I have found Thriving Family magazine by Focus on the Family so helpful (Check it out at www.thrivingfamily.com)! Great articles for parents with kids ages 0-18. So, as a parent of small kids- I love the helpful insights. As a wife- I love the marriage articles. As a youth volunteer- love reading the articles about teenagers (especially knowing I'll be the parent of teenagers someday). This one struck me..."Attitude and Independence". Quick read at www.thrivingfamily.com/Family/Stages/Tween%20Ages/2012/attitude-and-independence.aspx
One of the points was that no matter how much your tween pushes the boundaries, you still need to Be The Parent. And I nod and agree, but how many times do we forget that as youth volunteers? There is such a fine line between wanting to build relationships and be our students' friends, but at the same time, we are the responsible adult. I'm finding this concept especially challenging as I am no longer the young, free college student or newly married volunteer. At that stage I think I had some level of "coolness" simply because of my season of life. And even though now I don't think I'm that much older than our students, I am in a very different season of life. Marriage and kids put a different set of expectations on a person, right or wrong. In a way, it's easier to "Be the Adult" because that is what is expected. But, there are many places and times when I struggle with volunteers (and occasionally parents) trying too hard to accepted that they forget to be the example.
And, interestingly, from my experience, students don't want you to be a student. They want you to be the adult. They thrive in safe boundaries with clear expectations. They want someone to look up to, other than their parents. They want to see if this Christian thing really does work. They have plenty of peers who they are competing with in their lives. They don't need us to be in that mix.
So, as a reminder to myself and an encouragement to others serving faithfully in our student ministries, be the adult. Don't let them be disrespectful, as the article shares, because they need to know that you care for them enough to not tolerate it. Yes, we want to see our relationships and interactions with our students through rose colored glasses. But, lets be true to them and to our God, and be the adult.