Today I got a call from a parent I’ve never met. She was in tears and wanted to meet with me and share the struggles her daughter–who attends our youth group–was currently facing. We met and she shared about the temptations to which the girl was being drawn, the mom’s fears, and the underlying issues. I listened and offered some perspective, some encouragement and a few suggestions. When our time was finished, we both realized how beneficial our conversation had been for both of us.
In this case, it wasn’t a major crisis–the student hadn’t yet made regrettable mistakes. But this parent wisely sought counsel as a preventative measure and I feel good about the plan this parent decided to follow.
I was impressed by this mom’s courage in contacting me–a virtual stranger–to get perspective. Sharing the situation with me required honesty, vulnerability, and humility in a culture that pressures everyone to pretend our families are “just fine, thanks.” This parent realized her limitations and wisely reached out for advice.
What impressed me just as much was that this parent had already made great choices in handling the situation. I was able to affirm this and offer additional ideas for using that approach even more effectively. I am optimistic about the outcome and anticipate that the relationship between the mom and teen will be strengthened through this situation.
This parent expressed appreciation for our conversation. But I believe I benefitted more than she did. Our conversation taught me several things for which I am grateful.
1. I learned about a struggle that probably affects many kids in our group. The shepherd who knows his sheep will be a better shepherd.
2. Wrestling through this situation with this mom added to my collective understanding of parenting dilemmas, which helps me to help other parents in the future. Her experience with her daughter will be something I can pass on to others in similar situations.
3. I saw in this mom a broken heart full of love. I learned more from this than anything she learned from me.
4. As I inquired about her daughter’s youth group experience, she affirmed many things we’re doing and gave me some ideas of ways we could reach out more to kids like hers. We’ll never be improving as we should without good constructive feedback from parents like her–and you!
I write all this to encourage you parents not to be shy about sharing your stories with me and the other youth sponsors. As we wrestle together through the joys and sorrows of parenting, we all benefit! Don’t wait for a crisis!
Hope to hear from you soon!