Today’s Table Talk is by the wonderful Lisa Clark. We’re so blessed that she will weigh in from time to time to offer some good old sage advice on parenting our tween/teens. 

Is you kid working this summer? I’m talking a real job where a boss is involved. It certainly doesn’t have to be for money, but compensation is terrific incentive. Even if a volunteer job is at hand, there are great lessons we might be missing by letting kids slide into self-absorbed vacation mode. I’m just sayin’.

Of course, if looks could kill I would have been on an ER gurney needing some defibrillation action this morning after shoving mine out of the car at the Youth Center. Memories of peeling a certain screaming child off my person at Mother’s Day Out flooded to the present as I watched a similar departure (without the outward wails) – same kid, taller body. Weird. My heart sank to that all-too-familiar uneasy feeling as I questioned my action of forced labor. But, just like MDO, I heard through the grapevine that all was not only well, but great … once I left!

Okay – Enough about us. Let’s dig into Lisa’s vast vault of wisdom. Thanks for sharing, Lisa!… and thanks for walking the road with me.


Summertime brings lazy days, sleeping in, vacation, mission trips, swimming pools and …WORK!!! Yes, Work! Well, at least for some of us.

The partnership my husband, Brad, and I share in raising our kids is invaluable.  He has never left it up to me to be the parent and I am so grateful for that.  He has been hands on from the beginning.  Parenting preteens and teens is very different from parenting preschool and elementary children.  Very different.

Our oldest daughter, Caroline, now 21 and living in Los Angeles, CA, was a precocious child.  She always knew more, felt more, needed more.  She was an August baby, and never did I ask myself, “Should we hold her back a year so she’ll be older than the other kids?”  NOOOOO.  That child was ready for school and I was ready for a break.  So, when it came time for driving, she was one of the last in her class.  She didn’t get her license until the day before she started her junior year of high school.

Brad knew that Caroline could never save enough money to buy herself a car he would trust her driving around town in, and ultimately off to college.  Just wasn’t going to happen.  He masterminded a plan that was one of the best parenting decisions he/we ever made.  He told her that he would buy her a car (most likely a used one) but it would sit in our garage until she could put gas in it.  Yes, she had to buy her own gas.  How would she do it?  She would have to work in the summers to save enough money to put gas in the car for the year.

So, the summer before she turned 16, she began to work.  Her first job was as a tennis instructor for her varsity tennis coach.  She would work 9-12noon everyday teaching little ones how to serve and volley.  It was hot.  She complained a little.  But it was a job and she got a paycheck.  At 15, we set her up with a checking account, savings account, and debit card and she was ready for business.

Requiring your teen to purchase their own gas is brilliant for several reasons.  1 – It limits their driving.  Brilliant.  2 – They are forced to budget their money through the year.  3) They learn to work and save.  Unfortunately, many students are graduating high school and college without ever having had a job.  No employer, no resume.  They don’t know how to work.

Caroline really wanted a white, Toyota Forerunner.   Brad is a businessman.  A salesman to be exact.  He liked to sell and be sold.  He knew all the tricks.  Caroline is Brad in a girl’s body.  Those two stood toe to toe through the years.  Very stressful for the rest of us in the house.   Anyway, Brad required Caroline to make a presentation as to the benefits of a Forerunner, etc. and she “sold” him.  The hunt for a used Forerunner began and by the time she turned 16 it was in our garage.   She filled it up with gas and was on her way.

The next summer, she retained the same job and saved for her senior year.  As I said earlier, Caroline lives in LA.  At 19, we packed up the U-Haul, attached it to the Forerunner and drove across America to set her up, by herself, in an apartment in LA to pursue a music career.  Now, 21, she has toured across the world, stayed in college and will receive a business degree from Liberty University in December, negotiated rental agreements and leases, served the homeless weekly in South Central LA, and loves the Lord with all her heart.  We are so thankful.  You will never regret teaching your children to work hard and give God their very best.

Our 17 year old, Camryn, has followed suit and works as a day camp counselor for Sky Ranch Camps.  She talked her daddy into purchasing her a Toyota Prius.  A hybrid.  Not a gas guzzler like her sister’s Forerunner.  Smart girl.  She’s more like me.

Lisa Clark has been teaching women’s bible studies for the past 6 years at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. .In 2007, Lisa joined Sky Ranch Camps, located in east Texas.  She and CEO, Linda Paulk, developed and created SkyMoms Ministry. Lisa travels throughout Texas and Oklahoma teaching and encouraging moms through this new, innovative ministry.  She writes parenting articles for the Sky Ranch website,, as well as for the SkyMoms Ministry blog,  In 2010, Lisa and Chrissie Dunham launched Vintage in Pink – Mother & Daughter Retreats –

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