by Lori Richey, former youth director

In the digital age, there can be a big difference between what we as parents observe on the outside, and what some young people might be experiencing on the inside. There are some things we simply cannot see with our eyes or even detect with our “parent radar.”

Especially when it comes to their faith lives, it can be challenging to know what a youth or young adult is thinking, questioning, or feeling. How can parents play an active role in supporting their children as they grow in faith?

Here are some tips from Mark Matlock, co-author of Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon (Baker Books, 2019).

  • Learn to ask good questions
    • What are you thinking about ____?
    • How are you feeling about ____?
    • What are you wrestling with?
  • Create a safe space for children to feel comfortable talking about what’s on their heart, without fear that they may be judged or belittled for their thoughts and opinions.
  • Understand that young people who choose to follow Jesus are sometimes in the minority among their peers. Use scenario-based techniques to help them practice how they might respond in certain situations, like “What would you do if you knew a friend was being bullied online? How does being a Christian affect how you might respond?”
  • Model healthy boundaries with phone usage and screen time yourself.

Pay attention to the moments when your teen or young adult seems anxious or stressed, or when they may be preoccupied with their phone or computer in a way that’s beyond the norm. Without upping the tension, let them know that you’ve noticed, and that you care.


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