He is the most fascinating person in the world. Everything he says is golden. Every phrase he utters is either the most hilarious thing your son has ever heard, or the most profound.
She seems to have the coolest clothes. She seems to know everything about the latest bands or movies. She knows just the right words to post on your daughter’s Facebook page.
They are the most interesting people in the world. And they seem to be anyone but you.
It’s not that you don’t know the shows your kids are obsessed with or can’t post encouraging things on Facebook. It’s not that you’re never funny or even profound. In fact, a lot of what that guy or girl to your son or daughter is saying are things you’ve been saying for years. But for some reason, your son or your daughter doesn’t hear it when you say it. For some reason, when uttered by him or her, those words pierce your child’s heart.
Sound familiar? Then you are definitely parenting a teenager. The teen years and a few years beyond are a time of life and development when your child begins to put a lot of stock in the voices outside your house. The voices of their friends, coaches and even small group leaders.
And while personally you can feel a little slighted that the child who once thought you hung the moon acts like you no longer have anything valuable to say, the truth is, this stage is natural—even if it is a little painful at times. So when the inevitable shift happens, and your voice seems to become less and less important, the big questions are, “Who are the people speaking into my kid’s life? Do they believe the same things I do?”
It’s not that your role isn’t important or that your words don’t have value—there are still some things that only you can say and do for your child. It’s just that the other voices have been elevated to a high level.
So the challenge is to widen the circle. To make sure there are other trusted adults investing in your son or daughter. In our student ministry, we believe those people are your child’s small group leaders. That is why we are intentional about making sure your student has a consistent leader in their lives every week, guiding them towards truth and connecting with them relationally.
But did you know there are ways you can connect with those leaders as well? Here are some ideas on how you can partner with your child’s small group leader:
• Acknowledge the importance of the small group’s leader role. If your child won’t talk with you about something going on, you at least want him or her to have someone in their lives they can talk with, someone you trust and your child trusts, right? So make sure you let that small group leader how much you appreciate him or her making themselves available and investing in your child.
• Encourage the small group leader. If your child has a great compliment about his or her leader, or you notice something he or she did well, let that person know. Working with students can be challenging. Sometimes they are quick to offer a compliment and sometimes it’s painfully silent.
• Provide your contact information. Give the leaders your contact info and let him or her know your preferred way to get in touch with you. Let them know you would love to hear from them about the ways they see your teenager maturing and growing—insights you may not necessarily have from what you see at home.
• Offer to help. How can you help that small group leader out? Maybe you could host an event at your home or provide food. Maybe you could even babysit that leader’s child or help him or her with a specific need in their lives.
• Get to know them. If the leader is young and/or single, invite him or her over for dinner. Get to know the leader as a person. Don’t use it as an opportunity to interrogate the leader to find out information about your child. But enjoy getting to know this other adult in your child’s life.
The primary goal is to make a connection and make yourself available. You are the parent, but you also need other people in your child’s life. People you can trust and people you know your child trusts. We believe your child’s small group leader can be one of those voices.
And when your home partners with this ministry, we believe the impact can be huge.