Gift giving is a significant component of the Christmas season. The average American will spend an estimated $932 on Christmas gifts for the 2022 yuletide festivities. However, for those who might not have the funds for this, the expectations of gifts can be a disheartening task. Particularly, teen parents fall under this pressure.
Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net) has been reaching youth during pivotal moments in their lives to share the Gospel for more than seven decades. YFC’s Parent Life ministry seeks to connect with expecting and parenting teens and their children. This is done through intentional relationships with caring adults and community partnerships. The aim is to empower teens to thrive in every aspect of life. YFC wants to encourage them to further their education and move toward becoming life-long followers of Jesus Christ.
Teen Parent’s in Need
Central Indiana YFC’s Parent Life is going above and beyond to reach teen parents and create meaningful relationships that impact generations. Niccole Wilkes is the Parent Life Director for Central Indiana YFC. Her husband, Nick, is a pastor at a local church. They have worked with youth in the region for 20 years. Wilkes has a unique understanding of how to approach teens struggling with parenthood.
“I believe that everyone is created in the image of God, including teen parents,” said Niccole. “That’s why we believe all our relationships with teen parents is reciprocal. We can learn from our leaders here at YFC. We can learn from our teen parents. The beauty is finding how these stories can be told in unison.”
During Christmas season, the Wilkes are leading Central Indiana YFC’s Parent Life ministry to reach teen parents with their baby boutique. “Many of these teens look at the Christmas season as an opportunity to redeem their own story,” Niccole said. “They want to give their children the gifts and traditions they didn’t have. Our baby boutique has everything they need/want. We carry diapers, toys and clothes for kids, but also items like sheets, pots and pans, and personal hygiene products. The students can earn ‘baby bucks’ by doing things like getting good grades in school, going to mental health appointments, reading to their kid, going to church, getting their driver’s license, or earning their GED. They can take their ‘baby bucks’ and buy something at the boutique for their families for the holidays!”
In addition to the baby boutique, Nick works directly with young fathers to foster fellowship and life-long friendships. “We wondered how we could better reach the dads,” Nick said. “Men are not as free flowing in their conversation, but it usually helps to have a project to work on to promote honest talk. We started doing project-based mentorship, and it has really taken off! We work with teens on hands-on projects such as woodworking, metal working, light home repair, and more. For Christmas, we had the dads design their own Christmas ornaments and use their metal working skills to create something unique for their families. It is so rewarding for them to have tangible items to give to their families that they can be proud of, and it creates a natural space to connect. Each week when we learn about a different aspect of the project, we tie it into some aspect of fatherhood. These young dads walk away with some skills they might not have had before and have multidimensional conversations that benefit themselves and their families.”