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FSM 247, FN 356, DO "Special PER Issue!"
Communication & Respect!--Part Two
Required reading for senior teens & up!
Copyrighted December, 1993 by Family Services, Zurich, Switzerland.

Respecting All Ages!
Dear Adults, YAs & Senior Teens,
       WE LOVE YOU & thank the Lord for all you're doing to make the PER a reality!
In part one of this series we mainly zeroed in on the use of better speech habits in the communications between adults with teens, but other sad examples of unloving speech can sometimes be seen in the way teens speak with each other. Our problems with this are small or nearly nonexistent compared with how teens in the World viciously cut each other down, & we're proud that our Family teens have higher standards for themselves, & that they are concerned when they notice unloving speech amongst themselves. Some of our teens have recently reported that this is a problem in their relations with each other that burdens them. One writes:   
       "It seems like in my group not too much love & praise & encouragement is being shown. For instance, the teens & JETTs are very disrespectful with each other & especially with their parents. It's a little sad. They seem to do fine in front of their Shepherds, but behind closed doors they tend to let their guard down. It's really surprising what they say to each other as teens, but even more so to their parents. I hope I'm not making it sound too negative or making it look too black, but I feel our group here needs a real desperate change in this. It really brings division & the little kids pick up on that sample. I know you understand that I don't mean to be hard on anyone by saying this. It's not the person I'm reporting on, but the problem, the attitude."
       As we bring this point up for consideration, we realise that putting the spotlight on our needs or problems can sometimes be a little discouraging at first. However, it is very encouraging when we look at it as a wonderful victory, realising that the Lord will bring growth by opening our eyes to our weaknesses in these specific areas! Best of all, we know that the Lord will help each one of us as we forgive one another, unite our hearts, & pray for the Lord's special help!

Respect for Children
       Another area in our Family communications which is  especially serious concerns how we talk to our children. When hearing frequent comments from our teens about how they resent adults speaking to them as if they were speaking to children, the question comes to mind: "Well then, how are we speaking to our children? Are we being respectful enough?"
       It seems that some of our teens may have the impression that it is natural, normal or acceptable for adults or for themselves to speak to children bluntly, or in a nagging or unprayerful way. Although they may think this type of speech is acceptable when used with children, the teens have resented this same behaviour when applied to themselves. We are left to wonder, then, if we are concerned enough about how our dear little ones feel, & if they also need & deserve a greater measure of respect & consideration in our communications with them.
       As you have read in Mama's Letter, "Loving Presentation", she mentions people who have learned to speak respectfully to teens. She says: "People who have the easiest time doing this are the ones who are accustomed to not talking down to others, even if they are talking to children.  They show children as much respect, dignity and consideration as they would a mature adult. Children have emotions & feelings & desires, & can be hurt & offended, & need love & appreciation & consideration just as we adults do." (ML#2894:34)
       We need to be more aware that we can affect each other on a daily basis profoundly, either for good or for bad. Any bad habits of unloving speech with others, regardless of the age of those involved, can have unhappy & far-reaching effects. The following report from one of our leaders reflects this concern:
       "The problems adults sometimes have with talking down to teens underscores to me the fact that our Family needs help in our speech with each other across the board, & certainly with children. Simply the way we talk to each other is a real needy area--to have more compassion & love & prayerfulness & consideration.
       "No one likes to be talked to in a condescending or unkind way themselves, which is evidenced by the fact that adults are very sensitive when corrected by other adults or Shepherds. Yet it is so sad if those same adults turn around like the unjust steward & speak harshly & in a condemning way, or label, or jump too quickly to conclusions when talking to teens, JETTs or children. Adults in a Home can quite easily cause hurt feelings without even realising that they are doing it or understanding how hurtful it can be.
       "This weakness burdens me very much, especially because I see a chain reaction resulting from the adults mishandling our young people. If adults come on too strong, or frustrated & impatient to the point of yelling or being intolerant & angry & unloving in their speech, then the teens in turn vent their frustrations on each other, & even worse, on their younger siblings.--They imitate those bad speech habits with the little children that they take care of!
       "If the YAs & teens are not shepherded in a loving, understanding & prayerful way, their frustrations are going to be felt by others, or sadly, even taken out on others, & everyone in a Home can be affected by this lack of love. Lord, help us to really become aware of & grow in this very important & needy area, in Jesus' name!"
       We pray that the helpful tips in this mag will be useful not only in adult-to-adult & adult-to-teen relations, but that adults & teens alike will prayerfully study how to apply these points in their relations with our precious children as well. May God bless & keep us all loving in our speech & make us a fountain flowing with sweet water to many! (See James 3:11).
       The following article was written originally with children in mind, but it's applicable to all. "The heart of man is the same the World over"--regardless of age!

How Not to Nag!
Tips Compiled by Adult & YA Childcare Helpers
       Children, like everyone, resent being nagged & reminded repeatedly to do things that they already know they're supposed to do. We all nag, but is there any way we can mention things to others, or direct them to do the things they need to do in a more helpful & inspiring way? Here are some ideas we came up with that we've found to be useful with our children & with each other. Maybe you can think of more.

         Use checklists. Then if there's something missed in the job that was done, you can just ask them to check the checklist rather than having to talk to them about it.

         Use timers. That'll save you from having to nag everyone to "press in".

        Teach children to think for themselves & let them do so. Ask them things like: "What do you think are the main things that would need to get done in this job?" or, "How do you think this job can be done better?"

  Let them plan things out more & see for themselves what they need to do, rather than just wait to be told.

         Pray for them after you've mentioned something, that they will learn what you have shared, rather than just reminding or correcting them over & over again.

Say things in a way that doesn't sound like you think they are dumb or that they never thought of what you are saying before or don't know any better. Say things like: "You probably just forgot, but..." or, "Is it going to work out for you to..." or, "When were you planning to...."  Just because someone doesn't do a certain thing one time doesn't mean that they don't know any better & that you've got to really go over your explanation again. Maybe there's a reason why they didn't do it, & you can just ask them about it. "I noticed that such-&-such wasn't done. Was there a reason why you didn't do it, or did you just plan to get back to it later?" Offer them the benefit of the doubt.

  Give the vision about why we have to do certain things. Explain & communicate about it, so people will understand, & will feel more inspired to do it. Then you can turn around & put the responsibility on them: "Here's what the Word says about this.  What do you think we should do about it?  How can we take up the challenge to do this?" etc. (With teens, first ask if they are familiar with why we do this or that, if you feel they may not know or remember.) It is important to be sincere & to avoid any hint of sarcasm.

  Give reminders in a positive & fun way--with humour, but not in a foolish or shallow way.--Just a short reminder without the lecture, with as few words as possible is what's nice. They usually can get the point right away.

  Let them think about or decide what they should be doing. If the idea is coming from them, they'll be more inspired & encouraged about it.

  Reminders may not be so necessary when people see some of the consequences of not doing things that they have been asked. If they are always "rescued  prematurely" by nagging to make sure something gets done, they will not be faced with the results of their negligence. Seeing the negative consequences of one's actions helps prevent a recurrence.  This would need to be done with wisdom and prayer, being sure that any "consequences" would not be dangerous or harmful.

  Perhaps save some instructions & reminders for a certain time & do them all at once in a pow-wow or group meeting, unless it's something important that needs to be shared right away. For example, tips in hygiene or manners, while somewhat embarrassing if pointed out individually, can be shared in a funny & instructional way with the whole group without singling out any individuals.

Write down any instructions you've given throughout the day & go over the list to see what things may not have been so important or necessary.  Evaluating what really warrants reminders or correction will decrease nagging & produce better results. Sometimes it's better to just let things pass.

  Check to see if what you're nagging about might just be your pet peeve or a personal way of liking different things done.  Ask yourself if it is necessary that they do it your way. Be Spirit-led & ask the Lord, "Is this something worth mentioning? Is their way of doing this okay?--Or maybe even better?"

  Think of the things you nag them about, & look at yourself to see if you do those same things. If we're being a good sample of the things we want the kids to do, it'll make it easier for them to receive any instruction we may need to give them. Our advice will carry more weight in their eyes, as we've shown that we really believe what  we're saying. Being mindful of our sample will also help keep us on our toes.

  Ask the Lord to help you not get self-righteous. Look how long it's taken us adults to get to where we are, & all the help, love, mercy & training that has been given us. And we still have a long way to go! So let's not expect our kids to be perfect & remember everything we have ever told them.

  Ask the Lord to help you get your priorities straight, & to emphasise the most important things--loving the Lord, the Word & each other. These things are more important than the little things we may sometimes be tempted to nag them about on a daily basis. "For all the law is fulfilled in one word...thou shalt love." (See Mat.22:37-40.)

  Frequent or even daily reviews of Word studies are helpful in learning to combat the nagging habit! Helpful Devotional readings on this subject are found in the MOP, Daily Mights, & Good Thots under "Relations with People", "Love", "Love One Another" & "Patience".
* * *

Open-Forum Discussion Assignment!
       Please discuss together the manner in which you, teens & adults, speak with the children in your Home. Do you feel you give them enough respect & consideration? Are there any bad speech habits you'd like to have prayer for & work on overcoming? Under what circumstances do problems most  often occur? Discuss ways to work together in overcoming them. Please discuss other specific ways in which you can improve your communication with your children.
* * *

A Cure for Nagging!--Responsibility!
From a YA Working Behind the Scenes
Dear Mama,
       THANK YOU so much for all you are doing for us! I had a few ideas & thoughts on the subject of nagging that might be a help somehow.
       One thing that I've found to be really helpful for me is if someone will wait until the end of an activity, time slot, or day to remind me about something, rather than giving me reminders or nags all throughout the day. This is because often I haven't forgotten to do something; I know it needs to be done, but I just haven't gotten to it yet. I'm planning to do it after I'm done with what I'm doing at the moment, or I have a time planned in my head to do it. It gets rather wearisome when someone reminds you to do things all throughout the day when you are already planning on working it in, but just haven't gotten to it yet. It makes you feel like they don't really trust you to do it.
       For example, if it's my job & responsibility that night to put the kids down for bed, instead of throughout the evening someone coming in now & then saying: "Don't forget to have them brush their teeth!" "Did you check their clothes?" "You need to empty the potties." "There are a few toys under the table that didn't get picked up," etc.--If they were to wait until I was completely finished, all the kids were in bed & I had been able to go around & double-check everything, I would probably have emptied the potties, checked the clothes & found the toys under the table. If I don't do it when I'm supposed to, then I would appreciate the reminders.
       I know it helps me not to be resentful of reminders when they come when I've actually missed or forgotten something rather than beforehand, & I think it might be helpful for other teens too. Of course, it is understandable that you might need a reminder on the spot in a dangerous or timely situation--when something really does need to be said right away. But it really helps me when I feel like I have a chance to do things without someone acting like they have to constantly tell me every detail.--Then I get the credit for remembering, not them!--Ha!
       A couple of years ago the adult overseer for our childcare group was gone for a week, so that meant that another teen & I were with our little group without her direct oversight, & we had the basic day-to-day responsibility of making sure everything got done. Of course we were checked on by other adults at different times throughout the day to make sure everything was going well, & to see if we needed any help, but other than that, we pretty much did everything on our own, without our adult overseer there to organise things or remind us to do anything.
       Before this time, we had been quite a source of frustration to her, because we had to be reminded to do things so much, & she was left with a lot of the work load; she would either have to remind us or she would do it herself. My teen partner & I didn't really understand why she was always on our case to clean up, because she did a lot of the cleanup sort of automatically, without thinking. So when she left on this trip, my partner & I had quite a revelation!--If we didn't do certain things, they didn't get done! Ha!
       For instance, for the first day a diaper sat in the bathroom for half a day & the potty didn't get emptied & things were generally unkempt. Then the amazing truth dawned upon us: The diaper was going to keep on sitting there till we did something about it!--Nobody else was there to do it or to remind us or nag us to take care of it. Then I realised that I had been subconsciously dependent upon the reminders & nags before I would do things; I didn't just take care of them on the spot on my own initiative.
       I would often easily forget to do things & not remember them again if I had to wait until later to do them. But during this time when nobody reminded me, everything did actually get done, & better, because the undone job itself was the reminder. It just didn't go away until I did something about it! We found ourselves thinking more & looking around more, & trying to think if there was anything that we needed to do. So it was really good for us.
       I know that some responsibilities are more serious than others, & the consequences for not doing them right could be dangerous or affect a lot of people. However, there are a lot of other jobs that would not seriously suffer if they weren't done perfectly or immediately every time. I was thinking perhaps it would help if the teens, YAs, or even perhaps children could be responsible for the consequences of doing their jobs well or not, without being nagged & reminded.
       Perhaps for a while the jobs won't always get done, or won't get done exactly right, especially at first. But if they know how to do it right, & they see that no one is going to continually nag them or remind them, or they suffer the natural consequences for not doing it right or not doing it at all, then they will have more personal conviction to do it. It will be a real victory for everyone, because it will be done, not "because I always get nagged to do it", but "because it needs to get done!--And if I don't do it, then this or that will happen!"
       This would save strength, time & frustration on the part of the overseer, & resentment on the part of the teen. Plus, the teen will have also learned to take full responsibility for something. Of course, reminders will always continue to be necessary for certain things, but giving the teen the full responsibility, including the consequences, might help!--And it would take away some of the battles that we all experience related to nagging.
       I really love you, Mama, & I'm praying for you!

What Responsibility  Has Done for Me!
Comments from an Adult WS Worker
       ONE OF THE KEYS to keeping people happy & challenged--both young people and adults--is being given responsibility, that is, enough responsibility that it really challenges them, tests their faith, makes them feel trusted, & pushes them to grow.  There's not a lot of opportunity in a WS Unit to experience constant change or lots of new activities, so none of us can look to that for our source of inspiration.  So for me personally, the main thing that keeps me challenged is responsibility!--Our Shepherds trust us & give us responsibility to such a point that it naturally causes us to feel very challenged.
       I was thinking that if I were in a situation where the people I worked for didn't allow for any responsibility on my side, a lot of the fun & challenge & zest for the job would be gone.  If they always told me exactly how to do the job & they wanted it done exactly that way, A-B-C, & they laid out very specifically exactly what I had to do, so all that was required of me was to more or less go through the mechanics of doing it, well, that would really take a lot of joy out of my life.  I think I would get bored & restless quite quickly.  When you're not given the freedom & responsibility to take initiative, it kind of steals the challenge & pizzazz from your being able to think for yourself & pray & hear from the Lord.
       It's fun when you feel like people are counting on you & they trust you.  It's very uplifting & motivating, & I think it brings a lot of life into anyone.  It reminds me of the quote that says, "If you want a sluggish person to show more life, give him more to do. It can make a new person out of him" (MOP, "Relations with People", 104:4).  So if you have someone who is unchallenged, feeling bored & useless, then give him something more than he's used to doing, or greater responsibility than he's used to having; & it's amazing the change it can bring about in somebody's life.
       Conversely, I think if people, & especially some of our teens or YAs who have a lot of drive & ambition & initiative, are put in a position where they don't have responsibility & can't exercise initiative to try new things & do things according to their own faith, then I think they just begin to dry up, because under those circumstances life can get a little boring.
       For example, let's say you're going to be the kitchen overseer for a Home of 50 people.  You can be given that responsibility in two different ways.  You can be given the menu, the shopping list & the schedule of who's going to cook which meals.  All the details can be laid out for you, & you basically just have to follow the instructions 1-2-3 down the line & just do what you're told to do. That's not very challenging. It's not very motivating. In fact, it can be downright boring!
       Then there's the other way to be given the job of kitchen overseer:  The person who hands you the responsibility can say, "This is the way we did it before, but of course you're free to pray about any changes you would like to make.  We'd welcome a new menu or any new food ideas.  Also, it'd be great if you could please get together with your co-workers & see what ways you can come up with to cut our food costs. Along with that, you might want to meet with the provisioners & find out how we can improve in our provisioning situation. As you go along, you might also see if the Lord shows you any improvements on the cleanliness standard.  Of course, if you have any questions, or run into any problems, please let me know! We can make a set time to get together regularly, if you like, so you can let me know how it's going."
       If the responsibility is given to you like that, it makes a world of difference. In that case you have an exciting new challenge to explore.  You might feel a little insecure with having what looks to you like such awesome responsibility, but even that makes you want to really pray & work hard & apply yourself & give it your best shot.  (Thank the Lord that you're not left stranded completely on your own; you're given some training & tips & ideas to help you on your way.--And of course someone is available to give you advice & help when you need it!  PTL!)
       If our teens are in situations where the circumstances that they live under can't radically change right away--for example, we know they can't all live in the Teen Home at the same time, or perhaps for various reasons they're very needed at Home & they can't go on the road right now--well, their lives can still be very challenging & exciting if they are given sufficient responsibility! I think that's an important key.
       I read about a 15-year-old teen who is very good at writing, spelling & punctuation, etc., so he was given the responsibility of heading up the entire mail ministry for his Home.  Other teens are accomplished secretaries, teachers, office or base managers, Shepherds, etc.  Testimonies where the teens are carrying substantial responsibility are a wonderful confirmation that life in any Home can be fun for the teens, provided they are given responsibility & they are allowed to exercise their faith, be used, feel needed & be a blessing.
       The times when I've been the happiest in the Family are the times when I've been the most used & had responsibility,  when I knew I was trusted & challenged.  And the times when I was the least happy were the times when I didn't feel like I had anything to do, I didn't really have a ministry or a place of service.  I felt like nobody was counting on me & it didn't make any difference to anybody if I did my job or not.--I wondered if it even mattered whether I was there or not, because I felt like nobody would even miss me or my contribution to the Lord's Work. That's a sad situation, but it just shows that the way you're treated, as far as the responsibility entrusted to you, can make a big, big difference in your overall state of mind--whether you feel needed & challenged & like you have a reason to get up in the morning & fight.  PTL!

Open-Forum Discussion Assignment!
       (Note: These discussions can count towards the one-hour Open-Forum Discussion that can take the place of the Personal Time requirement.)
       Adults, YAs, and senior  teens, please discuss the following separately first, and then unitedly:  Do the senior teens and YAs in the Home carry enough responsibility? Do they have sufficient authority to go with that responsibility so that they feel challenged in their jobs?
       If the answer to any of these questions is "no", what can be done to change the situation?
       God bless you! We love you and know the Lord will bless and anoint as you obey! He never fails!

Copyright 1996 The Family