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All students in 6th-12th grades are welcome. Invite your friends to join us!
Kelsey Burgans |Youth Minister
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Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! He is in you, he is with you, and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. Taken from Christus Vivit, pope francis's apostolic exhortation to young people
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Can We Talk?
How many of you have had something similar happen between you and your teen?
Parent: “How was school today?”
Parent: “What did you do?”
Teen: “Not much.” *Picks up phone to begin scrolling or sending messages to the people they literally just spent seven hours with*
It can be hard getting a teenager (much less another unwilling person) to open up about what is going on. However, teens are very eager to speak with their friends. You may feel unappreciated, unwanted, or even unneeded. And, while your feelings are certainly valid, we must recognize that yes, your teen still needs you and more often than you think, wants you. Communication should be done in truth and love, and thankfully, God identifies Himself as both Truth and Love. Just as when we pray, our attention should be on the Lord, this must be the case with our teens, too. We don’t scroll Instagram when we talk to God, and we should give the teen the same loving, respectful attitude as we would Him. I’m certainly not an expert on this at all; however, I did ask our youth what could be done for there to be better communication between themselves and their parents. Sure, you may get a sigh and a nasty look, but there are still a few ways you can get your teen to share what is on his or her heart or mind. Here are a few ideas for you to establish better communication with your teen:
Create an environment in which everyone feels comfortable. Sometimes, we feel so pressured for things to go perfectly or smoothly. It is in this pressure where things typically don’t. It also means being aware of the tone of our voice. We may not intend to hurt anyone and may just be frustrated, but we need to focus on still expressing love to the person to whom we are speaking. Many of our teens say said that when they try to talk with their parents, they are accused of being combative or argumentative. It is also important for us to be mindful of our non-verbal communication.
In prayer with our family, we use the ACTS model (adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, supplication), as it is easy for everyone to understand. I propose that this approach could be taken with our conversation with children. Shower them with your love and admiration! Let them know that you love them just as you are. Tell each other sorry and forgive one another when there has been hurt. Thank your child when they do something (even if you’ve had to ask them to do it 23787394 times); this shows that you’re noticing what your teen is doing and that you appreciate him/her. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from each other. By having your teen help you with something (even if you can do it better or faster without him/her), you provide a way for your child to know that he or she can come to you in times of assistance.
Avoid questions that can simply be answered with one or two words. “How are you?” could be replaced with “Tell me about the best/worst thing that happened to you today.” Sometimes teens are creative enough to finagle what glorious questions you have for them into these short answers. You can allow this or take advantage of the next step.
Do not be afraid of the awkward silence. Living with teenagers is already awkward as we know that many of them know everything, and we begin to realize that we don’t know as much as we thought we did. 😉 Sometimes the awkward silence will make a teen so self-conscious that he or she will keep talking, so as to not have awkward silence.
Silly questions can get the best answers. We try to have at least one “off-the-wall” question every week at youth group. It’s so fun watching our teens smile when the question is revealed; you can even see it through their masks sometimes. What do you think aliens look like?, how long would you last on a survival reality show, and what is the best way to make a sandwich? are personal favorites.
Be honest at all times. Perhaps your teen has come to you with a problem that you’re struggling with. Maybe “a friend” tried alcohol or drugs, and your teen doesn’t know what to do. Perhaps you have an addiction that you’ve had under control since your child was born, or you know that someone in your family struggles with substance abuse. First, thank your teen for coming to you about this. Let him/her know that you are always here to help. Share what the teen can do to help his/her friend. Remind them that certain behavior won’t be tolerated in your home. Don’t feel like you have to invite your teen into every detail from your past
Recognize that sometimes your teen needs a moment before he or she is ready to share. You’ve just picked up your teen and you’re ready to hear about school, practice, time with friends, etc. You do this because you love your teen, but your son and daughter may feel tired or attacked. Maybe you can have the quick pleasantries, then turn on your teen’s favorite song, and then have a conversation.
Model good communication. I’m very guilty of hitting “decline” when someone calls, especially if I’ve just sat down to watch a show on my phone. Instead, another way we can rethink this situation is to consider how much this person loved me, so they called me. It would not be kind of me to not take their love by refusing to answer the phone.
If you’d like to talk about something difficult with your teen (sex, relationships, addiction, pornography), come prepared before you start the conversation. Something else you may want to do is to schedule an important conversation with your teen. Have your teen pick a certain time and place that he or she would like to talk. This will allow your teen to be able to prepare any questions he or she may have. I have also heard if the topic is potentially embarrassing that you can have the conversation in the car, that way no one HAS to look each other in the eye. And remember, it is a conversation, so don’t turn it into a lecture.
Listen! Conversations are not meant to be one-sided. Let it be an opportunity for loving, learning, and possibly even laughing. Let your teen have an opinion, but don’t leave them uneducated- present them with facts. There is a reason he or she feels a certain way; find out why that is. It may even allow you to view your son or daughter in a different light.
Often in youth ministry, we talk about how prayer is a conversation. If we invest in our conversations with our loved ones, think about what it can do for our prayer life. How we won’t be afraid to tell God everything. That we won’t hit “ignore call” when it is time for prayer. That we will learn how to listen to God tell us that He loves and delights in us. And teens, if you’re still reading this, please know that your parent(s) loves you and while sometimes they may not know what some words are, they are always here for you and wanting the best for you, just like the Lord. So, cut your parents a little slack if they seem “all in your business” or ask you what the word “yeet” means. That just means they want to know you and talk with you. This is the same as God- He wants to know all about you, so tell Him! Allow your parents the grace of talking with you, even if it’s weird at first. Give them an opportunity to understand you. It won’t be instant, but by understanding you, they get to know you and love you more.
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church abides by the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama Youth Protection Program. Through annual training, our students are reminded that they are made in God's image and carry dignity. To review the materials associated with our Safe Envioronment/Sexual Abuse Prevention, please click here. For more information about becoming a chaperone and earning Youth Protection certification, click here.