January 25, 2023

Eric's Teenage Daughter Takes the Mic

Inside This Episode

After years of asking all the questions, the tables turn on Maybe God host Eric Huffman as his 15-year-old daughter, Joelle, makes her first appearance on the show and immediately takes control. She asks her father ten probing questions - ranging from his secret love of Taylor Swift to his thoughts on dating, friendship, and parenting. This conversation will provide listeners with more insight into Eric's perspective and a closer look at the sort of questions that many young people are pondering today.

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Episode Transcript

Eric Huffman: Hey there Maybe God Family. Before we get started, I want to ask all of you to head over to maybegodpod.com to sign up and join our online community. Members of the Maybe God community receive all the latest news and helpful information that will challenge and encourage you wherever you are along the journey of faith.

You'll be the first to hear about all the upcoming podcast episodes and guests, as well as helpful resources, giveaways, and special events that the Maybe God team has in the works for 2023. So head over to maybegodpod.com to join the Maybe God community today.

For today's show, we're lightening things up a little bit. You know, we tend to keep things a tad on the heavier side here at Maybe God. Just over the past few months here, we've covered everything from drug addiction to demonic possession.

So the Maybe God team decided that it might be fun to invite someone who's very, very close to me to join me on the podcast set and to ask some probing, piercing personal questions so that our listeners can get to know me in a more personal way. We really had a lot of fun with this one, and I hope you enjoy it as well. So let's get right to it.

[00:01:05] <music>

Eric Huffman: For the first time in my life, I hope honestly the first of many, I get to welcome on to the podcast my own flesh and blood, my baby girl, my daughter who is 15 years old. Her name is Joelle and she's here with me in studio. So welcome to Maybe God, Joelle.

Joelle: Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

Eric Huffman: You sat through many, many episodes in the car and at home.

Joelle: yes, yes.

Eric Huffman: Now you're a part of one.

Joelle: I know. It's very exciting.

Eric Huffman: So this whole conspiracy about asking me these questions, were you a part of this or did they rope you into it or...?

Joelle: Well, I mean, I've always had questions in my mind.

Eric Huffman: This is gonna be fun. I can already tell.

Joelle: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You're gonna love it.

Eric Huffman: Please go easy on me. And remember, you've got to go home with me after this.

Joelle: Oh, yeah. There's a lock on my door.

Eric Huffman: How many questions do we have?

Joelle: Ten questions.

Eric Huffman: All right. Okay. Here we go. Fire away.

Joelle: Okay. I'm sure everyone knows now that you're a big Swifty. Which Taylor Swift album is the best and which song is the best on that album?

Eric Huffman: You're going right into it. All right, I'm gonna lose a lot of friends over this. You know, I already came out as a Swifty in a recent sermon, in which I named all of the Taylor Swift albums in order.

Joelle: In order.

Eric Huffman: Chronological order by memory. That tells you all you need to know about me and Taylor Swift. I did not use to be a Taylor Swift Fan. You are to blame.

Joelle: Ah, well-

Eric Huffman: Let's just be honest about that.

Joelle: My biggest achievement.

Eric Huffman: So, mission accomplished. Your dad's a Swifty. Someone left the church after I preached that sermon about being a Swifty. They were like, "We can't be a part of a church."

Joelle: "Have you seen what she wears?"

Eric Huffman: No, they were saying that she's a witch or something. Which she might be, I don't know. Evermore. Evermore.

Joelle: Evermore is kinda witchy.

Eric Huffman: And folklore kind of witchy. Yeah.

Joelle: We stay away from the witchys.

Eric Huffman: Yeah, we do in the Huffman house. That's true. So the best Taylor Swift album, in my opinion, would be 1989. I just think that's front-to-back better than my second favorite, which would be the most recent one Midnights.

Joelle: Midnights.

Eric Huffman: Yeah, I'm really into Midnights. Best song on 1989, I Know Places.

Joelle: I Know Places. That's the deep tracks. You're favorite deep tracks.

Eric Huffman: I love it. No one else does but I love it. So there you go.

Joelle: It's amazing. I mean, I agree. I think it's both 1989 and Midnights.

Eric Huffman: Do you?

Joelle: Yeah.

Eric Huffman: Nice.

Joelle: Maybe debut third.

Eric Huffman: I thought she likes Midnight's better.

Joelle: I don't know. It's really close.

Eric Huffman: Where are we going to be on April 22?

Joelle: Taylor Swift concert.

Eric Huffman: Right. NRG Stadium.

Joelle: So excited.

Eric Huffman: All right. Next question.

Joelle: Okay. This one's serious.

Eric Huffman: I'm glad that's over.

Joelle: You're sufficiently embarrassed.

Eric Huffman: Yeah, a little bit.

Joelle: At what age do you think it's okay for me to date? How old is too old for the guy to be obviously?

Eric Huffman: Okay. All right, so two questions in one.

Joelle: Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Huffman: At what age is it okay for you to start dating?

Joelle: Yes. And then how old is too old for the guy to be that I date?

Eric Huffman: All right. So I'm gonna tell you what I think and then I'll tell you how I feel.

Joelle: I knew this was coming.

Eric Huffman: I think it's entirely appropriate for, you know, an upperclassmen girl, junior, senior year high school to casually go on dates with groups of friends.

Joelle: Okay.

Eric Huffman: So long as-

Joelle: You're stopping a little bit.

Eric Huffman: A lot going on in my heart right now as you turn 16 this year. I think the boy needs to be around the same age.

Joelle: Okay. So I give grades touch.

Eric Huffman: Yeah. Although it's very difficult for me to think about... If you want to date younger guys, you're more than welcome to do that. You have my blessing.

Joelle: What's wrong with older guys?

Eric Huffman: Older guys have, in my experience as a former adolescent boy, have other priorities.

Joelle: Oh, got it. Got it. Got it.

Eric Huffman: ...that I'd like to avoid, if at all possible.

Joelle: Okay. And then how do you feel?

Eric Huffman: How do I feel is I would like to put you in a box and tape it up until you're 30 really.

Joelle: Wow.

Eric Huffman: But I know that's not a good policy.

Joelle: That's probably not the best.

Eric Huffman: I think that's imprisonment or something.

Joelle: Something like that.

Eric Huffman: That's a hard one. Wow. Let's go back to Taylor Swift.

Joelle: All right, what are some qualities that I should look for in a boyfriend?

Eric Huffman: In a boyfriend?

Joelle: Mm-hmm.

Eric Huffman: Patience.

Joelle: Excuse me.

Eric Huffman: I don't mean that because of you. I'm just... other reasons you'll understand later.

Joelle: Oh, got it. Got it. Well, I took offense.

Eric Huffman: I didn't mean it like that.

Joelle: I'm glad some of these questions are a little bit...

Eric Huffman: Obviously, I would love for your boyfriend in the distant future, of course, to be a man of faith, a Christian, someone who is committed to selfless and generous love, love for those around him, someone who's sacrificial in nature, and someone whose dad I can get along with. That'd be very... I will say I have no concerns about you in that regard. You have very-

Joelle: High standards.

Eric Huffman: High standards. And you're a very wise young woman. So I sleep well at night.

Joelle: That's good. Okay. Okay.

Eric Huffman: Is that three?

Joelle: That's three.

Eric Huffman: All right. Excellent.

Joelle: Is it okay for me to be friends with people who aren't Christians?

Eric Huffman: Just friends now?

Joelle: Just friends, yes.

Eric Huffman: I mean, I think we're supposed to emulate Jesus. Right? He had no hesitation hanging out with unbelievers, people that were ungodly I guess in their day. So I think it's okay definitely to be friendly with everyone.

I think there's different layers of friendship. I think some friendships are the deep, deep inner circle friendships and I'm not entirely sure how a deep, deep inner circle friendship works, where the value systems don't align. And if you're a Christian, I think your value system is so important to you.

I just think technically, it would be okay to have that level of friendship with a non-Christian, I just don't know how that works. I think you have to be very careful about that. But I think we all have that outer layer of friends that are more friends than acquaintances but not like inner circle friends. I think that layer of friendship, it's easier to work out when some are Christians, and some are not. But I don't want you to ever become that kind of Christian who is so insulated from the real world that you never have anyone who's not a Christian around you. Because I think part of our mission is to be out there in the world, you know?

Joelle: To disciple people.

Eric Huffman: That's right. Hey, you've been listening. I like it. It's awesome.

Joelle: Of course, I listen. Okay, as a parent, should a child be allowed plenty of freedom or just too much freedom cause problems?

Eric Huffman: I feel like this question has an ulterior motive.

Joelle: No, no, no. I'm okay with the amount of freedom I've been given.

Eric Huffman: You haven't been given a lot of freedom though, have you? Relative to your friends?

Joelle: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Eric Huffman: You've been given less than your friends?

Joelle: No. I mean, it just depends on what friend.

Eric Huffman: Yeah. I feel like we've been pretty strict.

Joelle: No, not really.

Eric Huffman: You don't feel that way?

Joelle: I mean, I'm allowed to go out with friends as long I'm not doing anything dangerous.

Eric Huffman: Yes, that we know of.

Joelle: I would never. I would never.

Eric Huffman: So I'm glad to hear you say that. And I worry about your friends who have stricter parents than us.

Joelle: They exist.

Eric Huffman: So I think freedom is great. I think freedom is earned, just like respect is earned. Like if you want to be respected, like be respectable. If you want to be free, show that you use freedom responsibly. So I think we all crave freedom to the extent that if we have earned it and are not given freedom, then we'll rebel. I fear that ever becoming a reality for you.

I think a lot of preachers' kids end up in that place where you've lived a good enough life but your parents sort of micromanage you to the extent that you'll rebel later. I don't think your mother or I want that for you.

But I think freedom within reasonable boundaries is the best way to raise a child. And when those boundaries are crossed, you have to have consequences in restrict freedoms. I think it's as simple as that. And luckily, God's blessed me with two awesome kids that rarely crossed boundaries. And I mean that.

Joelle: But I hear what you're saying. Like, strict parents raise sneaky kids.

Eric Huffman: Yes, that's well said.

Joelle: I think it's definitely true.

Eric Huffman: Yeah. I mean, especially the older you get, later in high school and into college, you know who had the strictest parents—they're the craziest ones at party.

Joelle: Yes, because they go party-

Eric Huffman: That's right. Always.

Joelle: ...all the time.

Eric Huffman: That's exactly right. So you want to build a level of trust with your kids, as a parent, want to build a level of trust that is flourishing by the time they go off to college. Because you want to have open lines of communication with your kids where they can tell you anything. That's my hope. We'll see.

Joelle: Build trust.

Eric Huffman: I hope you can always call me no matter how bad you feel.

Joelle: Always.

Eric Huffman: Good.

Joelle: Okay. What's the hardest thing about raising kids today?

Eric Huffman: About raising kids generally. Technology. And I know that sort of what everybody would expect me to say but it's just because it's so true. And you guys are so far ahead of us on technology. Like Y'all can do stuff that we'll never know about.

Joelle: Yeah.

Eric Huffman: I wish you wouldn't have agreed to that so easily.

Joelle: To what?

Eric Huffman: I mean, just the idea that y'all can... I mean, the whole world is at your fingertips all the time. And I think that it presents real challenges. I think the world puts stuff in front of your eyes that you're not ready for developmentally. I worry about, you know, stuff you see online, I worry about what artificial intelligence is going to mean for you—and I've talked to you about this before you—and your generation later. But I think generally speaking just the technology and the effect that it has on you. Not just the technology. I love technology, my house is full of gadgets, you know?

Joelle: Yeah. You love your gadgets.

Eric Huffman: I love my gadgets. But I worry about the level of sort of agnostic sort of cynicism that I sense in your generation from the onset of technology. I don't know, it just seems like it's not good for people to grow up with the whole world in your fingertips like it is.

Joelle: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, you're gonna love this question. I think it's great. You always tell me that God answers prayers and He listens, you know?

Eric Huffman: He does.

Joelle: But I've been praying for something for a very long time in my life. I've been praying for your sermons to be a little bit shorter. So is God not listening?

Eric Huffman: The reason this is so funny is because you and your brother are easily my two harshest critics in my whole church. I can't look you guys in the eyes while I'm preaching because I know you're thinking, "Wrap it up. Wrap it up, dad. Wrap it up. You're losing them." And that's saying something that you're my harshest critics because like I said, people will leave the church for reasons like I mentioned Taylor Swift. Like there's plenty of harsh critics.

Joelle: I mean, I'm kind of stuck.

Eric Huffman: You are. You're not going anywhere. But yeah, if you're listening to this and wondering why this is a question is because every Sunday afternoon is usually spent talking about how my sermon could have been shorter. So it is something I'm working on. It's a top-five priority for me. I just don't know how to do it. So thanks for bringing it up again.

Joelle: You're welcome. I think the world needed to know.

Eric Huffman: Sometimes, you know, Joelle, the Lord answers your prayers with a no. Sometimes-

Joelle: I didn't know that was possible.

Eric Huffman: ...He puts you through the fires of testing to make you stronger. Maybe that's what's happening.

Joelle: He's growing my patience. I have to have the fruit of the Spirit.

Eric Huffman: That's right. Exactly.

Joelle: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Eric Huffman: Maybe that's it.

Joelle: Okay, back to raising kids.

Eric Huffman: Okay. All right.

Joelle: Do you think it's harder to raise kids to be Christian than it is to raise kids who aren't Christian?

Eric Huffman: Oh, that's a loaded question. I really think there are some things about raising Christian kids today that are uniquely difficult to the extent... I think it's almost like raising kids in the first century to be Christians because I fear the consequences of raising my kids Christian.

In other words, I think raising you non-Christian wouldn't make your life easier. And raising you Christian is sort of condemning you in a way to a life of later when, I think, there's going to be fewer and fewer Christians. When you're my age, like dramatically fewer Christians in this culture. It's going to be harder for you to be a Christian than it would to be a non-Christian. And you're going to face loneliness or being ostracized if you hold true to your faith.

You know, I'm always quick to criticize Christians who cry persecution too quickly or whatever, but I think your generation is going to start to see some of that kind of marginalization that will come from being such a minority, ideologically as a Christian that... I worry about that for you sometimes. But your question is, is it easier to raise kids Christian or non-Christian? I've never raised kids non-Christian.

Joelle: You're lacking experience.

Eric Huffman: But I know a lot of parents who are and I gotta say, I think it's easier to raise your kids Christian because there's a framework in which to raise them. There's built-in community, there's an agreed upon sort of set of principles that we're raising our kids according to... there's a safety net when, you know, things are falling apart on the home front. There's a lot of just real-time benefits to raising your kids Christian. Raising kids across the board is just really difficult. And any help you can get is helpful. I think that's why it's easier to raise kids Christian than non.

Joelle: Yeah.

Eric Huffman: That was a really long answer to a short question.

Joelle: No, no, no. I liked it. I liked it. It was good. It made a lot of sense.

Eric Huffman: Thank you. It could have been shorter, like a sermon.

Joelle: I was praying while you were saying.

Eric Huffman: "Make it stop."

Joelle: No. "Wrap it up. Wrap it up." But yeah, I definitely think it's very difficult to find people even at my school who are Christian or like have the same beliefs as me. But I also think that raising a kid to be a Christian is like... it's like they have a sort of understanding of the world and they're not questioning things as much. I mean, they have their church. So even if people at school aren't like Christian who judge them for their beliefs, they have a community there or they can have friends.

Eric Huffman: It's always interesting to me. Like you have said a few different times you'll meet some kid for the first time and you'll go, "She's a Christian" or "I can tell he's Christian." And I'm like, "How?" But there's something that you see and-

Joelle: They're just... I don't know. You can just tell. It's like an aura.

Eric Huffman: Or stability or security that you see in them. I don't know. I think that's interesting. And it saddens me what do you say about there's so few sort of out-of-the-closet Christians in your generation. And I sense that too, but-

Joelle: I feel like some kids my age are just scared to say that they're Christians because they're scared that they'll be judged at school or left out because they're not the same as everyone else.

Eric Huffman: Yeah. And we're in Texas and to think that. I wonder what it's like in other places. But would it be different if you were in private school, you think?

Joelle: I don't? I don't think so. Because I think kids who are in private school, a lot of the time they're just always surrounded by kids who are Christian. They claim to be Christian, but sometimes the belief isn't there because that's all they've ever known, and they question things too.

Eric Huffman: Wow. So it might be different but not really.

Joelle: Not really.

Eric Huffman: Yeah, interesting. These questions, gosh. This is the best interview we've ever had on Maybe God.

Joelle: I think. You might be a little bit biased though. Okay, so what is one thing you think you've done right as a parent and one thing you think you've got done wrong? Be careful.

Eric Huffman: I think in terms of doing something right, I think what I'm most proud of so far is just I feel like we haven't done what a lot of preachers do with their kids, which is sort of just do Christianity at church and don't practice what we preach at home. And it's not to say we haven't had our flaws at home. Like, we have. But we've read the Bible together at home a lot, we pray at home every meal a lot of night times before bed, we talk about God, about the Bible a lot at home, we talk about church.

I think we live it authentically in a way that I think will help you and your brother later in life to see that Christianity is not something we perform when we're at church. It's actually something that infuses every area of our life. So I'm happy about that. I love our discipleship times or Bible study times at home. It's my favorite time. My, let's say... what did you say? Something I've done wrong?

Joelle: Something you think you've done around?

Eric Huffman: Where do I begin?

Joelle: Me and Koen.

Eric Huffman: No, no, parenting is hard. We've made a lot of many mistakes, right? Like, tiny little micro-aggression mistakes. We've done a lot of little things wrong. One thing generally that I wish I could go back and change, and I'm still working on is being more present during stressful times. And I think sometimes we can be so subjective as parents.

Sometimes when times are good we're all like easygoing, and things are fun, and I'm listening to everything you're saying, and hearing every word and asking questions. And then times get stressful, like our life last year, right, when everything was up in the air, and you were having to... I don't think I was there for you in a way that I could have been when we were transitioning out of the church we were in and all the different changes that meant for you and for your brother, with summer camps, and after-school stuff and all that we used to do at our old church.

Like there was real loss for y'all there. But I think that's one example of what I'm saying, which is in times of great duress or stress, I tend to retreat or withdraw emotionally, and so I'm not as present. And I think time with children in the home is so scarce and it goes by so fast, that I want to be present no matter how stressed I feel. So I think stress management is the biggest thing to work on there. And I'm just trying to be as present as possible for you and your brother as long as I have y'all under my roof.

Joelle: I mean, I agree. I mean, you can be emotionally withdrawn. But I feel like you are there a lot of the time even when things are stressful. You're there more than you have to be when things are super stressful.

Eric Huffman: I'm always there.

Joelle: You're always still...

Eric Huffman: You know, learning to manage stress and anxiety is a huge growth area for a lot of people, your mother and I included. I think that's one thing I think we can grow in.

Joelle: All right. And then have one last question for you.

Eric Huffman: Really? Is this number 10?

Joelle: Mm-hmm.

Eric Huffman: All right.

Joelle: I think we're all wondering-

Eric Huffman: Oh, boy.

Joelle: How do you get your hair to stay standing up all day? Do you just have to pray a lot for it? Are you in God's favor?

Eric Huffman: I knew it. I should have known it. My hair is part of my whole reputation now, and I don't mean it to be. I hate having hair on my forehead because I sweat a lot, and then I start to look like Draco Malfoy or something. That's just creepy and gross. And your mother likes my hairstyle.

Joelle: Wow.

Eric Huffman: So we're stuck with it.

Joelle: It is very pointy and sharp.

Eric Huffman: You know, sometimes God gives us prayer and other tools. So I may or may not have prayed for my hair, but certainly He's given me other tools, products, etc. to keep things on the up and up. So I try to remember when I'm doing my hair true north, true north, you know, point toward the sky point toward heaven so I remember where I'm going.

Joelle: On a scale of one to ten, how much hairspray do you think you use?

Eric Huffman: Oh, the spray is the least of my concerns. There's gel, paste, and all this other stuff. But I appreciate you bringing my secrets out in the open.

Joelle: Any time. Any time.

Eric Huffman: There's only going to be about five or ten more years of this. You know, in your 40s it starts to go away.

Joelle: I know. You're gonna miss it, aren't you?

Eric Huffman: I don't know. I don't know. I'm not gonna miss these jokes.

Joelle: Oh, no, no. I'm saying it looks amazing. I love it.

Eric Huffman: You know what I'd like to do is what I did in high school and college which was to shave-

Joelle: To shave your head.

Eric Huffman: ...which was to shave my head.

Joelle: It's an interesting time. I've seen the photos.

Eric Huffman: Your mother felt for me when I was bald-headed.

Joelle: Her standards were really high.

Eric Huffman: That brings us to the end of... Is that all the questions?

Joelle: Mm-hmm.

Eric Huffman: You did good.

Joelle: Thank you.

Eric Huffman: ...for your first podcast. You're a natural.

Joelle: Thank you.

Eric Huffman: Hope to have you back on Maybe God. Maybe you can be a little nicer next time.

Joelle: I'd like to come back.

Eric Huffman: Or I'll ask you the questions next time.

Joelle: Well, I think I should stay at asking question.

Eric Huffman: Well, I'm very proud of you, baby girl. Thanks for joining me today.

Joelle: Thank you. Thank you.

Eric Huffman: You brought some good questions.

[00:25:00] <music>

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