Like it or not, every week shocking things happen at your child’s school. Whether it’s a student who’s been caught using drugs or texting explicit photos, driving while drunk, or experiencing an unplanned pregnancy; everything under the sun goes on at school these days– even at private, Christian schools. Some of the issues are eerily familiar to us as parents, and some are issues that we never could have imagined. My kids have been exposed to all of these issues and more–even, an inappropriate student/teacher relationship (several years ago).
Not at my school!
Why do things like this happen at your “Christian” school, or in your small town, you ask? I mean, shocking stuff like this isn’t supposed to happen here. Well, first of all, we live in a fallen world (thanks to that Adam guy). Secondly, we all struggle with doing what’s right. Saved and unsaved. And, thirdly, teens are just learning how to make wise choices. Sometimes they have to crash a few times before they get it right. Don’t expect your Christian school to be like heaven, itself. It is a microcosm of the world at large.
When our teen comes home and reveals the latest bombshell that happened at school, how should we react? Do we have a plan on how to deal with it? Is there an opportunity for a spiritual lesson?
Tips for shell-shocked parents.
Here are some tips for shell-shocked parents on how to help your teen (or pre-teen ) handle the difficult, and sometimes traumatic, issues they face at school.
Respond in a calm manner (even as you flip out internally!). Avoid looking shocked, mouth agape, eyes wide open, “What? You’ve got to be kidding!” Listen to the whole story. Read your teen’s body language. Are they confused? Upset? Traumatized? Comfort your child in whatever way is appropriate. If your teen has come to you at all with the issue, then you have probably developed an open and trusting relationship with them. Kudos to you!
Address the fact that when people fall into sin or make bad choices, we can still love them without condoning what they did. When kids crash and burn, it is sometimes a non-verbal cry for help. Your teen can possibly be an encouragement to them when all others are keeping their distance. Make sure your teen understands that they are called to love people who are going through trials and difficulties. Even those who are not like them–those who are especially hard to love.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 (NKJV)
Remind your teen not to gossip about the person involved. I know– that seems like a pipe dream in high school culture, but it’s an important thing for your teen to learn and this is a great opportunity to drive the point home. Teach them practical ways to leave the group when gossip is occurring and make sure they know not to initiate gossip themselves.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
Go to the Word. What does God say about this issue? Look at it as a spiritual teaching opportunity. As a Christian parent, you are charged with the task of raising your child in the knowledge of Him. Here is a practical way to do so. The Bible definitely speaks to issues like dishonesty, drunkenness, sexual immorality, immodesty, and anything else that may come up. Be an example of searching the Word for help, advice and wisdom.
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6 (NIV)
Help your teen see the incident as an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering to the person involved with words of encouragement and acts of kindness. Just as Jesus did. They can be a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Or– the only smile the student sees that day among the sneers and stares.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18 (NIV)
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Remind your teen that disobedience to God and His laws can bring heartache, brokenness and ruin. No, the Christian life will never be problem-free of course, but the Bible is clear that obedience brings blessing and peace. And, our obedience is proof of our love for God.
If you have yet to experience your teen running through the door to drop a bombshell of shocking proportions, just wait. Your time is coming. And when it does, be prepared to handle it with patience, wisdom, and grace–after you pick your jaw up off the floor!