Friday, January 6, 2017

How to Keep From Having Weird MKs

I once saw a very funny video about the difference between “homeschoolers” and “homeschooled” teens.* Basically, the “homeschooler” was maladjusted and extremely unfashionable—exaggerated, of course—while the “homeschooled” kids were normal teens, educated at home. The video was exceptionally silly for the viewers’ pleasure, but it had a few valid points.

Some MKs have issues, too, but the good news is, they can be fixed. 

(Please don't get the impression I had it all together. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I first came to Spain in my twenties, I couldn't figure out why people stared at me. What was wrong with my knee socks? Why did they stare at my feet--sandals and hose, a real no-no here? I was clueless, and our family looked distinctly "from Mars.") Now, read the rest--concepts I learned from years of tripping-up. By the way, these rules go for your home country and for adults, too.

How can you avoid having teens that look peculiar in the country you live in? It’s absolutely impossible not to “stick out” a little bit in most places—especially if you’re the only family of your skin color. But, this post isn’t about that; it’s about being a part of a whole. It’s about being cool and holy. Are you curious? I hope so.

I believe the “weird MK” is strange for two reasons:
  1. Lack of socialization—I mean this! Some MKs literally never mix with anyone outside of their immediate family, except at church. Sometimes, their parents have taught them that everyone else is “heathen” and therefore to be avoided. They’re not allowed to hang out with friends (even with adequate chaperones) or take part in extracurricular activities where the other kids are unsaved. They never go to the mall or do anything “normal” kids in their community do. When they’re with the teens at church, they have literally nothing in common. The native teens think the MKs are goofy, and they ignore them. It’s a process, but it happens.
  2. DressLittle House on the Prairie is no longer “in.” When your teens dress in clothing that would have been okay in the 1970s, when teen boys tuck in their shirts when everyone else wears them out, when girls look like they just walked off the set of a black-and-white movie, something isn’t quite right. One of the ways kids can fit in is by wearing clothing that doesn’t look like their parents’ hand-me-downs and works with your adopted country’s culture.
I’m going to take these two topics and share how you can address them. Okay?

Socialization—You'll know your own field. A lot depends on your ministry and how many kids are in your church. Few? I understand the problem! Many? You have it easier. If there are a small number of teens in your church, make sure you encourage activities together. If there are none, make the extra effort to travel so that your children can be with other Christian kids on a regular basis. If your kids have no idea what to do with the other kids, if they’re already caught in the no-interests-in-common trap, help them come up with ideas for bridge builders. Some ideas: sports, biking, baking cookies and cooking together, going to a mall for a treat, Christian service projects, walking down the street as a group, picnics, fun nights, and outings. Youth groups are important! Your kids need to take the initiative and invite their friends to do fun things with them. The Christian life is about sharing and caring. We love God and we love others. When a family closes itself off from the rest of the world, they isolate themselves from the people they want to reach. While we never allow our children to participate in worldly activities with others, there’s a lot they can do that’s clean, healthy, and godly. When Christian young people include others in their activities, they have something in common with those around them. They also open up doors for witness. Make sure your teen is socialized!

Dress—I am totally for modesty. Having said that, I am also for teens not looking extremely “foreign” where they live. If your teen walks down the street, and he or she looks like an alien from outer space, there’s a problem. If your son or daughter looks totally out of step in your church youth group, there’s a problem. Let me explain. If you live in Africa, your kids might look best wearing African prints and the kinds of clothing their friends wear. If you live in Europe, your teens will wear something similar to their friends (with modesty in mind). The aim is to look like a Christian and be stylish. If you have no clue what’s “in” and what isn’t, go into a shop that caters to the “medium” fashions (not a mod shop for teens). Go to a store that’s in the modern-but-conservative range. Observe. What length jackets look great this year? What shape sleeves do you see? What fabrics are being used? Lace? Are there layers? What colors are in style? (In Europe, colors are important. Some years, everything is blue. Other years, camel, browns, and beiges predominate, and some years, there’s a lot of black and gray.) What kinds of shoes are the young people wearing? You don’t want your thirteen-year-old boy wearing wing tips when his friends have Italian dress shoes. Your daughter can wear a stylish skirt in a longer length. (This year, it’s easy, as maxis and midis are very much in vogue.) Helping our kids to dress stylishly may sound superficial to you, but it’s important for our teens to be part of a group. It’s not materialistic to avoid looking like they landed in a flying saucer. Your teens don’t need many clothes; you only need to be choosy when you shop.

Do you want your teen to be successful on the mission field? Help him meet friends and lead those friends in good, clean activities. Encourage him to demonstrate his love for the Lord by serving God and others.

There are lots of outstanding MK teens all over the world. They love God and impact others for good. They are fun and godly.

The Apostle Paul addressed the concept of fitting into the culture when he said, To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Help your MK fit into God’s work on your field!


* I looked for and couldn’t find the link for this video. I’m not sure it’s still around. Believe me, it was funny. And yes, our own MK children were homeschooled, not “homeschoolers.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know the video that you refer to! My husband and I were both well socialised, homeschoolED kids. I appreciate that my parents never kept us away from the kids on our street, rather, we had a Bible Club in our home that opened a lot of doors.

It amused us that there were very few Kiwis on our street, and maybe only on Maori family. We initially expected that coming to NZ, we would predominantly be working with pakeha (white) and Maori people! God had other ideas, so the kids on our street were from South Africa, Cambodia, Australia, Korea, and the Netherlands! We found that our trampoline (one of the first large round tramps in NZ) was probably the biggest ministry tool right in the beginning.

I have found, now that I have my own, that having children is one of the biggest tools you can have on the field. Even though God has kept me home (still NZ!) as my mission field, I am seeing daily how many open doors I have simply because I am friendly and have children playing on the playground. As an MK, I have definitely seen the well adjusted and the not so well adjusted as we have been on furloughs, and it hurt my heart to see the type you have spoken of. Mks can be such a special part of their family's ministry if they allow God to use them. ♡