Be the One
What if you were the one? What if you were “the Rodney” in your teenager’s life? Let me explain.
Josh was a foster kid who had been in and out homes for years. His goal when he arrived at a new home was to see how quickly he could get kicked out. He even kept a journal in which he would write the date he arrived, the date he was kicked out and what strategy he used to get the boot. Each time, he tried to beat his record.
All of this changed when he arrived at Rodney’s house at age 14. After 3 years of being disrespectful and mischievous, Rodney still did not kick him out. Josh decided to try one final reckless choice in which he ended up in jail. He thought to himself, this was it; Rodney will finally kick me to the curb. After spending the night in jail, Rodney picked him up and said the following to him, “Josh, you keep causing trouble, keep pushing us away, keep acting out but you gotta get it through your thick head son. We don’t see you as a problem. We see you as an opportunity.” Rodney changed Josh’s life forever and these words were a turning point in Josh’s life.
In his book, “The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans: How to Decode Their Behavior, Develop Unshakable Trust, and Raise a Respectable Adult”, Josh Shipp shares this story about his life! He says, “Statistically, I should be dead, in jail, or homeless. And yet I’m not because of one caring adult. One imperfect yet deeply committed, caring adult named Rodney.”
“You see, every kid needs a Rodney!” It can be a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, coach, mentor, youth pastor … someone who takes time to invest in them and deeply care for them. “Harvard University did a study on resilience and what enables some kids to make it through tough challenges and causes other kids to fold. Below is the common denominator in kids who end up a success story.”
“The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a support parent, caregiver, or other adult.” As a single mom, I found this quote very encouraging. I don’t know about you but I want to be “the Rodney” for my kids! I want to be the one that helps them become a success story. I want to teach them resilience when hard challenges come their way. I want them to learn that their response is their responsibility and how to manage their negative emotions. I want to cheer them on when they are making smart choices and gently guide them when they make poor choices. I want to encourage them to discover their God given purpose and help them live it out. I want to be an intentional mom who shows my kids love and grace but also teaches them truth and respect.
This book is wonderful for parents of teenagers. However, what I love about this book is that it is not only for parents. You might work with teens, mentor a teenager, or have teenagers in your family. No matter what description you fit into above, I highly recommend this book to you.
The book gives so much helpful facts, insight and truth about teenagers. I found it super helpful as a parent of a teenager and another soon to be teenager. It is divided into 3 parts:
Part 1: The Three Key Mindsets
Part 2: The Phases of a Teenage Human
Part 3: Troubleshooting Common Teenage Challenges
I will share with you a couple of my favorite insights from the book. Josh talks about his first time going on a roller coaster. Noticing only a lap bar to keep him safe, he decided to test it. He tugged on it, pulled on it, and pushed it, trying to make sure that it would hold him and keep him safe on the ride. Josh says, “Your teen is doing the same exact thing. Teenagers will test you to see if you, like the lap bar on a roller coaster, will hold. They are testing you and prodding you and pushing you because they need to know, at a time when so many other things are uncertain that YOU are certain. That you are steady. That you are safe. That you will hold.” Wow- this is such good perspective to have when our teens are pushing back and testing everything we say and do. Instead of getting frustrated which I can so easily do, I found this visual to be a helpful reminder to instead stay calm and remind my teen that I care too much about him to give in or to give up. I want my kids to know that I will be a constant in their life even when times are challenging. Notice I said when, not if, because challenges are inevitable.
I truly loved so much of this book but my favorite piece is Part 2. This section gives you insight into each age level of your teen. For example, it starts with ages 11-12 and shares what is your teen’s focus, what is your grown up role during those years and key actions you can take. It gives a detailed list of how they are changing physically, mentally, relationally and emotionally during those years. It even says at the end approximately how many weeks until graduation. This part really pulls at my heart strings especially as I read about my oldest in the age 15-16 section (approximately 156 weeks until graduation). Our time with our teenagers really does go by so fast even though the day to day struggles seem so long.
I want to encourage you to really be intentional during these teenage years. I love what Josh says, “We need to be the kind of adults who help teenagers achieve as much of their potential as they possibly can. We need to protect the fragile nature of their giftedness and provide environments and spaces where teens can flourish.” I love how this is worded; we need to be focusing on their potential and not their immaturity. We need to see how God has gifted them uniquely and help them become that young man or young woman.
I want to end by reminding you what Rodney said to Josh after his jail time, “We don’t see you as a problem. We see you as an opportunity.” I pray that as we look at our teenage sons or daughters that we see them in this light. We see the opportunity to help them reach their full potential and God sized dreams and purposes. We motivate them, emphasizing their strengths and helping them manage their weaknesses. We see their growth and encourage them to become the best versions of themselves. Josh says many times in this book: “Every kid needs a Rodney. So please: Be a Rodney.” I challenge you to Be the One!
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