Helping parents understand teenagers and their world

A resource from CPYU


As parents, our regular study of God’s Word not only produces changes in us, but will produce beautiful fruit in the lives of our families, our kids, and others around us.

Last month I took the bait when Amazon music suggested I might like to listen to their “Summer Oldies” playlist, which had been “curated by Amazon’s music experts.” I had listened to familiar tunes from Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Chad & Jeremy along with others, when a 1963 tune from Connie Francis popped up. In her happy bouncy song “Vacation”, Francis reminds listeners that school is out, so we might as well put away the books and do nothing else but have lots of fun as we “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N in the summer sun.”

Traditionally, summer is a great time to refresh and regroup. As a kind of Sabbath-rest set apart from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the year, summer time is – as another old song tells us – a time when “the livin is easy!” This makes our summer vacations a perfect time to rekindle, or maybe begin for the first time, the spiritual nurture habit of daily Bible study. All of us who are serious about our faith know that there are seasons where we allow our daily time in God’s Word to become less than daily. We also know that we do so to our own disadvantage and the demise of our spiritual vitality. It seems to me that the extra time afforded by summer might be the perfect time to refresh and regroup ourselves and our children around the life-giving habit of daily Bible study.

Psalm 1 makes it clear that to grow spiritually tall, strong, and fruit-bearing like a tree planted by streams of water, we are to “delight in” the law of the Lord, meditating on it both day and night. The Psalm tells us that doing so makes us “happy” or “blessed.” As parents, our regular study of God’s Word not only produces changes in us, but will produce beautiful fruit in the lives of our families, our kids, and others around us. In his book, The Race: Discipleship For The Long Run, John White writes, “Our values alter once we start meeting regularly with God. Some things that once seemed important shrivel and lose their fascination, while others swell in significance. Seeing life through different eyes, we begin to adopt a heavenly perspective, growing more akin in our thinking to the celestial than to the earthly host. Inevitably we will influence people wherever we go because we carry with us the smell of heaven.” White goes on to say that our own growth in God’s Word will “awaken in others a longing for Christ.” This includes our children!

As you and your family members open your Bibles this summer, it’s important that you remember a principle that harkens back all the way to the time of the Reformation. This principle is referred to in the Latin term, sola scriptura, which means “scripture alone.” Because we live in a day and age where we believe that authority is something that should be given to ourselves and to no one or nothing outside of ourselves, the principle of sola scriptura is a much-needed corrective that will save us from wandering away from “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” . . . who is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (John 14:6). This principle teaches us that the Bible is our supreme authority in all matters of faith and life. It gives us the truth necessary for our salvation, along with the guidance we need to live faithfully and obediently as disciples of Jesus in God’s world.

I have found it personally helpful to pray these four prayers every time I open God’s Word:

  1. “Lord, show me you.” We want to know the truth about our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer.
  2. “Lord, show me me.” We want to know the truth about ourselves, especially the truth about our need for a Savior to follow.
  3. “Lord, show me your plan for my life.” We want to know the truth about God’s will and way for His followers.
  4. “Lord, show me the enemy’s lies, schemes, and strategies.” We want to know the truth about the ways that Satan desires to derail us from faithfully following Jesus.

It’s summer vacation! Yes, put away the books. But be sure to keep The Book front and center as you enjoy these months set apart from the rest.

Walt Mueller

CPYU President

“It’s the time when they are individuating and they are challenging everything you say and everything you do and everything you are. And that’s what it is. And you have to kind of just ride the waves. I feel like it’s like surfing. I’m just riding the waves—whoops, just got knocked over. Now, I’m back! I’m back!”

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez, whose blended family currently has 4 teenagers, speaking about what it’s like raising teenagers.

Live with Kelly and Mark
May 5, 2023


A recent article in Teen Vogue’s online magazine is titled “Influencer Parents and the Kids who had their Childhood Made into Content.”

As the title indicates, the article talks about the parents who leveraged social media by putting everything about their children’s lives online for the world to see, not just photos of childhood achievements, but all the intimate details of their lives. This includes videos of them crying, to footage of them being disciplined. All of these have been shared like a young life is some kind of reality show, and it’s all been done without the child’s permission. Now, these children are coming of age and their digital footprint is not only there, but they are lamenting and even angry over what their parents have done to invade their privacy, while trying to gain an online following for themselves. Parents, while the temptations are surely real, maintain a Christ-like humility. Neither you or your kids need to be front and center on social media. Just endeavor to parent well.


Curiosity about Jesus

Our friends at the Barna Institute have released a report on members of Gen Z and spirituality that is titled “The Open Generation.” There’s some encouraging news for those who love and lead kids regarding their interest in Christianity. The report states: Curiosity about Jesus is widespread in the open generation. Teens in the U.S. are far more intrigued than their global peers, with 77% being at least somewhat motivated to keep learning about Jesus throughout their lives. A teen’s personal commitment to follow Jesus goes hand in hand with their motivation to study him—the percentage of teens who want to learn more about Jesus rises significantly among committed Christian teens. Even among teens who are non-Christians or don’t know who Jesus is, however, over half are at least somewhat motivated to keep learning about him. Parents and youth workers, don’t forsake your responsibility to nurture and lead kids into spiritual maturity.

A study of more than 2500 subjects ages 13-24 has found that those who vape nicotine only, THC only, or both nicotine and THC are more likely to report anxiety symptoms, symptoms of depression, and suicidal thoughts than those who don’t vape nicotine or THC through electronic smoking devices. In addition, the symptoms of anxiety were more frequently reported among those who only vape THC, the major psychoactive component in cannabis. And, over half of those who vape nicotine, THC, or both report experiencing symptoms of depression as opposed to only 25% who do not vape.

(American Heart Association)

The online microtransaction market is forecast to grow from $67.94bn in 2022 to $76.66bn in 2023. Microtransaction revenues are earned by entities providing in-game virtual goods. Microtransactions often appear in free-to-play games that do not have any cost for downloading the game and only include the online cost for virtual goods. The content purchased can be purely aesthetic – dance moves, skins or clothing – or help provide a tactical advantage to gameplay.

(The Business Research Company)

Mobile Gaming Apps

Total U.S. Audience
Month of April 2023
Source: Comscore Mobile Metrix

1. Candy Crush Saga
2. Coin Master
3. Royal Match
4. Solitaire Cash – Real Money
5. Pokemon GO
6. Dice Dreams
7. Swag IQ
8. Wordscapes
9. Candy Crush Soda Saga
10. Solitaire – Grand Harvest



Recently, TikTok added a new video filter that has drawn in those who are older to using the social media video platform. The filter is called Teenage Look. Users focus the camera on their face and see a split screen, with the lower picture showing them as they look now, while the upper picture smooths out their wrinkles, launching them into a trip down memory lane as they supposedly find themselves facing their high school aged self.

Truth be told, I gave it a look which simply resulted in a quick laugh. But reports are that many older users of the Teenage Look filter are actually getting emotional in different ways. Rather than laughing, some are saying that old emotions are being drawn out. Others are upset as they realize how fast time has passed and that they are indeed aging.

For those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot forget that our days are numbered, and we have a great hope that this life is not all there is. One day, God will make all things new, even you and me.

“Blessed in the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Psalm 1:1&2

Studying and talking about the Psalms is a great way for parents to communicate spiritual truth to their children and teens. Because today’s kids are bombarded from every side with all kinds of voices shaping their values, attitudes, and behaviors, a great place to start is with the truths communicated in Psalm 1.

The Psalmist addresses the very real tension we face every day as we make choices regarding who God is, what He has done, who we are, what we do, and how we live. The “blessed” person is one who “does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers.” Instead, the “blessed” person delights in and meditates on God’s will and God’s way.

It might surprise you to learn that “blessed” is the most frequently used word in the Old Testament, signifying a state of happiness and wellbeing. Read on to the end of Psalm 1 and you’ll see that a life of vibrance and spiritual prosperity is much better than what waits at the end of the way of the wicked.

What do your kids see when they look at your example? What voices are you following as you live out every minute of every day? Are you following the well-traveled wide road that leads to destruction, or the narrow road that leads to life? Remember, our kids are watching. What they need to see is an example of one whose life is watered daily by God’s Word, and who as a result, is “blessed.”

Youth Culture Today with Walt Mueller is a one-minute daily radio show and podcast from CPYU.


“God’s face sees all your interactions on social media. He sees your scrolling. He sees what you post. He sees the private messages you share. But it’s much deeper than that. His power is able to see the heart. Why do you post the things you post and look at the things you look at? He is able to see into the desires of your heart, desires you may not even be aware of. All is exposed before him.”

– John Perritt

Social Media Pressure: Finding Peace Alongside Jesus, Devotions for Teenagers helps show why social media can leave teens feeling sad, anxious, and depressed and points to practical ways of turning to Jesus for rest and wholeness.

Statistics show that teens spend most of their waking hours on screens, without a lot of direction on managing their online lives. In this devotional, John Perritt, a longtime youth pastor, will guide teens in making sure that their relationship with God remains at the center of their lives without letting their phone take over.

The devotionals address social media pressures including the fear of missing out, comparing yourself with others, being bullied, and even being addicted. They will help teens interact with social media in a way that is sensible, smart, and even biblical, while at the same time finding the peace that comes with walking alongside Jesus.

Social Media Pressure encourages conversations with trusted adults, aka “Alongsiders,” to read, discuss, and pray about the truths of each devotion with the teen reader.

© 2023 All rights reserved. The CPYU Parent Page is published monthly by the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, a nonprofit organization committed to building strong families by serving to bridge the cultural-generational gap between parents and teenagers.