It is that back-to-school time of the year again! I can hear the cheers and tears from the Teen Lifeline office. Whether you are looking forward to getting back to a routine, wondering how your baby has grown into a high school senior, or are trying to figure out how your youth ministry is going to hold up against football season – you have a role to play in this upcoming school year! Before teenagers start back at their Middle or High Schools, or the graduates leave home to start their college adventures, take time to have bold, encouraging conversations! You have an opportunity to help students set goals and think about where they want to be at the end of this 2016-2017 school year.
I write this post looking out our back window upon fresh construction. I’ve been watching the structure rise from the remains of an old scrub field just behind our backyard fence. We have watched them clear the land, level the surface, set the foundations, and raise the walls. Each day, we see a new element of the building take shape. Sometimes it is only a coat of paint or a new layer of brick. Some days it seems like they have finished an entire section in one day. There are even stretches of weeks where it seems like they are working and re-working one particular patch of the building until they get it just right.
Summer is the perfect time to slow down and read a good book. Maybe you want to learn about something new, gain a new perspective or just need to laugh. As we get closer to the new school year, we hope that you’ll take advantage of the time you have left and stretch your mind! Here are a few of our book recommendations if you need a starting point.
Check out these books for teenagers, parents and youth ministers!
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this. Mainly from students but also from parents who see the teacher as the problem in a particular class. I have to admit, I have even said the same thing when I was in school. Even though this is an easy thing to fall back on, I have never felt comfortable (and the more I work with teachers and schools, I feel less and less comfortable) with this mentality. The problem has been that I didn’t know how to process this mentality in order to make it better, much less how to communicate to people how they too could shift their perspective, stop blaming and start making positive progress. That is until recently. I just finished a book called Extreme Leadership. It is a business book, but the last principle they talk about in the book helped me begin to clarify why the idea that the teacher is the problem doesn’t compute for me, and I hope it won’t for you either.
As a teenager, there are few things greater than Summer Break – no school, getting to sleep in, more time with friends, days by the pool or at the lake, family vacations, snow cones, and fewer rules. Wait, fewer rules? How does that make sense? Unfortunately, as teenagers gain more free time in the summer, many are also held to lower standards, fewer boundaries and later curfews. As someone who works with students in the school year, who hears about their wild weekends, and crazy summer stories, please don’t make it easier for your child to get into trouble. Summer is fun (and it should stay that way), but fun doesn’t mean that you stop parenting. Summer is the time when you need to be even more on guard! As the parent (or friend, coach, youth minister, mentor) of a teenager, it is your job to help them set their boundaries, manage freedom and make good decisions.
This past week, I watched Apple’s WWDC event. There is a formula for events that big to go well. While there isn’t so much a formula for helping students, there are some things we can apply to many different situations in order to form a process that can most often lead to the best results. Our steps have been formed over more than a decade of working with students (7 years as Teen Lifeline), and we keep working to make it better. We get calls fairly often from parents asking how they can get help for their teen. When we get those calls, there are some questions I like to work through that seem most helpful and help me know what information and resources I can offer to be most helpful. These questions are not necessarily in any particular order, but I do typically work through them as I have listed them below. You can decide where you want to start and end in your own situations.