Monday, September 5, 2011

Widening the Circle -- For Parents of Youth (XP3)

Invite others to invest in your teen, so your sons and daughters have other voices that will help shape and determine the direction of their lives.

We all filter the experiences in our lives through our emotions. They are the God–given lens we use to process the everyday occurrences that challenge us, hurt us and give us hope. For your student, the world is a cycle of experiences, emotions and responses. Sometimes they can feel alone in what they are experiencing. As we have been walking through this three-week series on worship, we have been talking about worship as a communal act—something we do with the community of God, both past and present. Your students have been invited to participate in a blog where they have been responding to different Psalms in order to try to understand what the writer was feeling and use those Psalms to create their own expression of worship through writing a response to those Psalms. Their worship expression can be one of joy, lament, grief or praise, recognizing that God accepts our worship no matter what emotional state we are in.

Now, it is your turn to get online and participate in the dialogue. As you read through what different students have written, you are invited to comment in an encouraging manner. This is a place for you to recognize what the student community is feeling and encourage them that God is for them and so are you. The students will be logging on under “student” so that they can write with freedom. As well, when you log on to comment, be sure to comment under the label “parent.” This is an opportunity for you as the parent community to invest in and encourage your student community. Celebrate the life changes you have seen in your students! Tell them where you see God at work in them.

Note for middle school parents: Developmentally, your student is in a place of “multiple personalities,” meaning they have many different sides of their personalities that are still synthesizing into who they will become. With this in mind, if you read something that seems oddly intense or unlike the students you see on Sunday, recognize that they may be “trying on” a particular side of their personality. See your comments as an opportunity to affirm who they are and give voice to what they are going through rather than to try to stamp out what you might perceive as an inauthentic representation of who they are.

Note for high school parents: Developmentally, your student is in a phase of awakening. They are starting to see outside of themselves and are beginning to understand that they indeed have an impact on the world around them. Because of this developmental shift, they not only feel things quite deeply but also have a greater sense of and desire for open and honest discussion. This is a great opportunity to encourage their developing sense of self and the thought processes and emotional processes they are going through. Rather than “challenge” them in your comments, try to remember what it was like to be a teenager and empathize with what they are writing.

© 2011 Orange. All rights reserved. 

Get connected to a wider community of parents at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Next Generation of Leaders

As I write this blog, I am just thinking about the next generation of leaders that is coming up today. And I have opinions. From my perspective. With zero research. Okay, some research. I have read some, heard some, and talked to many. Lots of observation. But really this is just a no-footnote-stream of consciousness from me.

And it isn't a rant. Why would anyone rant on a blog? /sarcasm

I am just a little concerned.

Sometimes I think we bail our kids out too easily. I was telling the parent life group on Sunday that my dad bailed me out of a difficult situation when I was in high school. And I'm not sure he did me a favor. Now he did make me work through it later, and I was actually glad he defended me at the time. But, too often as kids our parents come to the rescue, perhaps a little too quickly. Maybe it's dressing down the coach that doesn't see the talent that in their child that is so obvious to dad and mom. Perhaps it's the teacher that treats their child unfairly but favors all the other kids. Or it could be the friend problems that we step into and turn into a moms issue. Or whatever. And it starts early. Believe me, if I have learned anything so far in parenthood, it's that! I so often want to not let my daughter learn the hard way. Even when she can't finish a puzzle I just want to rip it out of her hands and finish it for her.

But the lesson is often in the struggle.

We have to let our kids struggle a little. I see it in our youth group. Kids get crossways with one another. So one kid eventually stops coming. And parents allow it. "It's just too hard for Amy to be there with Susie shooting arrows of hate at my daughter across the youth room while you're trying to teach about loving one another."

And I get it. I don't want my daughter getting hurt either. I didn't say it was easy. I just said it was right. Help your kids. Impart wisdom upon them. But don't be too quick to bail them out. Let them work through some of their battles. Maybe they stay in the Science class with Mr. Hatesmyson until the end of the semester. Perhaps it will prepare them for college when Dr. Picksonme and his colleage Dr. Flunkseveryonewholooksathimfunny are the only two options for a class in his major. Or they keep coming to D Groups even though it isn't always comfortable due to her perception of how she is viewed by the other girls. Walk with them but don't always show them the exit. Sometimes it comes to that, yes. But maybe we pull the ripcord too quickly sometimes. And the lesson learned is not a positive one.

I am reading a book (I would tell you what it is, but that would break my "no footnote" or citation rule). In that the author, who is in his mid-30s, talks about how he quit 6 jobs in 8 years. (That is a clue for the title of the book) Why? Too hard. Interpersonal conflict. He said this is a characteristic of this next generation. We quit too easily. 

So, to end with, let me encourage you.Trust in yourself. You are good parents! In our youth ministry, I see parents balancing this whole conflict/struggle thing very well. And I hope you are the ones I can emulate when my daughter reaches drama age. Or at least THAT drama age (she is at the one right now where if she can't get her toy to obey her, she lays on the floor and screams). God will give you the wisdom you need. And better yet, He will take care of your children which were His children first.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God. - James (1:5)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Actions speak louder...

Sometimes I disagree with people I love.  And I don't mean about music or movies or food flavors. I mean about important things. Like parenting styles. And that's ok. Everyone needs to have one, and they can't always be the same. And it's probably better to be bad at it than not even try at all. But, I digress...

In student ministry, sometimes it feels like we compete with families. That is the opposite of what we should try to do. I apologize for any strife I have caused any family in that department! I know sometimes it is impossible when you want to do something as a family and the youth group has a fellowship planned. Again, though, I digress. Sometimes it has been mentioned I have A.D.D.

The small parenting paradigm with which I have been wrestling lately is involvement. Kids are busy these days. It is important to be involved in lots of things. One, it keeps them busy and out of trouble. Two, it keeps them from playing video games 13 hours a day (that is the average gamer's time per day--"gamer" as defined by someone who plays a LOT of video games and would consider that his identity.) I am not awake 13 hours a day, if you subtract time for eating and going potty (give grace to this parent of a toddler).

So here's my dilemma. For years I have struggled with this. Parents stress commitment to school work, the arts, and sports. If a student is taking cello, she shouldn't miss a lesson. If a student plays soccer, he shouldn't miss his tournament. If a student has homework, she shouldn't come to church. And that sounds ok on the surface, but when I did a little deeper I realize the dangerous message it sends. Church is less important than all these things. Sure, we want our kids in church--as long as nothing else (and I mean NOTHING) conflicts with it.

I know there has to be balance. But I really worry about how these lessons will be internalilzed by our teens. I wonder if they will end up being citizens of America who do what is good and are good people who happen to go to church occasionally. Or will they be citizens of the Kingdom of God who also are active in being salt and light in the world? I pray that the latter will be true.

I don't think it is vital that church "win out" on every face-off. However, I do think we need to make sure that we send the message that God comes first. (And family comes second, but that's another rant for another day. But I do hope you don't allow your children's busy-ness to conflict with family opportunities!) And, finally, let me say this. I believe in what our ministry is about. I've said for years and I'll say it again, if you will allow your students to fully vest in our ministry, they will be prepared. Now, that is also assuming you are doing your part as a parent. But, I'm sure you are! And if you are a parent reading this and you don't go to SHBC, then I still trust that your teen's youth ministry has a mission, goal, and strategy to help your child fully connect with his/her place in the Kingdom of God. Trust that. And don't worry, they can still take piano.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Valentines Day Tips

You know, I haven't blogged in quite some time. In fact, for my most loyal followers, or follower, you could probably tell me the exact day in May I last clicked on "publish post." Well, I have a confession to make. No, not writer's block. Not even a "crazy, hectic" schedule. I just plain forgot I had a blog. Well, not completely. But, most days when I could have written some witty gem it just didn't enter my mind. Other times I remembered I had this blog that many people anticipated with bated breath, I was in my car, the shower, on the john, or somewhere else that didn't afford me the opportunity to type into an electronic device. (I added the car in that list in case my wife were to read this--but I'm pretty sure she doesn't know I have a blog. She has a blog, however. It is "court is in session.")

So, since Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I will do two things. One, make it a VD resolution (oh, so THAT'S why no one abbreviates Valentine's Day...) to blog more often. Two, offer up my St. Valentine's Day wisdom.

How to find true love.

Well, sort of.

I would like to offer up 3 nuggets of truth today for you. Only for you. And just for you single ladies. Yes, the ladies. This isn't for guys. Guys love being single in February. Saves them a mint! But, girls, they just get all sad and band together and have a big guy-bashing movie night and eat loads of chocolate and talk about how lucky they all are to not be shackled to some loser guy while feeling sorry for themselves privately.

But don't be sad, lonely ladies, for it is not a bad thing to be single. In fact, as I learned on the Bachelor this week, 'tis better to be home alone than to be home wishing you were alone. So, I believe the key isn't to find a date for Valentine's Day. But to find THE date for Valentine's Day and for every VD still to come. (Yeah, still doesn't read right)

So, here goes. How to find the one. Emphasis on one.

1. Accentuate your idiosyncrasies. Quit trying to mute your weirdness. Not sure what yours are? Just think back to advice you have received after getting out of previous relationships. "Maybe you came on a little too strong." That's a clue you are controlling. So, there you go. Buy a "control freak" t-shirt, slap on some 4-inch pumps, and flaunt it. Might as well scare off all the boys who want to be in charge. Save yourself from ever being trampled on.

2. Get a tattoo or facial piercing. Now you might not be the tat type--fear of commitment to long-term ink. So get a piercing in your eyebrow or nose. True, most guys find something sticking out of your lip to be, frankly, disgusting. But just think forward to later on in life when you may feel disgusting. Your third trimester. Your sixties. 5:30 in the morning. You want a man that can take that sort of thing.

3. Start running 10K's and half-marathons and such. Nothing turns on or scares away a man than a woman who runs long distances. Or runs anywhere, for that matter. For extra credit, become a vegetarian. This will result in guys who will be too intimidated to ask you to dinner. "Steak and Ale? Oh crap!" And they run away. Most guys are afraid they will marry a woman who will wake them early for "marriage-enriching" 5 mile jaunts when it is 11 degrees outside and also still dark. And throw in no meat inside the house and you have terrified at least 80% of all males. Correction, straight males.

So there you go. Sage advice. How is this going to help you get a man, you ask? Well, how many times do you plan on getting married? Once? How many men do you plan to walking out of the church with? One? So of all those fish in the sea you are trying to catch you just want to marry one? So heed my words. You do, and there will be no more than one man in the world who will have you. But when he does, he has a Valentine date for life. If he can keep up with you.

You're welcome.