Posted by Holly Crawshaw
On Sundays when I was growing up, it didn’t matter if we were facing imminent danger or in the throes of a natural disaster, we were going to church.
Literally, I can’t remember not hearing my mom’s alarm clock go off every Sunday morning at 8:00am—because, of course, church was always preceded by a solid hour of Sunday School (bless those volunteers).
My parents could have had World War III with each other on Saturday night. I could have had the measles. My brother could have gotten kidnapped. There was never any question . . .
IT WAS SUNDAY AND WE WERE GOING TO CHURCH.
I remember some Sundays thinking, If we could just stay home this ONE Sunday and watch cartoons and relax . . . But, nope. Sunday rules—it’s church-day.
My parents went through a pretty trying super awful divorce when I was in middle school. Dealing with their own grief and disappointment, they stopped going to church.
But we didn’t.
My three siblings and I continued in the robotic fashion of our youth, waking up and going to church every single Sunday. But… it was different then. We had huge, shame-shaped holes in our hearts. We needed church now—now, more than ever.
Guess what. We’re all still attending church. (So are my parents, but that’s a dramatic blog for another day.)
I don’t tell you this because I think church is the cure-all. Or because I think all people in church make perfect decisions. Or because I think going to church makes you a better Christian. But when I look back on my church-going years, there were always one or two people I was connected with that kept me (and my siblings) on-track.
Ms. Leigh Ann. Amy. Jeff. Robin. Elizabeth. My student ministry. My college group.
Where would I be without these relationships? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that having these voices speak truth to me during some of the darkest years of my life brought light and hope and the chance to be vulnerable. I needed them. I needed someone other than my parents. I needed to widen my circle of influence. And by attending services, youth group, and church outings, my starving soul got the nourishment it needed to avoid massive regret and heartache.
Fast forward some more.
I have two daughters. For most of their lives, I got up before the sun rose on Sunday mornings to help run a children’s ministry. A few years ago, I stepped down from my position to pursue full-time writing.
On Sundays, when that alarm starts blaring, I am 100 percent tempted to sleep in. To let my kids watch cartoons. To sit around the breakfast table and not rush out the door with half the family missing shoes and bows and Bibles.
But then I remember the 12-year-old Holly who needed to be buoyed by multiple relationships—relationships that ultimately kept her from drowning. I hope my kids never need mentorship nearly as much as that middle school version of me did. But I would be selfish to rob them of the richness found in being surrounded by wise and caring adults.
Whether it be a church group, a club leader, a teacher, or a hand-chosen mentor, our kids need other voices in their lives.
How are you widening the circle of influence in your child’s life? No, really. I’m curious. And beyond that, are you that voice for someone else?
About the Author:
Holly Crawshaw is a wife, mother, and writer who eats sour candy and laughs at her own jokes. She served on staff with North Point Ministries for six years, the latter of which was spent as Preschool Director. She and her husband, Ben, are raising their two daughters, Lilah and Esmae, in their hometown of Cumming, GA.
THE OTHER PERSON YOUR CHILD NEEDS
Posted by Sherry Surratt
We’re miles apart connected through cell phones, but the smile I feel in her voice sinks into my bones. With me, through moves across the country, career changes, moments when I was feeling sorry for myself, and times I needed to celebrate, Sibyl always had the words that hit the spot. She’s never shied away from saying what was hard (she once told me to get off my butt and get started). But her words mattered because they were spoken from someone who knew me and loved me.
We know as adults we need these voices in our lives, but there’s someone who needs them even more: your child.
Wait a minute, your child has you, right? You’re the awesome parent who loves them more than anyone else in the world.
Exactly. You see your child through parent eyes, filled with hope and an achingly deep love that wants them to always try their best, always step into that next opportunity, always get that A, because you know they can do it. You were there the moment they made their grand entrance. You’re the one with the naked baby butt stories they beg you not to tell.
No way can an outside voice ever take your place, but they can fill a different seat at the table that you can’t.
Let’s face it. Somewhere between Lululemon and man buns, you’ve lost your coolness (okay, you haven’t lost it, you just can’t find it at the moment). You’re still essential, but now, there’s more your child needs. They need an additional, I-know-what-you’re-feeling voice. Here’s why:
They need a listening ear that’s not you, because sometimes it’s about you. Geesh, I don’t want my child talking to someone else about me! Actually, you do. Remember that time you made your daughter march back to her room (okay, she stomped) because the shorts she had on didn’t cover the essentials? She felt like you had ruined her life. When she talks to her friends about it, they’re on her side, which isn’t always helpful. When she talks to another wise adult she trusts, they can help with the why behind the what and help her see you’re on her side too. Which is incredibly helpful.
They need someone to sit with them at ground zero. As parents, we want to get them past what hurts and help lift their eyes to tomorrow. But when something hurts, it hurts today. Your child needs someone to talk to that remembers what it feels like to sit at the lunch table alone, left out of the Friday night party, or dumped by their best friend. As parents, it’s tempting to talk them out of feeling sad. It’s okay, there are lots of other parties. But often, they are not ready for this conversation yet. This is where an outside person can “sit in it” with them and help them process their feelings, giving them time for perspective to seep in.
Some things are too itchy for a parent’s ears. We want our kids to talk to us about the hard stuff. Pornography, sexting, what their best friend got arrested for last night, that decision they made that turned out to be a terrible one. But this is where an outside person can be extremely valuable. They can listen without freaking out, bring some wise words and help your child see why they do need to share it with you. A wise outside voice they trust who also reinforces your family relationship and your family values is like gold, and it keeps your child from feeling isolated with things that feel too big to talk about.
If your child already has someone they can talk to that you trust, like a teacher, coach, small group leader, mentor, let your child know you’re okay with it. Be supportive of their conversations, letting them know they can share what they talk about, but don’t force it. And honor the relationship by allowing time for it.
But what if your child doesn’t have an outside voice?
Ask a leader in your church or at their school if there are any young adults they know well who may already be volunteering and would be willing to mentor or be a big brother or sister. Relationship is key here, so make sure it’s someone your kid can connect with.
If your church has small groups for children and students, encourage your child to join. Remember, that other voice doesn’t always have to be one on one. Sitting in a group of kids the same age with a great leader can be an incredible start.
Wherever you find the other person your child needs, get to know them, invite them to have coffee, and thank them for investing in your child.
About the Author:
Sherry Surratt is the Executive Director of Parent Strategy for Orange. She is the author of several books including Brave Mom: Facing and Overcoming Your Real Mom Fears, and Just Lead! A No Whining, No Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church. A shoe freak and coffee lover, Sherry resides in Denver, Co with her husband Geoff who is Pastor of Church Planting at Southeast Christian. She has two grown children and two incredibly gorgeous granddaughters.