Posted by Brooklyn Lindsey
Imagine a parent of a child you know approaching you.
“Can (insert their child’s name) and I speak with you and (insert your child’s name) privately for a minute?”
Maybe this kind of “confrontational” conversation raises your blood pressure? I know it raises mine.
Thoughts spiral and I become anxious:
“What did my child do?”
“How will it affect them?”
“How will it affect me?”
But what if situations like this are the perfect opportunity for us to give something very valuable to our children?
What if the temporary discomfort of having a friendship conversation could lead to a lifelong ability to navigate relationships in a healthy way?
Instead of simply mediating conflict, or avoiding it, we have a chance to coach our kids in lessons of love.
My daughter Mya is all about “friendship benches”—she wrote about it in Kindergarten. She thinks every place should have one. It’s somewhere you can feel “chunterbole” (comfortable) and you don’t have to worry. There’s even a “sign on it so you know it’s there.”
As a parent, you have the opportunity to help your kids sort out their friendships by offering this kind of place where their feelings can be felt and shared. You can be a friendship coach.
So, how do you coach someone you love when they have been hurt or have hurt someone else? What do you say when there is a recurring issue that doesn’t seem to have a solution or resolve? What do you do when the “thing” that happens keeps happening?
The temptation is to remove your child from the situation.
If instead, you coach your child through the situation, they will learn how to navigate through difficult relational experiences and develop lasting friendships.
If we were looking at a map made by pirates (don’t we always?) you would see on the margins phrases like, “Here Be Dragons!” describing the places outside an intended route. It’s a place outside of the comfort zone, the place where danger waits.
Our kids are going to face some friendship dragons, but there’s nothing outside of the comfort zone that you can’t walk through together. You know they’re there, you can avoid them sometimes, but there’s also a way through it if you end up there. You have a developmental map that they don’t have yet and as a parent, you can help them navigate.
Here are a few ways to be a great friendship coach to your kids.
Depending on the phase your child is in, these ideas can become simpler or more complex.
Coach your kid to . . .
Let the relational bumps in the road be times and places for your child to grow the ability to love others as they love themselves. It will take time, intentionality, patience, and probably more coffee than you can make in one pot.
But one day, you might wake up to a child telling you that they are working through something with a friend and they have navigated to a place of healing and truth.
And that, my friends, is the win.
About the Author:
Brooklyn has been a youth pastor since 2001. She has authored numerous books and projects and is a youth pastor at Highland Park Church of the Nazarene, her first priority. Second, she is a speaker who loves teaching from the Bible and leading people to live in response to God’s love. Brooklyn, while named after a city in New York, lives in the sunshine state with her husband, Coy, and their sweet girls, Kirra and Mya.
4 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR KID’S TEACHER
Posted by Natalie Kitchen
Do you remember your first grade teacher? I loved mine. I remember how Ms. Parker erased the board from left to right every day and then wrote the new date in the top right hand corner. I also remember how she showed me how to use a ruler because I was sick on the day she taught everyone else. She knelt near my desk and she helped me measure my arm and my folder and my snack.
Now that our oldest is in school, I’m beginning to understand the crazy reality of widening his circle. I know his teachers will spend many of the quality hours of his week guiding and molding him, so I want our partnership with those teachers to be strong.
And because I’ve been a teacher longer than I’ve been a parent, I’m clinging to a few things I hope to remember now that I’m on the other side of the playground fence.
1 – MAKE IT PERSONAL
I know the hardest time to get to know a teacher is when my kid needs help or is in trouble. I want to make it a point to befriend his teachers as soon as possible. Ask them questions about their classroom and their life. Connect with them however I can and as early as I can. Show them that I am interested in them and what they do to love and serve my child every day. That way, when there’s a bump in the road, my relationship is strong enough for honesty and compassion on both sides.
2 – MODEL RESPECT
As our kids grow in their understanding of authority, I know they’ll look to us to learn how to respond when they’re faced with conflict. I feel our disrespect of our child’s teachers will breed their future disrespect of us and other authorities in their life. I want to encourage and model respect, and help them learn from the decisions their teachers make, good and bad.
3 – GIVE
I remember being so touched that a mom randomly brought me new Expo markers that I called her at home to thank her. I want to give my time. My enthusiasm. My old magazines. It doesn’t matter. I know I want to show up and show my kid’s teachers I’m willing to support their every-day, super-tough work.
4 – PRAY
I think I realized how much I like praying on the first day I watched that school bus drive away from our street. Talking to God about my kids’ day is a great way to relieve a lot of anxiety about the things I can’t control . . . and a great way to thank Him for the inevitable and wonderful ways their circles are widening.
What other ways would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author:
Natalie Kitchen is on the multi-campus preschool team at North Point Ministries, where she serves to equip six area campuses and a network of strategic partners with training and resources. Her love for learning and curriculum is rooted in her experience as a middle and high school classroom teacher. She is married to Britt Kitchen and they have three children: Nolan, Ellie and Ben.