How can I stop the battles with my teenaged daughter?

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Q: I'm battling my 15-year-old daughter over clothing, boys, schoolwork, and her spending quality time with the Lord. I do my best to express my concerns regarding her well-being and spiritual walk, but it develops into an argument and my emotions burst. Sometimes I feel hopeless as a mother and question my abilities as a parent.

A: Most parents of teens feel the same, so you aren't alone. And you aren't a terrible mother. Your daughter's simply becoming her own person. That's a good thing—but sometimes the process can be rough.

May I suggest you adjust your focus from teaching your daughter to nurturing the relationship you have with her? Make time to hang out with your daughter, doing the things she enjoys without giving in to the temptation to lecture her along the way. Trust God to continue speaking to her. As the mom of three teens, my favorite Scripture these days is Isaiah 54:13: "All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace."

When your emotions start bubbling over, remove yourself from the argument and calm down. Instead of fighting, pour your heart out to Jesus on your daughter's behalf. Beg him to reach her, teach her, and correct her, if necessary. Then return to the room, listen to her with an open heart, and speak your mind with love and self-control. Then let go and, as the cliché continues, let God.

Doubting Thomas

Since my son went off to college, he's beginning to question some of our Christian beliefs, particularly in regards to creationism and evolution. Help!

Faith can and does work alongside science; they are not two ends of the spectrum. Unfortunately, both sides of the creation/evolution debate tend to paint caricatures of the opponents. We need to guard against that temptation and present a rational viewpoint.

If you haven't already, expose your son to the best of each side of the argument. Although they aren't believers, both Michael Ruse and Eugenie Scott are respected pro-evolution voices. On the creationism side, I recommend Dr. Michael Behe's book Darwin's Black Box. Dr. Philip Johnson's Darwin on Trial is considered a classic. My younger daughter, Clancy, read Lee Strobel's A Case for a Creator last year and learned quite a bit.

If you don't think your son's ready to receive a book from you, start with a good article or website recommendation. Students are constantly on the Internet, so this is a good way to ease into a discussion. One excellent website is www.discovery.org. My favorite resource is "Stand to Reason" at www.str.org. I recently discovered www.trueu.org, a terrific website designed especially for students that your son may enjoy.

As much as possible, make this a family discussion. Investigate some of these resources and then engage in a healthy family debate. It's easy to allow ourselves to become a consumer of opinions and get information spoon-fed to us by the media. It takes a conscious effort to become a critical thinker and to train our children to do the same.

Most of all, love your son, pray, and ask God to visit him with his Spirit. John 16:13 says, "When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." Remember, the truth is what will set your son free (John 8:32).

Faith Under Fire

My ten-year-old son is picked on because we don't allow him to see the PG-13 and R-rated movies or to listen to the music all the other boys at school talk about and listen to. He's tried to explain the reason he doesn't join in is because he's a Christian, but that only makes things worse.

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