5 things every kid needs to grow in faith || another voice

#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

#1 a really big God

#2 other people who believe what they do

#3 another voice 

#4 uncommon sense

#5 nosey parents

Why we wait.

It’s a sentiment oft repeated – we live in a fast-paced world!

Emerging generations are born into a culture where everything is instant and waiting – for anything – is considered passé. Fast food, fast information, instant communication, a rapidly mobile people in a shrinking world … you’ve heard and seen it all and are probably fully immersed in it with the gadgets you own, the service you expect and the pace of life you live.

When it comes to our children and teenagers, more and more we are seeing the impact of a diminished capacity for waiting.

We cringe to hear the stories of pregnant 13 year olds and sexually active ‘tweens’; we are horrified by the teen who crashes a stolen car and is found to be under the influence of alcohol; drug dealing and addicted teenagers; the suicidal girls caught in cyber bullying or sexual coercion; the body image obsessed children ‘dieting’ at 5. These stories confront us for many reasons, but perhaps the thing we bemoan the most is the loss of childhood innocence – “they’re growing up too fast”.

It is a challenge of modern day parenting to make the strong stand necessary to keep our kids kids. Everything in our culture comes against that notion and we can be easily swept into believing that because it’s considered “normal” or because it is happening at all then it mustn’t be bad. No one wants to be that cranky old fuddy duddy who starts sentences with “in my day” (to the obligatory eye roll of all younger generations present) or to act in the role of “fun police” where your primary goal in life is to make your children miserable.

Here’s the reality though. Research indicates that the earlier children are exposed to more ‘at risk’ behaviours the greater their risk of addiction or abuse in that area as an adult. This is true for alcohol – the age of a youth’s first sip directly correlates with the likelihood they will handle it inappropriately (addiction/abuse) as an adult. (Yes, that does fly in the face of the old adage that giving alcohol to young people in a controlled environment may lessen their chance of bingeing on it once they’re of age.) Early exposure to sexualised imagery and language increases the likelihood of pornography addiction and sexual obsession or dysfunction as a child ages. (The average age for a first viewing of porn is 11.)

There’s a plethora of reasons we need to return to the virtue of patience and it behoves us as adults to actively seek ways and opportunities to help our children learn the art of waiting. Age restrictions on things such as movies, alcohol, riding on footpaths, video games and requiring adult supervision exist on purpose. There are realities about a developing brain that societal shifts and cultural advancement cannot change but that can be dramatically impacted by the things our children are exposed to.

The long term gain for waiting is unable to be measured, the consequences for not waiting in some cases cannot be overstated – with this in mind the short term cost of a complaining child or being the ‘only one’ rejecting the status quo might not seem such a high price to pay.