ParentingThoughts

Thoughts that inspire, challenge, and help increase your influence

Hope, Not Fear – Part II

In the last post I shared a story of the struggle my parents had in sending their high school son to a third-world country.  My mom shared that when she dropped me off at the airport and watched me walk off, she quietly prayed, “Well, he’s yours anyways.  He’s always belonged to You.”

Your Kids Are Not Your Own

Isn’t there great comfort in knowing your kids are not your own!  I remember leaving the hospital with our newborn child and thinking, “Are the nurses sure they can let us go?  Are we sure we know what we’re doing?  I don’t know that we can be trusted to do what is needed to take care of this new life.”  Despite all this, the nurses let us leave the hospital and we began our journey as parents.

In that moment, we had no choice but to ultimately hope that God was with us.  Our child was entrusted to us by a loving God who promises not to leave us or forsake us.  There is peace knowing that for as much as I love my kids, their Creator loves them with a more perfect love that I could ever muster.

You’re child is not your own.  Let that be of comfort to you.  Let that truth sink in and push fear to the sidelines.

“May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

–Romans 15: 13

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

–Philippians 4: 6

Sharing the Hope

Now that we realize God is and will always be God and we have incredible reason to hope and dream for our children’s future because of who He is, let’s get practical.

If we listen to ourselves we often verbally share our fears with our kids.  We let them know what we worry about or what we are anxious about.  We let them know the dangers out  in the world and rightly so!  BUT, what if we also shared our hopes with our kids as well.  Here’s an example:

Your kid has the keys and license, now what!?

They know all your fears for them.  You’ve shared them with them.  Now share your hopes for them!  “You know I hope that when you have your car, you really grow in independence.  I’m excited for you to have some freedom and I hope that you find someway to be involved in what God is doing in this world.”

Ask them questions around what you hope for them.  Invite them to dream about what is possible.  Now that you have some freedom, what is something you’ve always wanted to do or be a part of?  How can you honor God with your new found freedom? 

We have some high schoolers in our community that have decided it’s worth it to wake up at 4:30am on Thursday mornings to go feed the homeless!  These students are choosing to do this on their own, often without their parents help.  Through their independence and ability to drive they are finding out they can significantly contribute to God’s kingdom and their community.

We’re going steady (Or whatever kids say these days) 

Or how about dating?  Again, they know your fears as they begin to date.  They’ve probably heard them for years.  I currently (and consistently) give my 4 and 2 year old daughters lessons on dating, because you can never start too soon!

But, what are your hopes when your kids are dating?  “I hope that in this relationship you find out more about yourself and it helps you become a better person.  I hope that you are respected and you respect this person.  I hope this relationship helps you grow into the person God is calling you to be.”  (I think you can have this same conversation in a negative tone, but the idea is to inspire them with your belief in what is possible for them.)

Keeping the Conversation Going

I have to believe that our sons and daughters will appreciate and engage in these conversations.  Maybe not to the level we hope, but don’t you think they will continue thinking about them after they leave our presence?  As they drive off in the car, won’t they think…man, my parents really believe I can do something significant!

We all know how fear can shut down a conversation.  “Mom, I know.  I’ve heard this a million times.  I will be careful, ok?!”.  Our goal as parents is to keep the conversation going.  To keep inviting our kids to dream about what they are capable of and who they are becoming.  To use their freedom responsibly and grow towards adulthood.

Will this work?  I wish I could say yes, but we all know their are no guarantees.  However, I will always try to keep the conversation alive and keep pointing my kids towards a God who gives us nothing but reason to hope.

What do you think?  Do you think your kids will respond to this type of conversation?  Do you think sharing your hopes will lead to a different outcome?

Hope, Not Fear.

“Every decision we make today will be driven by fear or love.  Who we toss the keys to determines a lot about the destination.”  –Bob Goff

Several years ago a good friend of mine gave a talk on parenting out of hope, as opposed to parenting out of fear and it has stuck with me.  I didn’t have kids then, but I knew I needed to remember this message.  At the time, parenting out of fear was easy to dismiss, however I knew enough about parenting to realize fear can be a constant companion.  Now that I’m a parent, I know that a lot of time is spent worrying about the big and meaningful and small and trivial.  It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about our kids.  It’s easy to begin to parent and make decisions based on that worry or fear.

Think about it.  What emotions do you experience when you anticipate any major milestone in your child’s life?  First steps.  First day of school.  First taste of failure or rejection.  Dating relationships.  Driving.  College.

You get the idea.  There can be a lot of worry, anxiety, and fear in these situations.  Do these emotions drive your response?  Do you quickly rush in to build fences of protection?  Are your actions motivated by fear above all else?

Helicopters and Lawnmowers

In our culture today, there’s a reason many parents are described as “helicopter parents” who monitor and watch over their child’s every move (“How helicopter parents are ruining college students”).  Or, even worse, “lawnmower parents” who mow over any obstacle in their kids path (“Don’t Be a Helicopter Or Lawnmower Parent”).

But, what if we didn’t let fear rule the day?  What if we decided to adopt a posture of hope for our kids?  Instead of spending anxious energy worrying about possibilities that may exist “out there”, what if we began to pray our hopes and our dreams for our kids in these situations?

When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to go on a trip with a small group of people.  It was incredible opportunity to spend a week with my youth pastor, the director of a large Christian summer camp, and other men and women who would have a huge impact on my life.  It was a chance to do something significant that would change my worldview.  It was a chance to have a formative experience in the this great big world we live in.

The problem for my parents was that it was in Haiti, a third-world country where my safety could not be guaranteed.  A country where our car might be surrounded by a large crowd at the airport (which it was) or where I would find my self in the presence of automatic weapons often (which I did) or where we would be taking a picture of the beautiful countryside and then get rushed into the bus because we were no longer safe there and needed to leave quickly (which happened).

My parents had a lot to be afraid of and plenty of fear and worry, but they allowed me to go.  They chose to adopt a posture of hope.  They chose to hope that this trip would expand my heart for God.  They hoped it would be a trip where I rubbed shoulders with adult men and women who were following Jesus with all they had.  They hoped I would see poverty up close and understand more about God’s heart for the orphan and the oppressed.  They hoped I would go on a great adventure and it would plant a seed to continue to follow God into the tough places and be a light to those in need.

It was their hope, not their fear, that came true and that trip remains a significant part of who I am and my faith journey.  If fear ruled the day, my parents would have been seen as reasonable and responsible parents.  No one would have faulted them.  But I wouldn’t have experienced the growth and transformation that trip allowed.  This trip shaped my high school years and ultimately my future.  I’m thankful for their courage.

Echoing Jesus’ Prayer

Recently, I came across Jesus prayer in John 17 and decided to adopt it for my own kids.  As Jesus’ time on earth is coming to an end, he prays for those he will be leaving behind.  Jesus knows what is out there and what they will be up against.  He knows the dangers of the world and desires to protect those he loves.  Knowing this he prays:

“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name…my prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”  John 17: 11, 15

For my kids, my prayer is that they will engage the world and be a light of God’s love to those they meet.  In order to grow into the strong, courageous person that requires, I have to let go of control.  I have to take risks.  I have to allow them to fail.  I need to give them space to grow and explore.  Is that going to be easy?  It’s not proving to be.  But when I step back and imagine the end (my little girls as adults living in the world), I know the answer lies in hope not in fear.  God, give us the courage to trust you, cultivate hope and smother fear.

What does it look like for you to echo Jesus prayer for you kids?  What protections do you need to trust God for?  What ways do you need to allow them to stay in the world and engage?  In what ways are you doing God’s job of protecting and need to take a step back?

There will be a part two to this post coming soon with some practical thoughts on this can play out, but until then:

Who are you giving the keys to –  fear or hope?

 

Feel free to share in the comments below!

 

Myth:  Your teen doesn’t want a relationship with you.

Truth:  It’s not that your teen doesn’t want a relationship with you, they just want a different relationship.

Parents with teenagers don’t need to disengage, they need to re-engage and redefine.  They need you as much now as they did when they were a child.”

–Reggie Joiner

Unconditional Acceptance

Below is a great article that we wanted to share with parents in our community and for those of you who aren’t…Welcome!

Our middle school students are being taught a series on Loving God and Loving Others.  Part of the series will deal with the students realizing that they matter because God says they matter.  Before they can love others (and realize they aren’t the center of the universe) they need to realize who God is and how much He loves them.

This article is a great way for parents to come alongside and help solidify the things they are learning!  Enjoy!

 

Everyone wants to feel acceptance in their lives and there may be no other time in life where the pull to feel acceptance is as strong as the teenage years.

Justin Young, a motivational youth speaker puts it this way, “Acceptance is never more important than during the teen and preteen years – when they are clamoring, ever so awkwardly, toward adulthood and on their way to the summit of self-actualization (their true potential)” (http://www.pinkshoehero.org/2012/11/12/unconditional-acceptance/).

Which is why it is so important that our kids feel the acceptance they need from us primarily.  But before addressing what acceptance may look like, let’s talk about what it is not.  Acceptance of our students doesn’t mean approval of unwise choices.  In Young’s article, “Change a Teen with Unconditional Acceptance”, it’s said this way:  “Accepting a teenager unconditionally doesn’t mean you have to accept their reasoning, the premise of what they’re saying, their poor sense of judgement…But the simple act of showing them that you accept them for who they are, as a person – their weakness, strengths and all – is the first step to helping them build their own self-acceptance” (http://www.pinkshoehero.org/2012/11/12/unconditional-acceptance/).

So, how do we begin showing unconditional acceptance to our teenagers in actual, tangible ways? 

How do we put our “I love you” in a language they can really understand?

TRY THIS:  Social Scientists John DeFrain and Nick Stinnett asked 1,500 kids, “What do you think makes a family happy?” 

What was their most frequent answer you ask…

Doing things together.

Spending time together communicates more than we realize.  Here is a list of seven creative ways parents can demonstrate their love and acceptance to their children.

1.  Plan to hang out with your student once a month – and let them choose the activity.

2.  Kidnap them unexpectedly for a walk or a meal or an adventure!

3.  Write something encouraging on a Post-it-note and stick it on their bedroom door.

4.  Spend an hour listening to their favorite music or watching their favorite TV show with them.

5.  Find something about your child’s appearance to compliment.

6.  Do one of their chores for them.

7.  Sit down with your child and start asking questions…and then listen to them.

Pick one, or all seven!  Be intentional this week about showing your student that you love and accept them, just the way they are.

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.

© 2013 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Glorified Taxi Cabs

Not sure how we got here, but in our world being “busy” has become a badge of honor.  We are busy people.  We have a lot going on.  And for some strange reason we get a sense of importance from our frantic lives.  The busier we are, the more important we feel.

It’s not just the adults that are busy.  Many kids today are just as busy.  My greatest fear as a young parent watching parents in the stages ahead of me, is becoming nothing more than a taxi cab!  As if my only role in life is carting them around to school, sports, friends, and wherever else they think they need to go.

As we come to the end of summer and gear up for the busyness of the fall, I wanted to share something that I’ve found very helpful.   It’s a chart from the book, Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide….  Basically, it gives you a way to think thru your crazy day and see (maybe in ways you’ve never thought about before) that you have so many opportunities to come alongside your son or daughter and influence, love, shape, and nurture.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 10.49.03 PM

Meal time, drive time, bed time, morning time are all great opportunities to parent and influence your child.  Times that are a part of everyday, but maybe haven’t been seen as an option for meaningful moments.  How does thinking about each part of the day having certain roles and goals change the way you approach your day?

Going back to my greatest fear, if I follow the ideas here, drive time now because a time to covet and cherish.  Drive time now becomes an opportunity to debrief the day and discuss life together. Drive time is now a moment, in the midst of the chaos that is our lives, where my daughters are stuck with me and have no where to go!  (Of course, today we battle the constant connection to the screen, so it’s not quite the captive audience we desire, but nonetheless…you’re in the same space together!) 

SIDENOTE:  I wrote about an idea for redeeming the dreaded carpool that fits with this here:  http://www.parentingthoughts.com/2014/06/youre-a-better-youth-pastor-than-i-am/

I’ve heard many parents express a desire to have more influence in their kid’s life.  When asked why they think they don’t, there is a host of reasons, but time is usually in the mix.  That’s why I love this chart!  It helps put certain times that can be easily overlooked into perspective.  It helps us think through how we can still find places to influence and parent in the middle of our shuffling around.  It reminds us to slow down and be intentional.  It might even encourage you to try to create some new habits with your kids so you have the times listed above (Anyone getting their kids to sit at the table with them for dinner these days?)

Have you ever thought about your day this way? 

How can you take one of these ideas and implement into your routine today?

Which role of the of four listed above do you most often play?   Which do you neglect?

Summer is almost over and the school year is upon us.  I hope this is a practical tool that you can use to be the parent you want to be to your kids!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

« Older posts

© 2014 ParentingThoughts

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: