Revive Our Hearts Podcast

And Then I Had Teenagers: An Interview With Susan Yates, Part 3

Leslie Basham: If your teenager grows up to be just like you, what kind of person will he or she become? This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss for Wednesday, April 24.

Parents have a tremendous amount of influence on their children. They learn what's important to us by watching what we do and by listening to what we say, and much of who our children become is determined by what they perceive our values to be. Today Nancy asks Susan for her insights on passing along Christian faith to our children.

Nancy DeMoss: A week or so ago I got a phone call from a woman who identified herself as a homeschool mom with six children. She said that her oldest daughter, a teenager, has just left home in rebellion. Now this mom was calling to say, "I've got five more coming behind, and I've got to have help. What can we do? What should we have done differently?"

My heart goes out to that mom and to many moms who may be having those kinds of questions. So this week we're talking with Susan Yates. She's a new friend, and she's written a very practical book called And Then I Had Teenagers. Susan knows something about teenagers; she's the mom of five children and has just survived--with joy--the teenage years of her children. Susan, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Susan Yates: Thanks, Nancy. It's great to be with you.

Nancy DeMoss: This has been a fun conversation this week, and one of the things I really appreciated as I read your book was how intentional you and your husband were about cultivating in your children a hunger and a heart for the Lord. How did you do that?

Susan Yates: That is an important thing to do, and I don't know that we did it right, Nancy. First of all, we began to pray for our kids from the day they were born, that they'd come to know Him at an early age. I think prayer is the main thing and to realize that it's not all up to you. You're going to make mistakes. We're going to fall and we're going to falter--but God can redeem any mistake.

The most important thing is to nurture your own relationship with the Lord. I was privileged to grow up in a strong Christian family and to marry into one as well, but I didn't come to know the Lord myself in a personal way until I was in college. I, for my youth, went along on an inherited thing. That's what I would call it--an inherited thing. It was just part of being a member of my family.

I didn't take the step of asking Christ to come into my life until I was in college. This gave me insights as I raised my children that every child will have to come--every adult will have to come--to the place where they decide, Do I want to know Jesus because mom and dad do; or do I want to embrace Christ because I want to myself? Often this doesn't happen until the teen years or even the college years. This can cause a parent of teenagers to panic because during those teen years there will be some questioning.

Nancy DeMoss: I can remember that in my own teenage years. I had come to know the Lord in a personal way as a child, but during my teenage years there were lots of times of wondering if this was really all so. Did your children experience some of those kinds of doubts themselves as teenagers?

Susan Yates: Every child goes through some doubts, I believe, if we're really honest. While mine didn't rebel, so to speak, they did question; and they did need to be guided to resources--and that's healthy. We must not panic as parents when our kids ask the hard questions. Our job is to guide them to good resources, but the other thing that does is it will cause us to grow ourselves because our kids are going to ask us questions that we don't know the answers to. It's fine to say, "You know what, son? I don't know. Let's go on a journey to discover some answers together."

Nancy DeMoss: So as a parent, first, you have to make sure that you have a personal relationship with the Lord--that your own faith is not just an inherited faith; but that it's a personal faith. Then you have to be willing to grow in your faith so that you can help your children, as they're growing, to have ownership of their own faith.

Susan Yates: That's so well put. But I want to encourage parents out there who perhaps themselves today aren't even sure that they know that they have a personal faith. We have dear friends, Fred and Barbara. Fred had grown up in churches but had pretty much put it on the shelf. They married; they had children. God began to tug at his heart and in time at his wife, Barb's heart. They came to the place as parents with two girls, where they knew that they wanted to know Jesus themselves.

They went home and told their daughters. They said, "We have just realized that we need Jesus ourselves. We would like to invite you to come along on this journey with us. This is what it means to know Jesus. We don't know anything, but we want to get some Bibles. We want to begin to grow, and we would love it if we could do this as a family."

The girls responded; they both came to Christ. The family began to grow in their faith. It's been very exciting to see God's hand on this family--a hand which enabled the parents to be honest about where they weren't. So I would want to encourage any parents who are listening as we chat--no matter where they are, they can begin a new relationship with Christ simply by asking Him to come into their life. And [they can] begin to grow as a sort of a corporate family journey--together.

Nancy DeMoss: Susan, I'm so glad you shared that. I'm sitting here listening to you and thinking--before we go on could we just stop and pray for someone who's listening, who really isn't sure where they are in their personal relationship with the Lord?

Susan Yates: That would be great.

Nancy DeMoss: Lord, thank You so much for the good news that Christ died for our sins, and that we can be related to You because of what He has done for us. I want to pray just this moment. Susan and I join together in lifting up some mom, some woman, some man, some teenager--who's listening, who does not have ownership of their faith. It's perhaps an inherited faith. They're religious, but they don't have a personal relationship with Christ. Would You cause that person right now to stop, to agree with you, to humble themselves, to acknowledge their need for you and by faith to simply receive You as their Savior. Thank You, Lord, that when we trust You, You do come and save us and make us a new person and enable us to have a faith that is genuine. I pray in Jesus' Name, amen.

Susan Yates: Thank you so much, Nancy. I've often thought that God doesn't want us to think we know Him or to hope we know Him; He wants us know that we know Him. When we ask Christ to come into our life, He promises He'll never leave. He promises that we can know that one day we'll be in heaven with Him, not because we're good but because we're forgiven--from that point we begin to grow.

Nancy DeMoss: Then, of course, that's what you want to pray will become your children's experience as well--that it won't be a stagnant faith but a growing faith.

Susan Yates: We share these same truths with our children, from the time they're tiny--all the way up--praying that when it's God's time, they will make this commitment. Then of course, for them there will be steps of recommitment all along the way, just as there are steps of recommitment for us.

Nancy DeMoss: Once you do establish that faith of your own as a parent, what is another step that you can take as a mom to help create a climate in your home that's conducive to your children having an interest in spiritual things?

Susan Yates: It's important that you get to know God's Word. Our kids are going to pick up what our passion is. If they get up in the morning and they see dad on his knees in his study praying, your son's going to learn that's what a dad does. If your kids get up and they see mom curled up in bed with a cup of tea, reading her Bible, they're going to learn--oh, that's what it looks like to grow in Christ. One of the things that's helpful is to realize that God's Word is full of promises. So I think it's fun just around the dinner table or day by day to share some of God's promises--Romans 8:28, "For God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose."

Your son doesn't make the basketball team. He really, really wanted to. You're devastated because you have his pain and your pain. You run to that promise and you say, "Son, my heart's broken, just like your heart's broken. We don't know why this has happened, but let's claim Romans 8:28. God will use this for good. We cannot see it right now; but He'll use it for good. We have to cling to this promise." Then you wait. You ask a little bit later, "What can we see? How can we see that God has used this for good in our life?" That's the way that you begin to walk on the promises of Scripture. That's where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, in living the Christian life.

Nancy DeMoss: One of the things I appreciate so much about the home in which I grew up is just what you're talking about--the conversation about spiritual things. As I hear you, Susan, I'm thinking of a passage in Deuteronomy 6. Moses was speaking to the Israelites who were getting ready to go into the Promised Land, and he was very concerned that not only would they have their own faith--that's where it had to start--but also that they would pass that baton of faith on, intact, to their children.

So he said, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one! Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." We can't expect our children to have a heart for something we don't have a heart for. Then he says, "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." In other words, all day long be talking about the ways of God as a part of natural conversation--when your son doesn't make the basketball team and in those real-life situations.

He goes even further and he says, "Tie them as symbols on your hands, and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." I think he's just saying to look for daily, natural ways to make the Word and the ways of God a part of the atmosphere of your home, then believe that children will catch that atmosphere and in time will develop their own heart for those same truths.

Leslie Basham: We've heard some crucial words today; and Nancy DeMoss and her guest, Susan Yates, will return with a final suggestion.

In addition to the daily broadcast, we at Revive Our Hearts are committed to providing helpful tools to encourage you on your journey. This week we're glad to be offering Susan Yates' latest book, And Then I Had Teenagers. We believe it's one of the most practical and beneficial books available on raising adolescents. To order your copy for a donation of $13, visit our Web site at ReviveOurHearts.com or call our resource center at 1-800-569-5959. You can also order a cassette tape that includes this entire week of interviews. That tape is available for $5.

Thanks to all of you who have supported this program. Your prayers and financial contributions enable us to continue this ministry. If you would like to help, just write to Revive Our Hearts.

Now here's Nancy...

Nancy DeMoss: Susan, I'm thinking of a mom who is really new at this thing of talking about her faith with her children and helping to build her children's faith. What's one practical thing that she can do tonight that would start her on this journey of building her children's faith?

Susan Yates: One thing that she can do tonight is to simply be honest with her teen. For example, she has a 14-year-old daughter. She says to her daughter, "Sweetie, I want to learn more about prayer, and I would love for us to learn this together. Would you be willing to tell me one concern that you have on your mind?" Have the daughter share one concern that's on her heart; have the mother share one concern that's on her heart that's appropriate to share with her child--a personal concern. Have the mother pray a one-sentence prayer--you know we get so worried about how we're going to present ourselves to God; and God says, "Just speak!" Have the mother pray a one-sentence prayer about the daughter's concern and have the daughter pray a one-sentence prayer about the mother's concern. Then most people are familiar with the Lord's Prayer. They might just hold hands and pray the Lord's Prayer together. Coming together before the Lord binds you together with each other in a way that nothing else can. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.