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An article from Jonathan McKee at

Dynamic ImageWhich do you think is a more effective way to teach today’s young people how to make good decisions?

    “You should do this.”


    “What do you think you should do?”

It’s funny how often parents, mentors, and youth pastors end up becoming the voice of “you should” or “you should not” in a young person’s life.

    “Don’t listen to that song, it’s bad.”

    “Don’t drink alcohol, it’s bad.”

What are these kids going to do when they get on their own, call us up and ask us what to do?

What if, instead of telling young people what to do, we began helping them learn to make decisions by asking them, “What should you do?”

Last week I wrote a free resource for you that we posted on our MUSIC DISCUSSIONS pages both on and using the new hit song, Turn Down for What. This popular song basically says, get high, get drunk and crazy, and don’t listen to anyone who tells you to stop. What reason is there to stop?

The question is, what is the most effective way to get our kids thinking about the message of this song? We could stand up on our soapbox and start whining about how dirty today’s music is and ban our kids from streaming it. If our kids like the song, do you think this approach will get them to open up about the song, or clam up?

What if we asked them questions about the song?

That’s what I did in this music discussion. I provided you with questions to ask about the topic of the song:

    Why do you think the topic of losing control and doing what you want is so popular in music today?

    What do you think people are looking for when they engage in activities that help them “lose control”? Do you think they find it?

Then I shared some scripture and a sobering study from the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs and asked questions like…

    What are some of the results that can happen when you light up or drink a ‘nother round of shots?

    What are some truths in this verse that seem to jump out at you in contrast to the message of the song?

    What does it mean, “Don’t act thoughtlessly”? How does that apply to this song?

    What does the verse tell us to be filled with?

Questions help us move from monologue to dialogue. Furthermore, they require our kids to come up with the conclusions themselves. After all, some day very soon they are going to have to do this on their own. Are you equipping them for that day?

My wife and I have found that this method of asking questions works much better with our kids. One of our kids in particular, is like Gus from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The only way to get Gus to do something was to make him think of it himself. You might remember Toula pointing this out to her mom:

    Toula Portokalos:
    Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. "Ah, the man is the head of the house!"

    Maria Portokalos: Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.

You might remember the scene where they sat down with Gus and asked him for advice about who should work at the travel agency, while all along they knew the answer. They just needed Gus to come up with the answer for himself.

Many of our kids are just like Gus. We just need to lead them to discovering the answer.

We do this by presenting them with truth and asking questions.

We do this by moving from “You should” to “Should you?”

Which method do you use?


Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over a dozen books including the brand new More Than Just the Talk, Sex Matters, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three kids Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.

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Comments on this post

   Brad         5/27/2014 11:05:11 AM

Great article. Something all parents need to think about.



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