When your child arrives home from a YES trip, they will most likely be feeling several different emotions. Everyone reacts differently after the weekend, so here are some things to watch out for and helpful ways to respond. Your child may be very excited to tell you about their experiences and share their new found desire to serve. They could also be upset that their weekend is over and they may have some amount of trouble readjusting to their daily life. These are all very normal and part of a process called re-entry. Below you can find some helpful hints on how to interact with your son/daughter after their weekend of service.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOUR CHILD RETURNS FROM A YES TRIP
How will my child be feeling?
- Your child WILL be tired! They worked hard and were quite busy, so expect that they will need to rest.
- One of two moods is very common. They may be excited to share stories, or they might be quiet and closed off. Both of these reactions are typical and nothing to worry about.
- They will need time to process all that they did and experienced. It’s important to give them time to sort through their experiences and the changes that are occurring within them.
How should I respond?
- Ask open questions and avoid “yes or no” questions. This will allow the conversation to continue to flow. Facilitate this process by keeping the conversation about their trip. Take a part of their answer to one question and ask them to elaborate.
- Ask them about the people they met. They were guided to see the people they served over the weekend as people created in the image of God. It will give them so much joy to know you care about a person they have love and concern for, simply because God does.
- Ask them what did the YES program did to fulfill Matthew 25:35-40 parable: “I was hungry…”
- Avoid using stereotypes when talking to your child. Don’t say things like “bums” or “druggies.” They will most likely take offense to this.
- Your student spent the weekend with people that they are usually are advised to avoid, so be ready and open to hear about the things they experienced without saying things like “You did what?!?”
- Ask how their perspective on the issue of poverty and people who are homeless has changed since they went on the trip.
How can I encourage their excitement to serve?
- Don’t be surprised if your child has a list of things that they are now passionate about. They have been immersed in the sad reality of the lives of the poor, so it is natural for them to want to now change the world. Help them, gently, to sort through these ideas. Don’t reject the ideas, but offer them realistic options and support them in their newfound passion to serve.
- Set up some easy ways to keep your child involved in service work. Call shelters, food banks, and soup kitchens. These can either be the ones they served at on their YES
- Trip or ones that are close to your home. MAKE IT LOCAL AND REGULAR!
- Encourage your child to organize a consistent, monthly outreach with your church youth group. Tell them to use their energy and excitement to organize others in service and to witness about what they learned on their YES Trip.
- Come up with a list of things that you can do together as a family throughout the school year.
Encouragement and ideas that will nurture students’ desire to continue to serve their community:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
- Live Differently: Only you can determine if you will continue the amazing journey of growing nearer to the Lord and of being a blessing to others. For this to happen, you must take on that responsibility and be intentional about your continuing journey.
- Invest in your community: You can be a great encouragement to the people you met and the ministry sites you visited by keeping in touch with them. Write letters, send birthday cards, pray for them, and visit.
- Take Risks—Stay Out of Your Comfort Zone: Decide right now that you are not just at the end of your short-term service-learning experience, but actually at the beginning of a new ministry. Plan to live in a way that will continue to stretch you beyond the level of faith you now have. Put your trust in God. Seek to hear his voice and to obey and put into practice all that you have learned.