Getting Relationships Right

I attended the “Getting Relationships Right” conference in Nashville during November. The Search Institute developed this training for leaders of schools, after-school programs, and churches to strengthen the relationships we build with young people. 

It is important to remember that the consensus in research shows very strongly that developmental relationships in families play a powerful role in children’s development. Spend some quality time with your child every week. The power of that relationship is significant. Another interesting conclusion about the nature of developmental relationships reveals that when young people experience healthy relationships with parents, teachers, church leaders, and others, they do better on a variety of psychological, social-emotional, academic, and behavioral health indicators (Roehlkepartain et al., 2017). 

If you are a parent, grandparent, or someone who works with children, here are few things I learned during this conference that I think will be very helpful as we continue investing in our children: 

Express Care – One way we can do this is by being dependable. When our son was in middle school, he really enjoyed football and he was good at it. At a time in his life when parenting was a bit tough, and I felt I was always having to discipline and reprimand, the football field provided a positive experience for him. So, Robert and I made the decision that we would be at every football game. That became our priority. It was something he could depend on, that we would be there, in the stands, cheering for him. 

Challenge Growth – We need to help children live up to their potential. We need to make sure we hold them accountable and help them learn from their mistakes. And then insist that they take responsibility for their actions. This can be very difficult, but it is better to help our kids do this now than later in life. One of our problems in society is when adults do not know how to take responsibility for their actions. 

Provide Support – We can enable children to learn how to navigate difficult situations and systems by helping them complete tasks and achieve goals. We had a saying in our house, “Potters don’t quit.” Help your children work through tough situations by supporting them and advocating for them, but giving them boundaries that keep them on track. 

Share Power – Respect your children. Include them in collaboration on decisions they are old enough to handle. Create opportunities for your children to take action and lead. One way to do this on a spiritual level is to let them pray for meals and at family occasions. We have been working with our kids on this during Sunday school and Wednesday nights. Their prayers are beautiful. 

Expand Possibilities – Start talking to your kids now about possibilities for the future. Expose them to new ideas, experiences, and places. Let them be around people who help them grow. That is one of the best things I love about the Trinity community. We have the opportunity for children to be around adults who care about them, and help them see things that we as parents may not even see. 

Trinity is a wonderful resource for children in our church and community. San Antonio is a city that has many children with needs. They need a healthy adult to invest in them. 

Research continues to show that even one positive adult relationship can make all the difference in a child’s life. Our church has children who need relationships like these. As you think about ways God may want you to go beyond your own household to help, don’t discount working with kids in the church. Not every child who enters our church has positive relationships with adults in their lives. We have more children at Trinity now than ever before who attend without a parent. They come with someone else and need a “hero” in their life to walk beside them. 

As you pray for God to lead you in a new opportunity to serve, see if He is steering you towards partnering with our Children’s Ministry to make a difference in our community. 

Written by Dr. Debbie Potter, Minister of Children