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(A continuation of a blog series “Developing Patience for Your Adolescent!)
Unresolved issues impact our patience greatly on both sides of the coin! Many young people we have talked with have unresolved issues with their parents. Conversely, many parents feel like they are limited or unable to address issues with their pre-teens and teens, due to the way they respond.
In this blog we will look at both sides of the coin.
1. The unresolved issues youth often have with their parents
2. Things our youth have said and done that hurt us, and often are unresolved.
The Unresolved Issues of Youth
Often as parents we do not consider the possibility that our inability to address issues with our young people and their disrespect, stems from unresolved issues our youth have with us. According to the teens we have interviewed, many have unresolved issues with their parents. They report feeling ill equipped or fearful of addressing issues they have with their parents. This stems from how parents handle issues with them, where they frequently feel not listened to, understood or dismissed.
We have become so used to handling issues with little kids, that do not reason and evaluate as our pre-teens and teens do, that we unintentionally leave them feeling dismissed, not believed in or trusted. As is the case with our marriages and all our relationships, our young people will let us down. If we stop believing in them, it can be fatal as they distance themselves from us, leading to greater problems.
As a result of these and other factors, our youth may have unresolved issues with us. In some cases, we have not truly taken the time to understand and resolve their issues with us because we exerted our position as parents to a unilateral resolution. We have not recognized that they are becoming young adults, and changed our interaction with them.
Many parents and youth say that their relationship improved after the kids left the house… The reason: parents could no longer exert control directly and were forced to change their communication and approach. We need to make a similar change during the pre-teen and teen years, if we want youth who will talk with us and where issues can be truly resolved.
When we do not make changes in our communication with our youth the result is more resistance from them, more issues and more of a challenge for us to keep our patience! Learn more about these changes by attending or listening to the Secrets of Influential Parenting series.
Even though we have made these changes in our home a conflict with my oldest daughter recently revealed she had been carrying around some baggage related to me and that it was affecting her patience and then adversely mine. The root of it all stems from the fact that she had started her first dating relationship, as an 18 year old senior. Dating him caused her to share less with me, in turn I was talking less with her and she felt I was distancing myself from her. Because of this, she was hearing things I said more sensitively and was less patient. In turn I became frustrated with her and was less patient as well. A down hill spiral….smile! Given how we now handle conflict with our pre-teens and teens it lead to her expressing her true feelings and lead to a discussion where both sides openly addressed the deeper issues; as a result things are much better all the way around.
If you believe your young person may have unresolved issues with you here are some steps to consider.
1. Open up with them and share that you believe you may be handling things in a manner that does not allow them to address their issues in the relationship.
2. State that you believe you have done or said things that they are frustrated with or hurt by.
3. Say that this may have made them fearful of bringing up issues they have with you.
4. Tell them that you want a real relationship with them, not an act.
5. Share that in a real relationship issues are resolved openly and honestly and in a caring fashion
6 Ask them if they have issues with you and give them time to think about it and get back to you.
Our unresolved issues with our young people
Another frequent form of unresolved issues relates to how our young people’s words and or actions have hurt us. Sometimes these things are not addressed openly because we react, get impatient or use our authority rather than sharing our true feelings. This happens because we believe everything must be addressed in the moment, not allowing us to come to understand the true source of the offense. As a result, we are unable to share these things with our young person, and we do not arrive at a true resolution.
When we carry within us unresolved issues and are internally frustrated with our young people or feeling hurt, our tolerance is diminished and the likelihood of reacting greatly increases.
It is important to realize that some of the offenses our youth have done have legitimately hurt us and some stem from personal land mines they have tripped, that we will discuss in next week’s blog. Land mines can be a powerful trigger that causes reactions, impatience and anger!
If you have legitimately been hurt by interaction or are internally frustrated with your young person these things must be shared calmly, caringly, openly, sincerely and with the bilateral option for them to share how they have been hurt as well.
Failure to express the deeper things will keep the relationship on the surface, and not lead to the type of understanding and bridge with your youth that will bring about more cooperation and patience on both sides of the coin!
If this is the case, I would recommend addressing it in a similar manner to the steps above. After opening lines of communication ask for permission to share some things with them and ask them to share honestly with you as well.
A blog of YTN the Youth Transition Network. Like us on Facebook (www.facebook/ytnfb) and you will see when new blogs are posted!
In the situation we touched on last week, where we expect are kids to jump up and do what we ask instantaneously; we are dealing with an issue of perspective.
We fail to see the perspective of our youth. While an e-mail we are working on, as an adult, seems more important to us than an activity our kids are doing this may not actually be the case. We miss looking at the situation through the perspective of our young person. In their world and with their experience level, the activity we are asking them to step away from is in every way as important to them as the e-mail is to us, when our spouse asks us to take out the garbage. In this instance we find that a five to ten minute window makes all the difference. Hey Paul, will you come help with the dishes in 10 minutes.
Perspective is a critical component of patience. As parents of youth we often fail to look at situations and our communication with them through their eyes and perspective. Instead, we often try to make them see things through our perspective, because we are in charge and when they do not agree with our perspective it is easy to lose our patience.
As I sought to change my approach to my kids, in order to be a good shepherd that would gain influence in the adolescent years, I was forced to deal with my impatience.
There are a variety of things that helped me alter my perspective. Working on these things yielded more patience and led to much better relationships with my youth. These included:
My Perspective of My Kids:
The first thing that needed to change was my perspective my kids. When I saw them as a reflection of myself in the eyes of others it was much harder to keep my patience, especially when my kids misbehaved in public. In these instances I was more concerned about my image than my kids. We need to detach our images from our youth if we are to have the same perspective God has of us. God does not let what others think of us change His love and acceptance of us.
Another element of my perspective that needed to change was how I viewed my kid’s sin. Jesus saw the crowds of sinners with compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd rather than with frustration or anger given their disobedience to the law according to Mark 6:35. This verse altered my perspective, if I wanted to have a voice like Jesus that would truly impact my kids I needed to change my perspective of their sin. Instead of being frustrated, angry or disappointed with their sinful shortcomings, if I approached them with compassion, the outcome was very positive. In this approach I discovered that, just like us, our youth do not like failing or disappointing us. When we stop and have compassion for them, remembering that they do no like to fail and do not feel good about it; it leads to far less resistance and conflict and opens the door for meaningful discussion and learning.
All of this is much easier if I keep the perspective that deep inside my kids want to please me and succeed. If I adopt a negative view of their motives and motivation I am far more likely to end up frustrated or angry. This behavior lead to the very outcomes I was trying to prevent, disrespect, turning to friends for love and acceptance and a desire to escape my leadership.
Examining situations and our interaction through the eyes of my kids:
This was harder for me than I would like to admit. To accomplish this it often requires us to step back, think and even pray before seeking to address issues. In short, it requires a willingness to wait…the definition of patience.
Why is it we feel that the second we see our youth do something wrong or troubling we believe we must address it immediately? This instantaneous approach places us and our kids at a disadvantage. We do not have the time to reflect and see things through their eyes. Then they are caught in the moment and more likely to get defensive or to look at the situation calmly.
Looking at our interaction with our pre-teens and teens is essential. Often when we address things in the moment many of the things that we say may be true but were they worded like the Good Shepherd. This carelessness often has unintended impacts upon our youth hearts and their willingness to listen to and respect us. It can also impact their confidence and willingness to step out try new things and fail.
If we were to stop and reflect upon the last conflict with our youth and replay the interaction thinking about how it would be received, and what feelings that interaction might provoke, are we happy with how we handled it? Likely not…smile! At the time it seemed like the right thing to say but in retrospect things often look different. This is why we should consider things and take the time to view things we want to address through the eyes of our youth remembering that they do want to please us and succeed.
My view or Perspective of Failure….
My view of failure needed to change if my patience/willingness to wait was to increase. Several things helped me develop patience in this regard.
1. Seeing failure in the light of eternity 2. The sanctification process 3. Seeing failure as the best teaching tool
Light of Eternity
It is easy as parents to see every little thing that goes wrong. If we were under this type of scrutiny at work, how motivated would we be? When I stopped and assessed issues to see whether they mattered in the light of eternity it really helped me cool my jets. So much of what we address truly does not matter in the light of eternity. This must be how God handles the many shortcomings He sees in us. In this light it is my guess that God laughs at the many things we make so important as parents.
The Sanctification Process
Often as parents we forget, that just like our kids, we too are in a life-long sanctification process and thus there is no way we can be perfect this side of eternity. If God is ok with this, I find it amusing that as a parent I often have higher standards for my kids than God has for me. In our research, we heard from youth that they felt like they have to be the perfect child or act perfectly around their parents, motivating them to put on an act for them and then leading a very different life when they are not around us.
When we stop trying to make our kids perfect we can feel like we are not doing our job and that our kids will end up a mess. Yet, our research clearly shows us that the more a parent believes this and is trying to prevent the mistakes they made in their kids, the more likely those mistakes are to reoccur in the lives of their kids.
When we have made major mistakes as youth ourselves we often fail to analyze how the relationship with our parents impacted or contributed to those mistakes. If we live a life of regret with our failures and fear that our kids will do the same, we can approach them in a way that leaves them feeling micro-managed, mistrusted and unloved. This in turn increases the likelihood they will turn away from us and to others where all the danger lies.
If we realize that it is not our role to prevent all mistakes or to sanctify our kids it is far easier to keep a relationship that will motivate our kids to listen to us, and stay connected to us so they do not need to connect to others. When we keep the perspective that we are not the sanctifying agent of our pre-teens or teens and begin to point our kids to the still quiet voice within, that convicts of right and wrong, we will see major changes in our relationship and in how are kids respond to their shortcomings. With this perspective it makes it so much easier to stand back and laugh inside when our kids make stupid mistakes. I find that when I wait as opposed to jumping in, ask questions rather than tell them they are wrong and I do it with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye, they often will say wow that was stupid wasn’t it…???? I often do not answer as they have already learned!
Seeing Failure as the Best Teaching Tool
If it is true that we learn more from our failures than our successes, we need to stop being so concerned with preventing failure. When one learns from their failure it is often done entirely internally. No one had to jump on us or point it out, we simply realized the mistake and thought to ourselves I am not doing that again. When others catch our mistakes, whom did we learn from: the boss that was angry and made us feel like and idiot? In this instance we probably went home ridiculing the boss…hurt and or angry and less likely to learn. I have learned more from the bosses who asked, listened and did not make the mistake an issue in our relationship. I learned from the boss who still believed in me and wanted me to succeed and approached me in this manner.
Failure presents parents a unique time to come alongside to encourage our youth who hate failure and then to help them process where things went wrong gently, caringly and in a manner that allows them to say my parents are amazing, I will follow them.
Perspective plays a major role in why we have a hard time waiting for our youth to learn, grow and mature. When we grow tired of waiting we can become frustrated. The more frustrated we are the more frustrated they are with us. Taking a long term view of my role as a parent and realizing that I am there to get my kids back in the game of life when they fail and want to give up, keeps our relationships open, alive and allows me to maintain influence in the years when many parents are having to use their authority to influence their youth.
Stop and reflect upon your perspective of your youth, how you interact with them and whether these things are tainting their perspective of you to the point where they no longer want to listen to you.
A Blog of the Youth Transition Network ( YTN ) www.ytn.org written by Jeff Schadt author of Going, Going, Gone!
Talking with parents of adolescents across the country we often struggle with patience. Patience is vital during the adolescent years when the oppositional mind-set of our pre-teens and teens kicks in.
In this series we will examine some ways to increase our patience and why patience is vital with the adolescents of today.
If we are to shepherd our youth like the Good Shepherd, patience is essential. While the disciples encountered many failures, we frequently do not even perceive their failures because of how they were addressed.
In one example the disciples had been given the responsibility of managing the money and planning the journeys between towns. As they arrived in a new town the disciples were forced to come to their leader and say that they did not have the money to pay the taxes, which meant they did not have any money for food or lodging.
As parents we would have a hard time showing patience in this situation. We might also question the way in which this failure was handled! There was no admonition, no hard words and no consequences, but rather a coin was pulled from a fish’s mouth to pay the taxes.
The capacity for waiting is something that is hard for us as parents. In a fast paced society where we are used to instant gratification, we feel pressed for time and are not used to waiting. This has not always been the case in our country. In the past, we made our own cloths and cooked from scratch, things were slower and instant gratification was rarely the case. The pace and lifestyle of today can lead to unrealistic expectations of others and especially our kids. One such expectation is that they jump instantaneously whenever we call them. This expectation can lead to conflict that results in our youth tuning us out leading to a loss of influence in their lives.
When we ask our spouses to do something, we do not expect them to stop in the middle of an e-mail or project, to jump up and do what we ask. Yet, what we would not expect from our spouse, we often expect from our kids because we do not like to wait.
There are three primary things that impact our ability to wait, or our patience.
In this series we will look at each one, with examples and stories that will help us see the value of waiting as we work to be shepherds our youth will value and follow. For more information visit yTn.org and investigate our Secrets of Influential Parenting program for parent of pre-teens and teens.
A blog of the Youth Transition Network ( YTN ).
Most of us have allowed the culture of our homes to develop over time and have not stopped to truly consider what the culture is or how we got there. The underlying culture of our home has a powerful impact upon our perspective of one another and the motivation level of our young people.
The culture of our homes begins to develop when our kids are young and easier to play with, laugh with and deal with. In these years being a parent was easier, for the most part our kids, looked up to us and accepted our authority. This reinforced our view of being a parent and began to establish our response patterns as well as the culture of our home.
Then along came the pre-teen and teenage years. Today’s youth view the world very differently then we do or did when we were young. The age of post-modern and post-Christian thought has gripped our nation and specifically our youth. As a result, youth of today are very skeptical of truth and authority. When they were young we became used to them accepting our truth and our authority and then all of a sudden things change. This sets up a culture clash in our homes when they enter the pre-teen years and their brain development causes a shift in their thought processes.
At this point it is easy to see the changes as negative and to blame our youth. So, we often unwittingly become more negative with them and they become distance from us. Given how we were raised by our parents….it is in these times, it is time to exercise our authority to get our youth to tow the line. In this context, it is easy to see the trajectory of the culture of the family. It may not lead to open conflict, considering the personalities of family members, but clearly a positive, motivating, open culture is in jeopardy.
If you have kids age 10 to 18 evaluating the culture is essential bearing in mind our research with youth. According to the youth we have talked with, they often see the family culture as untrusting, demotivating, not authentic, not open, and not close; which may be the most important on the list. If our youth still feel close to us they are less likely to turn to other youth and activities to feel close to someone.
One of the key reasons the culture in our homes can diminish is found in the response patterns and habits built with little kids. When they are little, we do not need to consider their perspectives or involve them in decision-making. When we fail to see the dramatic change in the capabilities of our 10 to 18 year olds we miss an incredible opportunity.
When we leverage their abilities we draw youth into our family because they sense that they are recognized and believed in as opposed to dismissed by edicts delivered from above. We need to involve our 10 to 18 year olds in adult conversations about their future, the family vacations, and the family culture. Clearly this will work better if we start when they are younger, when they still are connected to us and a course for the teen years can be set together.
If your pre-teens or teens are disconnected already and you want to take advantage of involving them you may need to undertake the assignments given in our Secrets of Influential Parenting conference. This will alter your youth’s view of you as a parent so that they reconnect and establish a truly functional relationship with you.
If you sense the need to redefine the culture of your home involve your 10 to 18 year olds in the process. Ask them to individually assess the family culture, putting down the words that describe it. Then as a family, discuss everyone’s words taking them all seriously. After this begin the process of laying out the culture you all would like to have and what it would take to get there.
What we naturally do in the working world to build consensus and gain “buy in”… for some reason we do not do it in our homes! I believe this is because we see ourselves as the parents and we do not see the growing capabilities and need to involve our youth in defining how we will get through the teen years positively and successfully together! As a result, we miss the opportunity to have an amazing culture in our homes and an amazing relationship with our pre-teens and teens.
A post of Jeff Schadt and YTN the Youth Transition Network
Parents, every teen we talked to believed that leaving home and the transition to college would be easy… Every college freshman whether going to community college, Christian college or four-year university said the transition was far harder than they had expected. Many of these students told us that they had regrets and wished they would have approached the first days, weeks and semester differently!
Is your student ready to manage their own life…. apart from you?
Help get your student’s eyes open to the change, stress and realities before you drop them off on campus by attending Succeed with your high school sophomore, junior or senior! Increase the likelihood that your student will make good decisions apart from you and stay with the faith! Succeed will be hosted by Jeff Schadt the founder of the Youth Transition Network at Grace Reformed Church: Sunday, May 5th from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM.
This event is underwritten by Grace Reformed Church and is offered FREE to parents and their teens. Parents, this event will open your eyes and help you enter conversations with your young people so that they do not become one of the statistics. 26% of College Freshmen do not make it through their freshman year and end up back home. Only 30% that start a degree, finish one. Why? Because they were not ready to manage their own life socially, financially, academically, or spiritually… often we have done too much of this for them.
We all want our kids to Succeed when they leave home. Invest the time…you will not be disappointed!!!
Grace Reformed Church Contact: Grant 163 18th St Fond du Lac, WI 54935 (920) 922-7211
Who is to blame for the challenges in our homes and with our kids? Is it their fault; is it our fault or is it simply the way the world is today? What if there was another culprit…one we have not even considered!
As I am working parents I find many parents frustrated with their kids, especially pre-teens and teens. Even though parents may be frustrated they are ok with the lack of communication and tension because they have been told that this is simply the way it is with pre-teens and teens. Conversely, I find many pre-teens and teens that are struggling or are sick of their parents but their parents are unaware how frustrated they are.
As I have listened to these opposing sides, I often hear one side or the other blaming the other for the problems, the frustrations and the relational disconnect. Yet both sides would like to have the old relationship back. I hear things like they do not respect me, they do not listen to me, they are not responsible and they do not understand…from both sides!
When both sides are saying the same things about each other, another culprit may be at work… the family culture!
If you are like me….your family culture developed over time with little forethought or intentionality. It developed as kids grew, life got busier and the pressure to succeed upon our kids increased when they headed for high school and college. As a result parents often look back wistfully to a simpler time when their kids were easier and the schedule was not so full.
Yet, could the culture that developed over this period of time be the root of our frustration? The kids are not listening, not respectful nor responsible…one can blame them for that…but what is the culture of your family?
Today, one can earn a degree in organizational culture or in leading culture change because a great deal of thought has gone into creating cultures in corporations that are productive, healthy and successful. Yet by comparison I do not see much focus on the family culture. Where the corporate culture is hard to change because it is large and crosses so many functional groups the family culture can be far easier to alter.
What if the culture in our family developed in such a way that it has led to lack of communication, openness, motivation and teamwork? Could this be the culprit? In our Secrets of Influential Parenting seminars we look at elements of our parenting that research with youth indicate led to cultural issues. These issues demotivate and breakdown openness.
Youth can be frustrating to parents for a variety of reasons, which stem from changes they go through and the generational gap that exists uniquely today. Take a few minutes this week write down 10 one-word descriptions of the culture of your family. Things like positive or negative, encouraging, motivating, frustrating, helpful, and disrespectful. Then think about the culture you would like your family to have.
In the coming blog we will look at some of these factors and how it may have steered us down the wrong road over time and led to a culture that is compounding the issues.
A blog of YTN, the Youth Transition Network, YTN.org.
Many parents like Deedee and me have been taught that we need to be the one to teach the truth to our kids. The question that we have failed to answer adequately is, “what does teaching our kids the truth look like and how is it best approached with kids 8 and up?” Especially if we want it to be “their faith” rather than our faith.
In our research with young people, we found many young people that said that the “faith” is my parent’s faith not mine. Often I get the question from parents, “how do I get my kid to desire spiritual things?” Because far too often when they hit adolescence their sweet accepting innocence vanishes. I have talked to far too many young people that at this point in their development….felt like the faith was imposed on them and even to some who have been grounded or lost privileges if they questioned or began to move away from the faith of their parents! In many cases, they were moving away because of their parent’s approach to faith with them!
Thanks to the research, we have shifted our approach with our kids. This began about 9 years ago when my oldest was age nine. We shifted to using the world as a discipleship tool rather than seeing spiritual issues as something we would push on our adolescent kids. We decided that we would take them to church when they were young, but in high school it had to be our kid’s choice to go to youth group and church because if we pushed, the oppositional brain pattern of adolescents could push them the other way. Having taken this world discipleship tool approach, our two high school students sometimes make us go to church on days we are ready to take a break…smile!
I have been to many sermons and events where spiritual leadership in the home has to do with doing family devotions and teaching our kids scripture. As a result of what we learned from youth, we went a different route using life’s ups and downs in school and life to be the discipleship tool.
When Paul comes home from school being picked on by a boy named Caleb. He is hurt and does not want to go back to school. When this happens we asked him how he felt, and why he thinks it hurts. We asked him if what Caleb said is true about him he says, no. We asked him how God sees him, like Caleb? He says no and then we share some of the things God thinks about him and that God created him for a purpose. We helped him see for himself that when we let someone hurt us with words that are not true we believe a lie. He needs to not take it personally or let it hurt him because all that really matters is what God thinks of him. We also shared with him what we think of him and that we are proud of him. We are pleased with his sensitive heart and how he cares about other’s feelings besides his own, just like God.
In other words….we use school, success and failure to give us windows to work truth in practically, rather than just lecturing about the truth. In doing this we apply truth in a practical, healing way to our kid’s lives and they experience its comfort, truth and end up with strong beliefs. Not because they went to church or Sunday school or because we did family devotions, which we do on special occasions, but because the scripture is alive in our family culture and brought practically into their lives when it’s needed.
This post-modern, post-Christian generation of youth believes so much more by experience than by teaching today, but we are constantly told the opposite. In fact, I think we have come to believe that we need to shield or prevent contact between our kids and the world. Yet, in this vein of using the world to disciple here is another example with our son Paul. Given his learning challenges, we like to find things that he is interested in to read. He happens to like science and facts about animals. Of course, these books speak in millions of years and in exclusive terms of evolution, rather than shielding him, we encourage him to read these books.
One day he came to me at age 9 and said, “Dad I have to show you this.” I thought it would be another sea creature he thought was cool. When he brought the book to me it showed a diagram of sea creature that led to four different mammals through evolution including a kangaroo, a wooly mammoth and a horse. I thought to myself oh boy, I am going to have to tackle this one… When he was done showing it to me he said…”What are these people crazy!” I said, “Why do you say that?” He said, “Don’t they know that God made the animals?” I asked, “what else,” and he said this just does not make sense…it’s crazy! I agreed with him and shared how I had yet to see any significant transformation of one species to another in my life or heard of it in recorded history since Rome…over 2,000 years. We laughed at the diagram together and moved on.
The world does not need to be feared. In fact, it says in the Bible “do not fear” over 360 times. When we stop fearing the world, because we have faith, the Spirit and evidence on our side with our kids… we do not need to lecture them about truth, but rather help them see it at work in their lives and in the world around them. Decide to be like Jesus, use the world’s ups and downs, hurts and failures to teach them, as He did with the disciples.
Kids know right from wrong because God gives us a conscience and the Spirit to “convict the world of sin and of righteousness.” If we will leverage these things along with the reality of life, we can disciple our kids in a way that helps, heals and provides an experience of the truth working in their lives, which is what this generation needs. Thus, we tell parents of adolescents to live your faith, use life to disciple them with the Word, trust the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and pray for your kids. Live the faith and they will as well… speak the faith and do not live it and you will see 70% fall away from the faith, which happens today!
The frustrating part of parenting like this is, it is not an equation, it is a relationship and it relies on the Spirit to be the guide and sanctifier. We like equations we can control and manipulate, as modern adults. I am afraid we have been taught an equation based approach to faith and our kids are not buying it…
Feel free to ask follow up questions… jschadt @ ytn.org
A blog by Jeff Schadt Founder of the Youth Transition Network… YTN
The senior year is pivotal year and vital to a successful transition. There are a number of things parents and churches can do to help young people have a successful college transition.
1. Open their eyes
2. Identify sound roommates
3. Provide a level of comfort
4. Help them connect before leaving home
YTN’s research indicates that a form of culture shock is what drives many students to make a poor decision in the first days, weeks and semester on campus. To learn more about this issue read the blog “A Successful College Transition.”
Open their eyes!
The best way to avert the impact of the dramatic change of leaving home is to help them see what is ahead. In our interviews with high school seniors the vast majority believed leaving home would be easy. Help your student understand the change, stress and loneliness that is a head of them especially in the first few days when many students bond to the wrong things due to these factors. Students are snared in three primary areas, social change (loneliness), managing their own time/academics, and financial having never managed money for themselves before. We highly recommend using some videos of college students talking about these challenges to help your seniors see that it will not be easy and there are downsides to the freedom of leaving home. We recommend at least showing them the college student videos on our “Are You Ready” DVD or better yet take time to sit and run through our “Succeed” College Preparation Program with your senior. It is a small investment to protect your years of sacrifice you have already made as a parent and it pales in comparison to the expense of social, academic and financial failure that results in 28% of college freshman dropping out in the first year of college!
Identify a Sound Roommate
YTN has helped many young people find good roommates by connecting them to college ministries or clubs that in turn know of other freshmen coming to school. Then these students request each other and are often roomed together. Having a roommate and getting to know that roommate before arriving on campus decreases stress and the likelihood of bonding to the first thing they come in contact with.
Provide a Level of Comfort
Parents that have attended our “Succeed” college preparation program with their students often, once the roommate is known, will contact that student’s parents and connect as families a day or two before the dorms open. This allows the roommates to get to know each other in the context of their families. Then when they move into the dorm they know each other, each others families and their stress is lower. Subtle things like this can make a huge difference in decreasing the loneliness and likelihood of culture shock, which can take your student down a road they never planned upon going down. If you have not seen our college transition video that depicts the culture shock and unintended roads, visit our Facebook page by clicking here.
Help Them Connect Before Leaving Home
Help your high school senior connect to a club or college ministry before leaving home! This provides a bridge for relationships, a sense of belonging and helps decrease the sense of loneliness many students encounter.
Connecting them to common interest groups such as the adventure club, ski club and or a college ministry offers relationships with upper class-men, many of whom have learned their lessons the hard way and are past the freshman freedom craze! College ministries are very active in the first weeks of school providing incoming freshmen many social outlets beyond the prevalent party scene.
Connecting your student should begin with your college visits. Identify the ministries or clubs that your student would be interested in and planning your visit for the day of their regular meeting. Then attend the meeting with your senior. They will get familiar with the groups and begin to think more clearly about the transition.
More important is a connection trip to the campus they have been accepted to in order to visit the college ministries or clubs. We also recommend visiting a church with the purpose of showing your student how to conduct a church search if this fits your family values. On this trip contact the club or campus ministry ahead of time and ask that group to help you set up a night in the dorm for your graduate with students involved in the group. If you take these steps the likelihood that your student will hangout with the group you visit and connect with those students during the first days on campus is very high!
If you are looking for college ministries go to Youth Transition Networks, college transition site Liveabove.com. On this site your student can review and contact all the ministries on the campus they are headed to with the push of one online button. The ministry leaders will contact your student and invite them to get involved.
Parents should become aware of all the ministry options so that they can inform their students about them. Once on campus the ministries will promote themselves in many places, but this only works if your students know their names and are looking for them. Below is a list of reputable college ministries:
Asian Christian Fellowship, Athletes in Action, Basic, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Campus Ambassadors, CCO, Chi Alpha, Christian Union, CRU, Destino, Epic, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators, Newman Center, Reformed University Fellowship, Wesley Foundation
Taking these steps with your high school senior will dramatically increase the likelihood of them succeeding in transition!
This blog is part of the “Successful College Transition” series. If you have high school freshman, sophomores and juniors I recomend reading the entire series!
This blog is written by Jeff Schadt for the Youth Transition Network.
There are three areas of preparation to consider for a successful college transition.
1. Actions that help build vision
2. Developing internal desire for success
3. Moving to self-management
Actions That Build Vision are Vital
Many students demotivate in high school because they do not see a reason to excel apart from parents pushing them. This approach runs into the oppositional brain of adolescents.
Actions can include: visiting or investigating areas of interest that they have, that might help them identifies potential careers. It also includes vision-building activities. In the case of the college transition, this would include campus visits much earlier than you might think.
I recommend that sophomores and juniors and even freshman should visit one or two college campuses a year. As you consider such vision building visits, create internal desire by taking them to a community college and also a four-year university. After each of those tours where do you think they will want to go? Then you can examine what is required to get into a university vs. the community college. They will see for themselves that they will probably end up at a community college if they do not maintain a B average and score well on the SAT. When you visit higher caliber schools, they will see the difference and may decide they want to have higher goals.
One parent I talked to about building vision with a campus visit, said, “I should have stopped at UNW last month when we were on vacation, as a family. It could have helped my freshman and sophomore!” When you plan vacations or go to see family on breaks, lookup the colleges and universities in the area and set aside time to take their school tours. On these tours many will discuss the qualifications to get in and the need to keep the grades up even in the senior year. It is amazing how such visits will begin to change the perspective of your young person. It will help the whole family begin to “look to the future together!”
In the junior year of high school take a college tour of different sizes and types of schools. My daughter and I took such a trip last year. It was fascinating to see how her comfort level changed and how the parameters of what she was looking for were shaped during that time. At the beginning of the trip she was sure she could not go across the country to a school so far from home. By the end of the trip she was open to schools 1,500 miles away. This also allowed her to consider some top tier schools she had ruled out due to distance. This in turn reinforced her desire to work even harder in her AP classes as she decided she wanted to go to one of the top tier schools.
Developing Internal Desire for Success
This is critical with teens and pre-teens. The more we push them the more likely they are to push back and do the opposite. Internal desire comes when our young people identify and set goals for themselves. There are a couple of ways to begin drawing upon their internal desire.
Certainly the college visit trips are a great option, because they help build vision and internal desire.
Another is through conversations with our young people regarding what gives them a sense of accomplishment or makes them feel good about themselves. At this time we find ourselves having this kind of conversation with our ten-year old son every couple of weeks now that he is shifting into the adolescent brain phase. To learn more about this brain phase click here.
In these conversations we ask questions about how he feels when he has succeeded at something whether school, music, or even cub scouts. He always says great. We ask why it feels good to do well and we ask how he feels when he does not do well. In these times we help him see what the difference was that led to his success. Was it how hard he worked, or how much he practiced etc.? By doing this we help him realize he likes succeeding in life and in school and help him see what leads to his success rather than reacting when he fails. Thus, he is more likely to want to succeed and put in the work in the future. Later we are able to draw on these conversations. We remind him that he said he wanted to succeed and work hard on the days when his oppositional brain and desire says I want to play rather than work! When this happens he engages not because we made him, but because he agrees he wants to succeed. Targeting internal desire for success is not something we have been trained to do, but it is vital with 9 to 18 year olds.
Developing Self-Management Skills
While it is comfortable for us to manage our teen’s lives so they succeed, we have found that many who were managed by their parents really struggle in college. In fact one valedictorian we talked to was shocked that she was struggling to do well in college. As I interviewed her it became obvious to us both what was going on. In grade school she did great. Her mom was highly engaged and she was smart and wanted to succeed. This continued in high school. Even though things did not come as easily, her mom regularly reminded her, helped her and pushed her when it was needed. Now in college things were not as easy for her, and mom was not there to help or set priorities for her. She was free for the first time to set her own priorities. It turns out that she relied upon her mom to remind her, push her and to mange her life. When mom was no longer there, she found she did not have the skills to do it on her own.
Self-management is vital in every area of a high school student’s life, if they are to do well when they leave home. Yet this concept is one of the scariest for parents when I discuss it with them. They are convinced their students will blow up. This is why I recommend working on internal desire and self-management with your young people well before high school. Sit down and discuss with your student how they want to succeed and about moving to self-management on grades, laundry, money management, etc. This is vital if they are to avoid the pitfalls so many students encounter when they leave home. Learn more about self-management by reading the self-management blog series by clicking here.
Watch the college transition video on our Facebook page. Next week we will look at the preparation of seniors for the transition to college. This blog post is part of the Successful College Transition Series and is written by Jeff Schadt Founder of the Youth Transition Network.
Our interviews with college students across the nation opened our eyes to many things parents can do to help their students avoid the pitfalls that too many students encounter in their first days, weeks and year away from home! Parents of sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school… this series is for you!
If you have not seen the video “College Transition & The Inability To Self-Manage!” on our Facebook page…I highly recommend that you (click this link) watch it now. It is important because many parents are not aware of the challenges and damage that is happening. As a result, parents drop their kids off with little preparation for factors beyond housing, funding and necessities.
As we interviewed students it became clear that there were numerous things parents could do to help prepare students for the stress, change and responsibility that overwhelm many students and cause them to escape into things that in hind site many wish they had avoided.
This series will examine three phases of advance preparation for sophomores and juniors, the senior year, and the first days on campus. Even if you have a senior in high school you will gain valuable insights from the advance preparation elements of the series.
No matter what phase you are in it is vital to understand what our interviews with over 200 college students concluded; that culture shock in the first 72 hours is the number one cause of failure. This culture shock opens our students to bonding with a foreign culture in a deep way that even results in students casting off their previous culture…their family and faith.
Thus, the first 72 hours are vital and the friends they bond with in this time often set the direction of their first semester, year and often several years on campus. This is one of the reasons it is taking students five and six years to graduate today. It is also why 26% of college freshman drop out in their first year!
This series will address what parents can do to greatly increase the odds of success, which could save your child pain and failure and you several semesters worth of college tuition!
Visit YTN.org video room to see more videos from college students.
Written by Jeff Schadt the founder of the Youth Transition Network.