The Holidays are a time when we make a point to spend time with family, be good neighbors, and take care of those less fortunate. We give cheerfully and extend a warm welcome to those who come to visit. We share food and gifts as well as send cards and letters. What if this was a habit or lifestyle we embraced all year long? As I get older and hopefully wiser I am reminded more and more of those people who are dear to my heart. Those who have mentored and molded me. Those who do what they do with little to no thanks. You can depend on them to be there whenever you need them. They are spouses, parents, children, friends, co-workers, pastors, teachers, cashiers, bankers, trash collectors, doctors, nurses, police officers, fire fighters..........The list is endless.
When was the last time you did something kind for someone expecting nothing in return? I love to send and receive cards and letters. I have a drawer that is full of cards, letters, and drawings from students, parents, and co-workers. I keep this for a pick me up whenever I am having a bad day. They serve as a reminder that there are people who love and care for me and remind me that I need to be that person for someone else in my sphere of influence.
So today I have several challenges for us:
Be sure your family knows everyday that you love them (show them and tell them).
Send a note to someone who mentored you or spoke encouragement in to your life.
Show kindness to someone in the community who may not get noticed for his/her hard work.
Be a good neighbor.
Go the extra mile for someone who needs your help. (Matthew 5:41)
Imagine how different our world would be if we all took a little bit of time to spread some kindness. Our children need examples of how to show love, gratitude, and kindness. They will follow our lead.
Letting Go and Hanging On By Doug Dickerson
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.
You may recognize the words to the song Forever Young by Bob Dylan (not to be confused with a different version written by Rod Stewart). It was music from another era- it was the music from my youth. Back when I was young.
One of the challenges of parenting teenagers today is in learning how to let go without hanging on. It’s a tough balancing act. On the one hand you want to stop the hands of time because you see your time with your child slipping away. On the other hand, you want to loosen the grip and let them go knowing that they can’t fly with you hanging onto them.
In his book, Marching Off The Map, Dr. Tim Elmore writes about how childhood has evolved over the years. Elmore states:
“We’re removing the opportunity for them to experience innocence and wonder. However, because they’re still maturing emotionally, socially, cognitively and biologically in their first 25 years, we have now begun to witness a strange paradox in our young:
The extinction of childlikeness
The extension of childishness
His argument for this observation is due to children being exposed to so much adult information, so early in their lives that they prematurely lose their sense of innocence, their sense of wonder, and their sense of trust.
So how can you as a parent navigate letting go and hanging on during these middle and high school years? Here are a few ideas for your consideration.
Prepare them for the path, don’t clear it
As parents, it’s natural to want to remove any and all obstacles from your child’s path. So long as every obstacle, setback, and problem on their path is cleared by you, the longer it will take them to learn to stand on their own later in life. Instead, prepare them for the path and let them learn the value of hard work, tenacity, (and even failure at times). This is a process but one well worth it. Letting go is easier to do when you know they are ready for the path God has set before them.
Don’t rush it
There are so many things that your child is exposed to at earlier and earlier ages. As Elmore stated, we’re removing the opportunity for them to experience innocence much faster than before. Let the maturing process happen naturally and let your child live in and enjoy each moment. There will be plenty of time for your 12 and 13 year-old to be 18 when they are 18. For now, let them simply enjoy being 12. Letting go is easier to do when you know they are mature enough to handle everything life is going to throw at them. Maturity is not transferable so give them time and space to develop.
Create new memories
As you think about hanging on and letting go, now is a good time to create new memories with your middle or high school student. These new memories won’t look the same as they did when your child was in preschool or elementary school. But they can be just as special. Be creative, make them meaningful and fun, but most importantly, be intentional and do it. After you let go you’ll cherish those memories forever.
Entrust them to God
Many of you will remember the vow you made when you dedicated your child to the Lord after they were born. The time of letting go is not a time of giving up and hoping for the best - it’s about standing firm on that vow and knowing that as you let go, God goes with them. Letting go is easier to do when you’ve placed your child in His hands.
As the father of two grown daughters, I know both the struggle and reality of learning how to hang on and let go. But, I also know the joy of the promise found in Proverbs 22:6 that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”. There’s nothing more rewarding in knowing that in the season of hanging on you were preparing to let go, and God was present in both.
Get up at 6:30 am. Leave for school no later than 7:30 am. School from 8:15-2:45. Go to practice until 5:30 or 6:00 or 7:00. Come home for a quick supper before doing homework for about an hour or two. Squeezed in there is a conversation with friends through text or some sort of social media. Or maybe there is a job or musical instruments instead of sports practices. Try to get to bed at 9:00 or 10:00 to get the 9-10 hours of sleep that teens need each night. When Dad says that everyone is going out to eat instead of eating at home, your student gets upset because he/she has to study for a big test tomorrow. The weekend should be a time for rest, but there is a job or a tournament four hours away or a major project that needs to be completed because there was no time during the week. If this sounds familiar or even like something that could be on the horizon, your student does not have enough margin in her/his schedule.
Today’s student often has more on her/his plate than someone that age needs to have. Because of the busyness, today’s teens often feel anxiety, stress, and pressure. Some of this pressure is an internal pressure that they put on themselves. Some of the pressure is caused by not having time to get everything done.
Wherever this pressure is coming from there are things that parents can do to help manage or relieve some of this pressure.
Determine your most important priorities. No one can do everything. As a family, determine what is really important to you. Keep in mind that most students will not get the athletic scholarship or make a living performing on stage either in drama or music, but there is a good chance they could get an academic scholarship. Are you happy with the amount of family time you have together or are some of these other activities interfering? Decide what an acceptable work/activity load is for your child and your family.
Get some help. If you need some help managing your student’s or your calendar, ask for some help. Ask a trusted friend to look at your schedule to see what he/she thinks. You can also do this yourself if you can be objective. If there is too much scheduled, refer to suggestion #1.
Build-in some margin. Hopefully, you plan out your week instead of just letting it happen. When you are planning, add some time for your student to decompress and have some fun. Unscheduled time is not wasted time. It is time for your brain to get creative or just rest.
Model it. Is your student stressed because of her/his schedule because that is what he/she sees modeled at home? Look at your calendar. Are you stressed because your calendar is full of obligations? Go through ideas 1-3 for yourself.
These things are not the end-all-be-all, but they are a good place to start. We need to let our kids be kids while they still can. Giving them responsibilities has an important place in their lives, but being overburdened by a hectic schedule is not healthy for your child or for you.
Technology Trap By Joy Figuero
We all love the resources that are available at our fingertips. Everything we want to know is available online. There are apps and tutorials to teach us virtually anything. The power is in a swipe or a click! This is great but, like most things, too much of it can cause harm. God gives us allowances and choices with the expectation that we do not abuse those rights.
So, how is technology HURTING us? Social development and relationships are failing, anxieties are growing, proper physical wellbeing and physical development are hindered. We have become so dependent on technology that we take for granted the necessity of doing things “the old fashioned way”.
One of the most prevalent developmental delays we see in preschool students is their lack of fine motor skills. Weak fine motor skills reduces a child’s ability to write, cut with scissors, use eating utensils, and even dressing themselves a challenge. These are all necessary life skills.
So, what can we do about it? Replace iPads, computers and cellphones with play-doh, crayons and coloring books, or lacing and cutting activities and physical books for them to thumb through and read. Revert back to traditional methods of play and exploration that foster natural growth and development of our children. It’s going to be an adjustment for adults and children, but the benefits will outweigh the temper tantrums.