Ep. 4: Dating Relationships & Streaming Services

Ep. 4: Dating Relationships & Streaming Services

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The dating scene for teenagers today is very different than it was for millennials and Gen Xers. On episode 4 of the Teen Life Podcast, Chris and Karlie talk current teen dating lingo and habits, so you can know what to talk about and when to ask questions. Also, get ideas for what to watch as a family and what to look out for on popular streaming services. You won’t want to miss this week’s tip on how to start conversations with your teen about race.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Teen terms to note:

  • Ghosting: To suddenly stop communicating with a person (without explanation)
  • Zombieing: To randomly text or call after ghosting someone
  • Talking: To be interested in each other, but not officially dating
  • Sexting: To exchange texts and usually photos of a sexual nature
  • Hooking Up: Used for anything from kissing to sex
  • Netflix & Chill: Used as a front for inviting someone over to make out (or maybe more)
  • DTR: Define the Relationship
Movies to watch together that discuss race or diversify your content:

Have a question?
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey


Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

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Does that mean anything to you? For some it might conjure up the lyrics of an old George Straight song that says, “You’ve got to have an ace in the hole.” For others it brings images of poker games and winning hands. For others, names of all-star professional baseball pitchers. For others, the experience of serving in tennis and never getting a volley back. Maybe for you, it’s the terminology for someone who is always seemingly ahead – “He’s holding all the aces.”

But how many of you saw ACE and thought about difficult childhood experiences? I’m guessing not very many of you. This past week I had the opportunity to sit in a training which discussed trauma informed care. As part of that discussion, the ACEs were mentioned.

So, what are the ACEs?

ACEs in this context stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. These are experiences that occur before the age of 18 that have a dramatic impact on how we live, function, and make decisions as an adult. The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study began in the mid-1990s and continued through 2015 and has consistently shown the impact of childhood experiences on adult functioning. Let’s take a minute to look at what was studied and the major findings.

The ACE Study looked at the occurrence of 10 major childhood experiences, which are typically divided into 3 main categories.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/02/387007941/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean


What It Said 

According to the CDC, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are common. So common that almost 2/3 of participants reported at least one ACE, and more than 20% reported three or more ACEs. – Pause for a minute – that is statistically the majority of people that you meet every day. That is 1 in 5 who have had multiple significant experiences – most of which we don’t like to talk about.

So what does that mean? Per the CDC, as the number of ACEs increases, so does likelihood of the risk for the following:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement


It covers it all – health problems, increased risky behaviors and a decreased life potential. It also leads to an increase likelihood of premature death.

Look at the list above again and let’s talk about students – especially high school students. Often, we as parents, youth workers, teachers, and Teen Life Facilitators spend a great deal of time talking about poor grades, teenage pregnancy, suicide attempts, self-injury behaviors, depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol use/abuse. But do we stop to take the time to think about what experiences might have contributed to these decisions? When we are feeling frustrated, do we see the behavior as defiance or a coping skill?

So now that we know what the ACEs are and what the research shows, what in the world do we do?

Build relationships.

According to Dr. Karyn Purvis, “The child with a history of loss, trauma, or abuse has no hope of healing without a nurturing relationship.” The presence of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships can greatly increase resiliency among children and youth who have experienced multiple ACEs.

Are you willing to look past the hard choices, to look past the mistakes, in order to see the experiences that have impacted the students in our lives? And when you do, are you willing to stick it out to connect and empower youth to overcome?


***For More Information about The CDC ACE Study can be found here and here. More information about the ACEs in general can be found here. More information about Dr. Karyn Purvis and her Trust Based Relational Intervention can be found here.

Beth Nichols is Teen Life’s Program Director. With her background in social work and experience as a mom of 4, her perspective is invaluable.
Carrie Gurley Talks Dating Violence

Carrie Gurley Talks Dating Violence

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 Dating violence is something we often hear about but don’t know what to do. Surely I don’t know a teenager in an abusive relationship! In this episode, Carrie Gurley defines dating violence and gives tips for how we can become more educated and better prepared to walk teenagers through difficult relationships. Aren’t sure where to start with dating violence? Don’t panic!

In this episode, you’ll find out…

  • What dating violence is and how it is seen among teenagers.
  • Ways to teenagers can be protected from abusive relationships.
  • Some ways to support a teen who is in a violent relationship.
  • Warning signs that a teenager might be in an unhealthy relationship.
  • Long term consequences because of dating violence.
Ask yourself…
  • Have I noticed any concerning changes in the behavior of a teen?
  • Am I willing to listen without judgment?
Go ask a teen…
  • What boundaries have you put on your relationship? How is that going?
  • Does your school talk about dating violence?
  • What would you do if your best friend was in a violent relationship?

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

About Us:

Carrie has served as the Executive Director of Valiant Hearts (formerly We Are Cherished) since 2014. She is passionate about the mission to reach and empower women in the sex industry. She is responsible for developing and implementing the programs to serve this vision as well as building a strong team of staff and volunteers to carry out this mission. Carrie has served in various ministries for the past two decades. She has been a Bible teacher, conference and retreat speaker, curriculum developer, church planter, children’s minister and intercessor. Follow her on Twitter!

Chris Robey is the Program Director for Teen Lifeline, Inc. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter!
Karlie Duke started working as Teen Lifeline’s Communications Director after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 5 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram!
Have a question?
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
Motivation Monday: The Whole Person

Motivation Monday: The Whole Person

We are only 3 weeks away from the 7th annual #TL5K! 

If you would like to donate or help by becoming a fundraiser, visit our #TL5K site!

In our Teen Lifeline Support Groups, we believe that in order for a student to excel in school, at home and at life in general, we must take care of the whole person. We must nurture their emotional health, discuss their physical health and even offer an opportunity to discuss their spiritual well-being. Even in the public school system, everyone we work with agrees that having a place for spiritual discussions is necessary – it is too important to ignore!

When we have these conversations, we center it around the relationships in their lives, including a relationship with God or a higher power. The great thing is, teenagers feel that they can be honest without receiving judgement from the facilitator or the rest of the group! In some of my high school groups, I have had teenagers share that their “higher power” is music, or love, or Jesus, or Buddha. Not everyone in the group has to be on the same page or at the same stage spiritually, but as you will see from Jason Brown’s story, these discussions open a door for healing and hope.


One of my favorite group sessions to facilitate is week number four: The Whole Person. This is a great opportunity to talk about faith because we discuss relationships with people in our lives; the discussion inevitably leads to a discussion about God (or a higher power). It’s about being spiritually connected. I have found that most of the group members during this session share about a relationship with God. Some feel like He is at the center of their life, others like they are not very close. Every so often, someone describes themselves as atheist and not believing in God.

On one occasion during a group session, we were discussing The Whole Person topic and a young man in our group said he didn’t believe in God. As I typically do, I acknowledged his opinion and we continued with the discussion. The discussion progressed and the group had the opportunity to write questions about spirituality on cards and then spend time discussing and answering each other’s questions. Several of the young men asked questions about Jesus and how to know if He existed. Someone asked about God and how He could be so forgiving. There were several other questions about faith. During this discussion, it was evident that the young man who claimed to be atheist was a little uncomfortable with the discussion. He began to ask his peers a few questions and even spoke about demons. It was as if a door suddenly opened; if he believed in demons, then he could no longer deny that there wasn’t another side to the story. His peers actually called him out on this. I was able to have a great follow up discussion as the group came to a close. This young man was wrestling with faith, and he was trying to decide if God was real or if he had no hope. Through our Teen Lifeline group, a seed was planted that day and hope was shared.


Jason Brown is the Community Minister at Legacy Church of Christ. He has been leading groups with Teen Lifeline for 3 years in Birdville ISD and at TYRC.
Is The Bachelor Female Porn?

Is The Bachelor Female Porn?

Before you freak out about the title of this blog, give me a chance to explain.

I am a hopeless romantic. My favorite movie is still Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I love the stories where the princess falls in love and lives happily ever after. When it comes to books, I read anything and everything with a love story – Nicholas Sparks, The Twilight Saga, The Selection Series, anything by Karen Kingsbury. I have iron-clad opinions on whether Katniss should end up with Gale or Peeta. I cried my way through The Notebook and even read the less-popular sequel.

I admit that I am a faithful watcher of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I can tell you the names of the couples that are still together, watched all their TV weddings and even follow a few of my favorites on social media. I love the romantic dates, seeing who will get a rose each week, and watching the guys pick out the perfect engagement ring. I live for that final episode when the man gets down on one knee, and you see their love story come together for the perfect finale. Have I mentioned that I love all things romance?

But “porn,” really?? “Porn” can be a taboo word for our culture. Yes, we know it is out there, but we are not always willing to talk about it. Why would we want to bring up such an awkward topic with our teenagers? They don’t struggle with pornography addiction…and especially not my daughter!

Think again. According to research done by Covenant Eyes, 90% of boys and 60% of girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18. That is your teenager. They are growing up in a culture where they can access pornography 24/7 on their television, laptop, or on the tiny phone that is attached to their hand. Pornography is a problem for adolescents and an issue that we do not ignore, but this blog is not about that type of pornography – naked pictures, sexting, magazines and x-rated movies (we will save that for another day).

For today, I want to speak mainly to the girls out there. Whether or not you connect with my story (or know someone else that does), I believe that our culture encourages girls and women to fall in love with these fictional men and their perfect relationships where arguments and morning breath do not exist.

In their book, Dateable: Are You? Are They?Justin Lookadoo and Hayley DiMarco write:

“This is the #1 thing that distorts a girl’s view of reality, men and relationships. Maybe you haven’t heard it called female porn. Maybe you know it by the softer, more acceptable terms of “chick flicks” and romance novels…Your porn isn’t sexual, it’s romantic. But it gives you a warped view of men…if you have a man in your life, you begin to look at him in light of Mr. Perfect, and he can’t compare. He’ll never be as beautiful or romantic as the movie star with all the makeup and good lighting…It creates men who rescue you from out-of control buses and shower you with rooms full of roses. They fly you off to Paris for the weekend and save you from the evil villain bent on destroying the world. These men don’t exist…you are imposing an impossible set of demands on your guy.”

I am not saying that we need to ban romance movies or books – what would I do in my free time? But I do have a few suggestions for how we can combat this culture where girls are looking for a Prince Charming who will never come, and where guys feel like they can never live up to the romantic standard set by Hollywood.


1. Discuss realistic expectations. 

When you talk to teenagers about the latest romantic comedy, make sure that they know that those are unrealistic expectations. While it is not unrealistic to expect a man to open your car door, hold your hand or treat you like you deserve to be treated, men (just like women) are imperfect. They aren’t going to bring home flowers every day. Their lines aren’t written by a producer who makes a living by making you cry. They probably aren’t going to stand outside of your window with a boombox to win your affection. They sometimes smell, they don’t always enjoy everything you do and they probably don’t have the bank account to support your love of diamonds or to fly you across the world for an exotic date.

It is okay to give a reality check. Encourage them to write down what they are actually looking for in their “perfect mate.” Focus on qualities and characteristics, not necessarily on their physical appearance or ability to give great gifts.

2. Set realistic boundaries.

You know your teenager best. If you see them falling into this romantic porn trap, set a few boundaries. Maybe they need to take a break from Nicholas Sparks. Perhaps you set a boundary where they have to sit down and have a discussion with you after they watch or read anything in that romance genre. Encourage them to find new, age-appropriate TV shows, books, or movies to invest their time in – try watching The Voice or Fixer Upper. Protect their hearts by limiting their exposure to romantically-saturated forms of entertainment. Maybe it is time to start a new hobby, like knitting!

3. Model realistic relationships.

Real relationships exist, so don’t hide the realities of marriage from your teenager. You are doing a disservice to your children if you pretend that your marriage is as perfect as the ones we see on-screen. It’s okay for them to see you argue every now and then.  Start bragging about the little things that your spouse does – show that romance can come in the form of a well-timed kiss on the cheek, or coming home to clean dishes, or a text asking how your day was. Surround your teenagers with healthy relationships, in and out of the home, where they can see how marriages work on a day-to-day basis.

What do you think of this idea of female, or romantic, porn? Do you have any other ideas for how we can protect and encourage teenagers?

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Lifeline’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.