We’re Teaching This:
What is it about this time of year that causes us to feel a little more generous? We naturally think about helping families in need by providing Christmas presents or a meal, we visit soup kitchens, donate clothes, or drop food off at the local food pantry. Studies show we give more money and clothing to charity in December than any other time. But why? In the Gospel of John, we find a part of the Christmas story that doesn’t always make it into the nativity scene. Long before Mary and Joseph made it to Bethlehem. Long before there were choirs of angels visiting shepherd or wise men making their way from the East, Christmas began with a single decision made on our behalf. A decision God made to give. That simple but monumental decision has shaped this season ever since. And when we begin to understand all God has given to us, we can’t help but bring that tradition that began with His generosity into our present.
Think About This:
By Sarah Anderson
Have you ever noticed that when it comes to our children—no matter what their age—the things we expect our children to enjoy and thank us for the most are usually the very things that go unnoticed or unappreciated? I’ve started noticing it in my own preschool aged kids that when I pull out my best parenting tricks, my best memory-making ideas, it is sometimes met with them being bored, not impressed, and lacking gratitude.
The problem I face as a parent, and the problem all of us face to one degree or another, is what pastor Andy Stanley refers to as the tendency to raise experientially rich kids, but instead of raising relationally rich ones. In other words, in our effort to want to give our kids everything we create the chance for them to have some pretty amazing experiences but often neglect actually connecting with them.
This becomes all the more complicated as our children become teenagers and appear to want neither experiences nor relationships with us.
It’s hard not to take personally. But I’ve found that what students express as “wants” or “don’t wants” often doesn’t reflect their true desires. While they appear indifferent, that isn’t always the case. Our students, regardless of their age, temperament or wiring, are needing purposeful and committed relationships—with us. Strong relationships with their parents now will lay the groundwork for strong relationships in the future.
They need to know—though they aren’t often willing to ask us directly—that we like them and we want to hang out with them. Maybe they aren’t looking for some big expensive vacation or experience. Maybe they don’t need anything that dramatic—just the chance for us to be with them and a chance to make a connection.
Maybe your student moving out of the house feels like it is a long way off. It could be several years away, or it could be in a matter of months. Try thinking about their time with you in terms of the number of holidays you have while they still live in your house. Your teenager maybe four years from moving out, but that means you only have four Christmases left.
“When you know how much time you have left, you tend to do more with the time you have now.”
Take some time this holiday season to sit down with your student and together come up with a tradition you can repeat for the Christmas seasons you have left. It doesn’t have to be anything big, expensive or super time-consuming. But it does have to be something your teenager wants to do—and something that gives you the chance to have shared experience together and further your relationship as well.
We're Teaching This...
On a scale of one to ten, how do you measure up? Are you tall enough? Pretty enough? Smart enough? Funny enough? And on that scale, which number represents enough? Do you have to score a ten or will a solid seven do? How about a five? It’s better than average, right? Most of us measure how we’re doing by how everyone else is doing. Not a day goes by that we’re not tempted to glance to our left and to our right to see how we measure up to the people around us. This is especially true at school. We see everyone else’s grades, clothes, athletic ability, talent, and popularity. And it’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up. So we adjust course, try harder, spend more, and then compare again. It's exhausting. In this 3-part series,we explore the difficult—but not impossible—challenge of escaping The Comparison Trap.
Think About This...
Parenting is hard. We probably knew going in that it wouldn’t always be a walk in the park. But, as a parent, have you noticed there are some curve balls that you just don’t know how to handle?
Chances are, you knew your kids were going to be different from one another. But it’s also likely you had no idea just how different they could be until you started raising them—until they hit a certain age and suddenly what you assumed would be true of one of your kids because it was true of an older one—just isn’t. Sometimes it feels like you have to learn how to parent all over again with each child. And sometimes not just with each child, but through each life-stage your children experience.
We may not do it on purpose, but there is a tendency to compare that comes so naturally and so easily. We bring attention to the ways our students are different from their siblings, their friends, our friends, and even earlier versions of themselves. It’s so tempting to say, “But why can’t you just be like______?” The problem is, comparison rarely works. It doesn’t make students want to try harder and it can often lead to resentment toward the parents and the sibling with whom they’re compared. Even within the family, there is no win in comparison.
Sameness isn’t even really a goal worth shooting for. Maybe there are traits in one of your children that you’d like the others to take on. That’s great, but you probably don’t want them to be exact replicas. A better goal is to be intentional in learning, studying, and celebrating the personality and wiring of each individual child.
No one wants to feel like they don’t measure up. Especially not in the place where they want to feel the safest and most secure. Work on making your family and your home the place where who your child is celebrated and not compared.
This week, point out something in your teenager that you appreciate. Find something that you have seen grow and develop in them that is a strength and then tell them how proud of them you are.
Then find something that, at first glance, feels like something you would change—that you would compare to someone else and wish away. And then find a way to leverage it. To see the good in it. For example,
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Each week we will post one or more blogs related to our ministries for High School youth and families. Check back often and leave a comment!