This week we continued our three-lesson series on “Jesus and the People.” This week’s conversation focused on a man named Zacchaeus, and while he is more known for his height, our discoveries went much deeper than that.
We talked about how Jesus came to forgive everyone, regardless of their social standing or their personal reputation. Zacchaeus was the perfect example of this because he didn’t seem like the kind of person who would respond to Jesus’ message—or the kind of person Jesus would spend time with. It didn’t make sense to the people in the community because Zacchaeus was a known sinner, but it made complete sense to Jesus.
As you go throughout the week, continue the conversation with your teenager by asking these kinds of questions:
We’ve finished our two-lesson study on the birth and early years of Jesus’ life. This week we looked at Jesus as a 12-year-old. Although Scripture doesn’t give a lot of details about his adolescent years, the Bible does give some insight into how Jesus grew during that critical season of life.
Specifically, this week we discussed Luke 2:39-52 and saw how Jesus used his teenage years to grow in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and people. He demonstrated obedience toward God and toward his parents, and his teenage years prepared him for adulthood and his years of ministry.
Sometime this week, I’d love for you to keep the conversation going by discussing these kinds of questions with your teenager:
Have a blessed week!
WE'RE TEACHING THIS
Inside jokes are awesome, right? You probably have some with your friends where you can just say one word and have everyone laughing! Well… everyone on the “inside” that is. In fact, if you’ve ever been around a group of friends who had an inside joke, you probably learned quickly that being on the outside isn’t much fun. Has church every felt that way to you? Like it’s a bunch of people with inside jokes, language and words you just don’t understand? Even if you grew up in church, there’s a good chance there are some words you hear, maybe even words you use, where the meaning isn’t super clear. And, some of the words most often confused are the same ones that have the greatest impact on our faith. That’s why, during this series we’re going to dive in to two of the most common and most misunderstood words in our vocabulary and see how some clarity on what these words mean could lead to more clarity in how we see our faith.
THINK ABOUT THIS
by Reggie Joiner
You and I naturally believe. We trust in things everyday that we cannot see or prove. Most of us are quick to imagine the impossible. We are hard-wired with the potential to have faith. Yet at the same time, we naturally doubt. We are skeptical, curious, and inquisitive. Sometimes, we even ask questions that make those around us nervous. (Or we ponder questions that we are afraid to ask out loud because they make us nervous.) Everyone processes their faith in different ways and at different speeds. All of my children have unique personalities, but I do remember one conversation during their elementary years when we were riding in the car. Hannah, who happened to be the spokesman for the family even in the second grade, blurted out a question. “Dad I don’t get it. Some of my friends say there’s not a God, how do I know they are wrong and I am right?” RP, who was in the 4th grade at the time, became extremely concerned about his sister’s soul and responded, “Hannah you can’t ask questions like that. You’ll go to hell.” Sarah, the positive kindergartner, could sense the angst in the car, and took her best shot to resolve the tension. She clearly explained, “Don’t worry about it RP, Dad will explain it to her and she’ll be okay.” Now I personally think that’s too much pressure for a parent. If any of you think that your job is to prove to your kids there is a God, you are probably going to live a pretty stressful life as a parent. Here are a few things I have decided when it comes to the faith of my kids:
1. Relax when your children ask skeptical questions. Don’t even try to always have an answer. It’s an important part of the process of growing and solidifying what you believe. If you want your children to own their own faith, then you have to let them face their own doubts. Doubt is a necessary detour to take at times if you want to arrive at a deep and personal faith.
2. There is always a degree of doubt in anyone’s faith. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t admit they have doubts. Doubt is actually okay. I used to think your spirituality was measured by “how much faith you have.” Somewhere along the way, I decided it had more to do with “where you put your faith.” When it comes to flying, it really doesn’t matter if you believe or if you are skeptical, as long as you have enough faith to step on the plane. Planes carry people with different degrees of doubt and faith everyday. It’s not the amount of faith, but the object of your faith that makes the difference. A pastor once told me. “You don’t need great faith in God. You need faith in a great God.”
3. You will never talk your kids into believing what you believe. You may have a primary role in shaping your kid’s faith, but you will never be able to control what they believe or don’t believe. If you could simply talk your kids into believing what you believe, then chances are someone else will talk them out of it one day. The spiritual growth of your children will take a number of twists and turns during their life. Most of us tend to forget the complicated spiritual journey that has shaped our faith. We expect our kids to skip that somehow. It will probably be hard at times, and you may even have to get to the point as a parent where you have to trust God with your kid’s faith. I know that may take a little faith on your part.
From http://theparentcue.org/i-doubt-it/ by Reggie Joiner.
Connect to a wider community of parents at www.theparentcue.org
Most kids don’t need a parent who has all the answers, but they do need an example of how to live out your faith even when you still have doubts. They need a model of healthy curiosity—the kind that doesn’t give up just because tough questions arise. Next time your kid suggests he or she is skeptical about something your family has always believed, try having a conversation instead of an answer. That means... Honor what they said. You don’t have to agree to affirm your child’s process of thinking through things. Say something like, “That’s a good question” or “I’m proud of you for thinking through this for yourself.” Ask what they think. Even if you already know the answer. Even if you’ve talked about it a hundred times, ask what they think and, maybe more importantly, try asking what they experienced that lead them to that conclusion. Continue the conversation. As soon as someone has a definitive answer, the conversation is over. Instead, offer your student some ideas for how to find the answer or name some people you trust that he or she can talk to. Then follow up later and ask what he or she has learned. You may just be surprised at how he or she owns their faith because you gave them the chance to own their doubts.
WE ARE TEACHING THIS
How many hours are you connected to some kind of technology on a normal day? If you were to add up your hours online, your glances at text messages, your streaming music, your perusing social media, your Netflix addiction, how many hours could you count? It’s probably a lot. Our culture is obsessed with technology—and with good reason. Technology keeps us connected to each other and to the world around us. Nearly every device we own transmits signals to something else, somewhere else. Why? Because that’s how they’re wired to function. Our phones, tablets, smart watches, gaming systems—they all are wired to connect to something outside them. And the same is true for us. We are wired for connection. It’s in our design. As we take a closer look at what Jesus called “the greatest commandment”, we discover that we were wired to have three vital relationships: with God, with ourselves, and with others. And when those connections are made, everything else begins to function as it was designed.
Your student is changing fast. Chances are this isn’t a surprise. Their classes are changing. Their friends are changing. Their bodies are definitely changing. But one change you may not see as quickly are the changes that are happening in your student’s brain. As our students approach puberty, their brains are being physically rewired to function less like a child and more like an adult. New connections are forming. Old ones are collapsing. Parts of the brain are being reorganized. And with all of that activity, it’s no surprise that they may experience occasional “outages” or glitches in their judgment, their memory, and their emotional control.
… your straight-A scholar may suddenly forget their homework.
… your sweet, quiet child may now have teenage emotional outbursts.
… your reasonable, responsible student may have a few mindboggling lapses in judgment.
When that happens, our first reaction may be to panic and wonder, what went wrong here? But, most of the time, nothing is really wrong. Our students’ brains are simply under construction.
In their book, Teen Stages, authors Ken and Elizabeth Mellor describe this as a “cognitive rebirth” beginning around age 13 and continues into young adulthood. That means during middle school and high school, your student may show some behaviors reminding you a lot of their toddler and early elementary years. And…it’s perfectly normal.
While no two children are the same, and development is surely going to look different and take different amounts of time for each one, it may be helpful to look at the stages Mellor outlines to see where your student fits and what may be coming next.
THINK ABOUT THIS
As you check out the table below, find which descriptions best match your student and read to see what maybe coming in the next year. No matter what phase of rewiring your student is in, it’s important to remember that it’s only a phase. Enjoy them exactly as they are today and know that you play a key role, even during the later stages, in guiding them toward what’s next.
The Middle School Years
What Your Child May Experience
The Baby Stage
Thirteen-year-olds experience increased child
like neediness (p85) Many things they previously understood very easily turn into unsolvable mysteries. Cause and effect no longer seem to exist. And they may go through times when they literally no longer understand, no longer remember, no longer have a sense of the previous week, day, hour, or even minute (p87).
(They) are reworking the two-year-old period. This is why so much of what they do seems so like the behavior of an angry toddler (p107). At the end of this stage, young people are considerably more at peace…by the time they get to fifteen, they can think fairly clearly, plan well, and act appropriately even when they feel passionate about things (p104).
The High School Years
What Your Child May Experience
This is one stage that most parents enjoy. It signals an end to the struggles, and it is a period of learning and curiosity about the world… Many aspects of this stage involve bonding with the adult world: fifteen-year-olds are ripe for this and our job is to ensure that we and other adults are available so they can bond with us (p123.)
Sweet and Sour Stage
Sixteen-year-olds start to challenge again, at home particularly. Through much of the year, they struggle with taking personal responsibility for themselves. With our persistence, they gradually soften and come to terms with their actual capacities and responsibilities. Our part is to learn to act with more detachment (p143).
Exercising responsibility for themselves is central. They organize themselves, make plans, and follow through on them, are increasingly considerate and sensitive to others, and fulfill their household and other duties. As they do, they learn the benefits and the consequences of taking personal responsibility. The increased autonomy of our seventeen-year-olds results in many wonderful ways of having fun. This is often a happy time, so many options open up naturally (pp164-165).
The World Leader Stage
A desire to contribute to the world is very important. They generally do want to make a difference. They are understandably preoccupied with the practicalities of finishing school or getting on at work. Parents may now seem somewhat irrelevant emotionally as these young people start to commit to other people outside the family. Continuing as friendly consultants works particularly well if we cultivate respect for their privacy and their interests (p183).
(Adapted from Teen Stages by Elizabeth and Ken Mellor 2009.)
Sometimes the scariest thing about our students’ wiring is that it comes from us. It’s tempting to focus all our attention on the traits in our students that make us cringe—especially when we know they learned it from us. But those aren’t the only traits we’ve passed down. If you think about it, there are also some pretty great things in your students’ wiring that came from you.
This week, take notice of one positive trait in your student that they inherited from you. (This can be something you can do as a stepparent, adoptive parent or foster parent as well. Genetics may be responsible for some traits, but observation and learned behavior play an important role, too!)
Maybe you’re both good at math. Maybe your son is starting to show some of your great conversational skills. Or maybe your daughter is wired to be competitive, just like you. No matter what it is, pay attention to the positive traits passed on to your student. Then, tear off the section below. Fill it out and leave it somewhere for your student this week.
One thing I’ve noticed about you lately is that you’re ________________________________.
That’s a great trait to have and it’s one that has helped me over and over.
I’m proud of the person you’re becoming.
WE'RE TEACHING THIS
Talking to some people is easy. You can hang out with your friends for hours and never run out of anything to say. You feel like you can talk to them about anything. But you probably also know people who just seem to make you a little nervous when you have to talk to them. Maybe it’s a teacher, coach or your boss at work, but you always feel you say something wrong or they are never impressed. No matter who it is, you choose your words carefully when you talk to that person because you don’t want to mess things up. And if we’re honest, prayer can feel a lot like that. The whole idea of it makes us a little nervous. We wonder if we sound silly. We try to use just the right words but we aren’t sure we’re doing it right. And often, we are tempted to back away from prayer because it just feels awkward. But what if talking to God was never meant to be that way? What if talking to God was supposed to feel more like chatting with a good Friend than making an impressive speech? During this series, we’re going to take a look at what Jesus said prayer is and isn’t. And as we do, you may just find yourself wanting to lay down the formalities, relax and have some real talk.
Parenting is not for wimps—especially when it comes to parenting teenagers. There’s a lot of pressure for parents to get it right all the time. And, everyone has areas where they wish they handled things better. So, what is that area for you? Is it that you tend to lose your temper with your teenager? (Who doesn’t?) Or maybe you just wish you could just let things go a little more easily. Maybe you keep your cool, but obsessive worrying is an issue. You’re constantly thinking of all the things that could go wrong. Or maybe between all of the sports, the homework, the relational drama, and the financial commitments of raising a teenager you find yourself always stressed out.
Or maybe it’s all of those.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix to alleviate all of the pressures of parenting, but there is one thing that science tells us could be really helpful. And when you read what it is, you may be surprised.
Recent studies indicate there are a number of psychological benefits to prayer. And, prayer isn’t a practice limited to clergy and the super spiritual. In fact, a 2013 report from the Pew Research Center found that over half of Americans pray every day and 21% of those who aren’t affiliated with any religious group still pray.
So, how could prayer help with parenting pressure? In his post on PsychologyToday.com, Dr. Clay Routledge, an associate professor of Psychology at North Dakota State University, outlines five ways that prayer has scientifically supported benefits that may help parents in areas where they need it the most. He says…
1. Prayer improves self control. Research participants who said a prayer prior to a mentally exhausting task were better able to exercise self-control following that task… Findings such as these suggest that prayer has an energizing effect.
2. Prayer makes you nicer. Researchers found that having people pray for those in need reduced the amount of aggression they expressed following an anger-inducing experience. In other words, prayer helps you not lose your cool.
3. Prayer makes you more forgiving. Researchers found that having people pray for a romantic partner or friend made them more willing to forgive those individuals.
4. Prayer increases trust. Recent studies found that having people pray together with a close friend increased feelings of unity and trust. This finding is interesting because it suggests that praying with others can be an experience that brings people closer together.
5. Prayer offsets the negative health effects of stress. Researchers found that people who prayed for others were less vulnerable to the negative physical health effects associated with financial stress. Also, it was the focus on others that seemed to be contributing to the stress-buffering effects of prayer. Praying for material gain did not counter the effects of stress. So thinking about the welfare of others may be a crucial component of receiving personal benefits from prayer.
(For the complete article, see www.psychologytoday.com/blog/more-mortal/201406/5-scientifically-supported-benefits-prayer).
Maybe you already pray regularly for your student and your family. Maybe the whole idea of prayer seems a little awkward to you (and that’s okay!) No matter what your starting place, everyone can take one step forward when it comes to prayer.
This week, try taking your prayers for your student to the next level by choosing one of the options below.
1. Pray for your student. You think about them all the time. This week, try turning those thoughts into prayers. Even if you aren’t sure about God or church or religious things, just give it a try. It can’t hurt.
2. Tell them you prayed for them. Maybe you pray for your student all the time, but they have no idea. This week, encourage your student by praying for them and then shooting them a text message letting them know you did.
3. Pray out loud for them. The idea of praying out loud can be a little intimidating for anyone. But the benefits often outweigh our nerves. If you already pray for your student regularly, ask them how you can pray for them this week and try doing so out loud. A great place to pray for them is in the car on the way to school (just don’t close your eyes!) Knowing that you’re praying for them and hearing you pray can mean a lot to your student as he or she faces the challenges of the day—even if they never tell you!
No matter what your “next step” is, set a reminder in your phone to take that step this week. You may be surprised by the way prayer benefits your student and yourself.
We’re Teaching This:
Every good story has a hero. Think about it. Superman. Luke Skywalker. Katniss Everdeen. They aren’t just random characters. They’re larger than life. Maybe they’re not perfect, but they’re exciting and they’re brave. And that’s what keeps us interested. That’s why we cheer for them. Believe it or not, the Bible is full of heroes like that. They don’t have capes and light sabers, but they are heroes who fought giants, built arks, became spies, defeated armies, and saved the day over and over. One of the most famous ones is named David—or maybe you know him as King David. Like many others, David’s life was exciting, epic even. And at first glance it can feel like we have zero common with him. Even on our most exciting days our lives don’t exactly feel heroic. But as we take a closer look at the journey of this shepherd boy turned king, we see it wasn’t always a royal fairytale. In fact, as we discover the twists and turns of his road to the throne, his life begins to look more like ours than we ever imagined.
Think About This:
Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait to grow up? There were probably a lot of reasons, but many of them boiled down to one idea: When I grown up, I’ll be in charge. No one can tell me what to do. It was a nice idea, but that’s not exactly our adult reality, is it? In fact, sometimes feels like growing up has left us answering to more people, not less. And what’s worse is when not all these authority figures are exactly ideal for the job. Maybe you’ve experienced…
Nothing is more frustrating. And in moments like that it can be tempting to employ our go-to response. Maybe you tend to lash out, argue, or respond with harsh sarcasm. Or maybe for you it’s more tempting to ignore them or sneak around their rules. Either way, when it comes to a clash with authority, there is often more on the line than we realize. Overwhelmingly, research suggests that our teenagers’ behavior is more influenced by what they see us do than what they hear us say is best.
In his article, I Spy Daddy Giving Someone The Finger: Your kids will imitate you. Use it as a force for good, Dr. Allen Kazdin, former president of the American Psychological Association, says, “Brain research has demonstrated that there are special cells called mirror neurons. When we watch someone do something, our mirror neurons become active in the brain as if we ourselves were engaging in the same behavior we are observing.” (http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2009/01/i_spy_daddy_giving_someone_the_finger.html)
In other words, when watching our behavior, our students’ brains react and grow new connections that tell them to do the same. That’s why, even with the most difficult and undeserving authority figures, it may still serve us well to treat them with respect. In doing so, our students’ brains will form connections that remind them to do the same.
This week, pay attention to your interactions with your boss, coworkers, government workers, and even your own parents or in-laws. Now, imagine what you would say if you overheard your teenager responding to people in charge the same way you do. Because, if the research is true, there’s a good chance that one day they will.
There will always be people in charge who frustrate us. That’s true for our students as well. In fact, sometimes we are the ones who frustrate them. So, modeling respect for authority is a huge deal. But that doesn’t mean we have to be stoic. This week try mentioning to your student one situation where you are frustrated by authority and how you’re dealing with it. Say something like…
Hey Parents, we are finishing out the school year out a 4-week series called Propel. Here's an idea of what we will be teaching with suggestions for conversation starters for you at home.
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.
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…
We’re Teaching This:
There’s something awesome about a 3D movie. It takes the whole movie experience to a new level. But have you ever taken the glasses off in the middle of the movie just to see what it looks like? If so, you know seeing things through the wrong lens can ruin the whole movie. The action gets blurred. Nothing is clear, and pretty quickly you can end up confused and with a headache. Sometimes reading the Bible can feel like watching a 3D movie without the glasses. There’s a lot going on. Sometimes it’s confusing. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to focus on. To make matters worse, lots of people seem to have different opinions about what the Bible says and what it means. But that doesn’t mean our only option is to walk away confused. Just like a 3D movie, sometimes all it takes is a different lens, a new perspective, to bring the most important things into focus.
Think About This:
Every family has a belief system. Even if your family isn’t particularly religious, chances are there are certain things that you believe about the world and certain values that you want to pass on to your children. It’s natural. And, as our students develop into adults, it’s normal for them to think about, question, and maybe even try on other beliefs they may have been exposed to outside our home. If it hasn’t happened already, there will probably come a day when your student makes a statement or asks a question that feels like it flies in the face of all you’ve taught them. And while it’s unsettling and uncomfortable for us, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, questioning can be good. It means they’re growing.
At moments like these, it’s important to remember that, just as our students’ bodies and minds are developing, their faith and beliefs are developing too. They may go through stages or seasons of faith that look different, but that doesn’t mean it is where they will ultimately land.
One way we can help our students navigate this tricky time is to be authentic about our own faith journey. Religious or not, we all have questions and doubts we wrestle with from time to time. We all have moments that leave us feeling a little confused or unsettled about our beliefs. And the same things that have helped us through those times may be helpful for our students as well.
Maybe it’s been a while since you really wrestled with a tough question about life or maybe you weren’t sure what to do with it. That’s okay. Here are four strategies you may find helpful when you don’t have all the answers.
Call a friend. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk through concerns with someone who is wiser, older, or simply a good listener.
Investigate. Maybe next time you encounter tough questions, it’s time to go in search of answers, committing some time to research.
Trust what you know. When answers are hard to come by, we can still trust the things we already know to be true. For example, I’m not the only person to ever think this way or feel this way or I believe that God is good. So, even though this situation doesn’t seem good, I can trust that He is.
Keep walking. Sometimes the hardest and most helpful thing to do in the face of tough doubts or questions is to simply keep going. Don’t get stuck. Keep serving. Keep loving people, and trust God to help you figure out the tough stuff over time.
One of the toughest growing pains for a students’ faith is when they encounter questions that don’t seem to have answers, when what they believe doesn’t seem to line up with new information they’ve encountered.
Next time you sense your student is struggling with what they believe (even if they don’t say so), try casually mentioning a belief of your own that you’ve wrestled with and share how you responded. Maybe even mention one of the strategies listed above. Doing so may give your student both the courage and the tools to find answers and begin to grow in their own faith. .
We’re Teaching This:
Everyone loves a good story. Even if you hate reading, you probably don’t mind movies, TV shows, or a great musical. There is just something about a story, a good story that we can’t resist. When we were little, all the great ones started with “Once upon a time”. They were tales of heroes and villains, evil queens, noble princes, and fairy godmothers. And while the characters in our favorite stories look different now, not much else has changed. We still love to see the good guy win, the bad guy lose, and the couple live happily ever after. Maybe it’s because, no matter how old you are, great stories have the power to pull you in and make you feel like you’re a part of them. Jesus knew that and He often told stories, called parables, that worked the same way. His stories may not have involved princesses or evil villains, but as we take a look at four of these famous parables we may just find that the characters look more familiar than we could have ever imagined.
Think About This:
What was your teenager’s favorite story when he or she was little? And how many times did you read that story to them? A hundred? A thousand? Sometimes as parents of older children, we are tempted to look back nostalgically at storytime and think, those were the days, assuming they’re long-gone. But in the book, Losing Your Marbles: Playing for Keeps, Reggie Joiner explains that the power of stories, especially stories over time, may make storytelling a practice that is too important to abandon.
Experts have analyzed, theorized, and evangelized about the power of story. Everyone seems to agree. It’s as if our minds are hardwired to engage in the way information fits together in the context of a narrative. One specialist in this area puts it this way: If you ever need a little more proof that God exists, consider the magical, mystical, imaginative, compelling way kids, teenagers—and everyone else for that matter—connect to stories. It seems obvious that God created your imagination; then created stories to ignite it. Have you ever considered that without imagination, you can’t . . .
see past what you already know?
care how someone else feels?
hope beyond your present situation?
… That’s what the gift of imagination and story does for a child or teenager. It enables them to think their way into other people’s lives. It compels them to feel the sentiments of other people’s emotions. It invites them to venture into other people’s places.
Maybe that’s why research actually indicates the more stories you read to a child over time, the greater their empathy. Because stories have the potential to make you feel what someone else feels. Stories can collectively work to build a child’s emotional, relational, and moral intelligence.
Think about what happens when a child imagines . . . fighting Smaug, the dragon, with Bilbo on the Lonely mountain, joining Annemarie in the Danish Resistance during WWII, traveling with Lucy through a mysterious wardrobe into a frozen land.
They see more. They care more. They hope more.
A good story doesn’t have to be found in a children’s book. This week, try enjoying a story that your student is already interested in by going to…
See a movie together.
It doesn’t have to be a spiritual or “family” movie. It doesn’t have to have a G-rating. It doesn’t even have to have some great moral to the story. Just see a movie your student is interested in and then, on the ride home or while enjoying a snack after the show, ask them one question:
Which character in the movie do you identify with most?
Really listen to the answer. Don’t correct them if you disagree. Just use this as a time to learn about your student and enjoy hearing where they think they fit in the story.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
We’re Teaching This:
When was the last time you felt totally out of control? Maybe it was when your car hydroplaned, just for a second. Or maybe your plans got changed at the last minute leaving you with nothing to do. Or maybe a friend or family member’s behavior left you shaking your head. We all have moments like that—moments that leave us feeling tense, anxious, and wondering how we’re supposed to handle it all. The problem is, sometimes those out-of-control moments end up becoming a regular part of our lives. Whether it is with the stress and uncertainty of our future, the pressure that comes with our relationships with others or even the anxiety of where we are with God, chaos can start to feel like it’s everywhere. It’s no surprise that God never intended for our lives to be defined by stress. Thankfully He doesn’t tell us to handle it on our own, either. He invites us to bring our worries and anxiety to Him. And when do, we find that He doesn’t just remove the chaos from our lives. He replaces it with something better—peace.
Think About This:
Do you think your teen is more stressed than you were at his or her age? According to CNN’s Kelly Wallace, most parents would say, “Absolutely”. In her article, SOS for Stressed Out Teens on CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/05/living/teen-stress-overscheduled-parents/), Wallace suggests that, along with heightened academic stakes and overscheduled lifestyles, social media may add to the expectations that leave teens feeling stressed.
Today's teens, unlike when I was growing up, can now compare their academic performance and everything else about their existence to other teens 24 hours a day through updates on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, you name the social network, and that only increases the stress.
"Back in the day, we got a break from our peers after school and on the weekends, but now kids are on social media all day long," said Linda Esposito, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in Los Angeles and host of a blog on psychotherapy called Talk Therapy Biz.
Social media and the constant connectedness of technology has no doubt changed the game for our students and added to the stress they experience. And, there’s no reason to believe that the constant “ping” of notifications is going to slow down anytime soon. So, as parents, it’s more important than ever that we help our students learn to cope when they feel anxiety. A few ways to make sure this happens?
Model healthy behavior. As parents become more proficient with technology, more of our own anxiety come from being connected to work 24/7. If you catch yourself being “mentally elsewhere” while spending time with the family, intentionally turn your device off and let your student know why you’re doing it.
Take breaks from technology. There’s something about the buzz of a new notification that feels urgent even when it isn’t. As a family, try taking breaks from technology. It doesn’t have to be for long periods of time, but just an hour of real “connectedness” to each other can help manage stress levels and reset students’ anxiety.
Sometimes the best tool for managing stress is to take a time out.
Try having a disconnected dinner with your family.
Once a week, at the beginning of dinner, have everyone drop their mobile devices in a basket, including the parents. It’s a symbolic way of saying to your student, “This time is important. And I’m all here”.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
This blog is designed to give you, the parent, the tools to strategically impact your students life in ways that will tie in with what they are discussing on Sundays. We want to give you conversation starters at the dinner table, action points to strengthen relationships & insight into what we are discussing on Sundays. None of this is designed as coaching for you -- we're proud of you -- we want you to know what we're teaching your student & see if you want to use any of it during the week. We believe that we are here to help YOU, not the other way around! And we know that you have many more hours a week with them than we ever will! We are praying for you & would love to meet with you or your family as the need arises.
~ Ryan Reitzammer, Director of Youth Ministries