I’m currently dealing with a couple counseling issues that came to light in the past couple of days. Both deal with sexual abuse. I’m suddenly feeling that I’m in way over my head. Which brings me to something I learned a long time ago. I’m not a professional counselor!
As student ministers, it’s not our job to have an answers for every single question or issue. Sometimes issues go way beyond our set of skills. Here at Greenwood, we have a couple counseling options on tap for these types of situations. Does your church utilize counselors or do they expect you to be the professional? How do you handle these types of issues?
I found this article from another blog that I read. It’s a re-blog of a blog. I didn’t write it, but it’s great. You can find the original article here.
Here are some ways I’m partnering with the family to work through their issues:
1. Write a contract with your parents. Often we think of asking parents to write a contract to keep their kids in line. However, a student who is serious about repairing a relationship would do well to write a contract outlining specific benchmarks they can reach. This will show he is making a genuine effort to improve.
2. Stop pushing their buttons. This is a big issue in many relationships. I’ve helped families through conflict where they intentionally hurt each using hot-button issues as a weapon of choice. This may seem like a no-brainer to tell them to stop pushing each others’ buttons. However, unless somebody points out the pattern, they may not realize it’s happening. This is not an easy habit to break. I frequently challenge students to be the one to break this cycle of eye-for-an-eye relational combat. Relationships won’t have peace until they stop destructive patterns.
3. Accept your parents’ authority. I’ve told several students over the years that even when your parents are wrong, they’re right. They could be legitimately wrong or they could know something the student doesn’t. If they’re wrong and you fight against them, prideful defense mechanisms go up so they have more trouble making things right when the truth is revealed. If parents know something students don’t, they’ll be protected from what parents are trying to prevent.
Accepting parental authority goes even deeper than that, though. The Bible commands that children obey their parents and allows parents to kill their children if they don’t. I don’t bring that last part up because that’s one seed I don’t want to plant.
As students learn to submit to authority in the family relationships will be restored, disagreements will be less frequent, and understanding will happen more easily. I explain to students that when there’s not a struggle to get their way, they’ll get more of what they’re looking for or realize the wisdom behind why they don’t.
How I’ve helped his parents:
1. Brag on the student. Even parents with the most strained relationships with their kids well up with healthy pride when they hear me bragging on their child. I get the privilege of seeing students at their best. They won’t throw the tantrums around me like they do at home. Their parents need somebody to remind them that their out-of-control monster actually has a good side and a heart open to serving others, participating in discussions and learning about God….