0:00:03 – Speaker 1
Hey, this is Mandy and Kim with nextTalk, where we are passionate about keeping kids safe in the digital world.
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0:00:36 – Speaker 1
So I was recently speaking at this event, kim, it was a real fun one too. I said words in the sanctuary that I’ve never been said before. That’s kind of your thing, now That’s my thing. A pastor said that to me one time. Man, you said words in the sanctuary that I’ve never been spoken, and I thought Everybody’s eyes get big. Well, i honestly thought he was going to kick me out, like I was really scared about what he was going to say. And then he was like thank you, so I’ll say the words. If you can’t, i’ll say the words.
Anyway, i was speaking at this event and afterwards we do a Q&A, which is, honestly, it’s my favorite part of the event because I have seen God work in these Q&A moments. I’ve seen churches come together and pray over people. I’ve seen families stand up and say I’m struggling with this and I’ve told no one, and now I feel safe with you. It is just beautiful. Anyway, let me get to the point. Let me get to the point.
We did this Q&A and this young, cute little girl stood up. I mean, i didn’t know her. I am estimating maybe she was in her 20s. She was way back in the back, so you know I didn’t really get a good look, but anyway, she had the greatest question.
She said I volunteer with teen girls and a lot of these teenagers tell me a lot of private, confidential stuff that they’re struggling with. And I really struggle like who do I tell? Should I call the parent? What should I do? And man, i thought it was just a fabulous question and I actually get asked it a lot, not in a Q&A session, but like when I’m talking to youth pastors, people who volunteer or even other parents. I’ve heard mom say to me like I’m the hangout house. My kid’s friend is opening up to me about all this stuff. Should I call the parent? I don’t know what. This is a sticky situation. So I answered her question at the event and then I got to thinking I think this would be a great show because it is something we talk through youth pastors, volunteers, parents a lot And let’s have a podcast for it so we can reference it when we get asked this question in the future.
0:02:42 – Speaker 3
I literally got asked this question last night at football practice, like it is very common. Here we go. Yes, before we dig into it we do need to do a little bit of a disclaimer. Anything with abuse, assault, anything like that, it has to legally be reported. So an example of that let’s say a kid confides in you and they’re being molested by a family member, legally you have to report that. Now you can Google how to report it in your state or your area, because everywhere is going to be a little bit different. But anything like that rape, assault, abuse we’re not talking about that here. We’re talking about you know, maybe the kid is struggling with something at school. You don’t want to sweep those things under the rug. We do need to deal with those. But when it comes to these bigger issues, the victim might need medical help or counseling to deal with the trauma. The abuser has to be held accountable. We’ve got to seek justice in those circumstances. We’re not talking about that here.
0:03:39 – Speaker 1
Absolutely, Kim. This is a huge disclaimer. So this is not abuse assault. Those must be reported Legally. we are required to do that and we need to make sure people get their help. So I’m so glad you said that. So take all of that off the table. We’re talking about everything else.
You know my boyfriend and I are struggling with this, or I’m questioning my sexuality, or you know I don’t want to eat or I’m throwing up, like that are important, big issues, but they’re not something that legally has to be reported to a child protective services organization or something like that. So you got a kid saying this, these big things to you. I think the first thing we need to acknowledge here is that every one of these situations is going to be different, so there’s no like black or white, do this, do that step one, two, three. Here. This is going to take a lot of prayer, a lot of discernment. Do you know the parent? Do you know the family? All of that, and I kind of want to talk through why all this is important. But we just need to acknowledge every situation is important And there’s a couple things at play that you need to be thinking about when you make this decision on how you handle this sensitive balance.
0:04:51 – Speaker 3
And, as we’re talking about this, when we’re talking about the person that is being confided in, we’re going to call that the safe place adult. So it’s either a youth pastor, you know, it’s you as a parent. Whatever that’s the person that these kids have decided to confide in, you have become their safe place, which, quite frankly, is a really big deal and a big honor, but it does come also with a heavy weight, and so that weight is what we want to deal with today. What do you do with it? Who do you share it with? How do you carry it? How do you respond to it? So that’s kind of where we’re going to dig in now.
0:05:26 – Speaker 1
I’m so glad that you defined that for us, kim, and, like I said, a lot of youth pastors fit this role because they do their job really well.
They connect with the kids and then the kids feel safe with them and they become that safe place adult And then, you know, the youth pastor may know the parents and have red flags or be like I don’t know, i don’t know how we can have this conversation.
So one of the first things that I said to this lady was in a perfect world, we obviously want the parent involved, so that the parent and the child I mean this is what our life work here at nextTalk right To create that healthy dialogue between parent and child.
So, in a perfect situation, maybe you know the family and you know the parents are trustworthy and they’re going to love their kid well And you can go to the parent and say this is confidential, but I need you to know your kid is struggling with X, y and Z And I’ve become the safe place adult and I’m honored and I’m okay having this role. But I need you to know I’m going to encourage them to talk to you. So this is your heads up, be ready, be praying, be knowing what you’re going to say, but also like I don’t want to break this kid’s confidence. So can you keep this confidential between us, because we don’t want the kid to lose their safe place adult and feel betrayed by this person they’re confiding in, right. So it’s almost like a team effort between youth pastor or this safe place adult and the parents to work in helping the kid navigate whatever they’re struggling with.
0:07:00 – Speaker 3
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. I hate it, right, i know. I know A lot of times that is not how it goes. That is not the scenario. It is met with a different response or you feel like you can’t go to the parents because you know it’s not a safe environment. So what do we do in that space?
0:07:19 – Speaker 1
Well, i think you hit on a great point here and I actually said this at the event. One thing we don’t like to think about is if you tell the parent that this kid is struggling with whatever it is, will the kid be abused? I mean, i hate to say that, but it is a reality in our world that we have to ask ourselves that question. Or maybe you’re not worried that the kid will be like abused, slapped, you know, hit, whatever, because they’re struggling with this issue. But maybe you just think the parents you know they’re not going to go to that extreme, but they’re going to respond badly, they’re going to respond with judgment And it’s just going to make the kid tense up more and probably rebel more and run in the opposite direction of where the parents want them to go. So if you know all this and you’re helping this kid, it just puts you in a weird place because you want to be the safe place to trust an adult, but you’re not sure what to do with the information.
0:08:19 – Speaker 3
Well, and I also want to address here something I think Satan. A lot of times every parent, especially moms that I’ve ever met deals with some kind of feeling of inadequacy or feeling like they’re not good enough as a parent. And if you have someone coming to you saying I know this about your child, you know they have confided in me and made them, made me, their safe place. Sometimes these walls can go up and a parent feels very defensive, like wait a minute, i am the parent, i should know this. And then they turn around and parent from that place with their child, which is never good, and so maybe they just rush into these conversations and don’t wait for the prompting of the Holy Spirit or wait for right timing, and then that makes the situation worse too. So there’s all these different scenarios that can happen, that can actually make things worse instead of better if we don’t pray about how to deal with this information.
Kim, you always know how to just stick the knife in the heart, because Because it’s only because I have been that person, because you’re like I’m that person On the wrong side, yes, and I’ve learned.
0:09:28 – Speaker 1
I mean, this is a real thing that you’re talking about here. We become defensive and we immediately go into well, why won’t my kid talk to me? We don’t have a good relationship, i have done everything wrong. And it becomes about you, the parent, instead of helping the child. And obviously you have the right to be upset that your kid may not be talking to you.
But process that with your spouse or your best friend, those feelings, because right now the number one priority is to get your kid the help they need. And so, whatever that takes and whatever safe place that person is, you know one thing I have prayed for my kids throughout as they’ve grown, especially as I’ve gotten more involved with nextTalk is, if they never feel comfortable talking with me, that you give them a trusted adult. So, for example, when my daughter turned a certain age, i introduced her to my OBGYN and said Hey, if you ever have a question you don’t feel comfortable talking about with me, call her Everything’s confidential. This is your safe place, right Like give them tools of people who you trust.
0:10:33 – Speaker 3
I think it’s become for me like a two step process whenever I feel those feelings coming out of defensiveness. The first one is it’s okay to grieve that maybe I made a misstep, or maybe I’m not that person, or maybe I didn’t have the relationship I needed to in that moment. It’s okay to grieve that because it is sad. But then the second step is Lord, help me repair it. What does that look like? Lord, show me how I can fix this. It’s just that to those two steps that I need to dig into, versus digging into my heels into the ground and becoming defensive in my parenting, because that doesn’t work.
0:11:08 – Speaker 1
That’s a great two step plan on how to listen to that. So we’ve got this kid. They’re telling us information. Maybe you’re like the parents are okay, I can talk to them, But what if you tell mom and dad without telling the kid first, and then the trust is broken and they can’t talk to mom and dad? then you’ve automatically shut down the safe place adult for this kid. So we say all these different scenarios because we want you to think it through. This kid needs help. We know they’re struggling with this issue and we want them to have someone in their corner.
0:11:43 – Speaker 3
Where we want to go with this is for you to consider if you’re like the pastor or the safe place parent in this situation and a kid comes to you and you feel like, okay, i got to bring the parents in on this. We don’t want to break that confidence by going to the parents right away and not telling the kids because if it doesn’t go well then they have no safe person to talk to you. Like you said, mandy, and you know our counselors. They had some great ideas and great insight on how we can deal with that. They said, first off, if you have to bring in another adult, if you are going to bring the parents, be honest with the kid. You need to have some verbage that you can say to them. But they had some great ideas on how you can let the kid know, so they’re not blindsided, that you’re going to bring their parents into the conversation while also still remaining that safe place for them.
0:12:30 – Speaker 1
Absolutely. Our LPCs are full of wisdom and that’s why we always ask them. we want to share with you some actual verbage that they gave us that can become your verbage. Here’s it, if you need to. That’s what this show is all about. So this is one of them.
I want you to be able to come talk to me about anything you need, because I am here to help you.
I want to be your safe person, but there may be times that I hear something that is either a safety concern or something that we may want to loop your parents in for their help and guidance too. If I hear anything of that nature, i will talk to you about that and we can make a plan to best know how and when to do that. I will be by your side the entire time, if you’d like, if and when that situation arises. The key here is you don’t want to break the kid’s trust, and you know, one of the things that our counselors told us was so many adults think if you say this to a kid, then they’re not going to share. And they’ve said we have found the opposite to be true. Kids love that we’re upfront and honest with them and they love that they have the expectation and that boundary in place and she said honestly in our what we’re seeing kids actually share more because it shows them that we respect them and we’re being very honest with them.
0:13:45 – Speaker 3
Well, if you can set those parameters early on, like if you start to notice a kid is gravitating towards you and opening up, like you know what that feels like and looks like, that’s a good time to have that conversation and set those guidelines up that are clear. You can circle back to that and remind them that you want to be their safe place. But there are times when you’re going to have to bring other people in. But they can still trust you.
0:14:10 – Speaker 1
Absolutely. Here’s another practical way you can say it. Here’s another example that our counselors gave us. Thank you for sharing this with me. I know this is a huge deal to say those things aloud. I want to ask if you feel comfortable if I brought like Mrs Kim into this conversation. She’s very wise and has some expertise in this area. I think she may have some really good insights into how we can all work together to keep you safe. This is an example of maybe you’re a youth pastor and you want to bring your lead pastor in on this, or you have somebody in your congregation that specializes in this and you know their expertise and you know they’re great with students, and maybe they’re a principal out of school down the street and can I bring Mr So-and-So in on this? I think he could help us with this.
Again, it’s okay to suggest bringing another adult in. In fact, that’s good. You have to be careful with secrets between adults and kids. We talk a lot about that with grooming. So you always have to protect yourself as a youth pastor, as a trusted, safe, trusted adult. I would encourage you never try to be alone with the kid behind closed doors. Try to always be in an open area or have the door open. We need to be careful about secrets between adults and kids. So anytime that you have an opportunity to bring another safe adult into this conversation, the better. Now I will say this this person has to be safe and trustworthy because if you bring them into the conversation and then they Break the confidence, the kid is going to be mad at you. So again, it’s somebody you know and trust is a trusted confidence.
0:15:56 – Speaker 3
I really love this one. You know, if you know the parents are safe, like you feel confident in that, you could say I know your parents would appreciate Knowing this information. Would you like me to tell them? or would you like to share it together Or even practice how to have the conversation with the parents, like you can role play with the kid. Sometimes kids don’t want to share with parents because they just don’t know how to do it. You know they’re fearful, they’re concerned, they just feel uncertain how their parents are going to respond, and so practicing kind of takes down some of the that Anxiety about what that would look like, and so there’s just all these different ways that you can help walk them through, very clear expectations of what needs to happen to keep them safe. But the key with all of this is open communication with you and this kid. You’re there, trusted adult, and we need to set those expectations early on well, and I I love this one too.
0:16:49 – Speaker 1
You know one of the things I talk a lot with youth pastors before I come in and do an event, because they want to know what is Going to land here and what you know, what are we going to need to be prepared to talk about? because you’re bringing it into the light. And One of the things I say to youth pastors a lot is listen After I’m there. It’s a perfect opportunity. It’s a perfect opportunity to say to your students If you’ve been wanting to have a conversation with your mom or dad lately about something big and you’ve been scared to address it, your parents just went to hear Mandy from nextTalk, they’re ready, they’re primed and ready.
Go have the conversation now, because she has continually told your parents, your your parents, to love you unconditionally and remain calm and talk it through with you like, work it out together in a calm manner. So if you have had this weighing on your heart, students, now is the time. You have an opening And you know the youth pastors really appreciate that because they look out amongst their students and they know what they’re struggling with And they’re they’re praying over every situation, trying to figure out how to work it out. I mean, god bless you pastors. God bless you pastors. I just I know, god bless you pastors.
0:18:05 – Speaker 3
They are in it, they are on the front lines of the front, lines of the front lines. They sure are, they sure are.
You know what more we want to share here from one of our counselors and you know, if you know that this kid is at the high risk reviews or the situation is maybe not as safe. This is something, this verbiage, i think is really important for us to share, for you to have in your toolbox. It’s an honor to be your safe person, but if you share that you’re in harm danger or you’re engaging in risky behavior, then I’m going to share that information with a person or people who are going to be most helpful in keeping you safe. It would not be loving of me to know you’re not safe and keep it to myself.
0:18:49 – Speaker 1
That last line. There, i think, is a tool that we can all use in our tool belt. It would not be loving of me to know you’re not safe and keeping it to myself. Also, tweak that a little bit. As a parent, you can say it would not be loving of me to know you’re struggling with this and not help you or not get involved, you know. So I’m not trying to be in your business, but I’m your parent, i’m loving, i love you. This makes me want to be involved and to help you. Right, and I love that last sentence. I think we can all use that in different ways with our kids.
0:19:22 – Speaker 3
So all these possible scenarios I mean we’ve thrown a lot at you with like you know what might be happening, who might be sharing with you, what kind of safe place you might be Be, and then also different ways you can respond to know when to bring people in the conversation and what to say.
And I will tell you. Even last night, when I was speaking to this mom, i told her one of the best ways to bring down the walls If you decided it’s time to speak to another parent is to come from a place of humility Pray, pray and pray again, ask the Holy Spirit to open up the right timing and the right environment in the room and then come with a humble spirit Like hey, if this was my kid, or hey, if this was happening under my roof and you knew, man, i would really want to know this. And so I’m coming to you as a concerned parent or a concerned youth pastor or whatever, because I want to help you, i want to partner with you to do what’s best for your kid. Like that kind of verbiage helps bring down the walls. We never want to come in pretending we know everything and how to solve it, because that makes things worse too.
0:20:29 – Speaker 1
Absolutely, or like a chip on your shoulder, like parent. You messed up here. Now I’m here to fix it. Please don’t do that, please, yes, please don’t do that. That is a no, no for sure, you know. And the other thing, kim, you know, as you’re talking about this tone of humility, that we’re going to approach this as listen.
If you are a safe place adult, you need to know and recognize when you’re in over your head. Do not speak into something that you don’t know about. So if a kid is questioning their gender, but you’ve done no research on that, you have no expertise on that other than like your Twitter feed. Right, take a moment and pause Before you speak into that. Find somebody who can help. You know con see if your church has an LPC on staff or that they can consult with something like that. But you need to recognize when you need help, because as a parent, i’m doing this all the time.
I mean, some of their questions are just way over my head or I don’t know the topic. You know a lot of political topics. My daughter will ask me this. I just don’t want to speak and tell her what I think when I don’t know, because then I become a non trusted source. So it’s okay to say I don’t know. I don’t know. I love you. I’m so glad you’re telling me this, but I don’t know. We need to get somebody in here to help you that knows the situation, that can give you some more wisdom. It’s okay to say that.
0:21:58 – Speaker 3
And take the time to do that, like, unless it is an emergency, take the time to listen, be their safe place and then educate yourself or equip yourself with someone who really can help.
0:22:11 – Speaker 1
Yeah, and you bring up an emergency, kim too, i mean and we had this disclaimer in the beginning obviously, with a suicidal child, you always have to report that immediately and to make sure the child is not in danger. I just feel like I needed to insert that here. We have a couple of podcasts on suicide that we have actually done with our LPCs. But anything where the child is in direct harm like you think they are gonna be a runaway, you think they’re gonna hurt themselves, anything like that you can’t wait on that. You gotta make sure your kid has help immediately And you can use some of this verbiage that we told you about of it wouldn’t be loving of me if I knew you weren’t safe and didn’t find somebody to help you. So again you’re telling them I need to get this person involved.
0:23:00 – Speaker 3
So we’ve given you a lot of scenarios and information and tools for your tool about if your kid is coming to you and confiding in you, but we really also want you to walk away from this show understanding that this is an honor. We really have to take this seriously. If a child is confiding in you and asking your advice, unconditional love is really, really important. We need to point them to scripture. That’s so important too. You’ve got this open door to minister and pour into this child who is trusting you. Walk through it, seek the Holy Spirit, listen for his prompting on what you can say and how to say it. You may be the only one that can show them God’s love and give them some biblical truth at the same time, and that is one of the highest honors and callings that we can answer. So treat this with the utmost respect. Make sure you’re walking on obedience with how God wants you to respond, and remember that you being a safe place is a special gift that you can give to a child who will trust you.
0:24:03 – Speaker 1
Kim, that was so well said. Do not take this lightly. God has put you in this position for a reason and use this space wisely with this kid. Our dream at nextTalk is for every kid to have a safe place. Adult, We want it to be the parent. We pray it’s the parent, but if it’s not, some of us have to fill in the gap for those kids who need us.
Transcribed by https://podium.page