As a mom of Gen Z kids, it can be more difficult than ever to raise kids that love God, have good moral values and be successful in all they do.
Especially battling additional issues like a post-Christian worldview, increased anxiety and other obstacles, kids need skills—both basic life skills and social and emotional skills--to help them not just survive life, but also thrive at it.
Here are seven skills all kids—especially millennial and Gen Z kids—need to learn:
1. How to Be a Good Steward
Younger generations put a high emphasis on taking care of the planet, including their resources.
They do not want to see people wasting what they have been given. This is in line with Genesis where God granted Adam the responsibility to “rule and subdue the earth.” God wants us to care for what He has given us. Kids need to learn how to use only what they need, conserve where they can and not take their possessions for granted.
2. How to Make a Difference
All kids, but especially from this generation, need to feel they are making a difference—to know and be known. They want to know their work matters.
While we know God cares about all things, including their work, they want to know even the most mundane chore is making a difference in others’ lives. Therefore, they need to focus on every action, not just in the larger areas of life.
Working for a non-profit is a direct way to see work change lives. But what about changing diapers, making dinner and cleaning the house? These may not seem like they matter day in and day out, but they make a difference in people’s lives. Help them make this connection by praising their positive actions; even small ones like completing their chores, as this makes a difference in the lives of the whole family.
3. How to Pay it Forward
Random acts of kindness used to be a fad a few years ago, but it can certainly make a comeback. With the world split between political parties, religious affiliations and other areas of divide, God wants to unify us by giving us His Spirit. Galatians 5 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
As we increase our experiences with the Holy Spirit, the fruits of His presence will be evident in our lives. An act of the Spirit can be as small as opening the door for someone, or as large as providing in a sacrificial way for someone else. If this is foreign to you, start with one act of kindness a day.
Pay for the meal in the fast food line for the person ahead or behind you. Be patient and go to the longest line in the grocery store. Cast your cares in prayer rather than through your soul. Soon you’ll find a random one act of kindness can snowball into many and will make a huge difference in other’s lives despite how small the gesture.
4. How to Learn the Bible
As a pastor’s wife, it is easy to see churches are filled with Christians who consume a lot of material, but don’t always have the skills to know how to study the Bible for themselves and understand it deeply.
Millennials receive information differently. Long gone are the days where kids will sit for an hour and listen to someone teach them the Bible on Sunday mornings after being in school for several hours during the week. This generation wants to receive info through social media, videos, etc. If your church has a heart for teaching the next generation, take a note from the world around us and use videos, social media, etc. to give bite-sized chunks of the Word to feed your kids.
5. How to Win at Basic Life Skills
Kids need basic life skills to succeed. Home economics might have been a required class before, but kids are no longer required to take it.
Areas of life like balancing a checkbook, cooking, etc. are all skills necessary to live as a successful adult. Take some time to teach your kids the skills necessary to thrive as an adult. If you are not sure what they are, google or watch You Tube videos. Articles will help pinpoint exactly what kids need to survive.
Take an hour on a Saturday and give hands-on training to kids. Better yet, let your kids record those moments and teach it to others. Take it one step further and encourage your church to offer training classes in basic life skills to give kids--both within the church and the community—to let them know they care about all facets of kids—not only their spiritual lives but also their lives as a whole.
6. How to Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Kids have (or have access to) way more disposable income than ever before. Therefore, they need to develop an attitude of being content with what they have, not what they wish they had. Teach your kids to begin a gratitude journal. Even for five minutes a day, encourage your kids to write down their blessings.
When they are sad, being thankful rewires the brain to focus on the positive rather than the negative and help them to appreciate what they have. Soon their attitude will naturally gravitate towards positivity rather than negativity.
7. How to Intersect the World and Their Values
Schools no longer allow prayer, most public events don’t mention God at all and each day the media reports on more school shootings. Kids are more confused than ever on how to integrate what they learn on Sunday and incorporate it into their daily lives the other six days of the week.
Kids need parents to teach them not to read the bible simply as a to do list of things to do or not to do but rather as a love story from God to His children. Kids not only need to memorize Bible verses—which is a great start—but also how to use those verses to help them.
For example, a kid struggling with anxiety may memorize “cast all your cares on me because he cares for you” but are still anxious. Teach them as they repeat that verse to breathe for ten seconds. Or they can take deep breaths while journaling their feelings. The Bible is only a book if kids don’t know how to apply it. Information doesn’t lead to transformation, but the application of that information does.
Kids still need parents to invest in their lives. They may make you think they don’t need you, but they do. Take the time to invest in their lives in every facet—including their basic life skills, and their social and emotional development. It may mean a sacrifice in time, money and resources, but may pay dividends in the end when you have raised a kid who not only survives at life but also thrives.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year and the Enduring Light Silver Medal, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her first book with Leafwood Publishers, An Invitation to the Table, came out September 2016. She also teaches at various writers' workshops, such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She and her husband live in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, with their two children, Caleb and Leah. For more information, please visit her website at http://www.michellelazurek.com/.
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