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.

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