Hands on Help - Parents
group magazine: May-June, 1998
GROUP MAGAZINE - May-June 1998
hands on help—parents
Want to help both kids and parents answer the question "Where are they coming from?" Here’s a retreat idea that opens the door to better understanding between parents and teenagers—even if neither side favors spending a weekend together.
• As you prepare the retreat—Build discussions and active-learning experiences around these five topics: trust, values, communication, love, and forgiveness.
• Before the retreat—Visit parents and videotape interviews. Ask parents essentially the same questions (on the five topics) that you’ll be asking kids at the retreat. Give parents a chance to reflect on their own experiences as teenagers and to express their love and concern for their kids.
•At the retreat—After each segment, show kids the videotapes of parents’ responses to the topic. (If possible, videotape some of the kids’ responses to show parents later.) At the end of the retreat, have kids write letters to their parents expressing their love and their desire to improve understanding and communication.
Parents Prize Patrol
Whenever a parent does something special, activate your Parents Prize Patrol to show appreciation.
Decorate a car with poster board Prize Patrol signs, and designate two or three kids to do the honors. You’ll also need a driver and a video camera operator. Have the patrol make a house call to deliver a box of candy and a "congratulations" balloon. Keep the camera rolling from the time kids leave the church until after they leave the parent’s home. (Hint: For added humor, as kids travel to their destination, have them stop and ask pedestrians for directions.)
When you’ve accumulated a collection of video clips, show them on Wednesday night, in a Sunday night program, or, best of all, for a Parent Appreciation Dinner.
Help parents and kids start talking about critical issues with this plan, adapted from A New Day for Family Ministry by Richard Olson and Joe Leonard.
• Invite parents and kids to talk about "the issues between us." Have kids meet in private to bring up the problems they have with their parents. During the same time, ask parents to meet in private and list the issues as they see them.
• Afterward, bring the two groups together. Ask the kids to sit in a circle surrounded by the adults and discuss "the issues we want to raise with our parents." (This should be done without identifying who brought up any particular issue.) Have only the kids talk during this time; parents are to listen. Then reverse roles, reminding the parents to discuss only "the issues we want to raise with our kids" without rebutting anything the kids have said.
• When both groups have finished, ask kids to comment on the issues they heard raised by their parents that connect with issues the kids identified; then ask parents to do the same.
• List the issues that both groups have an interest in; then brainstorm strategies for working through them. Do any of the topics raised lend themselves to a retreat, a workshop, adult education classes, or a series of parent/youth dialogues? Could several family clusters deal with some of the issues?
• Close by seeking an agreement about next steps. Perhaps the group will want to meet again and use this same format to discuss one of the issues raised.
In the all-important world of family relations, three words are almost as powerful as the famous ‘I love you.’ They are ‘Maybe you’re right.’—Oren Arnold
Contributors: Carl Schleede and Renee Powell