Communicating To Your Kids

[The following was originally published in our Youth Ministry Parent Newsletter for July, 2010]

Communication is so very important in relationships, perhaps especially in a parent’s relationship with their kids. In adolescence it’s often one of the most frustrating relationships we find ourselves in (for you and for your kids) but it is also the most important and it can be the most rewarding. Through constant communication, we can build a true and authentic appreciation for the people our kids are and are becoming. We begin to see their hearts and can discover joy, pride even, in seeing them grow and mature. This sort of communication requires a level of trust and vulnerability. We have to take the risk of actually and genuinely taking interest in them and their perspectives. You have to take the risk of showing them that they can trust you and that you are willing to trust them.

There’s another element to communication that often gets overlooked—not just how parents communicate with their kids but also what parents are communicating to their kids. The content of our communication goes far beyond words. What attitudes, values, and practices are you offering to them? What priorities are you setting in your own life that you would or wouldn’t want to be reflected in your kids’ lives? Is Christ and a commitment to growing in Him actually a part of your daily life? Is a commitment to church something that you believe is important and necessary? And what are you doing to intentionally grow as a follower of Jesus?

These questions are extremely important. We must learn to ask these questions of ourselves and to act upon our reflections because, whether or not we know it, our values, priorities and daily practices communicate to our kids what we want for them and our lives become a model for them—either good or bad.

In youth group, for the past several weeks, we’ve been reading the book of Colossians together. Colossians is a powerful letter from Paul to a church in Colossae, a first-century Greek city. These new followers of Jesus in Colossae have discovered the power of the gospel—faith, hope, and love—and Paul’s prayer for them is that they’ll cultivate that gospel in their lives, that they’ll not stop there but continue to grow in their wisdom and understanding of God’s dream for the world.
“For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:9-10)
So my prayer, our prayer, and my encouragement for the youth of our church has been that they might grow in their knowledge (which has to do with studying and learning), wisdom (which has to do with priorities and values), and understanding (which has to do with an experienced and lived-out faith in what God is doing in the world). I have encouraged them to actively pursue Christ in their lives, to be intentional in their practice so that they might cultivate the gospel of Jesus. I’ve encouraged them to spend time in prayer, study, and worship throughout the week.

Now I have the same prayer and encouragement for you, their parents. Because ultimately, you are part of their growth. You communicate to them what it looks like to follow Jesus. You communicate to them the benefits of cultivating a Christ-centered life. And you communicate what’s really at the heart of reality.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17)