What Kids Wish Their Parents Knew

In the Frontline documentary “Inside the World of the Teenage Brain,” producers interviewed Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute based in New York. Galinsky’s research targets what we think we know about kids, but really don’t. What she’s discovered about the hopes and dreams of kids can help parents in your congregation re-set their expectations and grapple with their influence…

  1. “My ‘one wish’ for changing the way my parents’ work life impacts me.” Most parents mistakenly believe their kids want them to have less-demanding jobs so they can spend more time together. But Galinsky discovered that kids simply wish their parents were less stressed and tired all the time.
  2. “I want more ‘hang time’ with my parents.” Teenagers told Galinsky they want more time with their parents. Today’s parents spend lots of time with their kids, but it’s often dominated by rushing from one event or commitment to another. Galinsky says: “Not only is the amount of time the parents spend with their kids important, but what happens in that time is also important… And particularly important to young people is that there’s time to hang around together. It’s not always planned; it’s not always scheduled… But there’s just time to be together.”
  3. “I know I push you away, but please come back!” Sure, it’s the “developmental task” of adolescents to separate from their parents as they discover and embrace their own identities. But Galinsky says most teenagers long to stay connected to their parents in the very season they’re pushing them away. “The message from young people…is ‘Hang in there,’” says Galinsky. “Even if they push us away, they want to be with us… If they pushed their parents away and their parents hung in there, they really appreciated it because they knew they were being difficult. We… thought of development as kind of a straight line toward independence. But all through development, there’s separation and connection… they go hand in hand.”
  4. “You don’t know what it’s like.” Parents score low on the “paying attention scale”—most kids say their parents “don’t know what’s really going on in my life.” Only a third of kids believe their parents are engaged in their lives enough to pursue them well. One teenager told Galinsky, “I want my parents to ask me about my day and care about what I answer.” Kids also scored their parents low on “controlling their tempers.”
  5. “What I remember most about growing up.” When Galinsky asked parents to guess what their kids would say when asked what they were going to remember most from their growing-up years, parents repeatedly mentioned “big events” such as vacations, family reunions, and so on. Instead, she says, “kids talked about the small, everyday rituals and traditions that say to them, ‘We’re a family.’” One girl said she’ll always remember her dad saying “You go, tiger, you go get them” when she was headed out the door to school. Another teenager said he’d always remember his mom’s wake-up song. Most kids simply want to be pursued passionately and seen well by the adults in their life.

Patient, persevering, unconditional love is the most powerful force on earth because it’s the transformational engine in the heart of Jesus. When parents offer this to their kids, determined to see them well and engage them authentically, they are extending the presence of Jesus to them.

Just for You!
If you’ve been reading my Friday blogs for the last few months, you know my new book Editing Jesus comes out soon—June 4th to be exact. The book’s publisher has put together an extended excerpt (the first three chapters!) that is exclusively available to the Vibrant Faith community. So, here you go… Just click on this link and you can download a pdf of this long excerpt from the book.   

Rick Lawrence is Executive Director of Vibrant Faith—he created the new curriculum Following JesusHe’s editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible and author of 40 books, including his new release (June 4) Editing Jesus: Confronting the Distorted Faith of the American Church, The Suicide Solution, The Jesus-Centered Life and Jesus-Centered Daily. He hosts the podcast Paying Ridiculous Attention to Jesus.



A Deeper Way to Lead Others Into Faith Maturity… Guide your people into depth relationally and experientially… A new curriculum by Rick Lawrence for both youth & adult ministries. Learn More Here




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