Below is an article from Orange, our curriculum resource, about what we're learning at Roots during this series.
1. We’re Teaching This
Let's be honest. We've all been guilty of painting a less-than-honest picture of ourselves or others through social media. But the Bible reminds us that what we say—whether on-line or in person—matters. How we talk about others, and ourselves, is important. And it all starts with what's inside our hearts. So where do you need to rethink what you say on-line? What things are you dealing with inside that need to stop showing up on your newsfeed? What do you need to do to become the person you want to be—not just the person you want everyone to think you are?
2. Think About This
I remember when my family got our first VCR machine. I was in elementary school and this “new technology” seemed so cool. You could just pop in a video–remember those—and watch any movie you wanted to without having to actually go to the movies. It was the beginning of the home theatre.
Just to other night, my kids and I wanted to watch a movie and I was reminded of how much this experience has changed. As we scrolled through the hundreds of movie titles on our Netflix feed, I found myself frustrated that we couldn’t find what we wanted to watch. Would I actually have to go look at Hulu or Amazon to find the movie we wanted? Then, once we found what we wanted, I put in my password and a message came up telling me that I would have to wait a few minutes for my movie to load and if it didn’t, to call Amazon directly. I started to get a little bit frustrated, until I looked over at my daughter who was REALLY frustrated. And I paused. This isn’t that big of a deal. I used to have to drive to Blockbuster, spend 30 minutes walking around the store looking for a movie, stand in line to pay and drive back home all before we could even put the movie in.
It’s funny how nowadays, everything is at our fingertips and yet we are less satisfied and less patient. You wake up in the morning and turn on the television. Instantly, you have all the latest news right in front of you from around the world. You’re driving in your car and you hear a song that you really like. You grab your phone, type in a few lyrics and find out who the artist is, along with the album, song and entire discography. We don’t have to wait for anything these days. We live in a world where we can have what we want almost immediately. And sometimes this availability in the world of technology and media gets transferred to other areas of our lives. Even areas that are meant to take more time and be a bit difficult, like relationships with other people and with God; even our own relationship with ourselves. But sometimes, the waiting process—delaying the gratification of something we want, of a result we want to see–is a really healthy and good thing. Because the old adage “good things are worth waiting for” is true. Waiting for something—going through a process—can make us appreciate the whole experience more. And if we aren’t careful, our relationship with technology and the expectation of immediacy it fosters will rob us of the ability to exercise the wonderful discipline of delayed gratification.
Maybe there’s some merit to this idea of waiting on something and even waiting for something. Maybe by waiting a bit—waiting to check our cell phones, Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds, email, text messages, you name it—we will begin to move at a faster pace with the most important things: our relationships. Maybe we can learn to slow down a bit. Breathe a bit. Look around a bit. And ultimately, enjoy the beautiful relationships and experiences that come with waiting and resting.
3. Try This
Choose one night and get everyone in your family off the grid. That means a full media blackout for everyone in your household for 6-9 hours. No Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine … no Internet at all. In fact, get really serious and have a designated and out-of-reach spot for everyone to put their phones—and iPads, tablets … you name it—and instead, spend that time in face-to-face, quality family time. You could go out for a family night or a have a media-free zone at home and have a meal and after-dinner game night together. Here are some fun dinner table questions to get your night rolling.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
This is an article from Orange, the source of our curriculum. Please read about what we're teaching!
We’re Teaching This:
On a scale of one to ten, how do you measure up? Are you tall enough? Pretty enough? Smart enough? Funny enough? And on that scale, which number represents enough? Do you have to score a ten or will a solid seven do? How about a five? It’s better than average, right? Most of us measure how we’re doing by how everyone else is doing. Not a day goes by that we’re not tempted to glance to our left and to our right to see how we measure up to the people around us. This is especially true at school. We see everyone else’s grades, clothes, athletic ability, talent, and popularity. And it’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up. So we adjust course, try harder, spend more, and then compare again. It's exhausting. In this 3-part series, Andy Stanley explores the difficult—but not impossible—challenge of escaping The Comparison Trap.
Think About This:
Parenting is hard. We probably knew going in that it wouldn’t always be a walk in the park. But, as a parent, have you noticed there are some curve balls that you just don’t know how to handle?
Chances are, you knew your kids were going to be different from one another. But it’s also likely you had no idea just how different they could be until you started raising them—until they hit a certain age and suddenly what you assumed would be true of one of your kids because it was true of an older one—just isn’t. Sometimes it feels like you have to learn how to parent all over again with each child. And sometimes not just with each child, but through each life-stage your children experience.
We may not do it on purpose, but there is a tendency to compare that comes so naturally and so easily. We bring attention to the ways our students are different from their siblings, their friends, our friends, and even earlier versions of themselves. It’s so tempting to say, “But why can’t you just be like______?” The problem is, comparison rarely works. It doesn’t make students want to try harder and it can often lead to resentment toward the parents and the sibling with whom they’re compared. Even within the family, there is no win in comparison.
Sameness isn’t even really a goal worth shooting for. Maybe there are traits in one of your children that you’d like the others to take on. That’s great, but you probably don’t want them to be exact replicas. A better goal is to be intentional in learning, studying, and celebrating the personality and wiring of each individual child.
No one wants to feel like they don’t measure up. Especially not in the place where they want to feel the safest and most secure. Work on making your family and your home the place where who your child is celebrated and not compared.
This week, point out something in your teenager that you appreciate. Find something that you have seen grow and develop in them that is a strength and then tell them how proud of them you are.
Then find something that, at first glance, feels like something you would change—that you would compare to someone else and wish away. And then find a way to leverage it. To see the good in it. For example,
Finding a way to celebrate something you had vocally been frustrated over in the past will mean more than you can imagine to your student. Don’t underestimate the value of your affirmation.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
Words are powerful. They can make your day or ruin it Words can make friends or create enemies. On a global level, words can start a revolution or bring peace. Now, think about how much more powerful God’s words are. Simply by speaking He caused the world to be created along with everything in it— mountains, oceans, thunderstorms, planets, the sun. His words caused nations to rise and fall, and people who were dead to come back to life. God’s words are the most powerful force in our entire world, but if we’re honest…most of us don’t think of them that way. We hear “God’s Word” or “the Bible” and think about an old dusty book, something complicated, outdated, or even boring. But what if it was never meant to be that way? What if we’re missing out by seeing it as simply a history book or something to study? As we take a closer look at God’s Word, we may be surprised at what we find. God is inviting us to hold, read, and experience the same Word that created everything we see. It’s more than a book. It’s better than a story. It’s alive.
Week 1: Out Of The Fish Bowl – Give God’s Word a chance to change you. What words come to mind when you think about the Bible? Exciting? Mind-blowing? Life-changing? If you’re honest, probably not. Even though we aren’t quick to admit it in church, many of us don’t feel all that excited about reading the Bible. Maybe for you it just seems like a history book filled with random facts about random people that don’t really matter. Or maybe it feels more like a foreign language textbook with lots of words and phrases that don’t make sense. Either way, it’s hard to see how an old book written by a bunch of dead guys about an invisible God could be relevant to anything we’re doing today. But that was not how it was intended to be experienced. Through a letter written to the Hebrews, we discover that the Bible is more than just a recording of the past. If we give it a chance, God’s Word has the power to change our present and shape our future.
Join the conversation this Sunday morning at 11:00 am!
We’re Teaching This:
When we hear the word entourage, most of us think of celebrities walking the streets of Beverly Hills, barking orders at their “people”—people that work for them or just get paid to hang out with them. By definition, an entourage is a group of people attending or surrounding an important person. Even if we don’t feel important, most of us want at least a handful of people who like to hang around us—people who laugh at our jokes, go to the movies with us, and simply have our back. King David, his son Absalom, and his grandson Rehoboam were no different. As royals, each had an entourage and through their experiences we see that the choices we make with those around us can change everything.
Think About This:
A quick internet search reveals the worries many parents feel when it comes to their teen’s friends. “How to spot a bully”. “How to spot a bad influence”. “How to spot the wrong crowd”. There is plenty to worry about when it comes to your child’s friends. But what if you have more influence than you think? What if you were able to not only help your teen choose friends, but to directly influence the life choices those friends make?
More and more studies say you can.
A study published in the archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine suggests that teens with friends who have strict parents are less likely to binge drink and make other poor life choices.
Think about that. The students in this study were most influenced by their friends’ parents, not just their friends. In fact, you probably don’t need a lot of research to know this. Have you ever heard someone say, “She is like a second mother to me”. Probably so. Many of us grew up with at least one set of friend’s parents who influenced us. Part of maturing is beginning to listen to multiple voices, multiple adult influences. As parents we have an incredible opportunity to speak into our own children’s lives by using our influence to guide their friends.
Having influence on your child’s friends doesn’t mean you have to be the “cool one”. It doesn’t mean you have to host or allow parties, throw caution to the wind, and be their best buddy. It also doesn’t mean you have to legally adopt them or have them over every night of the week. Having influence can be as simple as taking one step toward including a friend in your normal family plans.
Everyone wants their teen to be wise and intentional when it comes to friends. And the best way to teach that skill is to model it. Think about the friends your teen already spends time around. How intentional are you about investing time in those people? Are you using your influence to help that person in any way? Is there one teen you could invite to dinner, to hang out, or to be helpful?
Use the suggestions below to help you figure out how you can be intentional with your teen’s friends.
1. My teen spends the most time with....
2. One friend I can pray for this week is...
3. One friend I can invite and invest in this month is...
Social media is a vast world that inundates teenagers' lives. The primary place for socializing is no longer the playground or cafeteria - it's the smart phone. The Internet has been around for a while now, and many parents are aware of the dangers it can pose for children. Therefore, we put measures in place to protect the home computer. However, the computer has become a secondary utility to the smart phone.
I hope this post can be an introduction for parents who aren't familiar with the various social media entities out there today. For this post, we'll discuss some of the more public social media services. We'll go through various services with a brief description and some tips on how to protect your children. Next week, we'll tackle some more private social media services such as Snapchat, Kik, Ask.fm, and of course, texting.
Instagram - www.instagram.com
Instagram is easily the most popular social media among teenagers today. Users post pictures of various things in their lives - friends, food, music, etc. These posts are viewable to anyone who "follows" their account. Users can also "like" others' photos and submit comments. A lot of interaction happens in the comments.
Your account can be set to public or private. If public, anyone can view your posts. If private, others must request your permission to view your posts. Most teenagers leave their account public because it can be a hassle to have to approve everyone who wants to follow you. You can also send direct messages - which are always private and viewable to only the recipient.
Instagram is mainly mobile - meaning you must download the app to use most of the features. Once you've made an account in the app, you can access some features via www.instagram.com, but not much. Instagram offers it's own Privacy & Safety Center for parents to read and learn more about protecting their kids. Highly recommended for all parents of middle and high schoolers!
Twitter - www.twitter.com
Twitter is the second most popular public social media service amongst teenagers. Users can post short texts - limited to 140 characters - or pictures called "tweets". This keeps everything brief and light. Users can "follow" other users in order to see their tweets regularly. Twitter is really popular for celebrities to communicate directly with their fans. Your teenager probably "follows" their favorite musicians, actors, and athletes.
Just like Instagram, an account can be either public or private. Twitter can also add a location to your tweets. You can reply to other people's tweets by "tweeting at" their username. Twitter usernames begin with an @ symbol, followed by the name. Mine, for example, is @tednorthrop. There is no way to comment directly on someone else's tweet; you have to post a tweet of your own in response.
There is also a direct messaging system, which allows users to communicate privately, unseen to the public. Usually called DMing (direct messaging), this is a popular way for teenagers to communicate.
Twitter's website is fully functional with features, but most teenagers will only use the mobile app. Twitter also has a safety center, which I encourage all parents to read. Twitter is becoming less popular among teens, for two main reasons. First, it is being increasingly used for marketing. Corporations and organizations can have accounts that can be really aggressive in marketing. Secondly, it is becoming more popular for parents. The last thing any student wants is for their parents to follow them on Twitter. This drives them to other, more private, social media sites.
Facebook - www.facebook.com
Facebook is most likely the most familiar social media site to parents who are reading this. A user can "friend" other users can see the things they post. Facebook features comments and likes. Other users can "like" your post and leave a comment of their own on what you posted.
Facebook also has a direct messaging system, which is private to the public. You can also "like" pages of celebrities, businesses, and other groups. It is very common for a business to do most of their communication through Facebook.
Facebook's popularity is continually decreasing among teenagers. Yep, you guessed it - it's because parents are all on Facebook now. Even if teenagers have a Facebook account, it is rarely used. If you have a Facebook and are friends with your child, that is not sufficient to keep an eye on their online behavior.
Facebook boasts a slew of privacy features. A user can choose for their posts to be viewable to only a portion of their friends. That means a teenager could make a post viewable to everyone but their parents. You can read more about privacy on Facebook on their help page.
Here's an update on what we're learning this week at Root Student Ministries. The series is called Amplify, and we're discussing the reality of doubt amidst our faith. Below is a great article for parents from Orange, who writes the curriculum we often use. Please note that I did not write this myself! I am not bold or arrogant enough to think I could offer any parenting tips of my own. Take a minute to read!
We’re Teaching This:
Can God hear me? Does God even exist? Did Jesus actually rise from the dead, really? And what about all the other stuff in the Bible? Did it really happen? How do you know? When it comes to faith, we all have our doubts. Every single one of us. And yet, for many of us, church can feel like the last place we would go to ask questions. Why is that? For most of us, doubt feels like something we should hide, ignore, or silence. If there’s a volume dial, we should turn it down. But is that always true? Does having faith mean I can’t have doubt or does having doubt cancel out the faith I do have? When we look closer we find that amplifying our doubt, turning up the volume on the right questions, may just be the best thing that ever happened to our faith.
Think About This:
Why do we have belly buttons? Why does the lawn mower make that funny noise? Why do I have to take a bath? Every young kid goes through that stage. The one where it seems there is a question about everything. At the time it made us crazy, but if we’re honest, a lot of us wouldn’t mind going back to those types of questions. At least those had easier answers.
As our kids grow into teens, the questions may be fewer but they become way more complicated. It’s harder for us, but completely normal for them—part of maturing is asking questions and pushing back on what has been taught. Especially in the area of faith, this can be really healthy. But, tough questions about faith can leave parents feeling a lot of pressure to have all the answers right now.
Thankfully, in his article, “I Doubt it”, Reggie Joiner suggests that maybe having all the answers isn’t the best approach. “Relax when your children ask skeptical questions. … If you want your children to own their own faith, then you have to let them face their own doubts.”
In other words, letting our students face their doubt doesn’t mean we ignore their more challenging questions, but instead we hear them, and refuse to panic when we do. This alone can go a long way in teaching teens that having doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes just saying, “I don’t know” or “let’s find out together” can be the best response to a tough question.
Reggie goes on to remind parents that doubt is part of a long journey.
You may have a primary role in shaping your kid’s faith, but you will never be able to control what they believe or don’t believe. If you could simply talk your kids into believing what you believe, then chances are someone else will talk them out of it one day. The spiritual growth of your children will take a number of twists and turns during their life. Most of us tend to forget the complicated spiritual journey that has shaped our faith. We expect our kids to skip that somehow. (from http://www.orangeparents.org/i-doubt-it/)
Most students don’t need a parent who has all the answers, but they do need an example of how to live out your faith even when you still have doubts. They need a model of healthy curiosity—the kind that doesn’t give up just because tough questions arise.
Next time a question or a doubt arises in your mind, try mentioning it to your student. It doesn’t have to be very serious or formal. You can begin this way: