Be a Student of What They are Learning
Not everyone has it together when it comes to knowing what God wants for their lives. But sometimes it certainly feels like everyone else does—and we don’t. And when your student feels that way, it can make them feel pretty left out and uncertain about their relationship with God and where their life is going. But what if hearing from God isn’t about exclusivity—who’s in and who’s out—but rather inclusivity, meaning that everyone gets to play in the game of God’s plan? When it comes to those not-so-easy life decisions, God has given us a very clear-cut grid based on His love for us, our love for Him and our love for others. So, knowing God’s will is less about signs and more about knowing the narrative of His great story and how we fit into it. God’s great love for you student is the most important factor in discovering His will for their life. So, when they wonder why they can’t seem to connect with God, we can encourage them that God does speak to them and wants them to be encouraged by His purpose for their lives.
2. Be a Student of Your Student
Do you remember when you left home? What it felt like the first time you paid your own bills, got your own gas and made your own dentist appointment? Do you remember what it felt like when the realization came that you were finally on your own? You were an adult, for better or for worse. For a lot of us, this feeling came when we packed our bags and headed off to college. Or, maybe it was when we graduated from college. Maybe for some of us, it was after we spent a few months at home following college graduation before we got our feet on the ground. But, for the most part, when we look back and try to recall the journey into adulthood, most of our journeys look the same. We packed our bags and we headed out.
Maybe you’ve noticed that things don’t look that way anymore. And if you have noticed that, there is a reason. Adulthood for students today is taking a lot longer to reach than it once did. In fact, recent studies show that adulthood isn’t reached until teenagers are in their mid to late twenties. Not eighteen, not college graduation, but years beyond. And there are many reasons why.
Historically, adolescents went through something called “stage development.” This meant that a student went through a progression of stages until they finally reached adulthood—until they were completely independent and self-sufficient. And, this was considered healthy, normal adolescent development. The problem is that these developmental stages don’t recognize what’s going on with kids today. Let’s take a look back. In the United States in 1900, the average age of puberty for young women and men was 14.5 years of age and at the age of 16, one was considered to be an “adult.” Now, let’s fast-forward a century to 2005. The average age of puberty drops to 11.7 but the mid to late twenties are now the new adulthood. The ever-expanding gap between early physical maturity and late emotional/developmental maturity can be very difficult for our students to navigate.
So, with this research, it is fair to say that there is an extension of adolescence. Our kids brains are taking longer to mature and develop, so their ability to take on the responsibility that adulthood requires isn’t just something they are neglecting to do well, but something they can’t necessarily do well for several more years. This means that the finish line we have for our kids—the one that says out of the house by eighteen and financially independent by graduation—may need to change. So what does this mean for parents of mid-to-late adolescents? How can we help our kids reach adulthood equipped with what they need to be successful?
We may need to see our job as parents as one that extends farther than it did for our parents when we were in our kid’s shoes. We may need to open our doors back up after college while we work with them as they ease into the reality of the real world. We need to be their advocate. We need to be on their team. We need to be a partner to help them become the most confident and capable adults they can be—even it takes longer than we think it should. We need to be willing to move the finish line and allow our students the time they need to become the mature, well-rounded adults we know God is shaping them to be.
3. Action Point
It can be hard for many of us to think of resetting the finish line for our students and extending it past the commonly accepted milestone of high school graduation. Yet, today’s students are developmentally in a very different place than most of us were at the age of 18. For this Parent Cue, you are going to set aside some time to sit down with your student and help them set some spiritual, educational, personal and any other specific goals that they would like to see themselves reach at the age of 25. As you begin to set these goals, ask yourself the following question: How can I begin to help my student along the path of attaining these goals?
As well, as you and your student begin to dialog about these future goals, ask them what practical things would they like you to do to help them on their journey towards adulthood?
Remember, this exercise is not about your goals for your student, but rather their own goals for themselves. Be sure to listen to what their hopes and dreams are. If their goal is to have traveled the world by 25 instead of received their Master’s degree, be sure to encourage that dream while providing them with the wisdom you have gained from your own life experiences.
As well, as you help your student set his or her goals and as you begin to dialogue about how you can help, keep in mind that while this is an exercise in partnership, this is not meant to be an area that you take ownership over. Encourage healthy responsibility while recognizing your student’s need for extended support so that they have the best chance to become a spiritually healthy, emotionally well-rounded adult.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
1. Be a Student of What They are Learning
It’s an age-old problem—one that begins to plaque us around the time adolescence hits and, if we aren’t careful, follows us around the rest of our lives. It is the question of who we are—what makes up our identity, what defines us, what makes us, us. But imagine if, instead of wrestling with these questions in the complexity of adulthood, we started to tackle them in the formative teenage years? What if we took a good, long, hard look at some of the foundational questions during the years that shape us more than any others? Who am I? Where do I belong? What is my purpose? We are going to begin to scratch the surface of identity tackling the difficult to ask—and even more difficult to answer—questions that ultimately end up defining who we are.
2. Be a Student of Your Student
When it comes to parenting styles, everyone has an opinion. And while we could all stand to show more grace towards one another when navigating our role with our kids in this tricky stage of life, I think we can all agree there are some things we may be in the habit of doing that are good and some things that could be quite detrimental. Mickey Goodman, in a recent article tells stories of kids who upon arriving to college and receiving a less than satisfactory grade, had their parents call the professor to try and negotiate the score. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to relay the story of a parent who actually accompanied their child on a job interview. Yes, a job interview. Would you be surprised to learn this young woman did not get the job she applied for?
These may be fairly outrageous examples of parenting, but according to Tim Elmore, founder and president of the non-profit group Growing Leaders, they may be more disturbing than we realize because they represent a growing trend among parents. Hovering. Over-involvement. Intervening. They are evidence that a genuine attempt by parents to protect kids has evolved into something actually harming and stunting the growth and formation of a child’s identity. Which isn’t to say this is a parent’s intention. But however pure the motive, the result is not a good one. In other words, when we parent out of fear of what our kids may experience without our intervention, the actions we take as a result can have debilitating results.
It probably doesn’t take much prompting for you to remember the day you brought your child home from the hospital. The fear and terror combined with the overwhelming sense of joy and responsibility is enough to send anyone into an emotional tailspin. As parents, from day one, we have the engrained and prevalent instinct to protect our children—at all costs. But what more studies and psychologists are finding, the cost is actually the long-term wellbeing of our child. In an attempt to make sure our kids grow up safe, grow up protected, grow up secure and grounded in their identity, we are actually keeping them from growing up at all, leaving them ill-prepared for the actuality of the real world. So when it comes time to actually leave the nest, we are sending out kids with no real sense of who they are and no real skills on how to figure out life’s difficulties for themselves.
In other words we are raising kids not just sheltered from some of the harmful influences of culture, but kids sheltered from the realities of life—who don’t know disappointment and failure—and as a result don’t know how to recover from it when they do encounter it. And we are parenting this way for the sake of our own peace of mind. Tim Elmore says it this way. “We are consumed with protecting them instead of preparing them for the future. We haven’t let them fall, fail and fear.” In fact, you could say, we have done the fearing for them—allowing our personal apprehensions to dictate the way we parent, keeping our kids from learning valuable life-shaping lessons on their own.
And so, I wonder if we would do a better job as parents if we first dealt with our personal fears—be they well-founded or not—choosing to keep our fears from governing us and dictating the method and mode of our parenting. I wonder if we learned to take a deep breath and step back, if we just might be surprised, pleased and proud of the people—or maybe more appropriately, the adults—our teenagers are becoming—even in spite of us. And I wonder, if we learned to do this, what message it might send to our kids about the promise and hope they can find in themselves without our intervention, and if they would be more empowered and equipped to handle the world as a result.
3. Action Point
I think we would all admit that one of our biggest parenting faux pas come when we try to live vicariously through our children—trying to fix what was wrong circumstantially for us or in us by the way we treat and raise our offspring. The problem is, when we do this, we still don’t’ end up “fixing” ourselves and oftentimes we end up “breaking” our kids in ways we didn’t expect. So use this time with your teenager to create an honest dialogue over your own fears, personal shortcomings and hopes for them and give them the space and time to do the same.
Share with your teenager the fears you have for them. (Think specific—not just the really “obvious” or “big” fears. Think of the every day fears that may not seem that big to anyone else but drive you and your parenting.)
Can you think of anything from your own personal experience as you grew up that caused you to have this fear for your child? How has your personal fear dictated the way you parent?
Family psychologist John Rosemond says this about encouraging our children and their dreams. “It’s time we tell them that doing great things starts with accomplishing small goals.”
Does it seem like a scary thing to allow your child to do this? What are some of the big goals you have in mind for your child? Does the way you parent encourage or hamper their big dreams? What are some of the small, more attainable goals you can set for them—that don’t scare you to death, but also give them a proper perspective on what is required to make their dreams happen?
Ask your teenager what are some of the big dreams they have for themselves—and ask them what are some smaller attainable things they can begin to accomplish now that will help them as they strive for these bigger goals. How can you help them make this happen without over stepping your bounds and doing too much?
Ask your teenager if there are things they see in your parenting that are really just your fears being played out. Are there areas they feel stifled by you? Are there areas where you are too controlling? (Try not to feel judged or defensive if they do have something to say.)
What can you do as a parent to better support them and equip them as they journey towards discovering who they are and who they want to be?
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
©2012 Orange. All rights reserved.
[Like I said in the video…this is tough stuff to wrestle with, but I think it could really be helpful in the end. – Paul]
On June 13th, we will be hanging out at Skywalk from 6pm-8pm. $15 gets you in the door and we will jumping around like crazy people, playing dodge-ball, basketball and anything else we can think of! You must have the waiver filled out and signed with you on June 13th. Bring a friend!
NHC Summer 2012 Calendar (Click to download PDF)
Here is our calendar for the Summer of 2012. Both Middle School & High School events are listed along with times, dates, price and and other information you would need. Its going to be an awesome summer!
[THERE HAVE BEEN A COUPLE OF (AWESOME) CHANGES. THEY’RE IN ALL CAPS…]
I’ve gotten a lot of head-scratching the past few weeks about what exactly we are doing this summer with “5 Day Clubs.” So I felt like it would be good to elaborate on here…
First off, here are the forms:
I wanted to focus on our own community for “missions” this summer. I feel like New Harvest can be even more proactive about reaching the Clovis community. Also, I think that middle school and high school students can greatly impact smaller children. With those two things in mind, I knew I wanted to get out there and uncover this Light that we have to our neighbors! Now, all I needed was someone who was already doing such a thing (very well) to help us do this!
That’s where Child Evangelism Fellowship came in. New Harvest’s own Tammy Beers is in charge of the Fresno/Clovis branch of this national organization. This ministry regularly holds “Good News Clubs” at area elementary schools, reaching kids from the community with the Gospel. They ALSO have summer programs down to a science. In their “5 Day Clubs,” trained volunteers set up shop in areas wherever kids are to share the Gospel with kids over the course of (you guessed it) five days. In a jam-packed two-hour daily program, these kids hear the Gospel and have a chance to respond.
So…I’m in. I know Tammy. I know the work that she’s doing is awesome. I know that our group (middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adult volunteers) are more than capable of being trained to reach our community. So I say, “Let’s do this!”
Tammy and I met and discussed areas of Clovis where two things are happening:
Children are participating in free food distribution programs. CHILDREN ARE IN SUMMER SCHOOL. [Families in need.]
2) It’s close enough that someone could actually go to New Harvest. [Greater long-term impact.]
We decided on two locations:
Bicentennial Park SIERRA VISTA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL and David E. Cook CLOVIS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
[AND, BOY OH BOY, DID WE HIT THE JACKPOT ON LOCATIONS. CLOVIS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT EVEN GAVE US PERMISSION TO HOLD THESE 5 DAY CLUBS ON CAMPUS AND DISTRIBUTE FLIERS ADVERTISING THEM TO ALL 1200 OF THE CHILDREN WHO WILL BE ATTENDING SUMMER SCHOOL. JUST THINK OF THE IMPACT! WE’RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO REACH ALL THE KIDS WHO ARE GOING TO SUMMER SCHOOL AT THESE TWO LOCATIONS!]
Then Scott and I decided what times would be best for our summer calendar. We landed on July 16 – 20 and July 30 – August 3.
So…now what do we do?
First, if your youth kid (middle school or high school) or you are interested in participating, you’ve got to:
1) Fill out the forms and take them to the CEF office [1322 E. Shaw Ave. Ste. #110. Fresno, CA 93710. Phone: 559 -226-5539. Fax: 559-226-3290. Office Hours: 9 am to 4 pm. Monday—Thursday] This needs to be done ASAP! All volunteers over 15 have to have a background check (for the protection and safety of the children involved).
2) Attend one of the three-day training sessions (which are 9 am – 1 pm). Session one is at the CEF office from 6/19-6/21 [IF YOU WANT TO ATTEND THIS SESSION, YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE YOUR FORMS IN BY THE MORNING OF WED. JUNE 13]. Session two is at the CEF office from 6/26-6/28 [IF YOU WANT TO ATTEND THIS SESSION, YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE YOUR FORMS IN BY THE MORNING OF WED. JUNE 20]. There we will learn all the skills required to make this happen. I (Paul) will be at both training sessions alongside you guys as a learner!
So…as of right now, we’re asking that you let us know if you plan on participating. The expectation would be that if you participate in the training that you will “pay it forward” by serving in two “5 Day Clubs” over the course of the summer. Obviously, we have two planned; but if you can’t make either of those, there are plenty of other ones that will be taking place all across Fresno County (CEF can hook you up with that info).
Questions? Either ask on here or email or call Paul.
This year, we’re going to try something a little different with our “upgrades.” When elementary kids had become middle schoolers and middle schoolers had become high schoolers in the past, we had pool parties on a different night from youth as a welcome. That had mixed results. This year, Scott and I decided to have a “Upgrade Family FEAST” in which all the new students, all the existing students, and all of their families came on Sunday night to get CONNECTED– not just to the program but also to the small group leaders. So…that’s happening on June 10th this year during our normal Sunday night program time: 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm. In preparation for this event, we’re hoping to control the chaos of a potluck…
That’s being said, I would love to get volunteers for the following areas. The sky’s the limit (as it is a potluck), but maybe we could get a couple of families to contribute a good starter main course for the group. We have been averaging around 60 on Sunday night– this event could bring more if you count the parents, so let’s just plan for 100 and pig out! 🙂
Please respond on here by comment, by email, by Facebook inbox, by text, or by phone call about what you’d like to bring and for approximately how many people (for example…”Frodo Baggins, turnips for 20″)…
Garcia Family: Pasta for 30
Giffen Family: Pasta for ___
Team Rodoza: Bucket of Chicken
Stephens Family: Fried Chicken for ____
Blomgren Family: Main Dish for 20
Team Rodoza: 6 2-liters of Soda
Melton Family: 3 cases of Water
Staley Family: Salad for 20
Jones Family: Side for 30
Desantis Family: Salad/Chinese Cabbage Salad for 30
Loewen Family: Chinese Chicken Salad for 30
Brewer Family: Potato Dish for 30
Casey Family: Chips & Homemade Salsa for 20
Sledd Family: Cupcakes for 30
Garcia Family: Cupcakes for 30
Huntress Family: Birthday Cake for _____