I’m happy to offer you this resource from J.C. Thompson, one of the Student Pastors at Brookwood Church, in Simpsonville SC. He has graciously allowed us to use this. He is responsible for pre-teen ministry there and has been writing some good material on his blog. This is useful not only for parents of pre-teens, but for parents of teens in general.
As a pastor to preteens, I often see parents worried and anxious about having certain conversations with their child. It’s so important to make the most of these moments. These are conversations that every parent needs to have and every child wants to have with their parents. No matter how much these kids whine, complain, and try to run (in some cases) you must push thru to have those conversations.
So here are 3 talks that you should be thinking about having with your children very, very soon.
1. Purity, Sex, etc.
Last year, the youngest mom in America was 11 years old. Please don’t avoid this conversation because of fear. I cannot tell you how important it is to talk to you child about sex. Here are some pointers:
- Don’t stress about having one big talk. Make a few small talks and encourage openness with your children.
- Fight for your child’s heart. I hope that you have already established the idea of a heart thermostat. Check it often.
- Know who is influencing your child. You are their gatekeeper, it’s your responsibility to know this.
- Be honest about your experience. Don’t downplay sex. It’s enjoyable. You like it. It’s important that they know God created it for pleasure as well.
There are numerous resources available on talking about sex with your child. Be vulnerable and honest with your child and they will respond. This generation can spot fakes faster and better than any generation before. They will be able to spot you if you are fake with your answers.
2. Responsibility/Becoming an adult
Your preteen has probably voiced that they aren’t a baby anymore. They are right. However, as a parent you know that they have a long way to go in the responsibility department. Let them make choices and hold them accountable for those choices. This is the time that you start to give things away to your kids if you haven’t already.
Did you know back in the day, adults were considered people over the age of 13? Teenager was a word that was coined by Reader’s Digest, not by doctors or psychologists. Do you believe that your child has what it takes to be a single minded, Christ-centered, biblically anchored, world changer?
If not do a self assessment on how much you believe in your child. If you don’t believe in them, it’s on you not on them. Paul tells us that God equips all of us:
God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. 7 If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
If your kid has to prove to you that they have what it takes, it has more to do with your outlook on the ability of God to equip than your child’s shortcomings.
Please believe in your child.
If you haven’t talked about faith in a real way, chances are that your child has already started to drift away. Are you living faith authentically? Does your walk, match your talk? Are you involved in a small group?
You are the primary voice in the life of your child, it’s your responsibility in every area of your child’s life to be the one shaping, encouraging, challenging, and pushing. Your preteens want to ask questions, make sure that you answer authentically. Work on these follow-up questions:
- Why do you think that?
- Is this something you are thinking about or have decided on?
- I don’t know, want to have another conversation after we’ve both gotten some more information?
- How long have you felt this way?
- How can I help you?
Don’t allow their questions to go unanswered, but don’t make something up either and don’t demonize them for asking questions, allow them a safe place to think critically about their faith.
More Pointers for Preteen Parents
Volunteer – your child needs to see your faith have legs on it. Put legs on it
Connect- With adults that you want to pour into your child. With parents of other preteens. And with other adults. If you don’t connect and model building relationships, it’s tough to get your child to do so.
Talk- Over and over again. Let your child know that you want to have conversations with them. That you are interested in every area of their life. Let curiosity become your ally.
Pray- Never underestimate the power of prayer. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the father pleading for us. Take advantage of the connection that you have with him. Ask him to move mountains for your child while at the same time whispering to them.
Parents, what are some of the most important conversations that you have had with your child? Which conversations are you the most nervous about?