age where that has happened to them and that can cause confusion.

Well, there’s another thing about gender. I mean, one of Biden just interviewed some transgender person and she was promoting that the bulge should be OC right. And in the crotch area for transgender women and like showing that off.

Wearing ties promoting that yeah it’s so hard to know.

If it’s and so the only reason I say that is we’re raising kids in a world where that’s going to be probably a new trend and that’s going to be confusing. Like is it right? What is it?

And the only way your kids would not be exposed to it is if you were an isolationist and you never even went out. Because the truth the truth is that what Isaacson is, that’s going to become a thing that people see even going to the mall. Right? Right. Like this specific person you’re talking about was promoting their shopping shorts.

It’s not like you can protect your kids from everything they’re going to start being exposed to, especially in the middle school years. And they actually need to understand what’s happening in the world so you can train them. We don’t advocate for hiding those things. We don’t purposely show those things. But when they do happen and they see something, you have the relationship where you can have a conversation, but feeling rock solid and who God made them to be is so important. This can be a confusing time and especially with what they see out in the world. So it has to be a really clear distinction about God’s truth and the difference in that and what the world’s truth is.

Yeah, and speaking of identity, because that’s what you’re kind of talking about, having that strong rock solid belief in how God made them. Yeah, like that’s one of the big things for middle schoolers. I would say that the eight year old and the five year old, they to them to little kids, I just love talking to little littles because things are black and things are white, Things are wrong and things are right. And it’s interesting how they just are. They’re so confident. They’re like, I’m a boy. They’re just that’s how they are. If they haven’t been purposefully, I’m just going to say it abused to be confused that it’s just that’s who they are and they’re confident in that and they’re joyful about that. Right. But then when kids get to be in the middle school age is right. That’s where they’re like starting to really ask some deeper questions. And I think that guys, can I just say, this is one of the reasons why I think I enjoy this season so much with the kids that we’ve had go through the season is because they are asking bigger, deeper questions and it becomes fun in a different kind of way. Like when they’re younger, it’s light hearted, fun questions and they’re like curious about everything and they love learning and oh, look at this rock. Isn’t this rock so cool? And but when they’re in junior high middle school ages, it’s like they want to know more. They want to be educated. They want to figure out what they’re good at. They want to learn things. And they have such a teachable heart for being. And they have the physical capabilities of actually taking on more than they did when they were younger. Yeah, So it can be fun in a whole new way. But this is definitely a reality that middle schoolers are trying to figure out their identity and what they believe.

And so we need to be leading spiritually in the home. We need to be having conversations. We need to allow room for their unbelief to be spoken if it’s real, if they have some unbelief and not be alarmed about it, but instead have healthy spiritual conversations about biblical truth and praying together and so forth and loving them and showing that we love them no matter what. Because if they have any inclination that love is tied to their belief in God, then they might hide the fact that they have some unbelief. And it’s they’re on a weak ground in their faith and you don’t even know it. And this is the time where we need to cultivate that relationship leading into those teenage years. It’s so important.

So so those years, like when they’re potentially learning things, they’re figuring out what they believe you as a parent, it should be your main goal to know what they believe and to lead them in what to believe. Because if you don’t lead them proactively in what to believe, then. They may start actually believing other things because of what they’re exposed to and other influences in their life. And so we have to take time to invest in those relationships and have those conversations. If you aren’t having conversations, then you actually probably don’t know what your child believes.

Now, this is a time where they’re becoming more independent and there can be a trend of parents starting to encourage some of that independence, which is good and kind of not micro-manage, not be a helicopter parent in the negative aspect of that and kind of let them start doing some things more on their own, which is great. But then what can happen is.

Well, then sometimes kids can start to feel ignored by their parents or feel like their parents are spending more time on younger siblings or older siblings or whatever it is. Right. And I just think that we all need to be able to have teachable hearts. This is something that like, you know, how we shared in one of our previous podcasts that we were going to go to our kids and ask them some very the courageous parenting challenges that we put in the podcast regarding the parenting epidemic that’s happening today. If you haven’t listened to that podcast, you need to go listen to it. This is another one of those things where we could easily ask ourselves that question about each of our kids. Do any of our kids feel like they’re ignored by us, or maybe just not purposefully pursued by us would be another way of putting it. Because maybe it’s not that you’re ignoring, but maybe it’s that you’re not purposefully pursuing because you’re distracted.

Well, I can I can speak to that. It’s like when you have if you have teenagers, middle schoolers and youngers, and I know that’s maybe a small group of people.

And then babies.

Not that it can be, honestly, it can be very easy to be less purposeful with the middle schooler because in the back of your mind, you’re like, well, there’s a lot more time for them. So I really need to tend to the teenagers. I have to tend to the younger ones because they’re demanding and the middle schoolers are independent enough to be doing things on their own, but they’re going to be around a while, so we could easily take that for granted.

That’s right. And so, you know, as parents, we need to understand, like think for a second. You guys always hear, oh, those the weeks go so fast with a newborn, they grow so much. And then you hear the same thing about the younger years, Oh, in a blink of eye, they’re going to be middle aged kids. So enjoy it. Now you hear that all the time. So if we all know this already, we need to understand that. Like, we can’t just take for granted that our kids are going to be in our home for eight more years. Like I remember when Kelsey was just going into the junior high years, if you will, into seventh grade, and I remember thinking.

I only have six more years until she’s potentially graduating.

And it was like this like heart stopped. Like I have so much I want to do with her and teach her and our relationship. I want to be closer. And I’m like, was excited, but also kind of overwhelmed because I’m like, I need more time. And you guys just share that with your kids. I think that your kids would really feel loved and filled up if they knew how much you wanted to spend even more time with them, and that you really want to purposefully fill them up so that they’re prepared to launch. That’s so special for your kids to hear.

I want to take a moment and give you something for free if you haven’t got it already. Is the date night one sheet? It is a beautiful document you can download that will have some key questions on it for your date night to just get in alignment about what’s most important for your family. No matter what time of year, it’s always important to recalibrate. You can get that by going to parenting dot com and subscribing to our mailing list. Also, you can get all of our show notes and everything at courageous parenting dot com. And I also just want to share real quick about the parenting Mentor program. So many families are being transformed by going through this. It’s the six week self paced program with live engagement from us and even direct interaction. So if you want to join us, here’s a little bit more about it. You can find out more at courageous parenting dot com.

Steve and I realized that we were getting too comfortable with the world’s vision of how to raise our children. But Angie and Isaac have done in creating this is literally phenomenal. This program provided awesome scripture based teachings and just some really great practical applications. This class has just really rocked my world. It has given me a vision for not just the different things that we might focus on as parents who are trying to raise our kids basically, like how our kids are behaving or what we’re doing with discipline, but also the things of the heart.

We now have a game plan to how we want to raise our children. We have so many answers to the questions that have been in our mind.

It’s not just these hypothetical situations or it’s not just this. Here’s what I think you should do. It’s let me show you where in scripture this is. Do your legacy a favor and your self a favor and just do it. One of the best things that we’ve done this year, one of the best investments we’ve made this year, and I could not recommend it more, we’re no longer fearing. Dark days ahead, but we’re so excited to raise the lights to be leaders for the next generation.

But let me just share some of the other things that are maybe a reality for middle schoolers that maybe you’re not realizing. And if it’s not a reality, if you’ve got middle schoolers and this is not your reality. Praise Jesus. Praise Jesus. But the reality is that some of your middle schoolers might have friends who this is happening to them, and that will actually impact your kids, too. So here’s a reality that sometimes we don’t think about with middle schoolers. Experts say that most marriages that are going to end in divorce will end in divorce between years ten and 11. But we’ve also seen over the years that years 15 and 16, sometimes parents that like if divorce is going to happen, it’s usually in the first 16 years of marriage that divorce happens. And if that is the case, guess how old their kids usually are? They’re usually at this middle school or age. So while middle schoolers are experiencing body changes for the first time, they’re trying to figure out what they believe. They don’t know what their identity or their purpose in life is. They may have insecurities. Maybe they’re starting to be attracted to the opposite gender or whatever it is. They have all these questions, all these things. They’re they don’t really know a lot. They’re learning, but then all of a sudden their parents are getting divorced. And that can be just life shattering for these kids. And not only that, but think about if you’ve ever known anyone who’s gone through divorce. Can I just speak bluntly? Those adults that are going through divorce, a lot of times, not always. Not always, but a lot of times they’re very preoccupied with themselves. And while they may be trying to minister to the kids, the kids really feel lost and heartbroken during that time, no matter how much the parent is being proactive.

And so there’s a lot of heartbreak that can happen for middle schoolers. And when you are raising a child to be biblical and you’re raising them to have compassionate hearts and to bear one another’s burdens, and they have a friend who’s going through this with their parents, they may be heartbroken for their friends also, which there’s so much learning that can take place, but you need to be the listening ear that is hearing what your kid is like learning and trying to figure out in their brain while they’re walking through that with a friend. I also think that it’s not too far of a stretch to also acknowledge that a lot of times parents during this season of life when their kids are 10 to 14 years old. The parents are in the thirties and for early forties, and that is the time in their career where they are too focused on their their climbing, their ladders, their building, their business. And a lot of them get so preoccupied with their own life that their children are not actually put into as much. And so I have to bring up these two huge things that happen a lot of times when kids are this age because we need to be aware of if our like I said before, if this is not the reality of your middle schooler, praise Jesus. But the truth is, is a lot of their friends. This is their reality. And so we need to be proactive in stepping in the gap and trying to minister and be the be the hands and feet of Jesus to these kids as much as we can as well.

Absolutely. Obviously, peer pressure is a deal and you got to manage that. Understand that as much as possible, which is important. You know, one of the things that’s really important your children understand in the Bible is the armour of God and really doing that. And I would just encourage you to maybe do a study on that yourself. It’s Ephesians six verse starting in verse ten through 13 and even beyond that. So I would look at that with your kids and teach them after you’ve studied it a little bit, and then that could be something that you’re repeating over and over again periodically studying with your family because it never gets old. It’s something that we’re supposed to pray into to really hold true. So it says, finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil and the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day. And having done all to stand firm, that’s why I wear my stand firm hat, stand there for having fastened on the belt of truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness and as shoes for your feet.

Having put on the readiness given by the Gospel of peace in all circumstances, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Those are going to come through peer pressure. There’s going to come through all kinds of things, right, and take up the helmet of salvation and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. So the Sword of the Spirit, I just want to hit on that for a second. Do they know how to wield their sword? Well, they should start being capable in understanding the Bible, reading the Bible, knowing where passages are by the time they’re in their middle school years. And if you’re feeling behind on that, dive into that because that is the sword of the spirit, what does that mean? Well, there is a spiritual battle for the hearts of your children. The enemy wants your hearts, the hearts of your children. And he’s using culture, media, the propaganda machine, social media, all of these things, technology to get to the hearts of children.

And it’s interesting that there’s that attack from the enemy, because the truth is, is even even the enemy knows that every human has a deep desire to be known. And so he’s a counterfeit and he creates this fake. It’s really an illusion. He creates an illusion of feeling known to your children. And it’s important that we understand that this attack is on our children and that there is an element of fakeness or not full realness in things like social media and that our kids don’t get addicted to it. We’re not going to dive deep into social media in this podcast because that could literally be its own teaching all by itself. And we do cover that in depth in the Parenting Mentor program. But you guys, the truth is, is that our children desire to be known just as much as you do. I’m sure that you’ve experienced loneliness at times. I know that I have. I know Isaac has where we’ve gone. Well, this is like a real thing. And if we’re feeling this way, then our kids are probably having times when they feel that way, too, because they’re human. And so we need to understand that in the midst of this season, in a person’s life, in the middle school years, when they’re going through all the things that we listed. Right, the reality of trying to figure out what their identity is, what they believe, their insecurities, their body changing, feeling ignored by parents. Maybe there’s a crisis or a trauma happening in a family. Like all these things that they’re processing, they may not feel known. And so we as parents have to be proactive in having that listening ear. And I would say if there’s one practical tip that we could give you so that your kids do feel known is that you would take the quality. Time that’s necessary and invest in that relationship and just ask them how they’re doing and then listen.

And it takes quality time. And sometimes it takes quantity time, too, because sometimes it takes a long enough time for them to feel comfortable talking to you about the real issues in their hearts. I find quality time can get to the heart if you already have momentum, if you already have that relationship where they are freely offering up vulnerable information and talking about deep things with you. If you already have that muscle going, you can get it done in quality time. But if you don’t, quantity time is needed because it might take a whole 3 hours of doing a project together to get that one question them to ask that one question, or for you to have a discussion about something that prompts them to feel safe and ask you a question as something you didn’t know they were dealing with or things like that. So I just think that we have to be cognizant of that. Are you are you a safe person to talk about hard things with? Are you is the relationship and built where they’re comfortable and used to doing that with you? And it doesn’t automatically happen. Just because you have the title parent doesn’t mean they’re comfortable with you in that way and that it takes real vulnerability. And everybody obviously, if somebody doesn’t feel known and they’re insecure and they’re lacking strong identity or and they’re confused about something and these kinds of things. You know, it takes a lot for them to come through and actually expose and be vulnerable.

About and actually share it. Yeah.

So, so it’s a really important that they feel known. We all want to feel known. And I think one of the ways you can help them feel known is acknowledging their strengths in front of other people and especially older. Like if it’s it’s one of my sons acknowledging something really cool they did in front of men they respect and connecting different aged men with your child.

Well in the same as for sure. I mean, yeah, you just experienced it with men because you’re usually talking to them. Same thing, you know, But it’s exactly the same. I remember when one of our daughters wanted to start coming to the women’s meetings at church, and B, she, like, specifically wanted to be viewed as a woman. Do you remember this? We were on our road trip and it was just big. It was a conversation I had with her and and and we just but it was spurred on from the question of like, here we were on this three month RV trip, and Isaac asked this brilliant question to all the kids.

You’re that brilliant.

It was brilliant. He said, How do you want to reenter community? You ask them, how do you want to re-enter community? And that spurred on one of our daughters who was at the time like 12 into like, I really want the women in our community to see me more as a woman and less as a child. And it was really it was perfect timing, actually. And she was at this age category where she but she had an old soul because she had been disabled by her mom and spent a lot of time with her mom and her big sister. And so she she has this she knew what she believed. She had strong convictions, actually, I would say even stronger than some of the young moms that were in our church. And we’re going to the women’s meetings. Right. And so there was this element of like, yeah, you should be going that would be the next most natural step. And so coming home, I had to initiate and help with that process of like going to the women, making sure they would be comfortable still sharing with her sitting there. And it was so transformative for her to be able to start doing that and just, you know, rubbing up against some older women.

More so age segregation is a detriment, right? There should be. Now, obviously, our process on that just side note is a womanhood ceremony or a manhood ceremony. Yeah. You know, some of the people perhaps from church are there and then they’re accepted more because, you know, you’ve acknowledged them and done this this effort in in there worthy of it. Like they’ve shown they’ve demonstrated the ability to keep things confidential, the ability to speak coherently, look people in the eyes and understand some spiritual truths.

So understand discretion, like I was talking about and confidentiality. Because if you’re taking a 12 year old or a 13 year old or 14 year old to a woman’s Bible study where people are sharing about their marriage or thing parenting and things like that, they need to be able to have the maturity to not gossip or share with their other kids. Right. And so there has to be a trust that’s there, which comes, by the way, that you raise them. So that’s a whole nother big topic. But I think that it’s important for us to touch on in this section because this is one way you pursue your child’s hearts, is to understand that kids just like you always wanted to be in the next season of life. Guess what? Your kids want to be viewed as big too. And so this age category does desire. They desire to be viewed as bigger. Do they want responsibility and privilege? And they want they actually can I say that our word, they want respect.

They do.

And the best way to get respect from a child is to start out by modeling it, by having respect for the intrinsic value that they have as being a human, just.

Like so important. I’ll make sure everybody got this is that you as a parent need to give respect before it feels like they’re worthy of it. Even because people rise to the level of respect leaders give to them. This is true in work world and it’s true in parenting is if you want people to be respectful, give them respect. Even though maybe they haven’t shown everything a normal person would think would need to get that respect right. It’s no, you’re you’re you’re demonstrating. You’re projecting a confidence in them that they rise up to. And so if you’re waiting for them to rise, you’re putting it all on their shoulders. But if instead you’re giving them something to rise to without pressure, naturally, then they’re going to naturally over time, rise up to that. And that’s really important.

But I think too, there’s this element of wanting to teach our kids while we’re in the process of trying to get to know them better so that they feel loved, so that they feel known. We need to be raising our children up and reminding them over and over again that God knows them. Right? And so because God knows them, we we as parents know this truth that God knows us, the Bible says. So, but because we’re image bearers, like we talked about more in depth in the very last podcast, right? We need to take that on and go, okay, so because God knows them, we need to purposefully know our child and we can’t just assume that we know our kids because we gave birth to them. It’s understanding that humans grow and change and they learn things. And so if you’re giving your child that room to grow, then you’re going to be constantly wanting to continue to know them, right? You’re going to keep pursuing them, understanding that they do grow, they do change, they change their mind, they change their opinion. They hopefully they’re grounded in their beliefs that you have been discipling them in. But the truth is, is you need to know them, because if you don’t, you can’t just assume that you agree on all the same things, even regarding your beliefs that would be very detrimental to your future relationships, actually.

Hey, in Psalms 139, one through four, it says, Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know, when I sit down and when I rise up, you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path in my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways, even before a word is on my tongue. Behold. Oh, Lord, you know it all together.

See, it’s not.

A loving God.

It’s those kinds of verses, though, that show us how much God knows us. Yeah. And we need to be memorizing those scriptures with our kids and reminding them of that because kids do struggle so much with feeling known. Yeah. So if we remind them of the truth when they’re starting to believe a lie that they’re not known, we have to remind them of the truth which is found in God’s Word, like Psalm 139.

Go to be courageous ministry dot org to get the Scriptures and all the notes and stuff.

So we just want to we want to talk to you guys about this concept of family dynamics and how it affects the middle school age. Because if we’re tending to our middle schoolers hearts, part of tending to their hearts is also training the rest of the family. That impacts the family culture. And we want to purposefully set the family culture so that our children can thrive during this season of their life and be strong, confident, courageous kids. Right. Because that’s the whole point of this ministry, right? Yeah. So one of the things that we have been feeling called to with our children and we want to encourage you guys in and you can be doing all the things right that we just talked about. But if you don’t have this piece also intact, it could actually dismember every one of your other previous efforts. The family dynamics is so incredibly important because sibling relationships are important, parent to child relationships are important. So we have some tips here that we wanted to just share with you guys, because, you know, middle schoolers, when they’re in that like unconfident figuring out who they are stage, they’re kind of fragile. I’m just going to say it. They’re kind of fragile. So if an older sibling was to say something that was insensitive to them, it could literally break them. Or if a younger sibling was to blurt out something insensitively in front of their friends, it could also break them.

What if, for example, an older sibling said, You’re so annoying, you’re such an annoying person or something like that over and over and over again? What would that middle schooler start to believe about themselves? Mm hmm. I am annoying. I should not open my mouth. What if they’re a relational, more relational, outspoken person? You’ll actually warp that child into not verbalizing things, which leads to sadness no matter what their personality is. We like to be communicating. It might make him really second guess when and ever to communicate. And they might become sad and and not as talkative as they used to. So just something like that could literally warp them away from who God made them to be. So it’s super important though. We’re not using words like annoying.

Yeah, it’s interesting. That reminds me of Proverbs 1821. It says Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruits. And so both death and life, we need to teach all of our children this because that impacts these. The kids like it impacts one another and they start to view themselves a certain way. So if someone is sarcastically making fun of a sibling, right, like because they found out that they have a crush on someone, let’s just say that or they because they have acne or any of the things that we went over before, any of their potential insecurities that they have in this season. If an older or a younger sibling starts making fun of them, it could literally forever hurt that relationship. Also, it’s not the kind of relationship that you want your children to have with one another. Now God can heal because that’s the whole point of grace and forgiveness, right? But you have to lead them in that. You have to correct the one that’s in the wrong. You need to tenderly go and build up the one that has been completely put. And so we have band words. Isaac went over a couple of them. Like Annoying was one of them. That’s meaning when I say banned words, meaning they’re banned from our home. They’re not allowed in our home. We don’t talk like that to one another because it is something that can literally be the thing that a child will attach to their identity and they’ll forever think that they’re annoying and then maybe they never exert themselves and speak out in a crowd. Maybe they don’t live to their full potential of being a leader because they were told by their older sibling over and over again, Oh, you’re annoying or that’s stupid. Or, you know, these different things that people can say to one.

Another about, like get to the point or shut up or.

Yeah, words like this. These are all banned words in the Toppin family. What are the banned words in your family? Have you created a culture to where your children like if I was to come over to your home and go, so what are the banned words in your family? I can’t is actually one of the banned words.

And our worst word. You can ask for help, but you can’t say I can’t. You can say I need help. Yes, I’m having difficulty. This is too difficult for me, I think. Could you help me? Yes, but I can’t. As so, defeating it is.

And so anyway, what are you guys need to develop? Like what are your banned words? And remember to teach your your the scriptures like Proverbs 1821 to your children. Another thing that I think of regarding it’s not really banned words, but just how you use your mouth towards one another. Sarcasm. This could actually be an entire teaching as well as we’re not going to dive super into it. But I think to myself, like how much that puts people down. You used to say when you were doing business, See, Isaac and I used to work together, so he had all these like awesome things that he would say to create the culture within our business. And one of them was there’s a little bit of truth to everything someone says. So if someone’s being sarcastic and they’re only joking, the reality is, is the person that they’re putting down in that statement doesn’t feel good. They don’t feel better about themselves. Actually. They instead would probably walk away thinking, Do they actually think that about me? And I just want to share a scripture with you that I literally I wish I would have known this years ago. It’s in Proverbs chapter 26, verse 18 and 19 says, Like a madman who throws fire bans, arrows and death woe. He is the man who deceives his neighbour and says, I’m only joking. Yes, the Bible actually says this. So we don’t allow our kids to use sarcasm and then make up for it by going, Oh, I’m only joking. That’s not okay. It says like a madman who throws firebrands and arrows and death is the man who deceives his neighbour and says, I’m only joking, That’s not okay.

Not okay. Another thing is we have to remind our older siblings to let the younger ones mature, let them grow, recognize that they’re not the same person they were just six months ago. A lot of times when familiarity breeds contempt, right? So as you’re in the same family, the older sibling might just be thinking about some of the challenges they remember about their younger sibling and thinking that’s still part of their reality when this child has actually grown. But that belief in the older sibling holding on to those older things is stifling it.

It’s holding them back, actually. Like, think about it. If you ever had within a family, if you have the dynamics where you have an older kid babysitting. Right. And they have to deal with a child that’s maybe younger whining or complaining or grumbling, for example, and their head, they start to think they’re a whiner or I don’t like asking them for help because they’re just going to have a bad attitude and I don’t want to deal with it. It’s the same thing that goes through parents heads and it’s why they don’t actually raise up kids to be like productive contributors to the family, right? People will just do it instead of taking time to slow down and teach a child something. Right. Well, big kids do this with their younger siblings, too, and we need to make sure they don’t because it actually will help them to be better parents when they are parents. But realizing that these thoughts about who they were when they were younger and maybe what some of their character traits were have actually grown and they’re not the same as they were. And you have to lead even your older kids view of their younger siblings by pointing that out. I’ve had to have those conversations. Yeah. So as I.

Say, and you got to cultivate good sibling relationships. We’ve done a whole episode on this, so you go find that. But in Ephesians five four it says, Let there be no filthy ness or foolish talk nor crude joking which are out of place, but instead let there be Thanksgiving.

This is huge, right? Like it’s literally telling us a warning and and it’s commanding. Like this is not good for Christians. This is not something that we have in a Christian home. And then it’s telling you what to have instead. Yeah, I love that because it’s very practical saying what is edifying, what is Thanksgiving? Right? And then I think of Romans 12, too, which talks about not being conformed to the pattern of this world. But have your mind transformed by the renewing of your mind, which is in Christ Jesus, so that you can discern what’s good, what the good and perfect will of God is? This is what we need to be. This is what we want for our middle schoolers, right? We want them to have transformed minds. We want them to be meditating on truth and to not be like the world. And so in this process, we cannot underestimate the value of the family dynamics and the culture that is set, which is set by you.

It is. And one one more tip I wanted to share. Sometimes in the middle school years, we look at sports as being a huge answer to a lot of these things in The point is we want to help our kids succeed and have some anchor points of confidence of achieving things, being good at things. This is true, but if sports is the only way you’re doing that, I really believe that’s limited. I’m all for sports, but I believe if it’s the only way, it is limited. You know, we we need to be equipping our kids to be capable of things to sports is good for lifetime health. But a lot of the sports they won’t play after they’re done with high school actually will play sporadically. But if you’re teaching them how to be capable and some really practical things that also anchor I’m good at this. I think that is even more valuable. And so really helping them succeed at things that could be monetized in the future or some version of it could be to be building confidence so that when they’re a provider or, you know, a young lady that is, you know, not married or helping or helping her family out, they have some things, some skills, some abilities to be able to be resilient in this world from a provision standpoint, I think is so important.

These middle school years, they’re starting to you’re starting to discover what they lean more towards. One you might have seen we’ve been doing some would projects and farming and things like that. One of the things I want to add to our repertoire, I guess is metal working with metal. So welding, cutting, bending I think would be really cool if, you know, we built we created a knife like we had a little. Forge and we’re able to go into this. And you might be asking, well, how do you get into that? Oh, I have no idea. I’ve never done it. But that doesn’t limit me. And I think that’s an important point, is you should be willing to grow and figure out new things because your kids are not you. And if you’re only putting them down your path, it might be limiting their resiliency and capabilities and confidence because they might not be as good at some of the things that you really shined in.

Yeah. No, that’s so good. I was just even thinking about like, there’s so many more things that we could talk about. We should probably do more podcasts on the middle school years for sure. Let us know if this has been good for you and if you’re interested in it. We love hearing feedback, but I even just think about the need to have conversations with our kids about their dreams. Yeah. And reminding them this is as far as their identity goes. A long time ago I wrote a couple podcasts. One was Every kid needs to be known and it was about listening. And so if you want more information on that, because we only touched on that for a little bit, we’ll put the link to the blog post in the Courageous Parenting podcast blog post as well. But there’s also this desire that the kids don’t even know they have. Can I just say that kids don’t know that they have these needs. They may not be able to verbalize. I don’t feel known by you, but that is a need that they have they may not be able to verbalize. I don’t know what my purpose in life is, but that is a desire that all humans have. And at this age, if you’re able to verbally give them a concrete definition of what their purpose in life is right now, that can bring so much hope and mission and vision to this age category. And it’s super, super encouraging. And so maybe we’ll talk about that in the future. But we are so glad that you joined us today. Thank you so much. We appreciate you. Give us some ratings on iTunes, send us an email, give us more ideas of things that would be relevant. We love hearing from you.

Thanks for.

Joining us. See you next time. Hey, thanks for listening to this episode. For more resources, go to courageous parenting and courageous mom dot com for free online workshops, blog posts and best selling courses. Also, we wanted to quickly tell you about our six week online parenting mentor program. Isaac and I created a powerful biblical curriculum. Here’s how it works. Each week we release a video with a downloadable parenting packet to make it easy for you to incorporate those teachings directly into your parenting.

This is an incredible self-paced program where we cover everything from obedience training to overcoming mistakes most Christians are making. But more than that, it’s a supportive community. You’ll have access to our private online group, live Webcasts and the courageous parenting text message line where Angie and I can send you weekly encouragement straight to your phone.

If you’re interested in joining our next online parenting mentor program, secure your spot now at CourageousParenting.com

Written By Angie Tolpin
Angie has been married to Isaac for 19 years and together they have eight children, whom she homeschools. She is the Founder of CourageousMom.com, a doula, the author of the best-selling book Redeeming Childbirth, and the creator of the first ever Christian Postpartum Course. Angie loves ministering to Women and has created a few online Bible Studies on Biblical Friendship and Motherhood.

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