In the last several weeks I’ve had several meetings with parents who called me to tell me they were having trouble with their teen. One was super casual and we brainstormed a way to creatively solve a stressed out teen issue that ended with a really fun solution that turned out to be a big blessing. The others were experiencing extreme relational disconnect between themselves and their teen- some to the point of suicidal thoughts. In the end, they resulted in meetings in my office that were informative and helpful for myself and the parents. All of them would not have happened had the parent not called. I was so thankful they did.
So, if you’re a parent of a teen and you also have a youth pastor or key small group leader in your teen’s life, please do 3 things:
COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS: No pastor has a crystal ball, a supernatural ability to see into the unknown, or an uncanny ability to know what someone else is thinking. We are normal people just like you and we can’t help with what we’re unaware of. And no, your teen doesn’t tell us everything and no, you’re not the enemy. If you know something we should know, please tell us. We won’t put it on Facebook or tell your teen we talked. We’re a safe place to listen and we’re eager to help. But we need your help so we can be a help. So please sound the alarm when you need to.
COMMUNICATE YOUR WANTS: If you really wished youth group was a 1/2 hour earlier or that small group met in a home instead of on campus, please speak up. If the retreats cost too much or you could use a payment plan or you need more notice, please let us know. If you had 6 students over for a sleep over and you discovered we should address personal hygiene issues, well please… just ask and we’ll pass out bars of soap and tell them to wash their sins away 🙂 We can’t always fix every problem or please every family perfectly, but we surely can’t help with needs we don’t know about.
COMMUNICATE YOUR PRAISE: If your teen is loving youth ministry or their small group blessed them or they had a great time at the retreat. If your teen is coming home happy or picking great friends for once, or simply would not stop talking about how much they learned or what fun they had in youth group… by all means, say something! We’re on your team on this whole raising teens into young adults thing and we, like you, desperately need some encouragement.
So… while I’m at it… If you’re a pastor working with teens… these all apply to us too! Communication is a 2 way street. Tell parents about concerns you have. Let them know what you want or need. And by all means, when they make a good decision or you see spiritual fruit in their son or daughter, for the love of God let them know! They are hungry (and many flat out starving) for a positive word.
Ok people…let’s open the flood gates and start sharing the love!