This Friday we’re having a Parent Open House Night for youth group. We encouraged teens to invite their parents to join them for our weekly meeting so we can show the parents what their kids do on Friday nights and to give them an overview of our theme and studies for the year.
I stayed up late Saturday night making this last minute promo video to show in all three congregations on Sunday at church. We didn’t come up with the idea until last week, so all the filming had to be done Friday night and all editing on Saturday for the video debut on Sunday.
Honestly, I didn’t know who Justin Bieber was until I saw him trending on Twitter. Even as youth counselors we’re not always in touch with what’s popular in the teenage world. The main message we want parents to get from this video and from Friday’s open house is that we want to increase the communication and understanding they have with their teenagers. Especially in Asian cultures, doing well in school is stressed over and over again. You can see this theme in the few responses I showed from teens about what they wish their parents understood about them.
Parents may think they’re telling their children that they love them when they encourage them to get the best grades and to work hard in school. They want their children to get good grades so they can get a good career and do well for themselves as adults. That desire is loving, but the way it can come across to a teenager is, “Why aren’t you doing better?” “Your best is not good enough.” They may even think their parents will value them or love them more if they get better grades.
So we’re going to take parents through a pseudo-youth group night. We’ll have them play games with the teens, worship with us, and all of us will learn the importance of how cross-generational cooperation benefits the Church and the spreading of the Gospel. Parents play an important role in the spiritual growth of their children. As youth leaders, we’re with them two days a week for a few hours, but parents are there the rest of the time. So as much as youth group can have a positive influence in a teen’s spiritual life, it’s the parental influence that will affect that more. Parents need to be showing their kids how to live godly lives by living out a genuine faith. They need to be able to admit their mistakes, to readily give grace and forgiveness, and to praise and encourage others around them. We watch what our parents do and we learn from them whether or not we admit it. Our family lives shape the people we grow up to be.
Parents, what kind of influence are you having on your children? How involved are you in their lives? (and that doesn’t just mean telling them what they need to do)
Youth, what are some things you don’t understand about your parents? What are some ways you can help them understand you? (this would require you being willing to understand where they’re coming from too)