GUEST POST from MEGAN LACEFIELD
Does your teenager want to make a difference?
I often read statistics about how teens need something bigger than themselves to believe in and work for. Case in point, the spread of the viral Kony video and the way teens just jumped on the bandwagon without hesitation. YouTube announced last week that the Kony video was the most viral video in history. Often kids don’t want to be a part of helping at home or in their community, but they go crazy over a video to stop a militant who is holding a nation of children hostage.
I believe it is because they need to see tangible results from their time and energy invested. There is something for us to learn as parents of teenagers here.
This past week was spring break and we took a group of teenagers on a mission trip to a nearby town. We were working in an impoverished town right in our own backyard. What the teenagers saw and experienced was a little overwhelming for them. In the morning we ran programs for the children in the community and the afternoons were filled with work projects in the community which included bagging food, sorting clothes, and laying out cinder blocks for a community garden.
The learning experience for me was that the teens preferred the sweaty work over the time spent playing with the kids. Don’t get me wrong. They loved learning how to make balloon animals, playing sports with the kids, and teaching them fun songs.
I believe I learned something about the heart of today’s teenager on that trip. In a digital world where everything happens so fast, your teenager will care much more about a cause where they can see the difference it is making.
Giving your teenager something significant to do is the best way to make them believe they are significant.
Teenagers want to see tangible results to not only know they’re making a difference, but to believe that the sacrifice is worth it.
There’s something about seeing 250 bags filled with meals for a family for a week, or moving 500 blocks and plotting stakes for a garden, or coming up with ad executing their own ideas and seeing the fruit of it instead of just being told what to do.
So I have a Parentzilla challenge for us as parents of teenagers. Let’s find something our teenager can be a part of this summer.
Here are 4 ways to helping your teenager make a difference they can see this summer:
1. Ask them what injustice they see in the world that concerns them?
2. Ask them what they think would be the solution to that injustice?
3. Help them find organizations that are already tackling their area of concern?
4. Ask if you can join them in making a difference this summer. Nothing will connect you to your teenager more than serving together!
Let’s help them find where they can get their hands dirty with other people and see the tangible results of their work. Serving others in a significant way will boost their self esteem, raise awareness of the realities others face, and challenge them to figure out their part in the bigger picture.
Your teen can and will make a difference in this generation and the next…. they simply need our help to guide them in the right direction.
Let’s help each other brainstorm. What ideas do you have for giving your teen “something bigger” to give of themselves for?
* disclosure: I do not endorse nor oppose the Kony 2012 movement and any statements made are my personal evaluations.