What happens next? – a Parenting tip

What happens next? – a Parenting tip

A guy walks up to you at a party and hands you a drink.  You have never met him before, but he is a friend of a friend and seems nice.  What Happens Next?
A car pulls up beside the curb and calls out to you and your friends to come over so he can ask you some questions about where to find such and such a place.  What Happens Next?
You are in a store and a gunman opens fire into the crowd.  What Happens Next?

From potentially dangerous situations related to sexuality, kidnapping or violence in public places, how many of us actually ask our kids what they would do in one of these situations or thousands others like it?  I certainly had never thought about asking these questions in this way until I read this post at the Fuller Youth Institute site.  As I tried out the technique with my kids last night using the party and a drink idea it was interesting to see how my kids responses varied from the 8 year old to the 16 year old.  The younger kids were more inclined to take the drink and enjoy it, their naiveté of the hard and dangerous life is admirable, but it was a bit alarming to realize I needed to give my kids some more instruction on proper etiquette.  For the older girls, they were quick to say, “Don’t take the drink.”  They have already learned about the dangers of rape as young women.  But they were also quick to say just avoid all parties and you wont have to worry.  To which we were able to talk about the benefit of going to the parties of others as a way of showing them you love them and aren’t afraid to socialize with them.  But it is also important to understand the risks, the best time to go and leave, how to stay safe and protect your drinks while you are there and not to trust things like “jello” sitting on the counter.  But the middle aged boys were the most interesting.  They recognized the danger if you were a girl but seemed indifferent to the idea that there might be a danger if you were a boy.  Interesting.  This was my first experiment with these three simple words, “What Happens Next?”

The opportunities to use this question are endless.  Not only can I as a parent gain a better understanding of how my kids think and what they perceive about the world, but I can use it as a training tool to instill discipleship concepts into my kids.  Imagine asking your kids, things like this:

You are in a circle of friends and a new kids walks into the room.  They appear shy and a little nerdy.  What Happens Next?
Your friend just tells you that their parents are getting a divorce.  What Happens Next?
A friend slams another person on social media and begins bullying them.  What Happens Next?
You see a homeless person on the street who appears cold and hungry. You are with your parents. What Happens Next?  

In each and every one of these situations is a lesson on the Christian life, and a way to gauge the place of your kids in their understanding and pursuit of God.  I hope you find as much fun with this question as I have found.


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