We continue our month of transitions by asking some parents to share their insights with us. Learning to be the parent of a teenager who goes on trips and has fun in youth group can be full of challenges. Thankful these parents are giving us their advice on….
“What should parents know?”
Amy Hamilton is a wife and mom of two teenage boys. She lives in Knoxville, TN where she attends Central Baptist Church in Fountain City. She teaches kindergarten and loves to read, travel and be outdoors.
I am not a blogger, but I am a wife and mom of two teenage boys involved with our church’s youth ministry. When I think about youth ministry, I think about it with two different goals in mind. Those goals are to find a balance for my children as well as one for my own personal involvement.
The first goal for finding a healthy balance for my children lies in the fact that they are very busy with school, clubs, sports as well as our youth group. When looking to find that balance, I always take into consideration, what bible studies/activities can they participate in regularly that will help them grow spiritually without overwhelming them to the point of burnout or turning away from church completely? As a family, we decided that bible study is the most important aspect of our youth group and try to make that a priority. Fellowship and fun are an integral part as well; however, sometimes those activities are missed when school and sports’ team commitments conflict. I feel that it is important for my children to enjoy all aspects of youth ministry.
I have a senior and a freshman in high school. They have different extra curricular schedules and don’t always enjoy the same youth activities; therefore, they like to select which best fits their interests and schedule. When trying to achieve this balance they feel that it is important to make arrangements to participate in mission projects and attend summer camp. My older son has been encouraged to take more of a leadership role and lead a small group bible study with the younger students. This can also increase his time commitment and add to the balancing act. Finding a healthy balance with youth ministry for my children requires lessons in time management.
My second goal when finding a healthy balance with youth ministry pertains to my involvement. I am very supportive of my children and their interests/activities. I feel that it is important to support your children in their spiritual growth. I am an advocate for our youth minister and how he tries to involve all of our youth and inspire a love for helping others. He also provides many opportunities for our youth to fellowship together and help others. I try to balance my time and involvement when needed without being a “s-mother.” I can participate just by being a listener, a cookie maker, van driver, or a home to host a party or retreat. I feel that this lets my boys know that I care about them, their spiritual journey, their role models, their friends, and even strangers that are being helped through mission work. My husband and I enjoy getting to know the youth and try to do it in a way that does not interfere with our boys’ social lives.
When looking for that healthy balance with youth ministry you have to realize that you and your child can’t do it all. I suggest getting involved in a small way first and add to it slowly so that you know what is manageable for you and your family. If your child is reluctant to participate, encourage them to try one activity or invite a friend. As a parent, even if you can’t or don’t want to physically be present at youth ministry events, let your youth minister know that you are willing to donate items needed or pray for them and the students that they are ministering to. I assure you it will be worth the time investment.
Mark Jee has been properly attending church for only 14 years. He catches up on his misspent youth through his three children who have had the youth church experience. Let’s not forget that he has been happily married to Angela for 24 years.
Being relatively new to church life, it is probably more appropriate that I write what I wish more parents knew about youth ministry. These are observations gleaned from chaperoning at a camp and volunteering with the youth group.
- your kids are okay. if they are attending youth camp no matter their motivation, they are somewhat on the right track.
- parents can do a lot by observing and letting the moment happen. the outcome is not as important as the process. no matter the size of the youth group, these important processes can happen.
- there is much to be gained from unstructured time. the fellowship with other youth is valuable.
- you are never too young to go to camp; conversely, never too old. all have experiences to share with others.
- kids are durable; they can handle more than you can imagine.
- maybe it is like Mary Poppins- she has come to save the adults as well as the youth. the parents get as much out of it as the youth do, just in different ways.
- even the stoutest of hearts can be melted.
- even the smallest of souls can make the difference.