Do You "Get" the Kids in Your Life?

I want my kids to grow up well, and I know as a parent, I can’t do it alone…

...That’s why it’s been vital for me to help my kids discover what they’re passionate about and to find other adults who are passionate about my kids. One of my kids loves to socialize. He has more friends than most celebrities. At first, I thought this was a problem because he always had to be with friends, but then I realized that this was his passion. He not only enjoys being with people, he’s great at influencing them in positive ways and organizing them. In fourth grade, he convinced 10 of his classmates to join the orchestra because he was. This included some kids who had never been in an extracurricular activity before, and these boys were now playing violins, violas, and cellos!When my son found other adults who “got this” about him, it became even better.

A 75-year-old man in our congregation noticed how our son also was passionate about politics. Two years before the 2008 presidential election, this 75-year-old took our son to a political rally where my son got to shake hands with the man who is now the President of the United States. A number of teachers and other adults have invested their time and energy into helping my oldest child grow up well. My other child likes to do art, play the bassoon, and do Kung Fu. Once he discovered these interests, we helped him to connect with adults who were passionate about these activities since he was quiet and shy.

One woman, an art teacher, he met in the fourth grade, has been teaching him art for the past five summers, and they have a great time together. Helping our kids find their deepest passions and interests (sparks), become connected to other adults who nurture their passions and strengths (relationships), and give them a voice to influence the things that matter to them (voice) is how we help our kids to grow up well. Yes, there are bumps along the way. But the more I emphasize these three things: sparks, voice, and relationships, the more I’m convinced that my kids will grow up well. 3 Trends I’ve Read Recently:

1. Only one out of five 15-year-olds has a meaningful relationship with an adult beyond their family that helps them succeed in life.
2. The five key actions adults do in building meaningful relationships with young people include listening to them (80%), being honest with them (79%), showing up when they say they will (73%), remember things they said from earlier conversations (71%), and laughing at their jokes or joking around with them (68%).
3. Teenagers who score highly in three key areas (relationships, voice, and sparks) are more likely to do better on every academic, psychological, social-emotional, and behavioral outcome studied. Only 7 percent of 15-year-olds score high in all three areas.

Which adults outside of your family have a meaningful relationship with your child? Which adults does your child like being with?

Discover the power of adult relationships.
Learn more about sparks.
Download the free report Teen Voice 2010: Relationships That Matter to America’s Teens.

Sources: Peter C. Scales, Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, and Peter L. Benson, Teen Voice 2010: Relationships that Matter to America’s Teens, (Richfield, Minnesota: Best Buy Children’s Foundation and Minneapolis: Search Institute, 2010).

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