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Help Them Grow Up

August 9th, 2010

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Below are five ideas you can practice with a Generation iY young person. If you are an adult in their life (parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent) these are projects that are memorable and will launch conversations about “stuff” that matters in their growing up process.

The Hiding Place
I got this idea from a friend who’s had great success with it. It will take a little preparation. Choose a night to talk about the people during World War Two who refused to cooperate with Nazi Germany, as they murdered millions of Jewish citizens in several countries. Talk about how many of them took their Jewish neighbors in and hid them in secret rooms or crawl spaces in their homes. Their efforts saved countless lives, even though it cost some of them their life, when the Nazis discovered these hiding places.

Next, simulate the experience in your own home. Pick a secret room in your basement, your attic or a crawl space under your home. If you can, play a tape or CD with the sound effects of bombs and gunfire, or perhaps a thunderstorm. Grab some flashlights and run to the hiding place you’ve selected. Tell your young people you have thirty seconds to get there, or you will be captured. You may even want to surprise your young people (if they are old enough to experience it), by having a neighbor come in and look for you, as if they were trying to capture you. Do this for as long as everyone seems to be engaged in the exercise.  

Afterward, talk about the experience. How did you feel?  Ask your young people: Is there anything you believe in so strongly that you would risk your life for it?

Map Quest
Before taking a long trip or vacation, grab a map and ask your young person to plan the entire road trip. Talk them through the details, if necessary, but give them as much responsibility as you think appropriate. For instance, if you take a vacation, talk about how many days you will take to drive to your destination, where you’ll need to refuel, eat and stay overnight, and even how much the trip might cost. Let them do the math and prepare the details of the trip.

Ask your young person what factors went into the planning of your road trip and how they calculated the stops along the way.

Walk Through a Graveyard
At sunrise or sunset one day, drive out to a local graveyard. If you can, find an old one, where the gravestones have descriptions on them of the people who are buried there. Walk through the property, reading the epitaphs of each one you pass.

Afterward, sit down and discuss what you saw. Think about the lives of those who are described on those gravestones. Then, talk about the future. What kind of person does your young person want to be, as an adult? What do they want to accomplish before they die? What will be their values?  Their purpose?  Their methods?  What are their motives?

Take a few minutes and journal these thoughts on paper. Consider that we have a mission to live for and it is our goal to discover and work towards that mission.

TV Lies

This one is fun. Watch TV some evening, or see a movie in which you know one of the characters has questionable values. Explain to your young person they are to watch the commercials or the show for the purpose of discussion. Either during or after the program, discuss how often you saw lies in the commercials, the program or the movie. How do commercials over-promise what they can deliver?  Did you hear any outright lies? How did the characters in the movie or program display unhealthy values?  Were they deceitful?  If so, why were they?

Now discuss this. How do they reflect real life?  How can you live out a positive culture in your home or school?

Pick Up Your Burden
Sit down with your young person, and talk about their school. What’s happening on their campus? Once you get the conversation going, ask them to name one problem at their school that really needs to be solved.

Challenge them to “adopt” that problem as their own burden. Have them make a list of steps that could be taken to solve the problem. (These may be imaginary steps depending on the size of the burden they have chosen). Get them thinking about their vision for helping make the school a better place instead of complaining about how bad it is.

Finally, have them write about, draw a picture or clip out photos from magazines that depict the vision they have for their school. Have them create a mural if they wish. Then, post these pictures in their room as a reminder to both pray and act on their vision.


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