Why your kid is bored at church and school

Normal is fading away. Governments and industries and schools like normal, because it’s easier, it scales and it’s profitable. But people don’t like it – we want to be who we are, not who some marketer tells us to be. – Seth Godin


Bored out my mind.

Nothing can give a parent more confusion and frustration than dealing with a child who is bored with their life.  Particularly in the arenas of school and church (if you are a part of either), so many kids are enduring the normal everyday humdrum of life in our educational institutions.  We work, striving hard everyday to provide for their needs, take care of their roller coaster emotions, and give insight to their troubled minds.  Life is hard for us.  But we’ve been down the block a little bit.  Life is hard for them too.  They’re experiencing it for the first time.

I’m not writing from the perspective of a parent who has figured it all out completely.  My kid didn’t come out with an instruction manual either.  I’m almost 43 years old, the parent of two teenage boys and two almost preteen girls and I can honestly tell you…like Indiana Jones, my wife and I are just figuring this out as we go along!

But today I want to give you a few reasons why your kid is bored at church and school.  I hope you will allow me to be direct.  And please understand, I’m not scolding you, I’m scolding myself.  The applications and implications for us as parents are for sure heavy and will be difficult, but I believe in you and me.  I believe in our ability to see past what our culture tells us about our children and into what God is telling us about who we are and who they are.  I hope you find this enlightening, challenging, and intensely practical today.  That is my goal.

Some of these reasons apply to your kid, but don’t assume a one size fits all.  I’m going to address a few issues and hopefully you can pick out the things that make the most sense to you.

  1. Our kids are bored because our kids feel alone.  Let’s face it.  We live in a world where you can be tremendously connected with people in a digital fashion through the internet, cell phone access, video game multi-player scenarios, and social media. We can “connect” with people from the comfort of our own living rooms and bedrooms without ever having to leave the house, and we call that relationship.  Of course, there’s not real sacrifice of personal convenience in these relationships.  In fact, in the digital world, its almost all about convenience isn’t it?  But in the midst of this super technologically advanced society we live in here in the west, our kids are more disconnected than ever.  Why?  Because we’ve traded real human presence for artificial human presence.  Your kid feels alone because, he or she is alone.  The culture around us holds up the “Idol”.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The one most talented, most gifted, and most sexy that all of us can consume from them their great talent and skill for our own personal entertainment.  We value the one who overcomes it all to rise to the top.  While the rest of us sit and wait on our 15 minutes of fame to come put a spotlight on us, our kids are growing up in a world of parents and siblings that are focused on becoming the next great athlete or superstar or whatever.  Your kid feels alone because our culture values the individual over the community.  Go into your kids rooms today and see what they’ve done with all of the participation trophies they earned as kids.  Do you think they aren’t counting them in comparison to their brother or sisters trophies?  Is it possible that your kid is feeling alone because in your quest for them to aspire to excellence, they can never feel like they are ever worthy enough? Have you communicated to them that they are worthy and valuable even if they have no trophies to show on their shelf in life?  What can we do to limit the amount of time they spend on their devices and replace that with time spent with us and other people?
  2. Our kids are bored because we’ve resigned our responsibility as parents as the primary educators and disciplers of our kids. What do I mean by this?  Well, let’s look at our understanding of the education system and how that same mentality pervades the church.  We believe the schools job is to educate our kids. Right?  Well…kind of.  The school’s job isn’t actually to educate our children.  The school is a supplement to our primary role as the educators of our children.  Now, this doesn’t mean that our teachers have no value.  They are trained in the areas that they teach to give your children the education in those areas that you and I are not equipped or trained to teach them.  Don’t ask me to teach my son Trigonometry.  I will fail him!  Ha. However, you, Dad & Mom are to be the primary educator in your child’s life.  You, not the school.  The school exists as a supplement, an extra, an add-on teacher for your kid to teach them the things you cannot.  We are partners together with the school, but we still hold our place as our child’s primary educators.    Dad & Mom, when you walk in the door at night from work, your job isn’t to just sit on the couch, enter your own world, make dinner, and leave the “education” of your children up to the school and the television in your living room!  When did we get so lazy with our own kids?  Why haven’t we realized that we are to be the primary educators of our children?  School is preparing them for life, no doubt.  And there is value in what the school is doing.    But the relational element, the flesh and heart and emotion of life that ties in all of the black and white structure and scaffolding that school is into the life of our children, that is our responsibility.  We are to breathe life into our kids from what can often be the lifeless and impersonal environment that is the school.  I believe parent involvement in the classroom is absolutely critical.  We need to understand however that we have abdicated our role as the primary educators of our children because it is easy and convenient and efficient, not because its the best thing for our kids.  And what about our religious institutions?  What about discipling our kids?  We’ve relegated that to our pastors, youth pastors, and the people who volunteer as class teachers in our churches.  Again, I’m not saying these people have no value… on the contrary, I believe we need to look at our childrens teachers and pastors and volunteer youth leaders as partners in the growth, education, and spiritual formation of our children. Parents are the primary educator and discipler of your kids until they become independant enough to feed themselves and feed others with the knowledge we’ve passed on to them.  This is a huge responsibility.  And I think our abdication of it has caused our kids to be bored because we haven’t gotten involved in the process.
  3. Our kids are bored because they were unprepared for the real world of the everyday.  We spend so much of our time and life trying to constantly keep our children entertained.  They have the attention span of a gnat.  And so our solution is to cater to their every request, their every cry or whimper, their every sad face.  We want them to never experience pain because we know it hurts.  But we forget that it is through pain, suffering, struggle, and trouble that we had to learn the lessons we learned.  While I wouldn’t go looking for pain, I would encourage you to bring your child into environments in life where they have to learn how to work through the struggle rather than escape from it.  Do you want to know why so many of our kids are finding themselves in the throes of drug use, sexual activity, and glory seeking?  Look in the mirror.  They do it as they follow your example.  They do it because you are the primary educator and spiritual mentor in their life.  Crazy thing is that you may never have looked at yourself that way, but its true.  And you may not be a drug user, sexually promiscous, or fame seeking… but if you look closer, I think you’ll find that you are putting out a vibe to your kids that teaches them how to escape from the demands and responsibilities of the difficulties of life. Your kids are following the example you set because you are the only one they have that they are around more than anyone else.  They adopt your habits, your coping mechanisms, your ways of handling the stresses of life.  And if you aren’t preparing them for the inevitable struggle that life brings by talking about the future, leading them into spaces of challenge and struggle… they will continue to look for ways of escape, ways that are more exciting, that feel more inspiring, that bring them to the heights of ecstasy and enjoyment unlike any school or church experience ever has.  Face your own fears, engage the world around you, tackle the giant that threatens to overtake you, and overcome the mountain by climbing it rather than trying to dodge it.  You will be better for it.  Your kids will too.
  4. Our kids are bored because they need a vision of life that is more than just another event or function to attend.  I don’t know how to say it any better, but you and I and our kids need to be caught up into an adventure that is bigger than the one that is painted by our schools and most of our churches.  Our kids are bored because they don’t realize that there is a larger Story to be a part of.  Our kids are bored because they feel like they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  Our kids are bored because the story of school is “Get a Job that pays you well”.  Our kids are bored because the story of church is “Get saved so you can wait around, behave yourself, and go to heaven when you die.”  Worship Services are great.  But more singing and listening to sermons is not going to change the world.  You cannot change the world with a room full of consumers.  THIS IS NOT WHAT WE WERE MADE FOR!!!!!!!!!!   I guess, by now, you can tell I’m not just a little bit passionate about this.  There is a bigger STORY.  There is a higher PURPOSE.  There is a greater MEANING.  It is called THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.  Jesus spoke about it in Mark 1:24 and all throughout the Good News Stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  It is NEAR.  It is APPARENT.  It is HAPPENING NOW.  It is ADVANCING.  It is CALLING.  It is MOVING.  It is ACTIVE.  It is ALIVE.  And it is AVAILABLE TO ALL.  You may not know what I’m talking about.  You may be struggling to recieve any of what I’m saying because you are probably struggling with the mistakes you’ve made in parenting or living life outside of community… I want to stop you right there and remind you that there is GRACE.  There is HOPE.  There is LIFE AVAILABLE to you.  And I would love to show you more.  (For a little more insight into what this Kingdom is, I invite you to read my article about “The Kingdom in View”.

Our kids are following us.  What are we following?  Who are you following?  If it is the culture, the voices inside your own head, or the feelings inside your own heart… I want to ask you the question, “How is that working for you?”  The reason our children are bored is because we are bored.  We don’t have hope. We live in constant fear and anxiety.  We live in a state of uncertainty all of the time and there is not faith in the future.  We watch the news.  We drink our shame and fear away, only to watch it return with a vengeance the next day. There is no escape from the darkness that creeps in.  But we don’t have to allow the darkness to overtake us.  We can overtake the darkness by becoming sons and daughters of the light!  I’m interested to hear your stories, your fears, your questions, your struggles.  Would you take the time to comment in the section below?  Would you chat with me?  Call me.  615-653-0015.  I’d love to talk.  I’d love to offer hope.  Let’s begin the road to hope again.

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