Parent Cue for July Middle School Series
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 growing 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 be times when we need to stretch and grow our parenting.
During this series, your students are learning about four ideas that can grow their faith up, and the same four things they’re hearing about—but with a slight twist—have the power to grow your parenting.
4 Ways to Grow Your Parenting
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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. 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.
4. 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 students experience 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 this 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 grow an area of our life up 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.