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Tag: just a phase

It’s Good to Be 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 ( 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.

It Takes A Village



Are parents the main one’s responsible for their children’s faith and spiritual life?  Absolutely!
Do parents need someone else speaking into their kids life as well?  Absolutely!

As a youth pastor, I’ve often felt like parents want to delegate their child’s spiritual formation to us “experts” at the church (at the very least, they want to outsource the sex talk!).  However, the longer I’ve been in ministry to teens, the more I’ve realized how limited my influence is compared to a parents influence.  At the same time, you can’t underestimate the value of someone outside of the home coming alongside a teenager and letting them know they matter and pointing them towards a life of faith.

Consider this article:

By:  Kristen Ivy

If no volunteer can ever know what a parent knows, when why recruit anyone to help with kids and teenagers?

It would definitely make things easier if you could just tell parents, “Since you know more than we can ever know, and you have more time than we will ever have, and you care about this more than we ever will, this is really up to you as the parent.

You could also misquote Deuteronomy 6 to convince parents it’s their job alone, not the church’s to raise their kids. Just skip the part of the text where Moses speaks to every leader in the crowd(not just parents).

Moses was actually the first guy with the idea, “It takes a village.”

Sure, parents should be the primary influence in their kid’s lives.

But research, experts, and statistics suggest that kids who have other adults in their lives have better odds at winning.

Maybe more churches should take Moses seriously when he implied, “We are all responsible for the faith and future of the kids in our community.”

The more you learn about life stages, the more you will be convinced that kids need a consistent adult, besides their parents.

  • Preschoolers need a consistent adult because they can be terrified by unfamiliar faces.
  • Elementary kids need a consistent adult because they will tell anything to a stranger.
  • Middle schoolers need a consistent adult because nothing else in their life is consistent.
  • High schoolers need a consistent adult because they only trust people who will show up consistently.

Some phases will cry more, talk more, doubt more, do more.

That’s why some leaders. . .

  • Embrace preschoolers so they feel safe.
  • Engage children so they can believe.
  • Affirm middle schoolers so they will keep believing.
  • Mobilize teenagers to participate in something significant.

Don’t be afraid to challenge leaders to make different commitments at different phases.

The leader who shows up once a week for second graders will make an easy connection within a few minutes because children will believe in anyone.

The leader who shows up for sixth graders will have to hang out for a while. Sixth graders are skeptics. They need proof over time.

This is one of the great gifts the church can give to families (and to each other!).  In many churches this part of our baptismal or baby dedication vows.

If you’re a parent, how can you widen the circle and help connect your child to someone who can make a difference in their lives?


I love the “It’s Just a Phase Project” that Orange has been working on and you can see some of their efforts above.  As parents of any age students, there is something to learn from this project.   What do the top experts, educators, developmental psychologists, youth pastors, etc say that kids need at each stage?  Orange has been researching this and has made it incredibly easy to understand.  Check out more at – it will not be a waste of your time.

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