The last four chapters in Part Two of Chap Clark and Steve Rabey’s book When Kids Hurt have a central theme: youth are lonely and stressed. I don’t know about you, but when I feel lonely and stressed, I make bad decisions, am a terrible driver, and usually try to compensate for these feelings with chocolate and treadmill abuse (on a rotating basis). Youth have underdeveloped coping skills. Their solution to loneliness is that which is provided for them in the media: sex and attention.Youth are told by the adults in their lives that their value is based in their accomplishments, furthering their loneliness and stress.
Sex, cheating, and partying are symptoms of deeper issues in midadolescent culture. As adults invested in the lives of young people, we have to attack the core issues. It doesn’t mean that we don’t address sexual behavior, academic misconduct, and destructive social habits. It means that we dig into the motivation behind the action. It means that we create safe and stable relationships with them so that they aren’t alone and that they have value outside of their accomplishments.
Questions for pondering and responding:
- Are the parents in your ministry realistic about the motivations behind their youths’ behaviors? How can you help them to become more realistic?
- Balancing safety and freedom with midadolescents can be tricky. How are you able to keep a balance when you are planning youth programs? How have you counseled parents in walking this fine line?
Find more thESource Book Club discussions on When Kids Hurt: