With Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June, it can actually bring up a difficult topic for some of our youth. Many youth do have a healthy relationship with one or both of their parents. However, some youth have never even met their birth parent(s) while others are dealing with a recent divorce that is still very painful and they might be dealing with anger towards one or both of their parents.
I sometimes wonder what it was like for Joseph to attempt to be a parent to Jesus, realizing He’s the Son of God. Somehow the pressure we face in raising our kids doesn’t seem as intimidating in that context.
In my experience as a Youth Director, a youth who lives with both of their biological parents is actually somewhat rare. I know first-hand about blended families as I am a step-dad; fortunately, we’ve been able to find a way to make things work between those involved and actually invite my kids’ natural father into our home for Christmas so that the kids (and now grandkids) can be around everyone at once. Yet, I realize this is the exception rather than the rule.
I’ve been fortunate. I was raised by two loving parents and have a great relationship with my kids. However, many kids are not so fortunate. Recently, my church’s Men’s Club was blessed to have a program by the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association (http://www.mfcaa.org/). We heard about children that are in situations where they either have no parental figure or have been taken out of a dangerous situation. What particularly interested me was to hear about their teen mentoring program. I’ve seen and heard about research that says youth are more successful in life and grow in their faith when they have adults that are interested in them. That’s why one of my favorite elements of youTheology’s “The Journey” (year-long program with high school students) is that each youth is paired with a mentor. Throughout the year, they can interact with that mentor, ask questions and grow in their faith.
Now, as the youTheologians go on their Pilgrimage, they will learn about the Mother Churches as they explore the origins of the different denominations and learn about the Wesleyan traditions that were the formations of our church.
Throughout all of this, we need to remember how to show the LOVE of God to youth that might not be experiencing a healthy supporting relationship at home. And it takes all of us to step up and be mentors in different ways at different times.
by Mark Whitaker, youTheology Advisory Board Chair
Youth & Young Adult Director @ Avondale United Methodist Church in KC North
Chair youTheology Advisory Board
Videos at www.vimeo.com/youtheology or http://www.youtube.com/youtheology or watch “youTheology: The Journey” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BY2l1nppnE&context=C3dab252ADOEgsToPDskLHSSv8FkVbAQo74rqA6iXZ
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future