Marching Off the Map - Part 3
Leading this up and coming generation can be a very daunting task. Parenting especially is vastly different than it was 10 years ago. For the sake of our children, it is crucial that we learn the best approach. On this episode, we are comparing some tactics for best reaching our kids and youth.
Connect, don't control.
These days, we as parents have become very good at protecting our kids but have lacked when it comes to preparing them. We govern their actions, schedules, and relationships to the point where we are no longer doing them any good. Studies show that parents who over-program their children's lives tend to breed children who rebel as teens. To counter this, we need to work on connecting with our kids, building deep relationships that are able to bear the truth when needed.
Achievement, not simply participation.
One of my pet peeves is participation awards. Not just because I am competitive, but because I feel that in an attempt to make people happy, we end up making it worse. According to the American Psychologist Association, healthy and robust self-esteem actually comes from achievement, not merely affirmation. So, in our attempts to protect our children's self-esteem, we are actually creating a new "at risk" child; middle class, affluent kids who are depressed because they never really achieved anything. Let's not assume that simply telling our children that they are special and awesome will build their self-esteem, but instead give them opportunities to work at becoming amazing!
Expose, don't impose.
Elmore says, "Imposing rules and behaviours on this generation carries negative baggage." But we've always found rules and imposed behaviours a favourite default in parenting. It can often be safer, cleaner, and easier for all of us, not just parents. When our children feel forced to do something, they don't take ownership of it and we are simply modifying their current behaviour without affecting their heart.
Make things enticing for your kids so they actually want to participate. In doing so, they will learn more effectively because they will own it. This works in every avenue of life; parenting, managing, leading, etc.
Jesus used this technique. He never imposed truth on people but instead exposed them to it by asking questions and leading them down a path of self-discovery so they could own the answers themselves.
Describe, don't prescribe.
We as parents have the tendency to map everything out for our kids. We are somewhat removing the need for kids to use their own imaginations and creativity. Elmore says, "Instead of prescribing what they should do next, try 'describing.' Describe an outcome or goal, and let them figure out how to reach it with their own ingenuity."
Be real, not "cool."
I think we are a generation of parents who are trying too hard to be cool. We so desperately want to be our kids' friends that, in doing so, we lose ourselves a bit and ultimately we lose them too.
Today's parents have strayed from the authoritarian approach of their parents in an effort to be different. We think that if we can be just like our kids, we will be liked by our kids. So, we try to dress like them, act like them, listen to the same music, watch the same movies and the list goes on. But in reality, grown adults can barely pull this off without being laughable.
Our kids aren't looking to us to be cool, but want us to be authentic. I'd encourage parents to relax and learn to laugh at yourself. Be self-aware, genuinely listen, speak in a tone that is believable, and don't focus on being cool; focus on being real.
People are searching for something or someone real. That's what I love about the Bible. It doesn't "sugarcoat" life, but depicts the raw and real aspects of it. I think it is time for the church to be real, unafraid to discuss some ugliness of this life. Authenticity is why our slogan, "No Perfect People," has had so much traction. The church needs to get where people are really living and reach them there because they need real hope. The church really is the hope of the world, and for every generation, we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.
If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.
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