We’re Teaching This:
When you were a kid, what did you look forward to most? Was it taking off the training wheels? Being tall enough to ride whatever you wanted at the fair? Getting to wear makeup? Or driving a car? It seems there’s something in every little kid that loves the idea of growing up. That doesn’t really go away as we get older. Middle school makes us wish for high school. High school makes us wish for college. And most of the time, we know what it takes to get from one level to the next, but what about spiritually? How do we know we’re moving forward in our faith? And what are the things that help us get there? The good news is that, like any good Father, God wants us to grow. He wants to see us move forward. So, He doesn’t make it complicated. In fact, as we look at four things God uses to propel our faith, we may find that growing up spiritually can be simpler than we ever imagined.
Think About This:
When was your last growth spurt? No, not your teenager. You! Chances are it’s been a while since you hit a growth spurt and your height changed, but we all go through spurts or periods of time where we grow, and learn, and change. Maybe you’ve experienced a time when you were stretched and challenged to learn new things at work. Or maybe in your marriage. Or maybe with friends. And, that’s a good thing. We all need growth spurts in our lives, or time where we focus on propelling an area of our lives to a new level. That’s why so many companies provide professional development classes. It’s why gyms have fitness training programs. And, parenting is no different. Just like the rest of life, there will times when we need to stretch and grow our parenting. During this series, your students are learning about four ideas that can propel their faith forward, and the same four things they’re hearing about—but with a slight twist—have the power to propel your parenting.
Four Ways to Propel Your Parenting.
- Do what you say. We are constantly advising our students, giving them insight so they’ll make good choices. We say, “Eat healthy food.” “Get enough sleep.” “Don’t gossip.” “Keep good boundaries in relationships.” And if our teenagers would just listen to us, that would be great. The problem is they watch us too! They pay more attention to what we do than what we say. That’s why, even in the exhausting and complicated world of careers and adult responsibilities, it’s important that our students don’t just hear our advice but see us acting it out in our daily lives. Words are important, but actions make our words believable for students. In other words, they’re more likely to believe what you say when you do what you say.
- Widen the circle. The truth is, there will be times when your student doesn’t want to talk to you and won’t seek your advice. That’s why it’s so important to have other adults in their lives that you (and they) trust. Maybe that’s a church small group leader, a school coach, or a friend’s parent. Make a list of a few other adults who you both like and trust. Then decide together who your student will go to when they don’t feel they can come to you.
- Serve together. There’s no question that serving benefits teenagers. The Minneapolis based Search Institute has reported that children and teens who volunteer just 1 hour a week are 50% less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or engage in harmful behaviors (from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/raising-resilient-children-and-teens/201112/serving-others-will-help-your-teen-thrive). But the benefits aren’t just limited to the student. When families serve together they create situations where they will have to depend on each other, work together, and have real conversations.
- Be present in pivotal moments. Teenage years are full of big moments. Dances. Big games. Hard tests. Award Ceremonies. Breakups. Drivers licenses. But every once in a while, our student experiences a different king of big moment, one that can cause their entire life to pivot or go in a new direction. Maybe its when the family moves to a new state, or dad loses his job, or there’s a divorce or the death of a friend. When those moments come, as parents, it’s more important than ever that we lean in and let our students know that we’re going to walk through the tough stuff with them. It’s never easy, and there’s no manual for what to say or how to respond. But just knowing you’re there, you’re present with them, through the biggest life-changes may give your student the anchor they need to weather whatever storm may come.
Sometimes the best way to propel an area of our life forward is to figure out where we are now. Take a look at each of the four areas above and…
- Give yourself a score. On a scale of one to ten, how are you doing when it comes to serving? How about modeling behaviors? Don’t worry about being a perfect 10. (Who is, really?), but be honest.
- Celebrate the wins. Did you give yourself an 8 on something? Then give yourself a pat on the back! Parenting isn’t easy, and it’s great to celebrate the areas where you’re doing well.
- Take one step. Take a look at the area with your lowest score. What’s one step you could take to move up one point? Maybe it’s signing up to bring meals to the homeless one time. Or perhaps it’s time to brainstorm the names of a few other adults that your student could go to with questions.