Kids: Please Understand Me

Kara Powell | Aug 8, 2011

Last week our FYI staff team was all at camp. Irene, Cody and I were all involved with youth or family camps, and Brad was camping with his family.

I spoke about Sticky Faith at Mount Hermons Family Camp. Dave and the kids came with me, which was fantastic. So many great memories doing the zip line together, boating together, and kayaking together and seeing dolphins, sea otters, and jellyfish.

One morning there was a panel of four teenagers, sharing at a seminar their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. In front of the parent audience, they talked about how they wanted their parents to understand them. I asked a follow-up question about what it was their parents could do, say, or act like to show that they understood them, or that they were trying to understand them. Interestingly, they said they wanted their parents to listen to them, to try to understand their thoughts and feelings, but that they didnt want their parents to try too hard or get all geeky.

Whether you are a youth leader or parent, what a great goal. I felt convicted during the panel that I needed to let my own kids know that that was something I wanted to do as a mom. As were seeing in our Sticky Faith research, its so important for parents to share more about their lives, goals, and spirituality with their kids.

So during camp, I went for a walk with my daughter, and sitting on a bench overlooking the redwood trees, I told her I wanted to understand her. I did the same with my son the next morning when he and I were the first ones awake in our family (as is often the case). I am going to continue to make that a theme in my relationships with kidswhether it be my own kids or the kids in our ministry.

In your youth ministry, who do you need to pull aside and explain that you want to understand them? In your family, which of your kids most needs to hear your hearts desire to understand them this week? What can you do today to show a kid that you want to understand them?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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