We all have parents. We may not have been raised by them, but we all have them. We all come from somewhere. But, for those of us who were raised by our parents, how often did we listen to them? I don’t just mean listening to the rules. I mean did we listen to the information they tried to give us? Did we listen to their advice? Did we plan ahead with our schoolwork when they advised us to? I can almost guarantee the answer is no.

I was talking to some friends at church this week…one of them being the father of the girl I watch on Wednesday evenings. And he reminded me about how kids just don’t listen to their parents as well as they listen to other adults. He reminded me about part of my plight for the last year…well, for the last 12 years actually…and the plight of parents around the world for the last year too.

I’ve been known to say that it takes a special kind of parent to homeschool their kid(s) and I’m not that parent. I stand firm with that statement. My kids don’t listen to me when I try to help them with things. Actually, I take that back: Z listens to me when I help him with music an ADHD struggles, but that’s about it. My birth children don’t listen to my advice or rules and things like that. When M was taking orchestra classes, she wouldn’t listen to my advice or let me try to help her even though I have an Associate’s Degree in music and nearly had my Bachelor’s Degree in music education. They don’t listen to the rules until there are negative consequences…like be home on time or you’re grounded. I could tell them that 2+2=4 and they would argue with me until their teacher told them I was right…never mind when they were learning to count and routinely skipped 13.

Then I have redemption. K listens to me. Yes, he struggled to remember 13 when he was learning to count, but he would let me correct him. He asks me questions about all sorts of things that I have no clue about. In the last year he started asking questions about physics…so I bought him an age-appropriate book to help answer his questions because he already knew more than me. When I say give him advice about breaking up his schoolwork, he listens and asks for planning help. He struggles with the rules, but that’s his ODD taking over and we have to explain the purpose behind the rules. Once he understands, he makes a better effort to follow them. But K isn’t mine by birth.

All of the pastors at my church talk about “relational evangelism” and how we’re more likely to lead someone to Christ by building a relationship with them rather than going knocking door-to-door. That said……….

My goal for music education was to teach high school instrumental music…mainly band and orchestra. Last year, before COVID, I was working with the youth group’s worship team…helping them to learn worship songs, the type of songs that are best for leading groups, and how to effectively lead their peers in worship. It sounds more glamorous than it was…it was lots of chord teaching, part teaching, and teaching the kids how to behave. I loved it though. I was using my degree and my almost degree to reach these kids. I was building relationships with them and giving these kids a sense of camaraderie that they hadn’t had before. Their skills were growing and so was their confidence.

I don’t do that anymore. Now our worship pastor is rebuilding the team slowly as we recover from the pandemic. But those kids still talk to me and we still have relationships.

My job for the past couple of years is titled Groups Babysitter. Basically what it sounds like. I’m a babysitter for a couple of hours for a couple of evenings each week to allow parents to attend life groups. They talk about the weekend’s lesson and about life. The kids and I do crafts, play games, and until late last year watched movies. I finally realized the opportunity I was being given and recently turned the time into a chance to teach the kids more about God and having a relationship with Him. Our church has a discipleship plan to help learn more about God and our relationship with Him and that was recently revised into a kid’s edition. The revised edition includes crafts for the kids to help illustrate the topic for the week. So now I’m trying to take the kids through the plan while I’m watching them.

Since I restructured our time, the kids are coming in excited to see what we’re doing that week. They may not completely understand what we’re talking about, but they’re listening. They’re learning. And the plan can be repeated as many times as necessary.

That dad I mentioned? He thanked me for the influence I’ve had on his daughter. He mentioned that she listens to me better than she listens to her parents. That no matter how many times they tell her 2+2=4 she doesn’t listen until another adult in her life tells her the same thing. Having been there myself, I completely understand. I commend his wisdom in seeking out other adults to help her through life and faith.

I have had to extend my thanks to other adults too. Our youth pastor has had a major impact on all of our kids’ lives and mine too. He taught me to relax and loosen the reigns C and I tend to grip when it comes to our kids. I still have to thank M’s best friend’s mom – a former coworker from my hospital days – for teaching my daughter how to exercise and enjoy it which will lead to long-term healthier habits.

I’ve also thanked adults that have influenced my life. Who have you thanked? Who influenced you? Your kid(s)?

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