Free Parent Workshop – Self-Esteem, Social Media & Teenagers

February’s Doorways Parenting Workshop will be focusing on Self-Esteem and your teenagers.  We will explore the current effects social media is having on our kids.  How does what they watch, subscribe to and give hours to affect their precious self-esteem? And what can we, as parents, do to encourage a true and right perspective on their self-perception and worth?
Join us!
Monday, February 4th from 5:30pm-6:30pm at Doorways for this Free workshop!

Our parenting workshops are FREE, informative, lively and will leave you knowing you are not alone in this journey of raising teenagers.

This workshop will be led by:

Jason Ellis, MA-Pastoral Services
Behavioral Health Paraprofessional

Jason has spent the last 30 years in youth ministry in Arizona and Oregon. He has a heart for young people and families and longs to see them living life to the fullest. He spends time in the outdoors as often as possible, has a recent growing love of pickleball and makes amazing pizza in his wood fired pizza oven at home.

Jason is married, has 3 kids and is currently enrolled in the MFT program at the Phoenix extension of the Fuller campus. Jason has spent the last three decades working with teenagers and raising three of his own.

The workshop is free, but seats are limited.

Text 602-999-8389 to confirm your attendance.

15 Safe and Fun Friday Night Plans for Teens

As children grow into teenagers, Friday nights at home as a family become less frequent. Teens would like to be out exploring the world and discovering themselves with their friends, rather than spending the evening in with their parents and siblings. As a parent, you don’t want to stifle your teen’s growth and independence, but you also worry about them encountering peer pressures that can lead towards reckless and potentially dangerous behavior. Like all parents, you want to make sure they are partaking in safe, yet enjoyable, activities.

Doorways Arizona Blog: 15 Safe and Fun Friday Night Plans for Teens

So you can be a little more comfortable with your teen putting more space between you and them, here is a list of 15 fun, yet safe, Friday night plans for teens:

  1. Have your teen invite some friends over for a make-your-own pizza party. Who doesn’t love pizza? Sit with your teen and have them help you make a list of the ingredients they think you should purchase beforehand.
  2. Teens, especially teen girls, love the mall. However, frequent mall trips can put quite a dent in your wallet. As an alternative, have your teen go through their closet and take out clothes that they no longer wear. Have them invite their friends to do the same, then host a clothes swapping party. They can trade clothes and put on a fashion show to model their new outfits when they are finished.
  3. Show some school spirit by attending a football game. Allow your teen to invite some friends over to have a quasi-tailgate at your house before the game. Have them help you prep the appetizers before they arrive so you get some time with them as well.
  4. Take your teen and friends to a trampoline park like Krazy Air in Mesa, or Jump City in Phoenix. Not only will they have fun, but they will get in some much needed exercise as well!
  5. Have them invite friends over for a mini movie marathon. Don’t forget the popcorn.
  6. If you have the space, send your teen and some friends out back for an urban camp out. Let them set up a tent, and hang out around a fire pit roasting marshmallows and telling stories.
  7. Host a karaoke night. Set out finger foods and soft drinks and let your teen and their friends sing the night away.
  8. Check with your local multi-gen center or parks and recreation office for teen nights and activities.
  9. Go miniature golfing! There are several indoor and outdoor miniature golf courses around so weather won’t have to be an issue.
  10. Instead of family game night, allow your teen to invite friends over to play games like Apples to Apples, Quelf, and Things.
  11. Send them off to bowl a frame or two. The bowling alley is a great space for your teen to be as loud as they wish and have some fun, without disturbing the whole house.
  12. Throw a fiesta! They are too young to spring break in Cancun, but who’s to say they can’t enjoy a delicious Mexican spread.
  13. Host a monthly book club for your teen and their friends.
  14. You’ve probably heard of the wine and design parties that adults are having, why not have a non-alcoholic art party for your teen?
  15. Life is stressful. Offer your teen and some of their friends a little R&R with an at home spa day. They can give each other facials, paint each other’s nails, etc. while enjoying fresh fruits and sipping on sparkling cider.

These are only a small number of ways your teen can enjoy some time with friends, while still staying safe and keeping your mind at ease. What are some fun activities you can think of for your teen to enjoy on a Friday night?


5 Tips for Parenting Tweens and Teens During Junior High

The junior high years can be a perplexing and difficult time for both teens and parents alike. As your teen develops academically and socially, they will be experiencing significant changes to their hormonal makeup and brain chemistry as well.

5 Tips for Parenting Tweens and Teens During Junior High

Due to these physiological and mental developments and changes happening in your teen’s body and mind, they may experience times of confusion and outburst during their growth. As you parent your teen or tween through their junior high experiences, you can rely on these five tips to ensure that you are offering solid support and guidance that build up your teen’s character and personality as they undergo drastic changes in their mind, body, and life.

Consider the adolescent years as a period of growth and learning for your teen, and yourself.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the human brain goes through a period of rapid transition during the adolescent years. These changes account for many of the typical teenage behaviors such as seeking independence, developing strong social bonds, and increasing their capacity to learn. However, many of the connections in the brain are not fully formed until a person reaches their 20s. This may explain why teens tend to behave erratically and irrationally during the junior high years, and understanding these natural, normal behaviors can help you more quickly identify if your teen is progressing normally or if they may be at risk for mental health issues.

Play an active role in your teen’s education.

According to School Family, an important way to stay involved as a trusted guide in your teen’s life is to play an active role in their schooling. You can become more involved in your teen’s education in numerous ways, including:

  • Find a way to help out at your teen’s school
  • Get to know your teen’s teachers and school administrators
  • Attend school meetings and events
  • Chaperone dances, field trips, or school events
  • Know your teen’s assignment and test schedules
  • Designate a home work spot in your home, and help if needed
  • Talk to your teen about their schooling

Encourage and practice open communication on all aspects of your teen’s life.

Your teen will be experiencing many changes during their adolescent growth and development, and it is important for them to understand that they can come to you and speak about everything that is going on in their life. Communicate openly with your teen, and make sure they know that you are always available to listen and advise them when they need you.

Don’t avoid having the more difficult conversations about sex, alcohol, and drugs.

Family Life encourages parents of middle school teens to be bold and brave in speaking to teens about difficult or awkward topics such as sex, drugs, and alcohol. Your teen will be experiencing many changes during junior high, along with a growing independence, so it is vital that you have all the hard conversations to keep them informed, safe, and healthy as they grow.

Monitor mobile activity and social media interactions.

Most teenagers will have a cell phone and a social media presence by the time they are in junior high, so it is really important that you monitor the interactions that take place through texts or online social channels. While these pass times can be a great source of communication, bonding, and entertainment for your teen, they can also be dangerous due to bullies and predators. Keep close tabs on all of your teen’s online and mobile conversations, and also make sure they understand how to stay safe when they are having fun online.

As a parent it is important to understand that the natural changes that come along with adolescence can act as underlying causes for your teen’s perception of their world, and shape how they react and experience it as well.  Always treat your teen with respect, and consistently guide and enforce the development of strong morals and virtues. If you begin to consistently notice concerning changes to your teen’s behaviors, and struggle with reaching them and helping them through them, you can rely on the help of a professional teen counselor to help you.





5 Tips for Being a Successful Single Parent to Your Teenager

Successful parenting of teenagers is undoubtedly one of the most difficult, but rewarding endeavors that parents take on as they work to raise intelligent, independent, healthy, and loving young adults. This important job can certainly be much more difficult for single parents, who may never have planned to be a sole model and family leader. Life circumstances such as divorce or death, however, can easily change the family dynamic, and leave all the roles, responsibilities, and burdens upon the shoulders of just one person, rather than two.

5 Tips for Being a Successful Single Parent to Your Teenager

Here are five tips to help you be a successful, single parent to your teenager, while maintaining balance, health, and support in your own life as well:


  1. Share and firmly support important family beliefs.

According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, one of the best ways you can be a successful single parent to your teen is to establish and firmly support your family beliefs. You should openly share your values and beliefs with your teenager, and make sure they understand you are serious about upholding any guidelines and rules in your home that support them. Even if you feel worn down or discouraged at times when your teen isn’t behaving appropriately, always uphold your values and enforce the rules you have in place to teach your teen how to do the same.

  1. Understand where you can, and should, make sacrifices.

As a single parent, you may have to cut costs or make certain sacrifices to ensure that your teen has all the things they need to grow and flourish. Create a thorough budget, and involve your teen in the process of saving money for special things they want to do or buy. This will help them understand the importance of living within your means, and help them learn and appreciate all the things that they have. Sacrifice is something that all parents experience, but it is important for your own health and happiness that you clearly identify where sacrifice makes sense for the growth and bettering of your family.

  1. Prioritize all of your goals within the time you actually have.

According to the online parenting community, Circle of Moms, it’s very important that your teenager sees you setting goals and chasing your dreams. Seeing a parent thrive, overcome challenges, and stay true to their goals will help a teenager see firsthand that hard work and dedication can help them accomplish great things, despite adversity or hardship.

Balancing your work, parenting duties, and other aspects of your personal life can be especially challenging as a single parent. However, you can live a much more balanced and fulfilling life if you are realistic about the time you have, and set your goals accordingly. It is very helpful to write down your goals, and then prioritize them in order of importance. You can also help your teen do the same, by creating goals together, and supporting the things your teen aspires to do as well.

  1. Locate or establish a strong support system for yourself and your teen.

Only 46 percent of teens 18 and under live at home with both of their parents, according to Pew Research Center. While this means that the traditional family is not as existent as in the past, it also means that there are many other parents experiencing the same challenges, sacrifices, and joys as you might be as a single parent. It’s important to understand that being a single parent does not mean that you are alone. Make sure to form a strong support system with family, friends, or other single parents so you have an outlet for yourself, as well as understanding and support from people who love and care for you.

  1. Reward yourself with breaks.

Life as a single parent to a teenager can be especially exhausting and strenuous; physically, mentally, and emotionally. As you work hard to take care of your teenager, and guide them through all the trials and triumphs of the adolescent years, you need to be sure you take care of yourself as well. One way you can do this is to give yourself rewards and breaks. Plan times that you can spend alone or out with your friends doing something that you enjoy. These small rewards and breaks will help you feel refreshed, and also remind you that in addition to being a hard-working, single parent, you are also a person with your own ambitions and hobbies. In addition to giving you more energy to parent your teen, you will also show your teen the importance of investing time and effort into things that make them happy and form the person they are.


If you are a single parent raising a teenager, then you deserve love and praise. You also deserve balance, support, and encouragement as you navigate the teenage years, and work hard to guide and parent your teen toward adulthood.

5 Ways You Can Help Your Teen Create a Positive Identity

Everything your teen learns and experiences during their adolescent years works to continually shape them as a person. During these formative years, teens try on different personalities, explore passions and hobbies, and observe all the other people in their lives. All of these things work together to build up your teen’s own unique, personal identity.

As a parent, you play the role of witness and guide to your teen’s growth, maturation, and identity formation. While identity is a personal journey your teen will navigate largely on their own, it is important to understand how you can support their growth, and help them build a strong, positive sense of self and identity.

5 Ways You Can Help Your Teen Create a Positive Identity

How do Teens Define Themselves?

Teen identity is the all-encompassing view a teen develops about who they are, and what motivates them, moves them, and defines them as a person. There are many factors that play a role in teen identity formation, but according to a survey done by Stages of Life, teens ranked “parents and family” and “hobbies and activities” as the top two things they use to define who they are. Other lower ranked factors that teens felt contributed to their identity were:

  • Church
  • School
  • Friends
  • Boyfriend/girlfriends

How to Help Your Teen Form a Strong, Positive Identity

According to Focus on the Family, these are 5 things that you can do to help guide your teen as they form their identity:

  1. Support your teen’s discoveries about themselves.

As your teen makes valuable self-discoveries, you can help them identify the positive things they are finding out about who they are, and who they want to be. Identity is something that evolves and continues to grow over a lifetime, so teaching your teen how to view themselves in a positive manner will benefit them throughout their life.

  1. Point out and praise your teen’s natural strengths and abilities.

Teens are influenced by their parent’s opinions, so it is important to acknowledge and praise all the natural strengths and abilities that you see developing in your teen. This will help your teen feel confident and boost their self-esteem, which both contribute to a strong, healthy identity.

  1. Work with your teen and family to come up with a motto that describes what your family stands for.

Teens will derive much of their identity from your family dynamic. Incorporate your teen into a guided family discussion about what your family believes, values, and stands for, and then create a meaningful family saying or motto that can become part of your family identity and your teen’s identity.

  1. Emphasize and encourage the things that make your teen special and unique.

Many teens will cast aside special aspects of themselves if they feel those things will set them apart or make them too different from their peers. Teach your teen that they are loved and special, and should embrace all the things that make them unique.

  1. Help your teen learn the importance of celebrating and protecting their identity.

Teens often experience identity struggles if they are teased or questioned by their friends or peers. Help your teen understand the importance of their values, beliefs, and themselves. Teach them that such valuable things should be celebrated and protected. Learning to protect the things that make up their identity will prepare your teen for a lifelong, positive self-image and sense of self and identity.


If your teen is consistently struggling with loving the person they are, or showing signs of being disinterested in themselves, family, or activities, then your teen may be suffering from stress, anxiety, or depression. Speaking with a teen counselor as a family can help you and your teen find ways to grow and support a happy, healthy life and a strong, positive identity.


10 Ways to Keep a Close, Connected Relationship with Your Teenager

As your teenager matures, it is quite natural for a bit of distance to grow between you. However, even if your teen does not verbalize it often, he/she does still need you and will benefit greatly from a close, connected relationship with you as his/her parent.

10 Ways to Keep a Close, Connected Relationship with Your Teenager

Here are 10 ways you can maintain a close connection with your teen, and continue growing your relationship through communication, love, and fun:


  1. Give your teen love freely and unconditionally, always.

No matter how they behave, always give your teen love freely and unconditionally. Teens look to their parents as role models of successful adults, and will learn how to love themselves and others through your example. Even though you may not know it based on teenage behavior sometimes, your teen is looking up to you as a hero in their life. According to a 2015 poll conducted on, when teens were asked who best resembled an “unsung hero” in their life, the number one answer was “Parent.”

  1. Listen and offer to help troubleshoot problems without judgement.

One of the best ways to encourage and grow a close connection with your teen is to always listen to them when they talk to you and open up. Listen carefully and actively, but let them finish speaking before you offer suggestions, advice, or help with problems they are expressing.

  1. Let your teen have freedom and room to grow.

There is a delicate balance between being involved in your teen’s life, and becoming overbearing or smothering. Unless your teen is giving you signals otherwise, extend them trust, arm them with good virtues and firm guidelines, and then give them room to grow and experience life, even if it means they might make mistakes.

  1. Send your teen text messages

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of teens indicated that text messaging was the main medium they used to communicate daily with their close friends. While this does not mean you should not call your teen, it will help you connect with them in a whole new way if you embrace the way they like to communicate.

  1. Become friends or follow your teen on social media

Teens also do much of their communicating through social media, so by becoming friends or following them on online channels, you can get more insight into the person your teen is becoming and who is influencing them. Being aware of your teen’s online communications will also help you make sure they are interacting in safe, healthy ways.

  1. Talk openly with your teen about dating and sex.

Talking about dating and sex with your teen should not be awkward, uncomfortable, or shameful. Instead, communicate openly about the values of respect, love, and intimacy. You should also be very open about the prevalence of STDs and teen pregnancy, so you can help your teen make good choices and stay healthy and safe. Encourage your teen to talk about the pressures they might be feeling or experiencing, so you can help them navigate through those times as well.

  1. Support your teen’s hobbies and passions by showing up to special events or games.

Teens with involved parents do better at school and get higher grades, no matter their socioeconomic status, according to US News and World Report. Showing your teen that you care about what they love to do is much more impactful than telling them. Make sure that you adjust your schedule whenever possible, and attend their special events or games to show that you support them in their passions and hobbies.

  1. Give your teen a hug every single day.

Hugs provide comfort, decrease stress, and foster a sense of well-being. Give your teen a hug every day, and let them know you love them and care about them.

  1. Support healthy friendships, and include friends in your family life.

Friends are very important to teenagers, and by supporting your teen’s healthy and fun friendships you can become closer with your teen. Host a dinner or game night for your teen and his/her friends or let your teen bring their best friend on a family outing or activity. This helps you be involved and support friendship and fun in your teen’s life.

  1. Create rituals that foster time together and make it special and fun.

Connecting with your teen can be a lot of fun for you both through shared time, rituals, and activities together. Try some of these things with your teen, and make rituals out of your favorites:

  • Read the same book, and discuss it when you both finish reading.
  • Find a charity you both care about, and volunteer together.
  • Learn something new together, and let your teen pick the activity.
  • Ask your teen if you can join them in their favorite workout.
  • Watch a weekly TV show together.
  • Go on a hike, bike ride, or enjoy the outdoors together.

In order to remain connected with your teen as he or she grows and becomes increasingly independent, it is important for you to understand and implement these ways, and others you can think of, to keep a strong relationship intact with your teen.