Will parents and teenagers really talk honestly about transition?

Fuller Youth Institute

Today's guest blogger is Keegan Lenker, youth pastor at Pasadena Nazarene.  Keegan was part of the 2010 Sticky Faith Cohort and currently serves as a Sticky Faith Coach.

Last the spring I decided to put together an 8-week class on transition for our seniors. We were going to talk about what was coming in their lives in the near future. The kicker was that I invited their parents to be a part of the conversation.

What happened blew my mind. It showed me the importance of the intentionality needed to help families engage in the spiritual formation of their students. 

The very first week I addressed the difference between transition and change. We began to dialogue about the flow of our time together and the reasons we had students in the same space as parents. Initially the students rolled their eyes and were annoyed that their parents were there. The parents seemed to have shown up to support the “new thing the youth guy was doing.” But as it turned out, the dialogue in the first week was much more lively than I anticipated. 

The second week one of my volunteers facilitated the class and I was surprised by how many students and parents showed up. I walked in on a conversation that had obviously moved to a deeper level. Most parents and students were engaged. 

Toward the end of the gathering the facilitator asked if there were any last thoughts. One student summed it up for everyone when she said, “I’m really excited to have my dad here. There are so many things I’ve been thinking about as I’m getting ready to graduate that I’ve wanted to talk about. This time helps to encourage and foster intentionality so we can communicate honestly.” One and then another parent was able to honestly say, “The same is true for me. I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to talk about that have been in my mind as I’m dealing with this inevitable change.” 

From there the door was opened and permission was given for everyone to be “all in” for the remainder of the 6 weeks together. An experiment we tried on the margins was met with the reality of the need for a space to foster dialogue in the families we are trying to serve. 

How have you tried to create spaces for parents and teenagers to dialogue honestly? What have you learned? 


Published Oct 08, 2012
Fuller Youth Institute

The Fuller Youth Institute leverages research into resources that elevate leaders, kids, and families.

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