For those of us who have been in Youth Ministry before we were parents or even as we were parenting our own babies, we have a unique perspective on what it is like to parent teens. While being a youth leader may be easier in many instances, it has taught us some interesting lessons and helped us as we struggle with our own teens. We talk about these lessons in this podcast. Everything from understanding the emotions of transitioning out of high school, to juggling busy schedules, to handling life questions that teens tend to throw at us. We acknowledge the impact that the youth in our lives had on our children growing up and how those relationships have shaped who they have become. Being a youth leader has so many blessings. This podcast talks about one of the biggest as it shaped us into the parents we have become.
During the pandemic, young people were stuck in their homes, unable to go to school or socialize face to face with friends. However, they did find a place to “gather” that gave them a common bond. Tik Tok, a video-sharing app owned by a Chinese company launched worldwide in 2018 according to Wikipedia. It existed a couple years before the pandemic shutdown; however, Tik Tok launched into a frenzy of popularity, especially for those of us outside of Gen Z, after March 2020. In fact, if you ask a young person, they can reminisce about all the trends that happened each month of the pandemic. One of those trends since so many families were spending all day together, all ages began working together to create dance moves and other content for the app. Celebrities got in on the fun as well. Even though we were stuck at home without new movie releases or live concerts, we did get a peek into the lives of stars like Justin and Hailey Bieber and JLo through their personal Tik Tok accounts. There are a number of people who rose to Tik Tok fame in the last two years. Here are a few with the number of followers, in millions: Charli D’Amelio (126.8), Khabane Lame (117.2), Addison Rae (85.2), Bella Poarch (83.8), Zach King (66). For a comparison of stars: Justin Bieber (22.9), JLo (14.1), Will Smith (63.4). (Please note these numbers were at the time of publishing this, they go up by the thousands daily.)
Why should we, adults who live and work with young people, care about TikTok? We barely have time to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, why add another app? We need to be aware of the “world” where our young people are spending their time. While we do not have to live there with them, and be careful because TikTok can be a bit of a rabbit hole this is difficult to get out of, we do need to be aware of what they are watching and to whom they are giving their time.
By now, you hopefully have heard about the Devious Licks challenges that were going around in schools this fall. If not, Google it and take a look. It started as vandalizing bathrooms, and next was supposed to move to slapping teachers, video recording these and posting them on social media. Schools came down hard on offenders and hopefully, have put and end to the trend. A positive trend that start in response was Angelic Yields where students began putting items such as lotions, soaps and even a coffee pot into the bathrooms as their schools to oppose the vandalism trend.
A word of advice as well. TikTok, like other social media, uses an algorithm and will show you videos that match your habits. So, for instance I see videos about cooking, crafts, devotions and general soccer mom stuff. So, you will need to have a conversation with and possibly sit down next to your young person to watch their TikTok in order to be in their world. You may think that they will not want to share or will shy away from you being in their business, but the opposite is quite true. Many times, you will surprise them with your interest in their lives. Just watch and ask questions, do not criticize. If you view something you do not like or disagree with, ask the young person their thoughts or opinions and then respond with your feelings using “I” statements.
Take a listen to this podcast where a pastor, youth leader and I talk about all of this and respond to this growing social media application.
We’ve prepared our kids (if they are college bound) and ourselves for this exact moment in time. And yet, we dread the day that it comes. The college move-in day. It is such a mixed bag of emotions. We want them to graduate high school, to have goals, dreams and aspirations. We don’t want them living in our basements forever, but do we have to say goodbye? The summer before they leave the nest is a roller coaster ride for everyone. They want their independence, they are excited to go, they don’t want to leave their high school friends, they are nervous. As parents we feel it as well: excitement, sadness and doubt. Eventually, the day comes. The suitcase is packed and the car(s) are loaded. The only thing that’s left is to say good-bye. The thing is, this is just the beginning. Every weekend trip home, holiday or break, you will have to say it all over again. It doesn’t get easier. And don’t even get me started with those of you who raised a child who is brave enough to serve in the military! This podcast features two moms who have young adults. We have said “See ya later” too many times to count and have lived to tell you about it!
Parenting is a tough job, no doubt. We typically rely on our own experiences as children, good, bad or indifferent, to shape us as parents. The same is probably true of youth leaders and teachers. But what happens when you are in a situation you, yourself, have never experienced? These last six months have found us all reeling. We are all trying our best to get through the situation, and if you have young people in your life, you also have the weight of guiding them. So, we brought in an expert to help us all. Missy Jones is a mental health therapist who works with children/teens and is also a mom. She gives some excellent advice to navigate this pandemic with our young people.
The Class of 2020 will go down in history. They will be forever bonded because of their experiences they have shared being quarantined this spring. As the parents of these young people, we, too, share a special bond that others can’t understand. In this blog and podcast, three moms talk about our different experiences being in the same situation.
Bishop Tracy Malone has a daughter graduating high school and one graduating college. Lillian has a son in the class of 2020, a son in 8th grade and a daughter in 7th. My youngest is a daughter graduating high school this spring. So, we are all experiencing the circumstances of having our kids go through the disappointments of missing out on all sorts of important experiences. In the podcast, we talk about the phases of grief we have witnessed in our children as well as the emotions we have felt as we walk through this time with them.
We share our thoughts from our experience. As we watch our graduates process their emotions, we have had to ride this roller coaster along the way. But giving them time and space seems to have helped our own kids. We have also see that finding new or different ways to celebrate these milestones with them helps us all. Ways to allow the seniors to be a part of the discussion and decisions will help them feel more in control of their chaotic life right now.
All three moms agree that it is also vital to look for the blessings in the situation we are in currently. What have you learned? What is something new you are doing? Who is someone you’ve come to know during the quarantine? (Or someone you know better, even a family member.) Focusing on the positives helps us get through tough times. Also, find ways to be a blessing to others. We have made cookies to deliver. I know other families have made cards to take to shut-ins. There are all kinds of ways to reach out to others.
Three months ago, no one would believe where we would be right now. Our seniors dreamed of all the “lasts” they were going to get to encounter. All the fun that comes with being a senior, especially the last few months. But that isn’t how our lives played out. It has been a difficult season, but we have managed to pull through it together. As parents of the class of 2020, we, too, will be forever bounded with one another through our common experiences with our children. Together we will be stronger because of it. Congratulations parents and a special congratulations to the Class of 2020!
Grab your popcorn, and invite your friends, family or youth group to join together for a movie night on Netflix Party. Everyone can watch at the same time, and there is a chat box where you can all talk as you watch. Below are some discussion questions and a short Bible study you can do along with or after you finish. (Everyone needs a Netflix account.)
Directions: 1. Download Chrome 2. In your Chrome search bar, download Netflix Party 3. Go to Netflix website 4. Pick the movie 5. Click on the “NP” icon next to the address bar in Chrome 6. Click “start party” 7. Copy URL and email to friends
The Longshots (125 minutes) rated: PG
- Sometimes we have to focus more on what we do have and not on what we don’t. Have you ever had to learn this lesson first hand?
- Have you ever felt like you were not a part of the “in crowd” like Jasmine? How did that make you feel? What did you do to overcome that situation?
- Jasmine was trying to fit in with the other girls. But they kept disappointing her. How do you know with whom to trust? Is it the same or different with adults?
- Have you ever been in a situation where someone in your presence was getting made fun of? What did you do? How did it make you feel? Has someone ever stood up for you?
- Words can really hurt us. Jasmine’s Uncle Curtis said some mean things about her. Have you ever been in that situation? (Either the one saying something or the one who overheard.) What did you do?
- Jasmine hides her insecurities behind books, Uncle Curtis behind football. Why do people do this?
- Have you ever been embarrassed by your parents/family? How did you handle it?
- Football was a way that the pastor connected with Curtis, and the way that Jasmine and Curtis got close. Thinking about your life, have you ever had a hobby, or past time that has allowed you to become friends with or grow closer to someone? How could we use this to multiply the kingdom?
- Uncle Curtis saw Jasmine’s talents before she recognized them in herself. Who has encouraged/mentored you in your life? Who is in your corner, cheering you on in your accomplishments? Who do you cheer for?
- The opposite can be true. Sometimes people, especially when they are jealous or out of fear, will tear us down. What would you do in that situation?
- What are some examples of teamwork in the movie? How can we relate those examples to real life? To our Christian walk?
- When the coach had a heart attack, the assistant jumped in and encourage Uncle Curtis to help out. Have you ever had to respond in a tragic situation? What about what we are going through right now? How have you adapted? You have you leaned on to help you?
- Why was Uncle Curtis hesitant to step into the coaching roll? What was he running from? What happens when we run from fear?
- Coach Curtis told the team not to celebrate touchdowns. Why do you think that is? How can you celebrate victories with humility?
- Jasmine welcomed her dad with open arms. Do you think you would have extended the same grace to him? That changed in the end. Why? Do you think her response was justified? Why or why not?
- Coach Curtis said, “If we have heart, we have everything we need.” What does this mean? Where does it apply in your life? What if you replace “heart” with “Jesus”? Do you feel like it is true?
- The community gave up their prized possessions to help the team get to the Super Bowl. Have you ever given up something for the benefit of someone else? How did that feel?
- How did you view Uncle Curtis at the end of the movie compared to the beginning? What can we learn from this?
- Jasmine was disappointed that her dad didn’t show for the Super Bowl game. Has anyone every disappointed you? How did you handle it? This is a reminder that humans will disappoint, but God is always with us.
Bible Lesson: 1 Samuel 16
The Lord sends Samuel out to anoint the new king.
What is Samuel’s response at first to this command? (He is fearful) Why does Samuel responds this way?
What does this teach us about God when we are facing our fears?
Verse 7 is especially meaningful. Read that again. Put it in your own words.
How does this verse relate to the movie?
How can it relate to your life today?
How do you think the older brothers felt when Samuel passed over them and anointed David? What are the similarities to David and Jasmine or David and Curtis in the movie?
Why do you think Saul’s heart was changed?
What lessons can we learn about God and about our human nature from this story and/or movie?