Every little kid that loves the idea of growing up.  And most of the time, we know what it takes to get from one level to the next.

Chances are it’s been a while since you hit a growth spurt,  but we all go through spurts where we grow, learn, and change. We are challenged to learn new things at work, in our marriage, in relationships, and in other areas of our lives. And, that challenge to grow is a good thing.  Today we are going to ask you to consider how you are growing in regards to parenting.

We all need growth spurts in our lives.  That’s why companies provide professional development classes. It’s why gyms have fitness training programs. And, parenting is no different. Just like the rest of life, there will be times when we need to stretch and grow our parenting.  So here’s 4 thoughts to consider:

We are constantly advising our students, giving them insight so they’ll make good choices. We say, “Eat healthy food.” “Get enough sleep.” “Be kind to others.” “Keep good boundaries in relationships.” And if our teenagers would just listen to us, that would be great. The problem is they watch us, too! They pay more attention to what we do than what we say.  That’s why, even in the exhausting and complicated world of careers and adult responsibilities, it’s important that our students don’t just hear our advice but see us acting it out in our daily lives. Words are important, but actions make our words believable for students. In other words, they’re more likely to believe what you say when you do what you say.

The truth is, there will be times when your student doesn’t want to talk to you and won’t seek your advice. That’s why it’s so important to have other adults in their lives that you (and they) trust. Maybe that’s a church small group leader, a school coach, or a friend’s parent. Make a list of a few other adults who you both like and trust. Then decide together who your student will go to when they don’t feel they can come to you.

There’s no question that serving benefits teenagers. The Minneapolis based Search Institute has reported that children and teens who volunteer just 1 hour a week are 50% less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or engage in harmful behaviors. But the benefits aren’t just limited to the student. When families serve together they create situations where they will have to depend on each other, work together, and have real conversations.

Teenage years are full of big moments. Dances. Big games. Hard tests. Award Ceremonies. Breakups. Drivers licenses. But every once in a while, our students experience a different king of big moment, one that can cause their entire life to pivot or go in a new direction. Maybe its when the family moves to a new state, or dad loses his job, or there’s a divorce or the death of a friend. When those moments come, as parents, it’s more important than ever that we lean in and let our students know that we’re going to walk through this tough stuff with them. It’s never easy, and there’s no manual for what to say or how to respond. But just knowing you’re there, you’re present with them, through the biggest life-changes may give your student the anchor they need to weather whatever storm may come.


Sometimes the best way to grow an area of our life up is to figure out where we are now. Take a look at each of the four areas above and…

•GIVE YOURSELF A SCORE. On a scale of one to ten, how are you doing in the 4 areas above?  No need to be a 10, who is really?!?  I can tell you, not only am I not a 10, I’m pretty close to 0 in some areas.  This just helps find a starting place.

•CELEBRATE THE WINS. Did you give yourself a high mark on something? Then celebrate that! Parenting isn’t easy, and it’s great to celebrate the areas where you’re doing well.

•TAKE ONE STEP. Take a look at the area with your lowest score. What’s one step you could take to move up one point? Maybe it’s signing up to bring meals to the homeless one time. Or perhaps it’s time to brainstorm the names of a few other adults that your student could go to with questions.

©2015 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved.