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It's about the Invitation

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So we’ve had a pretty incredible stretch of reach out events and possibilities this fall. Many of you threw Halloween parties in your neighborhoods. We had over 600 volunteers (many of whom don’t go to Eastern Hills) pack and deliver over 1200 meals for Mountains of Mercy. We are ice skating at Southlands this week, and even having Santa land in a helicopter for our Santa Fly-In event on Sunday afternoon. All of these events are awesome, they have impacted people around us, and they are a ton of fun. However, you know what makes them Reach Out events? It’s when we invite our friends and neighbors to experience them with us.

So here’s the question, are you inviting people? Are you meeting your neighbors, are you reaching out, or are you just hoping people show up?

This Christmas season is a great time for Reaching Out. Check out your weekend program over the next few weeks for ways that you can reach out in your neighborhood. It’s so fun to bake Christmas cookies and you can avoid the calories by giving them to your neighbors. Make up  some plates and bring them to your neighbors. Shovel their driveway, bring them a meal, go caroling, hang up some lights on their house if they don’t have any. (That last one might be going too far) Then invite them, invite them to Christmas Eve. Yes, it’s a risk, it might change your relationship, but it also might change their lives. People are more likely to go to church at Christmas than any other time of the year, so why not get out there and invite someone. Give them the opportunity to see that life with Jesus is better.

The One Shift You Need to Make As A Parent When Your Kids Are No Longer Kids

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Each stage of parenting presents its own challenges. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I mean.

With newborns, sleep is a challenge.

With toddlers, potty training is a challenge.

With preschoolers, everything feels like a challenge.

And the list goes on.

When your child becomes a teenager, one of the biggest challenges of your parenting life is just around the corner. You will usually face it about when they turn 17. And this challenge will last the rest of your life.

What is it?

How do you parent your kids when they are no longer kids?

I know, I know. Your 17 year-old is still your baby. He’s still just a kid. She’s still just a kid. But, they are also hitting the age when they need to make decisions without you.

Young adults today live in a culture that’s significantly different than the one you and I lived in. Options are different. Conversations about identity are different. Pressures are different.

For many of us, especially with our oldest child, look at our kids and we look at culture and we think, “They’re not ready.” And our natural inclination, driven by our love for them and our desire to protect them, is to make decisions for them—just the way we did for them when they were 4 years old.

The problem with that approach … is that if we continue to parent the same way we did when they were preschoolers … they will never grow up. They will never learn.

The key to parenting well when your kids are no longer kids is surrender.

If you fight this transition, you will lose. If you attempt to control them, you will lose. If you shield them from the consequences of their decisions and actions … everyone will lose.

The reason surrender is the key is because the true challenge we face is fear.

We’re afraid of what might happen.

We’re afraid of what might not happen.

We’re afraid of what they might choose.

We’re afraid of what they might not choose.

In those moments, out of love, we typically default to controlling. We typically default to telling. And if our not-a-kid-anymore resists us, we resort to what we did when they were 4 years old … we punish. We take away the phone, the wifi, the car. We fight.

But what worked when they were 4 … doesn’t work anymore.

We need to surrender control. We need to embrace the fact that they are hitting the point in their lives where they need to decide and experience the consequences of those decisions. We need to understand that our role as their parent has fundamentally shifted.

The one fundamental shift we need to make—about when our kids turn 17—is the shift from telling to asking.

We can’t tell them what to do anymore. We have to ask questions that help them figure things out. We can’t impose our will on them the way we used to. We have to ask them what they think they should do and why.

Yes. It’s frustrating.

Yes. It takes longer and feels like a waste of time because you clearly already know what they should do (wink wink).

Yes. They will make decisions that aren’t always the best.

That’s what growing up is.

And if we, as their parents, don’t make this shift from telling to asking when our kids are really no longer kids, we will lose. We will lose the ability to speak into their lives. We will lose whatever positive influence we have with them.

Most importantly, we will lose the opportunity to see them grow and flourish and discover who they are. And we’ve invested too much to this point to miss out on that part of the journey.

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