#3 another voice
“So, if David told you to jump off a cliff would you?” “If Sarah stuck her hand in a fire, would you?”
I bet you’ve all had a parent or teacher make this kind of argument to you. Maybe you’ve said something similar as a parent or teacher? This would normally be in response to a child using the argument (or defence), “but David told me to” or “but Sarah was doing it”!
Of course, as a kid, you thought this was just the proof you were needing to confirm that your parents had officially lost the plot!
“Yes Mum, of course I would jump off a cliff if David did. Because I’m stupid and I do stupid things!” [written in bold ‘sarcastica’ font] – complete with eye roll and huffy body language.
Or “Sarah wouldn’t put her hand in a fire, she’s not stupid, why don’t you like Sarah?!”
But here’s what we know for sure. The reason parents say things like that is because they genuinely worry that the influence of others on their kids’ lives could legitimately lead them to do really silly things! It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where there’s a group of friends hanging around a fire and Sarah sticks her hand in and everyone joins her!
They know – and subsequently fear – that people do become who they hang around with. That they will mirror the behaviour and attitudes of those they admire. That they will gravitate to any people or groups that extend belief, acceptance or respect. They know a young person’s sensibility and sense of consequence is easily overridden by the intensity of their need to belong.
Parents get this. Teachers and leaders get this. So the logical next step is to use that power for good rather than evil!
To grow and persist in faith young people need voices other than their parents reinforcing the life changing message of Jesus. They need other adults and invested “older” people who will show them a way of living after Jesus that is relatable, attainable and authentic.
While parents will always be the number one influencers in their children’s lives they also say dumb things about fires and cliffs! (wink) Children are looking for other people to affirm or contradict the values and beliefs of their parents. People that provide relational connection, belonging, respect and safe places for exploration of doubts will win a place of influence in the heart of young people.
Faith communities and families can work together to nurture these relationships and our young people to maturity and flourishing in life and faith. (Read more at how to fix your church).
5 Things Every Kid Needs || Think Orange
#3 another voice