The disciples had come to Jesus asking who would be considered the greatest in Heaven. I’m sure they were quite surprised when He called a child to Him. He used the simple faith and humbleness of a child as an example of greatness. And then He told a story about one sheep in a flock of one hundred that got lost. Many people have used this as a story to encourage the evangelism of lost souls, yet the context is clearly children. Jesus said:
“‘Let me ask you this. What would you do if you had a hundred sheep and one of them wandered off? Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go look for the one that had wandered away? I am sure that finding it would make you happier than having the ninety-nine that never wandered off. That’s how it is with your Father in heaven. He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.’ ”
Yet so many kids today are just that: lost. So I asked the group sitting in front of me: “How can we as parents help you? What is the one thing that you wished your parents would understand about you?” Here’s what some of the kids said:
• “That every school year gets harder. They expect me to get all “A’s”. They think I’m slacking, but I’m trying really hard.”
• “That there are feelings I have that I want to tell them, but don’t feel I can.”
• “That they need to listen to what I’m saying rather than interrupting, assuming I was going to say something wrong.”
• “That sometimes when I get mad at them I just want to run away.”
• “That I have enough pressure at school and don’t need to be yelled at when I get home.”
• “That I feel horrible when my clothes don’t fit and I feel like a big blob.”
These are just a few examples, but they clearly show that kids these days are stressed, lonely, insecure and feel unheard.
Why Don’t You Ask Them?
What might your own child say if someone asked them, “What do you wish your parents understood about you?” Why don’t you be the one to ask them? Plan a special evening by the fireplace, a walk through a park, or dinner out and ask your child. But ask only — this isn’t a time to defend yourself. It’s a time to listen. And as your child speaks, see him or her as a lost sheep in the often-confusing world of growing up.
Once you’ve heard them, take action on what they have told you. If you have an open mind and an open heart, you’ll find your kids coming to you more often. And should they ever get lost, you’ll be able to find them and lovingly bring them home. Having built a close relationship with them, they will trust you, listen to you, and be relieved that you cared enough to come after them.
(Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version)
Nancy Canwell writes from the Pacific Northwest.
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