Valentine’s Day Conversations: Effort over Expertise
Valentine’s Day Conversations:
Effort over Expertise
by Pastor Craig Maart
With the arrival of Valentine’s Day, the month of February always seems to bring with it decorations, TV shows, movies, candy, love notes, and the topic of love. This is wonderful and weird all at the same time. We all know our society is hyper-sexualized, and the Bible tells us to bring up our kids in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). How do we do that? And then add to the mix the reality that our kids’ adolescent experience is drastically different from ours. They are growing up in a completely different time.
No matter what, we can choose to courageously fulfill our role as parents and use the Valentine’s Day holiday as an opportunity to engage our kids in conversation and strategically lead them towards God’s way of righteousness.
However, making the effort to have conversations and leading your kids can’t wait until you think you have the expertise. God commands us (Proverbs 22:6) to “train up,” “start them off,” or “bring them up.” That means our kids are not to grow up on their own. They need us and want us.
Our kids always know more than we think they do. After being a dad for 19 years and a student pastor for 23 years now, I know firsthand that this is true. I also want to encourage you with the fact that kids listen to their parents on important topics more than any other influence. Therefore, be encouraged! When you feel like they are pushing you away or not listening at all, stay faithful. Keep up the effort. Be courageous!
Here are some ways to help you make the effort to talk to your kids about love, dating, boundaries, and sex:
- Be Present: You never know when a golden opportunity will happen. You can’t plan a Hallmark moment. Go on drives together. Bake cookies together and let them talk. Make the time. If you’re not fully present, they will talk to someone else.
- Listen: Don’t overreact, no matter what they say. “Tell me more” needs to be a phrase they hear from us. If they drop a bombshell, patiently get more information. Let them talk. https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/three-words
- Keep Talking: This is not a one-time conversation. Our kids will test the waters to see if they can really talk to us or not. Therefore, keep talking. Take any potential awkwardness upon yourself to have the needed conversation. We are fighting for our kids’ lives. https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/family-relationships
- Be a Safe Place: If you aren’t present and don’t really listen or keep trying to have conversations, you are not a safe place for them. Their perception is their reality. Yes, take steps for safety and guidance, but we must be a safe person and place or they will go somewhere else. https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/sex-talk
- Be Proactive: Talk through possible situations and how to handle them. Even if your teen rolls their eyes, talk through a situation. This will equip them for when they’re in that situation. For example, when you’re in a car and he starts to put his arm around you or his hand on your leg, what do you do? How should you respond? As cheesy as it may sound, roll play with them. It does work. Give them guidance.
- Get Help: We all need help to raise our kids. There are groups at church to be part of. The Student Parent Connect Group meets on Sundays at 10:30 AM. If you are not already in a Live/Love/Lead Group, join a group with other parents. The couples in my LLL Group are constantly talking through situations and praying for each other. We are at different stages, and we all help each other. Ask for help. There is honor in that.
I hope this encourages you as you raise your kids. Remember, “effort over expertise.” Hershey Free Church is with you on this journey. Pastor Nick and I are always available to talk. We would love the time together. I also highly recommend looking through these resources for help along the way: