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It’s Good to Be Known

known

“Sometimes you want to go…

where everybody knows your name

and they’re always glad you came.”

We all want to be known.  It’s just wired in us.

When it comes to parenting, how do you get to know your kids?

I’ll never forget the AHA moment where I realized I needed to get to know my kids better.  I have two kids close in age and for weeks they were both a little clingy/needy, they were both melting down way to often, and I was doing my best disciplining and redirecting.  My efforts weren’t working, so I had to try to figure this out.

As I begin to pay attention, I noticed that one was desperately needing attention and the other was needing reassurance.  It’s as if the older one was asking, “Can I please have some attention?” and the younger was needing comfort, in a sense, asking “Am I going to be ok?” but all I was hearing or seeing were behavior problems.  There was a new baby in the house and life was busy, and if I hadn’t slowed down to get to know them, I might have missed this and grown in my frustration.

When it comes to faith, being and feeling known matters.

If you’ve been around middle school kids, this is very evident.  As they enter a room full of other middle school kids, they scan the room – looking – asking – “Where do I belong?  Where am I known?  Where am I safe?”   If they find it, they rush towards it.  If they don’t they are (noticeably) uncomfortable.

It makes sense that before a young person can really start to grappling with big ideas and concepts like faith, identity, meaning, hope…they need the sense of stability being known brings.  If they have the security and confidence of being known, they are much more willing to engage on a deeper level.  I watch a lot of kids spend their time chasing being known and rarely get the opportunity to be comfortable enough to consider issues around faith and life.

Here’s some help.

There’s a great project called, It’s Just a Phase (justaphase.com) and I want to share with you one element of their work in hopes that it will help you know your son or daughter just a little better!

In each phase, there’s a question that is central in a developmental sense.  As my example above indicated, these questions can be hiding under a lot of other behaviors and attitudes.  Once you know the question, you have a better shot of knowing and understanding your child.

In each phase, this is what each child wants to know:

Zero to One:  Am I safe?
One to Two:  Am I able?
Three to Four:  Am I okay?
Kinder to 1st grade:  Do I have your attention?
2nd to 3rd grade:  Do I have what it takes?
4th to 5th grade:  Do I have friends?
6th grade:  Who do I like?
7th and 8th grade:  Who am I?
9th grade:  Where do I belong?
10th grade:  Why should I believe?
11th grade:  How can I matter?
12th grade:  What will I do?

Next week I will share the One word that the project discovered that helps us engage these questions with our kids.  This week, take a moment and see if you can recognize this question in behavior or other areas of life.  Take a moment and answer this question, even if they aren’t verbally asking it, and see if it leads to some results.

Back to School Fears

red-school-blur-factory

As another school year begins, I’m aware of how much of my child’s life is outside of my control.  Will they have a good teacher?  How are we going to survive this crazy schedule?  Will they make friends this year?  Will they have a bully or make good choices or… the list can go on and on.

I wanted to share this article below that include 5 simple steps to face your back to school fears.

How I Hope my Back-to-School Faith is Different This Year  
by Kara Powell

A few days ago, I was struck by how Jesus praises the faith of the centurion: “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (Matthew 8:10). That affirmation stands in stark contrast to the condemnatory greeting Jesus gives His disciples when they wake him in the middle of a furious storm: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26).

Why did Jesus praise the centurion and condemn the disciples?

After all, the disciples respected Jesus’ power enough to beg him to save them.

And the disciples were experienced fishermen, so this must have been a major storm.

So what did the disciples do wrong?

They were afraid. They panicked. Like the centurion, they knew that Jesus could deliver them, but they weren’t sure he would. So they were still full of fear.

My kids’ back-to-school season kindles new fears in me as a parent.

After the more relaxing pace of summer, I worry about the influx of school stress—ranging from trying to get out the door in the morning to navigating hours of evening homework.

I worry that my kids won’t get the teachers they want. Or that I want for them.

I am afraid that my more introverted child will withdraw into books.

I am afraid that my more extroverted child won’t hit the books enough.

I so want to have the type of faith that Jesus applauds. And I think a gospel-infused response to fear is more than repeatedly telling (or more accurately, berating) myself, “Don’t be afraid, Kara. Trust Jesus.” There has to be a healthy middle ground between denial and despair.

What can we do when we face back-to-school anxieties and fears?

1. Pay attention to them.

Don’t deny them or dwell on them, but acknowledge the fears you have as your family plunges back into the world of school lunches and rushed carpools.

2. See if you can figure out what’s underneath that fear.

What is behind the fear you have about your child, or your family’s schedule? Is it your own feelings of inadequacy, or your own struggles with loneliness?

3. Talk to others about what you’re fearing.

I often forget that I’m not alone in these fears. Most of my friends have their own fears, and even if they aren’t identical to mine, they generally stem from the same roots of shame or inadequacy. Knowing that brings me comfort.

4. Talk with Jesus about them.

Talking with a friend helps. Talking with Jesus helps more. Fears get smaller when I talk with Jesus about them.

5. Talk with Jesus with your kids.

When any of my kids share their concerns about their teacher, homework, or friendships, I try to talk to Jesus aloud right then and there. We pray that God would guide them to the right friends at lunch. We ask God to put them in the classes where they can best be salt and light.

https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/back-to-school-faith

Speak Life. They need it.

pexels-photo-106258

I had no idea that was going on behind the surface.

Most of us are too afraid to actually be vulnerable with one another, but on this night over 60 high school students decided to let their guard down and be real.

We know developmentally that high school students are right in the middle of searching for identity and figuring out who they are.  We know that their brains are not fully developed in the area of decision making.  So, of course, we expect the teenage years to bring moments of trouble, hurt, mistakes, high highs and low lows.

It’s part of adolescence.  It’s part of growing up.

That night we asked the high school students to trace their hand on a sheet of paper and write one thing they needed help (anonymously)  with on the open palm of their hand.  We then taped these hands to the wall and they went around and prayed for each other.

As I moved around the room, I realized that there is more going on than you think.

These are put together, physically fit, intelligent, social — the type of kids you’d expect to be on top of the world.  But beneath the surface they are all hurting in very real ways.

Parents, my encouragement to you today is to take a moment in the coming week and look your son or daughter in the eyes and speak life into them.  Speak over them words of identity.  Speak over them words of what you see in them.  Speak over them the joy it is to know them.

I encourage you to give them space to share what’s going on.  Look them in the eyes, with your full attention, and ask them how they are doing.  Don’t dismiss what they share as trivial (even if it is!), because your attention and reaction on the small things will open the door for more vulnerability in the future.

You have more influence than you think!

This part of growing up  — so don’t be surprised by it, but don’t let it pass by.  There is an opportunity to shape the heart, mind, soul, and future of your child.

If you were to stop right now and write down some words of identity or significance for your child, what would they be?

Now make a plan to share it!  Speak life.  As I learned that night, they are desperate for it even if they hide it really well.

 

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Here’s a related post for further reflectionSpeak Up! You Might Change Their Life.

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