GOSPEL PROJECT: Unit 1, Session 6: The Tower of Babel (Pre-School-Gr.4)
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. The next Bible story is about the tower of Babel. Following the flood, God wanted to have a fresh start. God commanded Noah in Genesis 9:1 to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” In Genesis 11:2, Scripture indicates that instead of filling the earth as God commanded, the people built a city and a large tower into the heavens. The people didn’t want to be scattered. They didn’t believe God would give them what was good if they obeyed Him. They sought to obtain for themselves what they believed was good.
The people tried to build a monument with its top in the heavens, but they succeeded only in separating themselves from God and from each other. God confused their language and scattered them over the earth. They were unable to finish building the city, so the city was called Babel—which sounds like the Hebrew word for “confused”—because there the Lord confused the people’s language. Teach your kids about God’s better plan: His plan not for people to reach up to Him, but His plan to reach down to people by sending His Son, Jesus, to live the perfect life we couldn’t live and die the death we don’t want to die. That is the gospel.
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FLYTE: Unit 2, Session 2: How is My Body Changing? (Pre-Teens)
This week the Pre-Teens will continue their biblical approach to puberty. Pre-Teens will be discussing generally what God’s design is and how they (and their changing bodies) fit into it! This is a GREAT springboard to conversations that you can be having with your kids at home!
At Any Rate
by David Thomas
My basketball career began in the spring of 1979. I started out playing point guard for Burger Chef, one of the local fast food joints that sponsored a team in my hometown. Every Saturday morning, my family piled into our big Oldsmobile to watch me play games at the old elementary school gymnasium. Truth be told, they really came to watch me warm the bench for three quarters. If we were ahead by more than 20 points, I’d get to play 10 minutes or so in the last quarter. I was the smallest boy on the team, and it would be safe to say I wasn’t a strong contributor.
I would sit on the bench beside my 9- to 12-year-old teammates, many who had banged down the door of puberty with force and fury. I, on the other hand, was showing no indicators of the onset of puberty.
I was small and scrawny. My legs would swing back and forth, never touching the gym floor. Most of my teammates were tall and gangly, with hairy legs and the beginning scents of adolescence. Seated next to them, I could smell their repressed emotion, surges of testosterone, anger, and attitude. I still smelled of LEGO® bricks and innocence.
In case you’re wondering, I didn’t go on to play college or professional ball. I did, however, grow to be just shy of 6-feet tall—something I would have never imagined back when I was the shortest member of my team. My story of being a late bloomer belongs to many pre-adolescent boys and girls. Interestingly enough, one of my friends was the tallest, heaviest boy in our class. I’m sure we were quite a spectacle sharing conversations over lunch. He towered over me—and every other boy in the grade. I doubt he felt any more comfortable in his skin than I did in mine at the time, but we represented the many kids who fall outside the “average” range. I was in a lower percentile of growth, while my friend was in the highest bracket.
The preteen years, like all stages of development, reveal evidence of kids spread out across the developmental spectrum. When I was 11 months old, I simply wasn’t aware that other boys were in the 10th percentile for height and weight. By the time I was 11 years old, though, I was very aware of the differences that existed.
That awareness can drive confusion, fear, anxiety, or insecurity. Our kids’ experiences and the emotions that go with those experiences can stir a variety of responses within us as adults as well.
While there’s no way to avoid the challenges that come from being either an early bloomer or a late bloomer, there are things parents can do to help their younger teenagers navigate this stage. Here are some ways to support preteens who may be struggling.
1. Study development. We serve our kids well when we develop a working understanding of what’s normal and what’s not. We may be able to head off some of their confusion and insecurity (as well as our own) when we study and share valuable information about their growing hearts, minds, and bodies. Remember, physical development is normal and will happen on its own timetable. That should be a comfort to both you and your teenager.
2. Tell stories. One of my sons appears to be a late bloomer, as well. This isn’t surprising, since he carries my genetic ingredients. He has seen a photograph of my basketball team and the obvious differences that existed. By sharing my story, I hope to communicate that I understand some of the feelings that accompany growing at a different pace from one’s peers. Our kids stand to benefit from hearing our stories.
3. Create opportunity. It’s vital that developing preteens have a context to experience value, purpose, and meaning. When they get a chance to serve and give, they can focus on what they have to offer, rather than on how they measure up to others. What’s more, these experiences create open doors for us to remind them who God has made them to be.
4. Keep talking. Kids need us to begin (and continue) an ongoing dialogue about their growth. Each time you take your preteens for a well visit with the pediatrician, use that as a springboard to talk about his or her growing mind and body. If your child continues to raise concerns about growth trends—whether he is behind or ahead—help him voice those openly with your pediatrician. It’s important for preteens to hear from another adult voice that everyone grows at a different pace. It’s also important that your preteens can identify how he is developing at a rate that is within his growth trends.
David Thomas, M.S.S.W., serves as the director of counseling for men and boys at Daystar Counseling in Nashville, Tennessee, and is the co-author of five books, including Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys (Tyndale House Publishers, 2009). He and his wife, Connie, have three children and a black lab named Jonah. This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of Living with Teenagers, a monthly magazine for parents of teens published by LifeWay Christian Resources. Used with permission.