Two Weeks Back Experience

About a year ago a youth pastor in the Midwest was able to spend two weeks as a high school student in a public high school as an experiment to see what it was like. I’ve been waiting for him to post some of his reflections and here’s a blurb from his blog. It’s interesting to see some suggestions from his experience.

After sitting on my experience for over a year and reflecting on this “Back to School” season, here are a few suggestions I would like to offer to parents if they want to have a better relationship with their kids.

1.Offer Amnesty to your kids

2. Play Favorites.

3. Suck up to teachers

4. Take your kids out of school.

5. Schedule a two week check up

6. Yell less, hug more

7. Don’t listen to your kids

8. Get comfortable with the word “Porn.”

9. Don’t believe everything you read..

10. Practice not being surprised

1.Offer Amnesty to your kids…Wouldn’t you love for your boss to walk into your office and tell you that every mistake you have made in the past can be forgiven , without consequence, if you’ll just come clean at that instant. . “You get a fresh start and a chance to start over” he says. Your kids would love that chance with you and they need that. Take your kid out to eat at a restaurant of their choosing. Share with them that you want them to have the chance to share anything they have ever done wrong with no consequence ... That’s right, you can’t ground them, spank them or punish them for what happened in the past. Offer them a clean start. (while there may be no consequences or punishment for past mistakes, your future decision making may be influenced by their previous bad choices.) Partner this with suggestion number ten: Practice not being surprised.

2. Play Favorites. Your kids are different. No two kids are alike. They are in different grades, they are at different maturity levels and they even view the world differently. So don’t treat them the same. The odds are pretty good that one of your kids right now needs more attention that your other one. So give it to them. It doesn’t mean that you love the other ones less, it means that you care enough to reach out to the one in need, when they need it. As a matter of fact, if you share with the family what is going on, all of you can work together to play favorites!

3. Suck up to teachers—You suck up to your boss, why not suck up to your kid’s boss? Think about it…teachers generally spend more time in a day with your kids than you do. You want them being nice to your kids. You want them investing in, caring for, nurturing, supporting and encouraging your child. Model that for them. Treat teachers like you want them treating your kid. Now that I read this one, it seems kind of obvious. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto your kids.

4. Take your kids out of school. These are your kids, so spend time with them. Perfect attendance awards may be important, but a high school graduate who knows their parents care more about them as a person than they do about a perfect attendance award is priceless. I’m not suggesting taking your kids out of school every week or on test days, I’m suggesting a calculated, “planned surprise”, coordinated with teachers and administrators where you get to spend lunch, an afternoon or even an entire day with your kid.

5. Schedule a two week check up… Why wait until the first grade card comes home to check on your kids. Two weeks after school starts, take them out for a burger and inquire how things are going. Focus on their academic life as the last part of your conversation! The odds are pretty good that the social aspect of their day is consuming most of their time. Help with the relational/social part of their life…and the academic part will follow. Let your child know that this time is about you caring for them and not about you trying to ensure college scholarship money for excellent academic performance.

6. Yell less, hug more. Do I really need to explain this one? Kids never outgrow hugs. Safe meaningful touch is always appropriate from a parent. Your kids will never come home from school and say “Hug me, I had a bad day.” Look for moments to grab your kids, no matter their age, and wrap them in a genuine warm embrace. They won’t say that’s what they need, and will probably even act like they don’t want it at first, but they are lying. If it’s been a while since your last parent/kid hug, it may be awkward at first…but over time, it will get easier and you will see your relationship change from this simple, yet meaningful gesture.

7. Don’t listen to your kids. Kids say things that hurt. Sometimes they say things that make no sense. Sometimes they even say things that aren’t even true. So don’t listen to them. Okay, you need to listen to them a little bit, but don’t let their words be the only data you use to determine what they are trying to communicate. Filter their words with the information you have about their personality, about their maturity, about their relationships, about their day at school and even about their diet and sleep patterns. If you don’t know about those things, maybe you need to find out more about your kid before you try and listen to just their words. They are trying to tell you something, even if they don’t know how to say it with words. All behavior has meaning.

8. Get comfortable with the word “Porn.” If they can’t talk to you about it, they will talk to someone else about it. You don’t want your or your kid ending up on Dateline because you were afraid to say it. So go into the bathroom, look into the mirror and practice the phrase, “So, do you know kids who look at porn on the internet?” Get them talking about other kids and their habits…then go for it. Ask the question: “So, have you ever looked at porn?” It will be awkward. Do it anyway. You are making an investment in their future relationships, their eventual marriage, and even the relationship you have with them right now. Keep the conversation short, but ask regularly. Seriously, get comfortable using the word porn.

9. Don’t believe everything you read. A lot today is written about kids. Every day statistics are released, studies are done and we are bombarded with even more information about how bad things are for kids, and sometimes even how bad kids are. I wonder if kids are even starting believe this stuff? We are the grown ups. We are supposed to be the ones they trust. We are supposed to paint the picture of hope for their future. In my opinion we are committing an act of betrayal by bombarding them with all of this information that “de-inspires” them. Thank Al Gore and Jeremy Iverson (High School Confidential, Atria books) for your “near sighted” view and of a potential future and current reality for our kids.

10. Practice not being surprised. One reason kids don’t communicate with their parent is because of the initial pain involved for the student. Kids know they are sharing things that will leave parents hurt, confused or even upset. Often they don’t share because of the initial “freak out”, “hit the ceiling moment” that happens when the information is shared. Practice a calm rational response that only includes phrases like, “tell me more” and “you have my attention, would you like something to drink while we talk about this.” You may be surprised how much your kids will share if their introduction to the conversation isn’t greeted with “I told you so…”, What did you do now…” or “I can’t believe you did that.”

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~ by darthpastor on August 15, 2007.

2 Responses to “Two Weeks Back Experience”

  1. With your permission, I’m going to steal this. Heck, without your permission I’m going to steal this.

    aaron

  2. I keep watching his blog. He hasn’t really posted in like forever. I’m hoping he starts to though.

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