Pick your battles

On this first day of business sessions of the Central Texas Annual Conference, I am blogging about youth ministry.

A few days ago I had the opportunity to brag on one of our kids to his grandmother. This kid has grown remarkably in his three years here, and is a valuable and dynamic part of our Praise Band. I shared this with his grandmother.

She beamed proudly, thanked me, and then asked, “Can you get him to cut his hair?”

“No,” I replied, without hesitation. “That’s really not a battle I care to fight.”

Kids who come into our care have seen a wide variety of care and lack thereof.  Several at our graduation last week told of growing up hearing the adults in their life tell them they would never make it. Now, proudly, here they were, high school graduates.  Many of them the first ever in their family to accomplish this.

Honestly, anytime I hear an adult do any serious grumbling over adolescent hair I stand amazed.  I really thought we got that all hammered out in the 1970s.  The funny (funny as in sad) thing about this is the adult who are grousing NOW about teen’s hair were very likely the ones pushing the coif-envelope in their youth – in the 1970s.

Well, pick your battles with today’s youth.  If you want to even further alienate them, ignore their accomplishments and focus on what you think is wrong with them.

Did you like when your parents did that to you?

I wonder what lessons I can draw from this that will be relevant for me today at Annual Conference….

One thought on “Pick your battles

  1. We avoided the hair battles with our two oldest boys, due to them coming up in a window of time where very short hair was “in”. Perhaps aided by the fact most of their peer group wore short hair. The youngest, however, is a different story. I think that when your kid doesn’t have any major problems, you can push them a little more to conform to standards that have lesser importance. For example, keeping their hair within bounds that will make them more acceptable to potential employers (or girlfriends’ parents). To help them realize that they not only need to “fit in” with their peers, but they have to navigate a place within larger society as well. When your kid is struggling in MAJOR areas though, it is just plain silly to make a major deal out of something such as hair. If their drug habit, or failing grades, or criminal record, will interfere with them getting a job or a DECENT girlfriend, then the hair is the least of your problems.

    With our youngest, we think his hair looks messy and also that it makes the break-outs on his face worse. We insist that he conform to the school’s hair policy even during summer break. We also push him to get it cut a little shorter than absolutely necessary so that we are not having to go to the barber every two weeks. But this is a kid that is an A student, is involved with band and athletics, and has a large circle of friends despite just moving to the area.

    One of his older brothers was a different story. Now, he didn’t test the limits with hair … his boundary-testing of choice was school. We finally just moved the expectations down to “pass” despite feeling in our hearts that he was capable of much more. It all came down to accepting that it was his life … there are some things you can twist their arms to do, and some things that require inner motivation.

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