Each Thursday I hope to bring you a lesson from a parent in our student ministry who will guest post on this blog. This post is from a dear friend of mine who has supported me ever since I came to Main Street. Without this person’s help (and a host of other parents) I simply would not be at Main Street. This post is about 6 things (I told this person “5” but they rebelled and did 6 😉 ) a youth minister should know from a parent that will help his job. Enjoy!!!
1. Family history is important.
All families have at least 2 other family influencing the makeup of their own families. The parents’ own personal views, feelings, traditions, and values as a family unit are indirect influenced by the way were raised. Knowing some family history about the parents helps to understand some of the decisions parents make about their own children.
2. Technology is a wonderful tool but can be used to harm as much as help.
I’m afraid our children and ourselves are getting lost in the conveniences of communicating thoughts but not feelings. Some things should always be said face to face so one can sense the sincerity, feel the “vive”, and/or read the body language of another person. Besides sometimes an old fashion hug is worth more than a 1,000 words on a new fan-dangle gadget.
3. Punishment is a two way street.
Helping to explain this to a child, especially to a teenager is tough. When you per say ground a child you ground the parent. Someone has to be there for the child to make sure they understand the hardship not only for themselves but the hardship it puts on the family unit. Example: A disobedient 11 year receives a grounding and the family had planned a movie outing. One of the parents has to stay home with the child while the others go to the movie, or you punish the whole family by all staying home, or you go to the expense of getting a sitter (who will probably let the grounded child do whatever) which is a burden on the financial side. However it goes down; it is still a cause-and-effect situation. Sometimes you may have the opportunity to mediate especially between older teens and parents. Since we have raised our children that the Bible teaches us to go to each other when we have a problem and if need be take someone with us …well, just be ready. What’s so hard is sometimes we as parents have difficulty accepting our child is growing up and the punishment doesn’t fit the infraction. Other times the child has a difficult time accepting that the punishment seems harsher because it wasn’t so restrictive the first time they broke the same rule. Just remember tough love is tough and meditating is a gift that comes with prayer, age, practice, and wisdom.
4. Parents should always know the good things and the bad things about their children…but don’t or don’t want to.
I noticed as my children got older they were very good at giving the truth as they saw it. They were and still are good at hiding the negative things that happen in their lives away from us. Even though parents eventually find out what’s going on, sooner is always better than later. As one who deals with youth and youth have the confidence to confide, you need to be aware of confidential lines that should be crossed no matter how much the child begs you not to. Often times children need only a gentle hand urging them or willing person to stand by their side to talk to their parents. But if the child will not talk to their parents, sometimes you must…and you must be ready for anything from a slap, a hug, or just complete denial from parent and child alike. But the truth as we know is always best.
5. Parents are people too.
Often times growing up I would forget my parents had feelings, wants, and needs as much as I did. To me they had it all together. They never, until they filed bankruptcy, let me or my siblings know that they had problems. Encourage parents and yourself to share their hopes, dreams, and failures about their own personal lives past and present with their children. It not only makes their parents more of a person but it also helps children see that mistakes and rewards happen to everyone, even parents. By opening up parents can share with their children how God played a role in their lives through the choices they made good, bad, or indifferently.
6. Patience, consistency, and understanding are all part of the same lifelong adventure.
At every stage in our lives God is patience and understanding and allows a chance to grow and make choices. He never forces his will on us but greatly rewards us for doing his will. We tend to forget our own children need to be afforded the same opportunity. We need to be patient with them and guide them along this path we call life. We need to be consistent like God, not changing the rules in the middle of the game. Coming together and making decisions as a family about the values of a family whether it is about dating, movies, curfews, or the use of certain language will only strengthen the family and bring them closer together and closer to God. When topics are discussed out in the open in a non confrontational way boundaries can be set, rules can be agreed upon and everyone understands where things stand. Yes, patience, understanding, and consistency do go hand in hand and with God’s help we can survive the raising of our children.