Category Archives: Junior High
We’ve all heard these famous words before “I can do it myself, but don’t leave me”. You may be experiencing this same thing with your Jr. High student as you read this. It is just like the dependability and hindrance of training wheels on a bike. A young kid is a little apprehensive about learning how to ride on two wheels as opposed to four, but he or she doesn’t want to be the only five-year-old in the neighborhood who doesn’t know how to ride their bike without training wheels. Just as that little five-year-old is experiencing a bag of mixed emotions and trying to decide whether or not they need the help from their training wheels, so too your Jr. Higher is contemplating what they can do on their own and what they still need the dependability of mom and dad for.
As I stated in my previous blog post, Jr. High students are experiencing many new things at this cognitive developmental stage in their lives. They are ready to start doing some new things on their own and that’s a good thing. But, they also want to know that when or if they fail and fall off that bike, that mom and dad will be there with open arms ready to help them back up. I would encourage you as a parent to let your son or daughter try to do some things on their own that they previously needed your help with. This doesn’t mean that they no longer have a use for you, with the exception of your checkbook. It means that they need you in a different role. They need you on the sidelines coaching, encouraging, disciplining, and most of all praying for them as they embark on this amazing journey called “adolescence”. This is a HUGE role to fill, yet it is exciting to see all of the hard work that you’ve done pay off. You’re doing a great job, hang in there.
It seems that there are more and more times that we scratch our heads and say “huh?” when it comes to understanding adolescents. This is an issue that will never be fully understood, at least to the point that one will be able to master it by the time their son or daughter is out of adolescence.
Jr. High students are at an incredible age and are often times experiencing things for the first time on their own. This is the age that they begin to turn from concrete thinking to more abstract thinking. I would encourage you as a parent to help your son or daughter process decisions and consequences as these years are under way and as that change is happening. Students that have not yet developed their abstract thinking skills are unable to speculate or even begin to conceive something that their actions may cause. In the book “Middle School Ministry”, Scott Rubin and Mark Oestreicher write:
“Concrete thinking results in a rigid, black-and-white understanding of the world. A world without nuance or paradox. We can readily see this in preteens, right? They have a wonderfully “concluded” worldview, with their systematic theologies all worked out and their worldview encased in plastic wrap. Ten-year-olds have a confidence in their opinions born out of a generational, limited belief that everyone sees the world and everything in it just as they do. Preteen thinking is concrete, linear, pragmatic, tangible, and simplistic.” (Mark Oestreicer, Scott Rubin. pg. 69)
You may be screaming “help!” by now, and that’s OK. Here are a few tips to encourage you along the way:
- Ask them questions. It’s ok to be there along the way and help them process situations, in fact it’s great. (I’ll be talking about dependence vs. independence in my next blog post)
- Challenge them in conversation. They may get frustrated at times, but it’s ok to show them that there are different perspectives on certain topics.
- Don’t give them the easy way out. Don’t always give them the right answer. A failure isn’t a failure unless you don’t learn something from it. Talk through what went wrong in certain situations and ask them what they’ll do differently next time.
- Encourage them along the way. Nothing feels better than knowing that your parents are proud of you. Make sure that you let them know you are proud of them when they make a right decision and not only yell at them when they make a bad one.
- And finally, remember, it’s going to be OK. This is a phase in the cognitive development of your student. Everything is going to be OK.
I really struggled to understand the importance of doing devotionals when I was a Junior High student. I had accepted Christ at the age of 13 on a Junior High fall retreat, and was never given any type of devotional to help me grow in my walk with Christ. Spending time daily in God’s Word is crucial for all believers, and we need to be sure that those that we are ministering to have some resources that are written directly to where they are in life. Spending time with God was the first thing that Christ did to start his day:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house
and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35
As parents and youth workers, we need to be sure that we are modeling this in our own lives, as well as making sure that our students have resources to help get them started. I recently had a few parents ask me about some good Junior High student devotionals. Below is a list of some Junior High/High School Devotionals that I have looked through and I think are a great place for your student to start, or even spend some in depth time looking into the Scripture passages that are given in these devotionals.
- Stripped Clean: Down to Nothing but the Cross (Jeff Storm)
- 10 Minute Moments: Parables (Scott Firestone)
- 10 Minute Moments: Smart Stuff (Kurt Johnston)
- 10 Minute Moments: Red Stuff (Scott Rubin)
- 10 Minute Moments: God’s Story (Kurt Johnston)
- 10 Minute Moments: Plugged In (Doug Fields)
- Creative Times with God (Doug Fields)
You can purchase these books at the Scroll Bookstore, or online at:
According to a recent survey conducted by A.C. Nielson Co., “The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children.” This is an amount that needs to be raised. I understand that church, sports, music, extra-curricular activities, and 4 other people in the house pulling different directions make it more difficult for family mealtime to happen. I didn’t value family dinnertime while I was in Jr. High, but now I most definitely value the time that I had with my family as I think back to the memories that were made around the dinner table. These memories that ranged from Chicken Kiev exploding all over my dad’s glasses as he made the first cut into the chicken and my older sister declaring that she was having pizza at her wedding because she was such a picky eater.
The truth is, family dinner gives you time at the end of the day to stay in communication with your son or daughter for more than the average amount per week. It gives you the chance to pray together, share stories from the day, share what was learned that day, and last, but certainly not least… laugh together!
Here are a few fun dinner ideas to try with the fam:
- Let a different person choose the menu for each night of the week.
- Have a picnic!
- Talk while cleaning the dishes.
- Allow your son or daughter to occasionally invite their friends.
- Discuss what’s been going on in the lives of everyone around the table… I know that this is vague, but it’s a good reminder that this isn’t just time for one person to consume the conversation.
Some of my favorite memories of growing up in Jr. High consisted of the times that I was able to spend the afternoon with one or both of my parents by myself. Whether I was taking my mom out on a mother-son date so she could teach me how to treat and respect women or spending the afternoon golfing with my dad while he was teaching me to be a man of self-control, these times were crucial to my development. I remember my mom taking me to the golf course one afternoon while my dad was working. She drove the cart (I didn’t have my driver’s license) while I golfed. Instances like that day also helped build a foundation for me to look at my parents as real people, not aliens from another planet. Be real with your son or daughter, do things that they enjoy doing.
Here are a few things that I would encourage you to do with your son or daughter during these daycation days:
- Spend time together doing outdoor activities.
- Go to dinner and a movie together. It is a myth that students are embarrassed to be with their parents in public. They’re only embarrassed when there’s a need to be. Respect their reputation and you’d be surprised how much they enjoy your company.
- Go to a concert together. One of my favorite memories that I have with my dad to this day is going to see a rock concert with him on Father’s Day while I was in 9th grade.
- Let your son or daughter set the agenda for the day.
- Finally, spend some time in prayer together on these days. It’s a great encouragement to you and to your son/daughter to know that you are praying for each other.
To the average Jr. High student it seems that it wouldn’t be an admittable problem, and there-in lies the problem. According to a recent survey performed by The Kaiser Family Foundation: “… 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).” Where does your child compare on this scale? There are many different consequences that this media binge has caused, ranging from low self-esteem, depression, lower grades in school, and a toll on their healthy social development.
Here are some tips and advice to make sure that your son or daughter is staying spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy in a technology driven world.
- Monitor their time on these devices. (e.g. iPods, personal gaming devices, cell phones, internet, movies, tv, etc.)
- Monitor what they are engaging in on these devices. Set parental controls on: cable, internet, phones, facebook, etc.
- Set one day aside each week to serve as a technology Sabbath. Nobody in the family is allowed to use personal electronics on these days. (This is a great day to promote family time as well)
- Talk to them about the difference between using technology as a tool and relying on it too heavily for social interaction.
- You as a parent should be engaging and dissecting what they are listening to / watching as well. This will help you in interacting with your son/daughter as well as help them decipher truth through a world that is rejecting the Gospel and its truths.
I am a tech nerd and proud of it. I do not serve technology I make technology serve me, and I want you to do the same. Here are a few resources I think you will find helpful…
Not sure about a movie or wonder if a movie is appropriate for your family? Check out http://www.pluggedin.com, a resource from Focus On The Family…they also have an app for your iPhone.
Do you have younger kids? Take them to http://www.jellytelly.com. This is now a FREE site that has some great biblical content, my boys (7yrs, and 4yrs) love it!
Feel free to post your favorite resources in the comments below!