I would say that one of the top questions I get asked by parents on a regular basis is “how do I talk to my student about…?” Talking to middle school students sometimes feels like one of the most intimidating things you can do, especially if it is on a hot topic issue. First off, I want to assure you that you are not alone in your struggle to start a conversation with your student. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent and it doesn’t mean that you don’t know your own child. Just as your student is growing and changing, so is your relationship. You both have come so far from your conversations being, “don’t touch that!” or “that wasn’t kind.” Now, there’s bigger issues on the table and way more questions and negotiating to be done. You now have the amazing and joyous opportunity to start having conversations about your student’s faith and personal relationship with Jesus. And they now can actually communicate things back to you in pretty adult ways sometimes! That’s huge! But it’s also really scary. I know many of you will immediately read this and say, “I can’t get my student to talk to me about what they did at school. How am I supposed to talk to them about God?” Stay with me here and let me share with you a few tips I’ve picked up along the way!
First off, remember that if it’s important then it is worth trying, and maybe failing a few times, at making the conversation happen. Whether you’re talking to your student about faith, mental health, sex, dating, or some other major topic, these are all big ones. These are the conversations that are going to shape their lives from this point on. Because of this, it’s worth not giving up on. Even if it takes a few tries, and lots of prayers, these conversations are worth happening over and over again. Don’t give up and know that God has equipped you to guide them through whatever they may face.
Second, make it a special occasion! If you know it’s time for a big conversation or even if you just want to find out what is going on in their journey with Jesus, make it a big deal. Take them for ice cream or to their favorite restaurant. Go for a walk around your neighborhood and have their favorite dinner. Conversations don’t have to always be a family sit down in the living room with the TV turned down. Also, having something in their hands will help them, and you, feel less nervous.
Finally, make it normal. When they are used to having conversations about God on a weekly basis with you, bigger talks are not that big of a deal. Also, when they know that you are comfortable having big talks with them, they will be more comfortable coming to you and starting those conversations. God has specifically placed you in your child’s life to be their spiritual guide and to be there when they need you. You are fully equipped, and you can do it. No matter what they say, your student does want you and needs your involved in their lives for the big moments! You can do it!