After an incredible time with the students at Valor, I had the opportunity to share some insights with a few of the parents on Friday morning. It was the second time this year they have invited me to the Moms of Valor, and once again; I found some intriguing conversations with the parents.
Every time I have the chance to build the bridge between student and parent, I feel like the work I do comes full circle. So for those of you who didn’t have the chance to hear, I’ll share a few insights I shared with them.
Students are Struggling
Students everywhere are struggling with the pressure of being a teenager. I’ve tried so hard to keep from becoming “that guy” who says things like It’s so much more difficult being a teenager today than it was when I was growing up. But I find myself falling into that hyperbolic pit from time to time.
It is harder to be a students today. The pressure we’ve put on our kids to excel in every human dimension we introduce them to creates a model of perfection no normal person can achieve. We want them to be UBER athletes, GENIUS intellects, CREATIVE artists, and PHILANTHROPIC citizens. While all these things are good in and of themselves, we sometimes place unrealistic expectations on our kids to perform creating a pressure cooker.
One mom came to me and told me of a plague happening in their community. There are more and more suicides and suicide attempts in their particular county, and her heart was deeply moved when she asked, So what do we do?
We must begin seeing students as whole people. I said.
They have relationship needs that need to be met.
They have gifts that need to be encouraged.
They need a place where they can link their gifts to success, instead of our superficial arenas of what we think is successful.
Students need places where they can be themselves. And every summer, when we invite students to join us at KIVU, that’s exactly what they tell me. I can be myself here, and everyone accepts me for who I am. they say when asked why they like coming to Summer Camp.
Students need a place where they can have a voice
I talked with one mother about what it means for her student to have a voice. She told me how they’ve raised their son, and held the reigns of authority pretty tight. I asked her Can your son come to you, disagree with you, and you still have an adult conversation? She looked at me and said, I need to work on that.
It’s hard being a parent. There’s no manual for raising healthy teenagers. Each student is different, and it takes a confident, self-aware parent to be able to allow a space for students to explore their own thoughts on life. They need a place to disagree and find their own answers for why life takes the turns they take.
Students need a break before University
I spent some time explaining the KIVU Gap Year and how we help students take a breather from the rigorous academic life they’ve been so accustomed to for the last 12 years.
I wish you could have been there with me as I detailed all the experiences students have after they graduate from our global emersion program. The flyers literally flew off the back table, as these moms understood how important it is for their kids to expand their worldview to incorporate different cultures while they work on their own self-awareness.
I spent an hour and a half after the event to help moms see a few different ways they can approach helping their kids, and I find it a sacred privilege they would trust me to help their families.
Thank you Valor, for an unforgettable weekend.
Next week, I’ll be at the Simply Jesus conference in Denver. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you. So feel free to check out the website, and come join us for what is going to be the most interesting group of people who want to understand Jesus in their sphere of influence.