Tag Archives: tweens

Wonder of Girls

WonderOfGirlsWell, I just finished reading a most wonderful book:

The Wonder of Girls: Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters, by Michael Gurian

This book really gets into what makes teenage girls tick.  Two main themes stick in my mind:

  1. There are solid scientific reasons why girls act the way they do, based on hormones and other things that affect the way they think, feel, and do what they do.
  2. Society has let feminism go a little too far in some ways, telling girls that they should not only be as good as boys, but be like boys, damaging girls’ nature of who they truly are.

Many elements covered in this book help me better understand my daughter and other youth women. I highly recommend it!

Modern Day Princesses

ModernDayProcessYou might think that it is a mother’s job to raise a daughter to be a modern day princess of the King.  While you would be partly right, and this book covers that plenty, this book also emphasizes and illustrates how important a father’s role becomes, especially as a girl gets older.  For any mom or dad trying to better connect with your tween or teen daughter, this book is for you:

Raising a Modern-Day Princess: Inspriing purpose, value, and strenght in your daughter

 

What Youth Want

T8HeartMy eldest son is months away from being an adult.  I recently logged my 9,400th hour volunteering with youth through Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and our church youth groups.  So, one might think I have some idea what youth want these days.  However, the last few weeks have proved that wrong, as some youth, including my own children, surprised me a little.  Here is what they reminded me:

Youth want a deep experience.  You might think they come to church just to hang out with their friends.  Or, you might think they want to read the Bible quickly to check it off and move on.  I asked my children what they would like to see in our youth group and Bible studies at home.  They said they would like to us to go deeper!  They’ve read and heard the same stories over and over.  They want to know more, learn something different.  Our church is already working on things in this area.  Now, as the spiritual leader of our family, I need to figure out how to do this at home.

Youth want to be productive.  Our Boy Scout troop developed a pattern for meetings.  We spend the first and third week working on advancement.  We spend the second week practicing basic Scout skills.  We spend the fourth week having pure fun, playing games.  The boy leaders in the troop just held their annual planning meeting to decide what to do different next year.  Top on the list was to replace the pure fun meeting with something more productive!  They still want to have fun, but they want it to have a purpose.  So, our fourth week will now be competitions to reinforce what they practiced in the second week.

Youth want to serve their community.  Our family waited too long to sign up for Metropolitan Ministries this year.  So, the only opportunity left was to hang out for an hour, just kind of guiding people around.  All three of my children were bummed, asking, “Why can’t we go for half the day and really do something, like we did last year?”  I didn’t realize they were so dedicated to serving.  We’ll have to remember to sign up earlier next year.

Youth want to help other youth.  Our Girl Scout troop had to pick a service project for their Journey program.  They could have picked anything.  They could have made it easy.  However, they chose to put something together to really make a difference and help other youth transition into middle school!  They originally challenged themselves to develop an elaborate program in our public schools.  We had to scale that down a bit and change to more of a seminar setting.  Nonetheless, they’re really onto something, as the girls they spoke to said it was quite helpful.

Youth want to be sincere and reverent.  For Christmas, our family had to choose between a high-energy, contemporary worship service and a calmer, more traditional communion service.  We chose the first, thinking our children would enjoy it more.  The service opened with music that felt like our own Tran-Siberian Orchestra and just got better from there.  My eldest and I thought it might be the best service we have ever seen.  My two middle schoolers agreed that they “liked” it, but they quickly followed up by saying it didn’t feel right.  They thought it would be more appropriate to celebrate the birth of our Savior with more sincerity and reverence.  So, it sounds like we’ll be attending the traditional communion service next year.

Youth want to give.  Early in the shopping season, my wife and I pondered giving each of our children a donation to a global charity.  However, funds were tight this year, and we decided to move forward with the usual gifts.  On Christmas day, long after the presents were open, I half-joked with them, “Yeah, we almost got you each a donation to a global charity instead of one of your regular gifts.  What would you have thought of that?”  I expected them to half-heartedly say that could be nice.  But, all three of them, in unison, said, “Now, that would have been awesome!”  Rest assured we noted that for next year.

Of course, I actually knew some of these things to some degree, just not to the extent that I have seen over the last few weeks.  Even then, if I looked beyond my children and scout troops, maybe I could have seen these points.  Many youth at our church sign up for service retreats, probably for these same reasons.  So, I suppose these are just a few more examples that help me, and maybe a few others, keep in mind what youth want.

 

An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars

McKennaShootsfortheStarsLooking for a good movie on how to handle friendships, embarrassment, and general challenges in life?  We watched “An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars” together as a family and really enjoyed it.  Like most American Girl movies, it’s just as good for boys as for girls.  Also, as usual, the main characters are in elementary school, but they still struggle with the same basic challenges that we all do.

McKenna: Shoots For The Stars [Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy] American Girl
McKenna: Shoots For The Stars [DVD] American Girl

An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong

ChrissaStandsStrongParents and youth – are you looking for a good movie about how to handle bullying?  We watched “An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong” together as a family and really enjoyed it.  Even though it’s An American Girl, the movie is good for boys, too.  The only thing to consider is that the main characters are fourth graders.  So, middle school youth might struggle with relating to the characters and particular situations.  However, the basic challenges of bullying are still there and make it worth watching.

An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong

Fun with Duct Tape

ductroseEveryone likes duct tape, especially to use for just about anything except its original purpose.  Students, in particular, like to make things out of duct tape.  You might surpised by just how many things you can make out of duct tape and a few other supplies.

 

 

Some of the smaller, simpler things I found are:

  • Book cover (just need a book to cover)
  • Bookmark
  • Bracelet – regular, braid or chain
  • Drink koozie (see instructions, need a drink can)
  • Flower (see instructions, good to have a pencil or pen as a base)
  • Hair bow (see instructions, need a hair band or clip)
  • Lanyard
  • Megaphone
  • Necktie
  • Picture frame
  • Placemat
  • Sandals or Slippers (need cardboard)
  • Wallet (see instructions)

You can find instructions for these and many more things at Duck Tape Club Ducktivities (Duck Tape is a brand of duct tape).

Be sure to get your duct tape in a few different bright colors to make things more fun and interesting!

 

Fun with Magnets

magnetMy youth group students said they wanted to experiment with magnets, so I wondered what to do and came up with this plan:

 

 

 

 

Materials

  • Magnets (1-2 per student)
  • Paper mazes (1 per student)
  • Paper clips (3 per student)
  • Miscellaneous coins
  • Cereal high in iron
  • Needles (1 per student)
  • Corks or fishing bobbers (1 per student)
  • Plastic cups (1 per student)

Steps – have each student:

  • Navigate the maze with a paperclip using a magnet on the other side of the paper
  • Use the magnet to pick up a paperclip, and have that paperclip pick up another, and so on, to make a chain of paperclips
  • Try to use the magnet to pick up the coins – this should not work
    • This may surprise them, as most people think all magnets pick up all metal objects
  • Try to use the magnet to pick up crushed piles of the cereal high in iron – this should work
    • This may surprise them, as most people don’t think a magnet would pick up cereal
  • Make a compass
    • Stroke a needle with a magnet about 100 times
    • Stick the needle in the cork or fishing bobber
    • You may need to stick a paperclip into the bottom of the cork or fishing bobber to weight it down
    • Put the needle contraption into a cup of water and watch it point north!

 

Choices for Dinner

tacosWell, it’s Tuesday, so we experienced Taco Tuesday for dinner this evening.  We do something a little different, in that we offer choices for dinner.  For example, for Taco Tuesday, we have BOTH hard taco shells AND soft tortillas, and we have BOTH ground beef AND chicken strips.  And, then we have all of the fixins laid out, including lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream and taco sauce.  It’s basically a self-serve taco bar.  Some family members only like certain things, and others have a couple different things because they like variety.

We do something similar when we have pasta for dinner.  We only have one type of pasta.  However, we have BOTH marinara AND Alfredo sauces, and we have BOTH powdered Parmesan AND shredded cheddar cheeses.  Sometimes we have meatballs, onions, or mushrooms on the side for anyone that wants them.  So, it’s like a self-serve pasta bar.  Again, some family members pick very specific things, and others have half a plate of one variation and half a plate of another.

I sometimes wonder, is this normal or unusual, good or bad?  It’s definitely good for getting the children to eat, as each one chooses what he or she wants.  But, is it bad to allow them to be picky by having choices for dinner?

 

Popsicle Stick Bridge Building Contest

PopsicleBridgeAre you looking for a fun, competitive activity for a youth group or Scout meeting?  At today’s middle school youth group, we had a popsicle stick bridge building contest!  Students paired up and received popsicle sticks, clay, clothespins, and rubber bands.  They had about 15 minutes to build their bridges.  When done, the students had to be able to put at least one book underneath each of their bridges.  Then, we tested each bridge to see which could hold the most books on top.  Of course, you could change many aspects of this activity, like the size of the groups, materials used, time allowed, and so on.  The students that built the strongest bridge won a prize, but they all had a good time!

 

Understand Teenagers!

IntimateUnderstandingIf you have tween or teen children, or if you associate with teenagers through church, Scouts or somewhere else, then you know they can be utterly confusing.  I still think that Middle School Ministries is the best starting place to understanding tweens and teens, but if that is Parenting 101, then the latest book I finished reading might be Parenting 102:

An Intimate Understanding of America’s Teenagers: Shaking Hands with Aliens

The author is a veteran school teacher and youth group leader, so he packs years of insight and wisdom into this book on teenagers.  He covers many points that won’t surprise you.  Teenagers need stability, love, boundaries, purpose and respect.  If you would  like to better understand why they need all of that, and how you can help provide it to them, then you’ll find heart-felt and thought-out guidance throughout thise book.

Extra note:  each chapter ends with advice for parents, teachers, and teenagers!  So, this is even a great book for teenagers to understand more about themselves and their fellow teens.