My Youth Group begins every Sunday morning with “celebrations and concerns”. It’s exactly as it sounds; it’s an opportunity to support their fears and their hard work. My co-leader and I grant time to everyone to speak aloud something that has happened or is coming up that is causing them fear or excitement.
Two days ago one of my youth shared the news, nonchalant as he is, that he made varsity basketball. I went a little “extra” as the kids say, because I was – and am – extremely proud of him. Basketball is very important to him, and making varsity as a sophomore isn’t an easy feat in our competitive region.
Another of my youth made the high school cheerleading team as a freshman. She wasn’t in attendance – her sister shared the news – but I immediately text the young woman and congratulated her on her incredible news.
Also on Sunday morning, my sister – a professional clarinetist and private instructor – performed a duet with one of her students in front of their church congregation.
These are celebratory moments! Teens working hard is something to celebrate! Be extra! Shout!
Teens working hard isn’t something adults talk about unless they’re trying to one-up another parent. (Stop doing that. It’s gross.)
Teens want to work hard.
They want to be proud of the work they do.
They may act nonchalant about tryouts or a job interview, but they care. They also know what it means to work hard. They know they won’t excel just playing videogames, sleeping in, and not studying. Even if those things feel good to do, they aren’t so dim to expect to succeed in what they’re passionate about if they constantly imbibe in those past-times.
How do you support them in achieving their goals? Well, first you need to ask them what those goals are. Some things they may hide from you. Recall if you will the movie The Pacifier with Vin Diesel. Diesel is a Navy SEAL on mission to protect the children of a kidnapped scientist. One of his charges is a wayward adolescent male who gets bullied and is all-around just mad. Diesel follows him one day and finds him auditioning for the school musical.
Of course the kid didn’t tell his babysitter about the audition. The man had done nothing to establish trust between them. Diesel ends up being a huge supporter of the boy, but only after having his own come-to-Jesus moment, realizing he hadn’t been a good or caring guardian.
Is it going to happen that quickly in your life? You won’t know until you try.
Begin now. Support teens working hard. Ask if they need a ride to practice. Get their game or performance schedule and so you can attend one.