Framework

2 09 2012

Series Overview

Shouting matches, stomping out of a room, insults under the breath, and even a few curse words will become more and more commonplace in the homes of our students over the next few years. What happened to the sweet children that used to hug their mom and dad as soon as they walked in the door?  Meanwhile, students are also wondering why things have changed: “Why are my parents so annoying all of a sudden? Why do they ask so many questions? Why don’t they trust me?” The truth is that part of a student growing up requires this challenging time in the relationship with their parents. It seems like the easy child/parent relationship that we all took for granted is gone. However, it can be good, again. We can get closer to that “picture perfect” ideal we all have for our home life. It simply requires both sides understanding it takes a little work.  So, for the next 2 weeks, we’ll be talking about our student/parent relationship in a series called “Framework.”

Week 1 (September 2, 2012)

Every student wants independence. It is part of growing up, but it can also be a struggle. As a parent you have a front row seat in watching this happen.  Our students want to be treated like adults, and they want independence.  Believe it or not, we want to help our students gain more independence, and I bet you will agree with us.  We want our students to know that to get more freedom and independence they only have to do one thing, honor their father and mother.  This may not be a new idea, but it is a huge idea that we want every student to grasp.  Honoring your father and mother is a key part of the Christian life, and it is one of the few commandments that comes with a promise.  At Transit, we want to partner with you the parent to not only help build the faith of your student, but also to help create a healthy family, and that begins with honoring your father and mother.

Talk to your student about your own experience with your parents. Ask your student how they would define the word honor.

Week 2 (September 9, 2012)

Every relationship is going to experience conflict at one point or another.  Whether it is between friends, siblings, or parents and children, conflict is unavoidable.  We want our students to know that conflict is a part of life, and it is something that is not easy to deal with. However, how we deal with conflict says a lot about who we are.  Students have a tendency to deal with conflict in two ways: avoidance or full on confrontation.  While you may have experiences a screaming argument or two, pretending conflict doesn’t exist can be just as bad as an all out fight.  We want our students to know that dealing with conflict is a part of life, and that in any conflict we have to be willing to own our part.  Whether we like it or not, we are never blame free. We always have some role in a conflict, and it is up to us to own it.   We need to be willing to apologize and ask for forgiveness even if 99% of the problem is because of the other person.  We are still responsible for 1% and we need to take responsibility for it.  We cannot control the response of the other person, but we can control our own response so we need to take responsibility for our own actions.

Ask your student why it is important that we learn to own our part of an argument.

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Not That Into You: Imagining the End

30 07 2012

Parents, your relationship with your child is always changing. We want to help you make a lasting impact as your child grows and matures.

IMAGINING THE END

Focus your energy and effort on the issues that will make a lasting impact

Leaving Home: 5 Things I Want My Children to Take With Them

By Reggie Joiner

 

A few years ago my daughter Hannah, who was 20 at the time, moved out of my home. She moved into a house with a few other girls. It was one of those things I knew was coming, but I just didn’t know it was going to happen as fast as it did. She had been talking about it for a while, but one afternoon when I got home, everything was gone—well, the things she wanted to take were gone. She left the things she didn’t want.

I remember looking around and, as a dad, it was kind of a sad moment. I remember thinking this may be it. She may never be back in my house again. She may never move back. It created a little controversy in our house when it happened. One of the issues was with her eighteen-year-old sister who came to me very upset. At first, I thought she was upset because Hannah had moved. But I quickly found out that it had nothing to do with Hannah—all the curling irons in the house were gone.

I started looking around at the things Hannah had taken and the things she had left. Do you know what determined what she left and what she took? Simple. She took the things that were important to her and left the things that weren’t. Trust me, when I figured that out, I really started looking around—I wanted to make sure she took a picture of the family and me! But the bottom line was, what mattered to her was gone—with her—and what didn’t matter was left behind.

I had to keep telling myself, “Okay, she is twenty, she is on her own, she is in a house”. And as I went over it again and again in my head, late one night, I took out my notebook and I started writing. She was out of my house and doing her own thing. She was an adult and she was moving forward. So how do I pray for her how? I wrote down five things. And these are the five things I want to pray for all of my children. These are five things I want for all my children’s lives. But that night I prayed this for Hannah:

1) That she will keep moving in a direction towards God. That is the end goal. At the end of it all, I just want to make sure that whatever happens in her life, she just keeps moving in a direction towards God.

2) That she will have an ongoing relationship with God’s Truth—that the value of Scripture and the value of God’s Truth will not dim in her life. I want the message to ring so loud and clear in the hearts of my children that they never get away from the power of God’s truth in their lives.

3) That she will have the right people in her life to challenge her and inspire her. This makes me nervous. This is what keeps me up at night. Besides her mom and me, I just want to make sure there are other adults, other friends, other people who will continue to challenge her and inspire her in her walk and her faith, because I know how important that is. That is community.

4) That we will still be friends. When it is said and done, isn’t that what every parent wants? Let’s be honest. Isn’t your dream that when your children grow up and move away that you are still good friends and still in relationship with them? Absolutely. I still want to have a degree of influence in her life. I still want to be her friend. I still want her to be friends with her mom, friends with her sisters and brother. I still want all that to stay in tact. I want that to be a value in her life that she never gets away from. From her graduation from college, to her wedding day, to when she has kids—I want all of that to be intact and all of that to be right. That is family.

I wrote down one other thing that I pray for.

5) That she will never get away from her sense of mission to be the church. I want her to know that she is wired, that she is created, that God designed her to be the church. I pray that her influence in whatever circle she lives in will be the kind of influence that God has designed her to have. I don’t want her faith to be tied to a place where she goes. Rather, I want her faith to pour into every area of life and every person she encounters. I pray that her significance will come not from what she is doing but from the fact that she knows she is doing the thing God called her to do, and that sense of purpose will always be a part of her life.

Those are five things I want to be really true of her life, and true of the lives of all my children. This, for me, is the essence of what a life needs to become, it’s what I want to move my children towards. And it’s not only how I pray, but the grid through which I process my actions and words to make these things a reality in her life.

These five things may not be a tangible object that Hannah or any of my other kids can pick up and pack up, but they are the things I want them to take with them—no matter how close or far from home they live.

 

Reggie Joiner is the founder and CEO of The reThink Group, and the author of Think Orange

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org

 





Illuminate: Parent Cue

21 03 2012

Parents, as we move closer to Easter we want to create conversation points for you and your student. Here is some information about what we are doing in Transit, and how you can create conversations with your student.

1. Be a Student of What They are Learning

We’ve read the story year after year. We know that Jesus was crucified, placed in a tomb and resurrected on the third day. And this is important! But when we take a look at the bigger picture of Scripture we see themes and images that come up again and again to shed even more light on the significance of the Easter account. Just like reading a good book or watching a gripping movie, we understand that the author is trying to turn our attention to something greater than the story itself. Over the course of this series, we look at a few key themes in Scripture—Bread, Water and Blood—to help weave together the greater story of God’s love for us. To take the power of the Easter story and allow it to shine in those places where we need provision, security and redemption.

2. Be a Student of Your Student

Over the course of this series, we have talked about the idea of themes; those things that come up again and again, whether in a good book or movie or even just in our day-to-day lives. And as we’ve learned, certain words or themes within particular stories in the Bible can trigger something that might remind us of another story, showing us how God’s Big Story connects, especially as it relates to the Easter story. But these themes occur in our everyday lives as well.

We as parents experience things that trigger us to know when our teens are happy or excited about something—and when they are anything but! Our students notice our triggers as well. Your student probably knows that when you pick them up from school late, slam the door when you come home from work or forget to check on them after their set curfew, that something is up.

And these triggers, these cues, are definitely something to look for in our teenagers. Especially for those middle school and early high school students who are still in a world of “egocentric abstraction,” which means that they may be trying on multiple personalities to figure out just who they are. And these triggers give us a clue into how these different sides of our students come together as they try to figure out who they are. And while this may be scary for us and seem like anything but normal, it is really just a natural part of their process of defining who they are—of shaping their identity. But does this mean that we just give them complete space to figure it out on their own during these very complicated years? No, it means we listen. And sometimes, the best way to listen to a teenager—no matter what age—is as much about hearing what they say as it is about hearing what they don’t. So, we want to provide an opportunity for you to sit down with your student and talk about some of these triggers, first allowing them to give you a glimpse into the things that clue them into your mood and next, having a dialogue about the things they do that tell you about how they are feeling.

3. Action Point

As you and your student sit down, remember to keep this conversation light. This isn’t a time to start probing into your student’s life to look for deep, dark secrets. Rather, it’s a chance to connect in a mutual way and start a conversation about the way that we often communicate how we feel without saying a word. It’s a chance to create empathy, both from you to your student and from your student back to you. So, as you answer the questions below, allow your student space to be honest and practice listening to what they are saying with their words, as you both figure out what you say from day-to-day without using words at all.

Questions from Parent to Student: 

  • What are some things I do that tell you that I’m in the following mood: Rested, Content, Stressed Out, Enthusiastic and Agitated?
  • What do you usually do when you sense that I am stressed out or agitated? How about when you sense that I am rested and content?
  • What is a word or a phrase that we can come up with for you to say to me when you are picking up on one of my negative triggers that worries you or makes you upset and you want to be able to talk about it?

Questions from Student to Parent:

  • What are some things I do that make you think I am sad, overwhelmed or upset? (For the Student to Answer: Are the triggers that your parent or guardian noticed pretty accurate? Do you feel like they are picking up on what you do when you are sad or upset?)
  • How do you know when I am happy and everything is going well?
  • What is a word or phrase that we can come up with for you to say to me when you are picking up one of my negative triggers and want to be able to talk about it?

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org





Doubt: For Parents Only

8 03 2012

Parents we know that doubt can be an issue with everyone, not just students. We wanted to take a minute to encourage you in your role as parents.

THINGS UNSAID

By Tim Walker

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the term “helicopter parents,” people who hover over their kids all the time. For most of us who see a true helicopter parent in action, our first inclination is to say, “Relax. It’s okay.” But, as parents, if all of us were real honest, we would have to admit that we can understand their motivation. Parenthood is scary, uncertain, and filled with doubt. You wonder if you’re doing it right. You wonder if you are teaching them the right things. You wonder if you are raising independent kids, or ones who will be living in your basement when they are 40.

And here’s a big doubt—sometimes you wonder if they even love you anymore.

Let’s face it, the hugs and smiles came a lot more easily when they were little. When you came home, they ran to the door to greet you. They lit up when you walked into the room. You could just feel your child’s love for you simply by looking at his or her face. But now that your child is a teen, those hugs don’t come as often—unless there’s some item being purchased. And when you walk into the room, sometimes they seem more annoyed at your presence than joyful.

It’s easy to get hurt. It’s easy to quit trying to connect with them when the responses aren’t what they used to be. You can only handle hearing the word “fine” so many times before you just want to stop asking, “How was your day?”

But don’t stop. Keep it up. One of the things that we are teaching your child over the next couple of weeks is—when faced with a big doubt, rely on the things you do know. We’re teaching your child to look back and realize that there are some foundational things you have to hang on to in the face of uncertainty.

Your child loves you. He or she may not know how to show it anymore as they seek to break away and establish their independence, but it’s there. There are so many things going on in and around your child, that a lot of things that seemed normal a few years ago are just confusing now. Hang in there with them. Keep loving them. Keep fighting for relationship with them. Keep finding ways to connect with them.

And when you are scared or unsure, remember that you taught them a few good things along the way, and they are learning more from you than you realize.

© 2010 Orange. All rights reserved.

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.





Unwrapping Christmas: Parent Cue

7 12 2011

Parents, as we move into the Christmas season we wanted to give you some insight into our discussions in Xtreme for the next two weeks (Dec. 11 and 18), and also some practical ways your family can create your own Christmas story.

1. Be a Student of What They are Learning

Christmas is that feel-good time of year when the lights are up, the holiday music is flowing and the cheer is palpable in the air. It’s also the time of year when we go through the same Christmas routine as always and pass another holiday season without necessarily thinking through how the story of Christmas is meant to change us, not just be a backdrop to two weeks off from school. So, this Christmas we’re going to take a fresh look at the Christmas story with some new insights to help us understand how revolutionary Jesus’ arrival on Earth really was. When we think of the Christmas story this year, let’s be reminded that Jesus is more than we need during the holiday season, and for the rest of the year too.

2. Be a Student of Your Student

What was it that used to make the holidays special when you were a kid? Was it the chill in the air signaling that Christmas break was right around the corner? Baking and decorating ginger bread cookies with a sibling or your mom or dad? Or, maybe it was that feeling you got on Christmas Eve as you waited for the morning when you could finally tear into those beautifully wrapped packages underneath your tree. Whatever may have made the holidays a special time for you, there is one thing that tends to define the Christmas season for most of us: family. When we are young, our families define what Christmas looks like from the traditions they keep to the way they express the story of Jesus to those around them. And, for those of us who are now raising families of our own, we are now defining Christmas for our families. It can feel a bit overwhelming establishing the values, traditions and attitudes that revolve around this idea of Jesus’ arrival on this Earth.

While most students may be able to tell us the “real” meaning of the season, they aren’t necessarily connecting it to the value of the Christmas story. Developmentally, our students are in a place where it is difficult to think outside of their own world and their own lives. They may have head knowledge of the Christmas story, but in order to take that and bring it down to heart level, there has to be an experience that they can call their own. This is especially important for those of us with middle school and younger high school students who are still in the developmental stage of egocentric abstraction. During this stage, your student is the center of his or her own world and is not easily able to identify with ideas and concepts that are not personally connected to their own feelings. However, when they have the chance to experience the joy of reaching out to others in the midst of other’s true needs, they can personally identify with the value of the Christmas story.

For those of us with older high school students, now is the time when they are beginning to widen their worldview and understand the world outside as more than the sum of their own feelings and experiences. For them, the experience of reaching out to others is a chance to put legs to the social and global concerns that are already stirring in their hearts. Once the meaning of the Christmas story is tangible through personal experience, it isn’t easily forgotten in the mind of your teen. Another thing to remember is that though developmentally your students are in a place where they may not fully “get” the meaning of the Christmas story, we as the adults in their lives are. It is necessary for us to set the example and show them the importance of the Christmas story. So, we may need to take some time on our own to reflect on the value of Jesus’ arrival on Earth before we can begin to define that for our students.

3. Action Point

This Action Point is where we, as parents, can start to define what Christmas is truly about through the traditions we establish and the way we express the Christmas story—in our homes, in our schools, in our churches, in our neighborhoods and to the world at large. This is not just an exercise for the Christmas season, but rather a great time to start refocusing our family’s attention on putting Christ back into His rightful place. So, this Christmas as you and your family settle into the usual gate of the holiday season, take a moment to pray, reflect and search your heart for how you want to represent the Christmas story to your family. And then, do something together as a family that will allow those values to be expressed in a way that will forever shape the way they “do” Christmas.

Here are some ideas for ways you and your family can connect to and define the Christmas story together:

  • Adopt a family for Christmas through the Salvation Army: Salvationarmyusa.org.
  • Volunteer at a local homeless shelter to serve a meal on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
  • Give one less gift this year to each family member and instead buy gifts for children whose parents are in prison through Angel Tree: Angeltree.org/angeltreehome.
  • If you have a musical family, visit a convalescent home or local children’s hospital and sing some of those Christmas favorites.
  • Help the local hospice or meals-on-wheels organization distribute Christmas dinners. You can help prepare the actual meals or donate your time and car to transport the meals to the elderly or sick.
  • Look through Martha Stewart and other crafty magazines or old craft books for Christmas-inspired crafts and buy enough supplies to have a hospital ward of children or a retirement home ward make crafts or ornaments with you and your family.
  • Ask your church if there is a family that attends that could use some extra help this holiday season. Invite them over for Christmas dinner or offer to buy and decorate a Christmas tree for them.

This Christmas, as you celebrate the gift of Jesus and the story of God’s redemption in all of our lives, take the time to put that message into motion. Christmas is not just about giving things away so that we get that warm fuzzy feeling, or because we want to “share the wealth.” It’s about expressing God’s heart for justice, love and reconciliation.

As well, here is an encouraging blog post entitled “10 Reasons to Escape Excessive Consumerism” by Joshua Becker. Check it out at: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/2011/08/03/escaping-excessive-consumerism/

Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org





Forward Motion: Parents Only

1 12 2011

Parents, here is a short story about how we can prepare our students for success, and how we can challenge them to grow.

 

When I was in high school, I remember my dad used to give me lots of space. He wanted me to be independent and take responsibility for my own decisions. Don’t get me wrong, I still had rules and I still got in trouble when I broke them. But overall, I was given freedom to explore and learn.

 

The catch was that sometimes I still needed his help. This was never more obvious than when I turned sixteen and started driving a car. I could practice driving all day long, but without his instruction I would have never learned how to check the oil or recognize a problem under the hood. When I got my first car, a little grey Chevy Nova with over 150,000 miles on it, my dad explained to me that he wanted me to know how to take care of a car. He told me that it was important for me to know about the car I drove so that I could handle any situation that came up. Driving was a big responsibility, and he wanted to make sure that I was prepared.

 

He took me out to the garage a number of times to show me different things. We had a lot of fun learning together and I was grateful that he took the time to teach me. Only six months after I got my license, my car blew a tire in the middle of a ten lane, divided highway. Fortunately, because of my dad’s instruction, I was able to handle the situation. When I came home and told him what had happened, he was relieved and proud of me. I was proud too.





Forward Motion: Parent Challenge

22 11 2011

Many of you crave forward motion in your family. You know what you want your children to be. You want them to be kind, respectful, responsible, intelligent, creative individuals. You want them to be able to succeed when they grow up and leave your home. But sometimes you look at them and you think that it may never happen.

 

This month, think about helping your student make one step. Think of one new thing that you would love for your child to do. Maybe it’s to improve his or her science grade, learn how to do laundry, cook a meal or change the oil in the car. Once you have decided on one goal for your child, communicate your desire to teach this skill and let your child know why it is important to learn it. Then spend time during the month helping teach your child how to accomplish the goal.

 

If you want your student to improve his or her science grade, sit with him and study flash cards. If you want them to know how to do laundry, do a load or two together until he or she gets the hang of it. By communicating to your child why you want him or her to know or do a certain thing, you communicate respect. By spending time helping them learn, you are letting him or her know of their importance to you. You will also alleviate your child’s fear of disappointing you if they get it wrong.

 

The most important thing that fuels forward motion is celebration. Make sure that you celebrate your child’s step! Tell him or her that you are proud of them for working so hard or for learning something new. When your child knows that they can make you proud, they will be much more motivated to continue working on their new goal.