(…Continued from Monday: )
3. Parents Love to Plan
And last and most obvious is the fact that parents have their child’s future figured out before they’re out of diapers. One good strong toss of the baseball, and they’re in tee-ball a year before all of their friends. One drawing that almost looks like a horse, and we put them on the three year waiting list for that art class studio downtown. Our kids are, whether we like it or not, another of our attempts to further our success. We want our kid to be and do better than the other kids. There is nothing wrong with this. As long as we learn to let go when it’s time.
My son was always very timid when he was younger. We’d take him to play with other kids, and he’d usually end up in a corner by himself somewhere. At the playgrounds he wouldn’t ride the swings or go down the slide. He seemed to be very cautious and borderline fearful. He didn’t even like some movies and tv shows that other kids enjoyed. If it got too intense, he was begging for us to turn it off.
We aren’t super over-reactive parents (Some people may disagree with that statement and probably with good reason), but we were maybe a little bit concerned about our son for a while. Especially me. I wanted him to be the kid standing on top of the playground equipment conquering his fear and striking fear into the hearts of every other child at the park. Instead, I had to go down slides with my almost four year old son on my lap–not even the big winding slide. We had to go down the smallest slide on the entire playground. I was concerned and maybe a little embarrassed, but there was nothing to worry about. I just had plans for my son that didn’t come to pass. I knew what little boys were like. My boy was different so I panicked. I now realize that my son is extra analytically. He pays more attention to detail than his mother and I combined. It’s incredible. He didn’t want to play with other kids because they didn’t do it right. He didn’t want to go down the slide because he couldn’t analyze that the fun to risk ratio made it worth it to him at his age. It’s ridiculous. It’s more ridiculous that I let my plans cause me to think something was wrong with my son. Since he wasn’t what I thought a little boy should be, he must be broken right?
Remember that parents have figured out what their kid will be like and what they’ll do. They have colleges and careers picked out far in advance. These students you’re ministering to have ideas of what they want to be but they’re often clouded and bogged down by pressure from everywhere. When you’re trying to plan for the future of your students remember that their choices are almost never their own.
This past weekend we honored the graduating class of 2013. These were the very students who started “The Freeway” with me. It was with mixed emotions that I shared with them some memories and some prayers I had for them over the past six or more years. I’m proud of many of them and excited to see their futures blossom. I was also sad to think of those I didn’t see there anymore. Some who just didn’t make it through the storm our church had been through. Some who have gone on with their families to different churches. Some who were following a different path and have maybe left “The Freeway.” The one thread they all share is that the choices they’ve made to this point were influenced highly by their family and their home life.
Youth Pastor: Don’t let the decisions of your students allow you to question the dream you had for your ministry. Don’t forget the influence the parents will have on the future of your students. Use the time you have with students to minister to their families as well.
Parent: Remember to use your influence to further the dream of your student. Don’t be like me and let your expectations of what they should be like keep you from seeing who they really are. They’re unique, made in the image of God, and they’ll make you proud if you let them know you believe in them.
Congratulations to all of our and your graduates, and of course, thanks for reading!
Author: Michael Prince
Michael Prince co-authored “What’s in Your Pocket? A parent’s guide to protecting your children online.” with his wife Melinda. They have four kids and live in an RV anywhere in the USA they see the need for an internet safety expert. Michael is leading the conversation in the American Church about family online security. He and Melinda founded BecauseFamily, a ministry that exists to inspire and equip parents to be the first influence in the lives of their children, in 2013. Michael is also a geek and loves Star Wars, Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and strategy board games.