Five Dos and Don’ts when dropping off your college student

Fall is upon us, and many campuses, are many schools are welcoming another record-breaking number of students.   It is a good idea for parents to have a role in the higher education of their children, but what is that role?  Are they simply there as pack mules for an over-abundance of clothes and a mini-fridge?  Should they take an active role in organizing the room and arranging their daily schedule?  For those parents who plan to drop off your student at college, here are a few things to make the trip productive and enjoyable.

1.  Talk about Expectations.

You may not know what to expect, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have expectations.  Remember that your child will also have expectations.  Make sure you discuss these expectations before you arrive.  Do they want you to spend the night nearby?   What role can siblings play (if any)?  What is important for them while you are there?  Asking good questions will set you to have a successful trip.

After you arrive, remember that their expectations might change quickly.  One emerging adult said, “Do your best to read the mood of your child.  Know when it’s time to leave (or stay), setting aside personal feelings.”   As a parent, you have learned to read your child, and if you are confused ask them.

2.  Meet the Suitemates.

While on campus, don’t focus entirely on the work of moving in, but meet those who will be living with your child.  If you are bad with names, make a list on your drive home, so when you child mentions their new friends, you will know who they are talking about.  This information is invaluable, and will provide a bridge between your worlds.

While meeting these students, one parents said, “Do not make quick judgments about peers on the dorm floor, they are placed there by God for a reason. “  There is a strong desire to share our perceptions and first impressions about those living with your child; however, parents must begin to let go and let them discern and decide who will be in their inner circle (community).

3.  Attend and See what you want.

© 2017 Hamza Butt, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Most colleges offer information sessions for parents as part of their welcoming week.  If you want to stay and see a program, that doesn’t mean your child has to go.  If you want to take a walk around campus or visit the school cafeteria, your child doesn’t have to babysit you.  As parents, it is important that you get a feel of the campus, and what their new life will be like.

4.  Pray with them – and pray for them.

Leaving a child at school is big event in your life and your child, commemorate it.  Don’t let your final words be repeated sound bytes of your timeless wisdom.  One emerging adult said, “I really appreciated that they didn’t give me a bunch of last minute advice about how to live life on my own. I feel like the drop off is not the time or place!”  So in order to avoid the last-minute advice, plan to end with a time of family prayer.  Find a private space and time to pray with and over your child.  Now this will seem weird, if you haven’t built a lifestyle of praying together, but for the spiritually connected family, this is an absolute.  Your prayers don’t end with the amen, but that part of parenting goes on forever.

5.  Control your emotions

One mother said, “I needed to remind myself that this event is truly not about me, it involved me and caused much change in my life , but was the beginning of the independent journey for my child in God’s plan.”  You will face strong emotions, and it is important to keep those emotions in check while with your child, and then process them later in private with your spouse or a friend.  One parent said that, “I manage not to dissolve into tears until we exit the parking lot.”  Your student wants to know that you love them, but most could do without the public meltdown.  One EA writes, “Although I might feel embarrassed if mom starts crying, deep down I feel loved and will cherish it.”

One emerging adult said, “I loved that my parents dropped me off with my stuff (without telling me I had too much stuff), said congratulations, snapped pictures, and took off saying ‘Time to party.’”   When asked how it affected them, she said, “It made me deal with the reality that I need to grow up and take responsibility.”

Remember that you are not the only one facing strong emotions.  Your children will face a variety of emotions including fear, excitement, joy, and sorrow.  As you leave, make sure they know you will be there – no matter what comes their way.

Remember that as you leave their side, God remains.

Top questions to ask college students before they head to school

Fall is upon us, and student will soon be packing their bags and leaving for college.  If your child is leaving, Kara Powell from the Fuller Youth Institute released this article about preparing your child for college.  Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary.

When our oldest started high school, multiple older parents told me that high school would fly by. I didn’t believe them, but now that Nathan is diving into eleventh grade, I’ve jumped on the “high school goes so fast” bandwagon.

Here is the full article! 

Pass it along to someone you know is dropping off a student this fall.

If you work with emerging adults, please join Kara and other members of the Fuller Youth Institute as members of the EA Network – a networking site on Facebook.

Other resources:

 

Living with Parents – outnumber all other forms of living arrangements.

While we often hear about the growth of children living with their parents – these statistics are shocking.  The chart from Pew Research reveals the shifts in living arrangements that have occurred over the 134 years.

Broad demographic shifts in marital status, educational attainment and employment have transformed the way young adults in the U.S. are living, and a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data highlights the implications of these changes for the most basic element of their lives – where they call home. In 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 were slightly more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they were to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household.

Here is the full article.

Living with a parent is the most common young adult living arrangement for the first time on record

Here are few notes:

  • The most significant drop was among those married or cohabiting.
  • Please note the wide margin of age.  Many 18-22, may live with their parents during the summers only while not in college. The percentage rate among 18 year olds (living at home) is significantly higher than 34 year olds.
  • Education, race, and ethnicity are factors which affect the living arrangements of emerging adults.

While this might be difficult news to hear, many parents enjoy having their children back under their roof.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with your adult childwill require some adapting for both of you.

Other Resources:

 

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a nonprofit designed to equip parents and churches to minister to the needs of emerging adults.  If you have a question, you can reach him at gdavid@earesources.org.

New stats of Religious Teens in the UK

Is it really true that 20 per cent of young people are active Christians? Unsplash

I found this article over the weekend, and I wanted to share it with my readers.  The articles states how approximately 20% of adolescents in the UK claim to be religiously active.  I believe that the author makes a good point to show how sometimes religious studies where recipients self-report are not accurate. It could also reveal that like young adults in America, many claim to be spiritual – but what that really means is different to those who study faith and religion.

When something seems too good to be true, it’s probably because it is. As reported by the Daily Telegraph at the weekend, a new piece of research suggests that 21 per cent of young people (aged between 11 and 18) describe themselves at ‘active followers of Jesus’. And while that is a wonderful idea, and one that all of us involved in youth ministry hope and pray for, I’m afraid it definitely doesn’t ring true. One of the team behind the research was quoted as being ‘shocked’ by the results, and said ‘there was disbelief among the team because [that number] was so high’. It’s a remarkably honest sentiment, and one I share.

Here is the rest of the article.

I have written many times about the Millennial Exodus, and the decline of Christianity in America.  England has traveled that road before us, and those who still cling to faith understand the new world that we may soon be facing.  The author writes,

 “The Church is faced with a huge challenge in re-engaging young people.”

The UK is not alone.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources.  He is the founder of the EA Network.  If he can help you and your community ministry to the emerging adults in your community, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

Faith in the Home – Spiritual Conversations with your Emerging Adult

Research done among youth group participants by Fuller Institute revealed only 12% of mothers have regular dialogue with their children about spiritual or life issues.  Only 5% of teenagers reported that their fathers have regular dialogue with them regarding spiritual or life issues.

The lack of communication in our homes about our faith is clearly an obstacle to the passing on of our faith and a cause of the Millennial Exodus.

Most of us are familiar with our responsibility as parents to imprint our faith upon our offspring.  Deuteronomy 6:6-7 states…

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 

However, being a spiritual leader in the home is not always easy.

Many parents struggle with addressing spirituality within the home.  Some parents struggle because it was never modeled for them, or feel as if they are not equipped.  The main reason that parents don’t talk to their children about faith is because they are afraid. 

Yes.  Fear shuts down the conversation before it even begins.

We fear how our child may respond either through statements, questions, or actions.  As parents, we fear that our child may reject the faith that we believe – and that their unbelief means that they are rejecting us.

Another source of this fear could be that our child might struggle with the same doubts that we ourselves possess.  Most Christians do not like facing our doubts, but we try to ignore or bury them in other activity.  We know the “church answers” or party-line responses for our doubt, but those pesky doubts linger.  Instead of leading our child on this pathway of faith, we give our children the glib responses that we don’t truly believe.

While making spiritual conversations with your children doesn’t take a lot of training, it does take courage.

  • Be courageous – step out and speak to your child about their spiritual lives and beliefs.
  • Sit back and listen.  Don’t attempt to answer all their questions, or solve all their doubt.  As a parent of an adolescent or emerging adult, you should not be looking to convert them or change their beliefs.  You should seek understanding for yourself, and encourage them.  Adult children do not want you to preach at them.  If you seek to change them, these conversations will always end in conflict.  If you seek to listen to them, these conversations will lead to a deeper fuller relationship with your emerging adult.
  • Speak to your journey – trials, failures, victories, and hopes.  Share with your child your own experiences, while acknowledging their autonomy to make their own decisions.
  • Reflect and pray.  Don’t express your concerns to your child, but express your thoughts through praying to God.  Process what you hear with your spouse or friends.  Having community with others who are parenting emerging adults is essential for maintaining your sanity.
  • Repeat. 

May God grant you the faith and courage you need to faithfully parent your emerging adult children.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder of EA Resources.  He has a passion to encourage parents of emerging adults, and faith communities who want to minister to their needs.  If he can help your community, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

Are Emerging Adults “Spiritual, but not Religious”?

I recently wrote about a conversation with a millennial, and his explanation of what this expression means.

If you are new to this expression, and would like to do a little reading, here is a resource from Patricia Snell Herzog who is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  She is a contributing author of Souls in Transition and Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood.

Here are some highlights of the article.

  •  RAAS (religious and also spiritual), RBNS (religious but not spiritual), SBNR (spiritual but not religious), and NRNS (not religious, not spiritual). The answer is that there are emerging adults in each of these four types, such that some emerging adults are SBNR and others are not.
  • Most spiritual-but-not-religious (SBnr) emerging adults believe in a higher power. Many attended religious services at one point in time, but have either lost interest in them or become antithetical to the religious approaches to which they were exposed.

Understanding the different types of “Spiritual, but not Religious” is crucial because in order to approach an emerging adult with the gospel, you need to understand how think, and what exactly they believe.  If you are looking for a good read, check out Generation Ex-Christian:  Why Young Christians are Leaving the Faith and How to Bring them Back  by Drew Dyck.

If you are looking to teach/share the concept of “Spiritual, but not religious” with a group, here is a lesson plan by the Institute for Faith and Learning.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Director of EA Resources, a nonprofit designed to equip churches and parents to minister to the needs of emerging adults.

 

Does a church’s views on sexuality alienate emerging adults?

Some research was released this week from the Pew Research Group regarding whether or not Americans believe that churches alienate young adults because of their beliefs on sexuality.

Here is the Link.  (You will have to scroll down to Section IV.)

When asked whether or not faith groups are driving away younger Americans because of intolerant views of gay and lesbian people, 50% of Americans said no.  When asked this same question in 2013, 58% of Americans said no.

The drop in this statistic could reveal the number of religious communities that are now more inclusive of the LGBT community.  The drop could also reflect how churches have become more nuanced, and aware of how to discuss these issues in the public square without causing offense.

Source: http://www.prri.org/research/lgbt-transgender-bathroom-discrimination-religious-liberty/

When the same question was asked to emerging adults (18-29 year olds), 60% of Millennials stated that churches are driving away younger Americans due to intolerance.  This number reflects a drop of 13% when compared to when this same question was asked in 2013.

 

Points for Consideration:

  • Emerging adults themselves are the best group to discuss this question, and I feel that their age group most accurately reflects the views of their generation.
  • Emerging adults who grow up within a community, and continues to share those same beliefs are less likely to feel these beliefs repel people their age (because those beliefs did not repel them).
  • These statistics do not show that changing your beliefs will cause more emerging adults to come racing to your church.  But they do reflect that these views, may become obstacles to new emerging adults joining your community.
  • Beliefs do matter.  The stance that your community takes (or refuses to take) on various issues does affect who will or will not walk through the doors of your building.
  • As emerging adults have become less tied to institutions, emerging adults may attend a church regardless of whether or not they agree with the church on a particular issue.  Emerging adults are not afraid to establish their own beliefs separate from the church. 

Although 60% is still extremely high, in regards to relating to and ministering to emerging adults, the positive news is that no group shifted in their perspective more positively than emerging adults.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources.  He is also the Founder of the EA Network, a group of individuals driven to minister to the needs of emerging adults.  If he can help your church minister to the needs of emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

 

 

The Millennial Exodus in Scotland

The steady decline of Church of Scotland membership to some 360,000 persons is well documented. It is therefore no surprise that linkages, closures and reduction in number from the prevailing 46 presbyteries are envisaged. However, the main challenge is the alarming lack of young adults attending church. In many congregations perhaps 70 per cent will be 60 years of age and more. It is no longer one generation missing, but two. This is the emergency which must be addressed even before the present structure of presbyteries is considered. Continue reading

Theology on Tap – To Drink or Not to Drink

While hosting a Theology on Tap ministry may or may not fit your church context, here is an article that discusses how one church has found a way to connect with emerging adults.  It also provides an introduction that all churches must answer regarding how to approach drinking alcohol among emerging adults.

EFFINGHAM — Glasses filled with wine and other alcoholic beverages were scattered atop a dimly lit table in Village Wine in Effingham. It’s an unsuspecting setting for prayer and religious discussion, but that’s what happened there on Jan. 19.

And it’s what happens there every third Thursday of the month for “Theology on Tap” meetings. The gatherings bring religion to young people in a relaxed environment.

Click Here for the entire article.

Scroll down for highlights.

Theology on Tap

Here are some highlights of the article:

  • “It’s a way to meet other young adults without needing the party scene,”  Highlights Emerging Adults need for Community
  • “Too many people don’t see the beauty in them,” she said. “The potential in them. The mystery.”
  • “Theology on Tap is something a lot of churches around the world have adapted to reach young people. It brings people together in a responsible way.”

If you work with emerging adults, you will be working alongside both adolescents (who cannot legally drink) and those over the legal drinking age.  As a ministry you will be challenged to establish policy and practices on what role drinking can have within your community.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you lead your community:

  • How can we allow autonomy among emerging adults concerning this issue?
  • What role(s) can drinking alcohol play in our community?
  • Does your religious community have any policies regarding this issue among other adults?
  • How do we identify when drinking as a group or for an individual might need addressed?
  • Does your religious community have a policy regarding this issue among adolescents?  How should it be the same?  How should it be different?
  • Is there a difference in policy and practice from when a gathering is attending/organized directly by a church representative than when community members organize their own outings?
  • What values are driving our decisions?

I am sure there are more questions, please share your thoughts/questions below.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and the church to minister to the needs of emerging adults.

 

 

Emerging Adults, Emerging Worship – Seminar by Todd Cioffi

Photo courtesy of Aaron Robert Photography. Copyright 2016. www.aaronrobertphotography.com

This seminar if from the Calvin Symposium on Worship from 2012.  While it is a few years old, it speaks on an important topic of how emerging adulthood will affect the church.

The recording provides a definition of emerging adulthood and why this matters for the church in regard to how churches worship.

Here is the Link.

Todd Cioffi is assistant professor of Congregational and Ministry Studies at Calvin College and research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.