A couple of weeks ago, we had a huge problem. My son, Sawyer, was refusing to go to sleep at night. Overnight, he went from going to bed in minutes to standing up in his crib, screaming unless he was being held. Until this time, we have been spoiled by his sleeping habits, so when they suddenly changed, I was desperate. After a couple of nights of rocking him every 15 minutes and then eventually crawling in his crib until he fell asleep, I asked for help. I asked good friends, my mom, and even put it out on Instagram to get the advice and wisdom from my fellow mom friends. This is not something I often do, but after all the great wisdom I got, I wondered, “Why don’t I usually ask for advice or help?” Other than your spouse or very best friend, how often do you share trials, struggles and doubts with the people in your circle?
Some days ago, I sat with my wife after a frustrating series of events unfolded with my kids where I likely handled things poorly as a dad. As anyone who is a parent can attest to, there are times that you don’t quite line up to where you would like, and those times can draw you into reflection. As we sat, she calmly asked me a series of questions that revealed my frustrations were not at all with my kids, but with some other things that were completely out of my control – and I was likely just taking it out on the kids. Like I said, dad fail. My wife is so good for me because she is willing to sit down after the fact and talk through what happened – kind of like a coach. And when I might get too frustrated or become short with my kids, it is often times because I am not aware of how I am feeling at the moment. Being a parent is hard.
This week, my 5-year old son John came down the hall and introduced himself as “Kevin.” When I turned around from washing dishes, I realized he was wearing goggles- Minion goggles from his Kevin costume. For the next hour, he only answered to “Kevin” and ignored anyone who called him by his actual name. We all had several good laughs when someone inadvertently called him by his true name, causing much playful indignation. Masks. Designed for fun. Designed for camouflage. Designed for protection. Designed to make a statement. Worn by people of all ages and stages. Unlike my 5-year-old, too often the students we work with wear masks for protection and/or camouflage. They are anxious about being seen for who they really are.
I originally wrote this post two years ago with 3 conversation starters, but I want to revisit and add a couple of conversations that I believe will be helpful. So buckle up, school is here!
It is that back-to-school time of the year again! I can hear the cheers and tears from the Teen Life office. Whether you are looking forward to getting back to a routine, wondering how your baby has grown into a high school senior, or are trying to figure out how your youth ministry is going to hold up against football season – you have a role to play in this upcoming school year! Before teenagers start back at their middle or high schools, or the graduates leave home to start their college adventures, take time to have bold, encouraging conversations!
Working for Teen Life the past seven years has afforded me the opportunity to walk the halls of many schools across our area. Every campus has a look and feel – even a smell! Some come equipped with the latest technology and new carpet while others seem to barely keep the lights on. These campuses are the epicenter of everything – education, culture, social life, development, relationships – all of it. Think about it – in our ever-fracturing society where everything is done online, the public school is the one place where ideas are exchanged and problems are solved – face to face. What used to be done in houses of worship and other public spaces can really only be found in public schools. And the reason for this is why I am endlessly fascinated with public schools especially – there is no requirement for entry.
Citizenship. For some, the word invokes images of Boy Scouts saying the pledge of allegiance or students volunteering at the library. Most of us would define the word by a reference to service of some kind. Many of us older adults mourn the loss of citizenship among our students. Many think of citizenship as a product of a bygone era, no longer possible or practical among our digital generation of teens. My son has been learning about citizenship in his martial arts class. In each class, there is a simple lesson geared toward the 3 to 5 year-old students about picking up trash, saying hi to a new student in class, helping an elderly person who lives in your neighborhood, opening doors for others, etc. As I listened to his instructor, I realized that while the stated character trait was citizenship, it was ultimately about community.
In this final episode of the Teen Life Podcast’s series on the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, the Teen Life staff is talking about the role of adults in teenagers’ lives. Adults have a great responsibility when it comes to raising and encouraging teenagers. We wanted to take a look at the adult relationships in 13 Reasons Why, both good and bad, to discuss what we can learn. The Teen Life Podcast wants to equip adults to better help teenagers, and this conversation is a great resource! In this episode, we are talking about parents, counselors, school, divorce, and the reason teenagers don’t always trust adults. Are you an adult connected to a teen? Are you unsure of what to say or how to help? Join our conversation about the role of adults – we can be an incredible resource for our students!
Saying nice things to teenagers is easy…following through is the hard part! Recently I went to lunch with a teen who talked about the power of following through. In the midst of loss, she needed people who would actually show up. Who would stop right there and pray for her. Who would send follow-up texts telling her they were thinking of her. Who would ask about lunch and make it happen. She said the nice things people said meant nothing if they weren’t backed by actions. I have a confession. I am guilty of this. But we can change that! We can be better, more supportive, and more invested. Here are three easy ways to follow through and mean it.
In this episode of the Teen Life Podcast’s series on the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, the Teen Life staff is talking about teen relationships. Relationships are a critical part of a teenager’s life, and for this episode, we are focusing on romantic and friendship relationships between the characters in 13 Reasons Why. The Teen Life Podcast wants to shine a light on the different relationships teenagers might experience and offer some insight into the importance of healthy relationships. In this episode, we are talking about love triangles, loss of virginity, dating relationships, friendships, and isolation vs. community. Is your teenager trying to navigate new relationships? Are you unsure of what they are going through? Join our conversation about teen relationships and share this when a friend who could also benefit!
You’re talking to a teen and they tell you about a situation where they had to make a choice. A friend was pressuring them to do something wrong, something they have always done. In the past, this teen would have chosen to go along with their friend, to give in to the pressure to do something they know is wrong. This time though, they chose to do the right thing. They tell you that they ignored their friend all weekend and chose to stay home. The teen chose to not participate in the wrong-doing. You say something like, “That was a great choice!” The teen looks at you, shrugs off your comment and moves on. This teen just revealed a life changing moment for them and they get a “great job”. We think we just praised them for doing the right thing when in reality, a moment was missed to truly dig deep and offer meaningful praise to a teen who is struggling.