WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT
Here is an overview of what we’re talking about. Listed below the summary is a “parent cue” to help you dialog with your child about the session. The question is intended not just to be asked by you, but to be responded to by BOTH of you. Use this opportunity to find out what God is teaching your child, and allow your child to see what God is teaching you as well.
NEW FRIEND REQUEST
We all want friends—even if we don’t want to admit it. We all want someone to hang out with, someone to talk to, someone who knows us. But friendship requires something from us. It’s not just what we get or what makes us feel comfortable or happy. There’s a smart way to do friendship, a way with intention, a way that will draw us closer to God’s heart—if we surround ourselves with the right people. That doesn’t mean our friends have to be clones of us—but it does mean that they at least help us move in the right direction.
Session One: ACCEPT?
Middle School – Nov 6; High School – Nov 13
Having friends is great. Whether you want one, or you already have one, there’s just something about having other people in your life who you can count on. For many, friendships just happen. A new friend is in the right place at the right time. And while friendships may start out randomly, there is an intentionality about who we allow close to us—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because the people who are closest to you have influence on your life. They help shape who you are. So who are the friends closest to you . . . and how are they influencing you?
Session One Parent CUE: Who are some of your closest friends? Why are these people so important to you?
Session Two: RESPOND?
Middle School – Nov 20; High School – Dec 4
Someone to listen to my problems. Someone to do stuff with. Someone to talk to constantly. Someone to hang out with. When you make a list of what qualities you want in a friend, how many of the things on your list involve what that person can do for you? Most of us would have to admit that it’s a lot. But the best friendships are ones that are not just about what the other person can do for you—the best friendships also involve how you can be there for someone
else. How you can listen, instead of always talking. How you can give someone space when he or she needs it, or just hang out when your friend needs that too. In other words, the best friendships are not centered solely on you—and that’s a good thing.
Session Two Parent CUE: What are some ways you’ve been able to help out your friends?
Session Three: IGNORE?
Middle School – Dec 11; High School – Dec 18
Relationships=conflict. It’s natural. It’s part of two people relating to one another because at some point, you’re not going to agree. One person will do something the other person doesn’t like. One person will let the other person down. One person will say or do something stupid. It happens. And at some point, it happens to us—either we’re the person making the mess, or the one who is feeling the effects of the mess. So how do you navigate your way through the drama? Do you just ignore it and hope it goes away? Do you just drop that friend? Or do you find a way to work it out? The choice is yours.
Session Three Parent CUE: What is the biggest fight you’ve ever had with a friend? What was the outcome?
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You can’t get to the OBX by driving north on I-81, and you can’t get to the top of the mountain if you are walking down it. In the Road Signs series, we will examine the book of Proverbs for wisdom to help each of us navigate the choices life brings because our choices determine the direction of our lives. And it’s our direction, not our intention, that ultimately determines our destination. Where are you heading?
Beginning this Wednesday, September 11th with our High School ministry, followed next week by our Middle School ministry, we’ll discuss this basic principle. Our direction always determines our destination. While we all know this basic rule for navigating the roads we drive, we sometimes forget how the same rule is true in our lives. You can’t lose weight by shoving down quarter pounders and watching five hours of TV. You can’t have deep relationships by ignoring the living, breathing people around you. You can’t grow closer to God by shutting Him out of your everyday life or failing to make the effort to know more about Him. So what is the destination you desire for your life? Are you even on the right path to get there?
What kind of family do you want to be? What shared experiences do you want to have? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? This month, think about one goal, one destination, you want to reach as a family. Maybe you want to become more environmentally conscious. Maybe you want to serve others. Maybe you want to feel closer to each other. When you decide on your destination, then you can make a road map for getting there. Here are just a few questions to help you start planning your journey.
- What is your biggest obstacle in taking the first step? Everyone has some reason why you can’t do something. Find out what that big fear or reason is, and determine what is the best way to push through that roadblock.
- Is there something you need to stop doing in order to free up time to get to your chosen destination? For example, if you want to grow closer as a family, what time do you need to carve out of your schedule to spend time together on a consistent basis?
- Are there tools or materials you need in order to equip you for the path? For example, if you want to become more environmentally conscious, do you need to clean up the garage to setup a recycling center? Do you need to find a drop-off center for recyclable items near your home? Do you need to make a trip to your local home improvement store to make your home more “green”?
- What organizations can you contact or information can you research to help you prepare? As a family, if your goal is to start eating healthier, can you all take a cooking class to learn how to prepare more nutritious meals? Is there information you can find online about the nutritional information of foods at your favorite restaurants?
- What kind of mile markers and guardrails can you setup to make sure you stay on course for the long run? There will be times when things get too hard or when the family gets off track, so beforehand, develop a plan to keep everyone accountable and help get things back on course.
1. Be a Student of What They are Learning
“I just can’t let it go.” “They don’t deserve to be forgiven.” “It hurts too much to move on.” Maybe you’ve heard your students say something like this in the midst of pain, frustration and anger towards someone who has hurt them—or maybe you’ve said or thought something similar yourself. Choosing to forgive someone who has hurt us is never easy. So why does it matter so much that we do it? How do we know when we should do it? And how do we know we have actually healed from the pain an offense has caused? How do we simply let it go?
2. Be a Student of Your Student
I can think of multiple times in my life when I’ve been in an emotional stand-off with someone over something they did or said—or maybe something they didn’t say or didn’t do. Taking the first steps towards getting back on good terms is simple enough—in theory. But saying the words “I’m sorry” often feels like it costs too much. So, too often we choose silence in the hopes that time will fix it, instead of intentional reconciliation.
Unfortunately, not apologizing can be costly—maybe even especially to the relationship with our teenagers. Maybe sometimes you don’t want to apologize because you know that they are the one who did something wrong. Maybe in reaction to something your son did, you lashed out and said something that was a little harsh—but you excused it because his behavior was completely unacceptable. Or maybe you found yourself sneaking through bedroom drawers just to squelch some rising suspicions and it really broke your daughter’s trust—but you were justified in what you did, so an apology seems unnecessary. You didn’t do anything outside of your parental rights, per se, but your son or daughter feels hurt, betrayed or angry.
Saying I’m sorry can be so hard. Admitting you’re wrong, or that you even had a small part in an argument or bad situation, can physically hurt sometimes. It doesn’t sit well. On the other hand, when someone has apologized to you, or you have made the first step towards reconciliation, something distinct and compelling happens. There is a sense of relief, of vulnerability and calm. All from simply saying—or hearing—“I’m sorry.”
What is it about an apology that can be so powerful—both for the receiver of the apology and the one actually apologizing?
To understand this a bit more, we want to share some excerpts from an article entitled “The Power of Apology: How to give and receive an apology. And it’s worth it, on both ends” by Beverly Engel featured in Psychology Today in June 2013, and taken from the book The Power of Apology by Beverly Engel: (To read the full article, go to http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200208/the-power-apology.)
As you read, try to focus on the bolded words—on what giving an apology does—and try to imagine these action words taking place in the context of your relationship with your son or daughter:
“Apology has the ability to disarm others of their anger and to prevent further misunderstandings. While an apology cannot undo harmful past actions, if done sincerely and effectively, it can undo the negative effects of those actions … Apologizing helps us remain emotionally connected to our friends and loved ones.…
So, the next time you find yourself in a stand-off with your spouse, a co-worker a friend or even your son or daughter, remember that more is on the line than just your pride and sense of justice. The future relationship, the ability to stay connected to and vulnerable with that person is on the line too. The words “I’m sorry” may be hard to say, but they are always worth the effort!
3. Action Point
The action point for this series is pretty straightforward: Apologize to your student.
But sometimes this is easier said than done. So what are some characteristics of a meaningful apology?
First of all, admit that you are truly sorry for the hurt or damage you caused. It’s easy with our students to unintentionally do or say something that they take personally. And even though we don’t always mean things the way they hear or experience them, the hurt that can be caused is still real to them. So, while you may not have meant to be hurtful, recognizing that someone else was hurt by your actions is incredibly important.
Secondly, a sincere and powerful apology includes an acceptance of responsibility. This may seem like the same thing as admitting you are sorry for the hurt you caused. But it actually takes this idea of admittance one step further. When you accept responsibility, you are not making excuses for what you did, which often has the effect of negating the apology. It’s like when your student says, “I’m really sorry that I dented the car, but the other driver was way too close to me and I couldn’t see them well out of my side mirror.” Too many excuses cloud a good apology with a message of “It really wasn’t my fault.” For an apology to be meaningful and sincere, you have to communicate that you take full responsibility for your actions.
And lastly, there should always be something in your apology that shows you have a desire to remedy the situation. You obviously can’t go back and undo what was done—or not done—but you can offer a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again. So, if you’ve missed your son’s basketball game … again … and he is really hurt and angry, make a plan and offer a promise to get to one of his upcoming games. And then do it! An empty promise will only make the hurt deeper, so don’t promise what you can’t deliver. But be sure to offer some sort of plan of action so that your son or daughter knows that you will work towards not repeating the action that hurt them in the first place.
Take some time to think through what a meaningful apology might look like for your son or daughter. And then, go say the words that make all the difference in the world—I’m sorry.
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