Sometimes it’s a little awkward to give parenting seminars to parents of adolescents when both of our kids are under the age of 2. It feels even more awkward when we hit people with the statistic that adolescence (beginning with biological changes and ending when society accepts you as an adult) now spans ages 10 – 30 (This means Brooks and I are STILL ADOLESCENTS!!). But the fun part of these seminars is getting to speak as advocates for students and helping parents better understand what’s going on in their heads and in the world around them. Maybe it will be helpful for you, too (credit for all of the following content goes to Dr. Eric Larsen of GYFM).
One thing we always share in these seminars is that there are three global realities that are having a huge impact on young people today – the emergence of a global youth culture (young people around the world now consume so much of the same music, media, games, advertising that they now inhabit a common culture despite varied backgrounds), the extension of adolescence (now a 20 year journey from childhood to adulthood with less adult support than ever before) and the explosion of the global youth population (over 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 25, meaning more peers, less wise guides). And because the realities facing today’s adolescents are so much different than the world we lived in just 20 years ago, parents must begin viewing themselves as cross cultural missionaries in their own homes, to their own children!
Recently we had the opportunity to give one of these seminars outside Tokyo at an international school connected to our mission organization. After explaining these 3 realities to parents, we talked about the questions that adolescent students struggle with: Who am I? Where do I belong? and What is my purpose? We then encouraged parents to engage their children well by grieving with them, celebrating them (loving them creatively!) and repenting to them. At the end, we tried something new….we gave the PARENTS a homework assignment!
Step 1. hire a babysitter (difficult to accomplish in Japan!) and go on a DATE.
Step 2. DISCUSS the questions with your spouse (See below).
Maybe you’d want to answer these questions with you spouse sometime, or (if you’re single or don’t have kids) use them to reflect on your interactions with the young people around you. Maybe you’ll even want to read the book when it comes out next year?! Either way, we hope this gives you another window into what we do over here, and a more tangible picture of the kind of impact you’re making from all the way over there. Thank you for your partnership!
- What was one thing from the seminar that resonated with you?
- What do you see each of your kids struggling with most – identity, community, or purpose?
- What is something from the seminar that you think your spouse does really well?
- Make a list of personality traits or spiritual gifts that you admire in your child.
- What are ways you are celebrating that about your child?
- What are ways you can do that better?
- What are outlets you can give them to help them develop that aspect of themselves even more?
- Describe a time when you grieved WITH your child?
- What was that like for you?
- What could you change about your relationship with your child in order to make them want to share more of their hurts with you?
- Describe the last time you blew it and had to repent to your kid?
- How did that feel?
- How did your child respond?
- How can you make that part of your family’s DNA?