Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Getting by...with a little help from my friends

A few days ago, Amy called me to talk about the teen girls at our church. She shares my concern that they aren't really learning how to be grown-up ladies in the church. She's frustrated that so many of the adults don't invite the girls to do those things that grown-up ladies do. How will they ever learn, if they don't do it themselves?

I'm frustrated too, but just knowing that Amy also felt like she was beating her head against the wall made me feel better, some how. I'm not alone! Woo!

We agreed that we shouldn't dwell too much on the things (like Girls' Day--planned and executed exclusively by the over-eighteen crowd) that we can't control. Instead, we're going to focus on doing what we can to get the girls to the point where they can really take some initiative on their own. I'm going to start asking them to plan and teach our once-monthly class. I'm also going to expand the range of activities we do in the class so that more than one girl gets to work on each one.

Autonomy comes even in the littlest things, though. After church on Sunday, Hanna came to me and said that the girls had really enjoyed the skit, and they were being asked to perform it a few other times through the year. "Could you write us a few more? We don't want to do the same one over and over all year," she said. I told her I would think about it--really I was just trying not to lose Joshua in the crowd. Now that I have thought about it, I think I shall ask them to take some initiative and write and direct these things themselves. When JC and I were in high school, we wrote several puppet shows every summer for the Vacation Bible School. They weren't that good, but they were serviceable, certainly. The one that I wrote for them this time wasn't that good either.

I'm curious how they will respond to this. Amanda has complained a few times that when her older brother was in the youth group, the kids just got together all the time and were really close. By my calculation, that was before they had a youth minister to depend on for getting everything done. It's easy to get lazy when you have someone else whose job is attending to the details. I want to really challenge them to attend to their own details. How to do that, though?

Amy also mentioned the idea of having a parenting class at the church. She initially seemed worried that people would be offended at the suggestion, but I reminded her that the church also offers a marriage class once per year--it doesn't mean that all the marriages in our church are falling apart, it just means that every marriage needs some work. I think the same is true of parenting. I've yet to meet a perfect parent (other than my mother-in-law, but she's a special saint, so she doesn't count!). Most of the parents of children we worry about are also worried about their children. They know they are missing something, they just don't know what. I think a lot of them would really like to take a parenting class. I'd like to take it, but I don't think they'd let me, since the only children I have are borrowed ones on short leases.

I'm really glad Amy called me--we came up with a few strategies, a few untapped resources, and some major solidarity. Knowing that I'm not alone is a great feeling.

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