We had a youth and parent event at my church. The teens were taught principles of how to make good decisions with all sorts of Bible verses to help guide them. The unit was part practical and part “get your nose in this Bible because it will help you.” Throughout the teaching unit, the teens had questions about how their parents made decisions. Sometimes it was typical teen grumbling but the leaders and I thought there was something legitimate to follow here. So we created this event for the teens and parents to learn from each other. While protecting the authority of the parents. That was very important!
How we did this was the teens gave true life situations they wanted some answers for to one of my adult leaders. She gave me those situations but didn’t attach any names to them so I didn’t know who they came from or what specific incident it was referring to. From those notes I created generic scenarios such as:
I just want to watch Netflix for like 1 hour. Without being disturbed. Without feeling guilty. I just want to veg and do nothing and be bothered by nothing. But I can’t. I have practice after school. I also managed to squeeze in a club meeting. It’s a club that I really like and wish I could be more committed to but my sport takes up so much of my time. Then I get picked up and have to immediately engage in family conversation about my day. I do love my family and I understand why they want to know about my day but I just want a break. I want a moment to think for myself. After dinner I have to start in on homework. Sometimes I’m doing homework until 11 pm at night. Sometimes I’m doing homework til 11 pm at night because I fell asleep doing it earlier and I have to get it done. After I get my homework done I just want to crash. Hopefully sleep. But my mind is racing with so many thoughts. About my worries of understanding the homework. About the game tomorrow. About what I overheard what was said about me today. About the worry I see on my mom’s face but I don’t know what it is about. About forgetting once again to even pray today. I just want to sleep. I just want to think about nothing.
For two weeks we met together—the parents clumped together on one side of the room and the teens on the other. This was the chance for the teens to hear how other parents would make their decisions based on these generic scenarios. Their own parents also spoke up but it was this groupthink effort that gave the teens this window into how parents make their decisions. It went brilliantly. Better than I planned.
The first scenario I read was the one above. The teens all loudly proclaimed, “That is exactly how I feel.” At that same moment one of the moms started crying and said “This is how I feel too.”
The room was silent. If I accurately read that silence it was the teens figuring out that their parents are actually crunched for time, overscheduled, and tired too. They figured it out for the first time.
Hey parent, I know you are crunched for time, overscheduled, and tired. You want that hour to watch Netflix too. But because you make this family work, you just keep trudging through. You have to. You are the parent.
I hope it helps that there are some people who know how tired you are. And appreciate that you are trudging on.
The empty nest days are coming. During those days you are going to wish for these long hours to be back. At least there will be some days you will miss this crazy parenting-of-teen schedule. And some days you will enjoy watching two hours of Netflix! But for now, I am one youth pastor who gets how you feel. No drive-by Scripture is going to help. No parenting class is going to give you enough new insight to stop the crazy schedule. (Though it may give you some wise tips and that is reason enough to schedule that into your schedule. And just being vulnerable with other tired parents is the bigger gift.)
You are seen. Thank you for all that you do to grow your teen and to pass on your faith—through it all. We are cheering you on.
(photo credit: https://zapier.com/blog/visualize-to-do-list/)