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“I just wish my parents would realize I’m not who I was in middle school. Their picture of me never changes—even though I’ve changed.”
Without knowing it, this 17 year-old’s complaint about her parents’ inability to appreciate her growth triggered an internal alarm in me. Since our kids—now ages 16, 14, and 10—have been infants, my husband and I have seen their unique personalities emerge.
One of our kids almost never complains—even when they should exert themselves more. Another one . . . well, let’s just say that no one has ever accused her of not complaining enough.
One of our kids has been an introvert since she was a toddler. She has two good friends and that’s all she needs. Our other daughter is an off-the-chart extrovert. She loses count of her friends. Literally.
It’s good that I know my kids’ tendencies. It’s bad when I become so fixated on those tendencies that I don’t see how they are changing.
In this series, your students are going to realize change is possible. More than that, change is inevitable as we encounter Jesus. Our hero in these three lessons, the Apostle Paul, realized this firsthand. After Jesus got his attention, he changed from being one of the greatest persecutors of Christians to being one of the greatest builders of the church. Paul let Jesus change him.
As your students similarly let Jesus change them, they might start acting a little differently. All of a sudden, your son is a bit less selfish and empties the dishwasher without being asked. Or your step-daughter chooses on her own to put down her phone in the car so the two of you can talk.
We hope you know your kids and how God has uniquely molded them. But we also hope you know that God’s love and grace continues to shape them into new creations with new personalities, new victories, and new struggles.
Parenting. It’s never boring.
- Make a list of ways your son or daughter is different now than they were a year or two ago. How do you feel about those changes? Which do you applaud? Which make you anxious?
- Talk to your child about (some or all of) your list, making sure you talk at least three times more about the changes you applaud than those that make you anxious. And in fact, start with the good stuff. We are all more open to critique if we have first felt affirmed and understood.
- Ask your child two questions about what you’ve shared: What do you disagree with? And, what makes sense or feels right to you? In my experience with my own two teenagers, they are far more likely to agree with certain observations I’ve made if they first have a chance to express what they disagree with.
- Share with your child an area of your life that you hope can change. Invite your child to do the same.
- Pray that God will make that change a reality, just as He did so powerfully with Paul two thousand years ago.
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