Tag Archives: grand strand

“Reversing Darwin” Belong Series Parent Cue

Hey There!

We hope this resource will inspire you to have some great conversations with your kids!

1. Be a Student of What Your Kids are Learning

In the dog-eat-dog world of middle school and high school, survival of the fittest often seems like the law of the land. And when we’re on the bottom of the food chain, this idea of a pecking order can start to affect the way we understand God—and maybe even the way we believe God sees us. But what if we were able to reverse this idea? What if something in Scripture allowed us to turn survival of the fittest on its head? Maybe we can start to flip the idea of “only the strong survive” and live in the reality that God has a bigger purpose and a better picture in mind—and this purpose and picture involves all of us—the strong, the weak, the in, the out, those you would expect, and those you wouldn’t. Maybe in an effort to reverse Darwin, we need to start by understanding who God created us to be and how to live like it matters.

2. Be a Student of Your Student

Take a moment to think back—way, way back—to those first days of middle school. Or to the moments and memories that still define your high school experience. Or, get really bold and break out an old yearbook and see what you find. Feathered bangs? Side ponytails? Maybe even a mullet? Or, maybe seeing those old pictures brings back memories of who you thought you would one day be and all the adventures you hoped to have. Maybe you envisioned getting out of your small town and attending college in a bustling urban center, or studying abroad and soaking in the European culture. But even if those hopes and dreams didn’t pan out, they probably helped you dig deeper to define who you were, sometimes by simply figuring out who you were are not.

And for many of us, this process is still an ongoing part of our lives. It may even be that we were more sure of who we were at 18 than we are now that we have children, a job, a mortgage and a “life.” But why is it that we are still working so hard at figuring this out? Sometimes it seems that in our now grown-up lives we are working harder to convince other people of who we are. Whether on our Facebook profiles (yep, our students aren’t the only ones) or through conversations with friends, family and even other parents we are often caught up in a PR battle … with ourselves. We try to define ourselves by the way we represent ourselves to the world and in the process, we end up forgetting who we really are. Throw in 24/7 parenting duties, work tasks, daily household management, church and family life and any other threads of schedules and responsibilities and we get lost in the mix altogether!

And, as you may have noticed, we usually realize the weight of figuring out who we are in times of crisis or great change. Often, we find that somewhere along the line we have “activating events” that trigger us to shatter the image of who we think we are and dig deep again to find our true selves, to rediscover who we truly are.

And for our students, these activating events happen on a daily or maybe even hourly basis. They don’t make the team. They fail a test. They get dropped by a group of friends that were once their whole world. And like us, when this happens to our students, they get to pause, reflect, pick up the pieces and walk away in their new—or maybe just dusted off—identity.

3. Action Point

Sit down with your teenager and talk about a time when something happened to you that redefined who you are. Maybe it was a divorce, or even some defining moment that occurred before they were ever born. Whatever it is, talk about how it changed you and led you to better understand yourself.

Then, ask them if anything has happened this week that has caused them to feel “less than.” What was it? How did it make them feel? Did it make them want to change something about themselves? Did it make them feel like they don’t really know who they are or where they belong?

Now speak into that place of vulnerability and insecurity. What do you see in your student that is unique? What would be lost if they changed themselves in order to fit in? Why does it matter that they strive to be just who God created them to be?

Be sure to carve out some intentional time to sit down and wrestle through these questions with your student. And remember, even if they don’t open up as much as you would hope or like, the fact that you took the time and cared enough to ask will pay huge dividends in the future. Because just knowing what they are going through means the world to your student, even if they aren’t able to show it.

We’d love to hear your stories and experiences with your kids. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!


Paulo Lopes

Youth Ministry Team


Forward Motion For Parents

We’ve all made resolutions and set goals, but too often we fall short of what we expected to accomplish. Unfortunately it’s often the same when we try to become the Christian we really believe God has called us to be. We fall short of the goal and become increasingly discouraged. In this series, our youth will learn that following Christ is more about the small steps we take every day, not about the huge leaps of faith that we think we need to make. They will set a goal, determine the first step and then make it. The series will end with a celebration!

1. Be a Student of Your Teenager

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.

In Reggie Joiner’s Orange Parents post entitled “How to Raise a Jerk,” Joiner encourages parents in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way about raising kids who become the adults parents want to see them grow into. Here is an excerpt from this post. To read the post in its entirety, go to http://www.orangeparents.org/how-raise-a-jerk/

Some leaders say too many who work hard at building children’s self-esteem are raising kids who will exhibit a lifestyle of entitlement and egotism. Other specialists say those who talk about children being innately bad are raising a generation that feels inferior and insignificant. Every expert has an opinion and it’s hard to know where the line actually is. Many promote their agenda by pushing the opposing opinion to the extreme.

One of the keys to parenting with balance is helping your children develop an attitude of humility. Every child has the potential to grow up and understand why it’s important to “put others first.” There is just a fine line between raising kids who have a healthy self-esteem and kids who are too egotistical. A life of arrogance that goes unchecked can result in a sad and lonely existence for someone, and frankly there are enough self-centered people around. How does someone develop an overinflated sense of self-worth and entitlement?

Here are a few ideas to help you effectively raise a jerk:

  • Protect them from the consequences of their own mistakes.
  • Make sure you do whatever they can do for themselves.
  • Keep them away from anyone who thinks differently than they do.
  • Try to give them everything they want.
  • Tell them over and over again you just want them to be happy.
  • Convince them that they are more special than other kids.
  • Always take their side when they get in trouble with their teacher at school.
  • Always take their side whenever they are in a conflict with a friend.
  • Keep insisting that they are the best player on the team.
  • Don’t give them consistent opportunities to help or serve other people.
  • Never require them to do chores.
  • Reinforce their prejudices about people from different cultures or backgrounds.
  • Make your relationship with them more important than your relationship with your spouse.
  • Rarely express genuine gratitude to those who help you.
  • Teach them to talk more than they listen.
  • Never let them hear you say, “I was wrong. I am sorry.”

Whether it’s at school, sports, music or in the character traits they possess, we all want our kids to thrive. And the truth is, a huge part of their success is us. We set the tone for so much of their self-worth, self-understanding and self-image. So, let’s get in the game with them and encourage their steps towards realizing the potential that God has placed inside of them.

2. Action Point

Obviously, no parent wants to raise a jerk seriously. What most of us should take seriously is the opportunity we have as parents to help our students become the best person they can be. We want to help them set goals and achieve them. And we want to praise them for their successes.

This month, think about helping your student make one step. Think of one new thing that you would love for your son or daughter 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. Next, communicate your desire to teach this skill and let your teenager know why it is important to learn it. Then spend time during the month helping teach your student how to accomplish the goal.

If you want your kid to improve his or her science grade, sit with him or her 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.

© 2012 The reThink Group. | All rights reserved. 

Let us know how things are going. What are you going to teach your teenager? How are you going to do it? Is it working? We want to know!


Paulo Lopes

Youth Ministry Team