“I don’t want you as my Facebook Friend”


Not long ago, I was blessed to spend some time with several young people- all of whom I love very, very much.

The conversation sauntered towards Facebook (as it often does with teens). One of them explained why he didn’t want me as his Facebook friend. It boiled down to privacy. Of course, my knee-jerk reaction was the head swaggering

“oh, no you didn’t!” *eye roll implied*

I asked a few questions.

Question 1: “Do you have anything on FB that you’re ashamed to have me see?”

“No”, he responded.

Question 2: “Anything you’d be ashamed to have Jesus see?”

Again, he replied “no”.

Enough said. If he’s lying, that’s between him and God. I pray the Holy Spirit deals with him. After all, He can handle him much better than I ever could. If he’s telling the truth, I applaud him. Here’s why:

For many years, I worked for an organization called YouthNet. In addition to managing community relations, I facilitated a training curriculum called “Advancing Youth Development”.

This training is for adults that work with adolescents, usually as their profession. It assumes that youth, although still developing, are “whole”, complete beings with valuable opinions, skills and attributes which equip them to fully engage in life around them.

A big part of that equipping is called “youth participation” or adults sharing power with teens.

Honestly, for years I struggled with many areas of the research. You see, my community often puts more emphasis on controlling youth rather than empowering them (that’s gonna start some conversations!) In fact, sometimes we brag about our ability to simply control our kids.

So, for many years, I remained conflicted about this conceptual framework.

As I raised my oldest son, I tried to balance my own need for (parental) control with his developmental need to question and explore. Sometimes I succeeded, many times I did not, but I wanted him to have a sense of participation and contribution to our family. I hope he felt he did.

All this to say, I am ok with a young person saying “hey, I love you, but I need a boundary here.”

In my edgy opinion, when interacting with teens, I think we have to start from a positive place and not assume the worst about them or from them. For me, in my need to protect, I must balance their needs for autonomy and independence.

Don’t misunderstand: protection is very important. It’s our job to keep kids safe. But do adults- in the name of protection – really just want to control teens?

What do you think? Oh yeah, Google the word “adultism” what do you thing about that?

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Life is all about freedom, right? Freedom to serve, freedom to support others and free to be … well…free! Join this mom, pastor’s wife and Christian woman on her journey to be relevant, whole and Godsy – typos and all!


  1. Wow! Great thought provoking post! I was just reminded yesterday of how when I graduated from high school I promised myself that I would always remember what it was like to be a teenager! Ha, little did I know how quickly time goes by and all the new memories that take the place of those long ago memories.
    There is a balance between being involved, protecting your child and being controlling, somewhat manipulating, and causing your child to become co-dependent.
    If you control everything they may act out only because of that control or they may lean on you way into their adult years. Whereas if you allow them to have some freedom, yes, they may make mistakes. Those mistakes obviously can come with consequences. I would rather my child learn mistakes while at home and how to avoid those than when she leaves my house and I realy have no say in her life.

  2. Brandy, you brought up two words that stick out to me. 1 manipulation and 2 mistakes

    Parents have been know to use “shady” practices to garner obedience. I’ve been quietly of that, I’m sure.

    You know, I really did learn more from my mistakes than my victories. But it’s so hard to let them make mistakes. Pray I learn to. I just wish my kiddos could live life problem and disappointment- free. Not realistic. I know.

    In the end, I’d prefer them to make their biggest blunders at home. Great comments! Now, you’re giving me though-provoking content? 🙂

  3. Hey Sister Teri,
    I really enjoyed reading this and I would have to say that I completely agree with you on how teens should be treated. I’ve been working with teens for quite some time now (be it volunteering or employment) and I would have to say that I have enjoyed every second of it. I’ve come to realize that as an adult I must be approachable. I allow the teens to come to me as they are and as the relationship builds I notice how respect becomes a positive aspect, how they begin to love and trust, and also how they open up. Now that I have a teenager and a pre-teen, the fun begins. I hope that I can continue to be protective yet allow them to explore. So far, I can say that my children (including the ones that I work with) understand my boundaries and respect them.

  4. such a powerful post Teri! I do believe in empowering our youth – someone asked the other day: “Is anyone else concerned about the youth of this generation today? Is anyone else alarmed?” My answer is yes, I spent the last 5 years as a youth group leader for jr high and high school age, and I certainly got an inside look as to what is relevant to youth today, what they struggle with.
    I came across some nationwide statistics that Ron Luce put out a few years ago, and let’s just say it is BEYOND troubling.
    At that time it said this was the largest generation of youth that hds ever been….33 million teenagers in America….larger than any other generations before them, and that they were struggling, big time.
    1,500 of them kill themselves each year.
    1 out of 5 have thoughts of suicide. That’s staggering.
    1,000,000 of them are pregnant.
    750,000 of them had abortions last year.
    ½ of them are no longer virgins.
    9 out of 10 have viewed porn online. That is a lot.
    8,000 of them get an STD EVERY SINGLE DAY – that blows my mind.
    The most common STD is gonorrhea of the throat (because teens today don’t think that oral sex is really sex)
    This generation views 16 to 17 hours of television each week and sees on average 14,000 sexual scenes and references each year. That’s more than 38 references every day.
    This generation spends 3 hours a day online and is the first to grow up with the point and click pornography. 90% of them say that they have viewed porn online while doing homework (there is estimated to be at least 300,000 adult websites)
    Teenage girls wear “sex beads” that tells boys depending on the color of beads they are wearing what they will do with them in the bathrooms at break.
    of course this is troubling as we recognize a serious moral decay of a generation – a battle is waging for our youth. The casualties are mounting. These kids are struggling with depression, lonliness, acceptance, purpose and meaning in life….and many many other things….We must try and capture their hearts before it’s too late……
    I do believe we have to get involved with our youth of today. We need to get out there on the battlefield ourselves and start mentoring these youths. Get out of our comfort zones and really step it up a notch and make an effort to win back this generation. But we can’t do that by controlling them and manipulating them. I thought the definition of adultism was powerful. Youth definitely will hide things from their parents and other adults because of how they feel they are related to and treated. A lot of youth would open up to me because of a level of trust, not feeling like they would be judged, and help them try to view all the pros and cons of the choices they were making and to try to “peel the onion” a bit and see what underlying things may be behind their reasoning for making said choices. Since this is difficult for us to do as parents, maybe we can team up with another parent or adult and be that kind of mentor for their child or another teen, while someone can be there for ours? Who knows, just tossing ideas out here…

    Have you ever heard of the book: “Do Hard Things” – a teenage rebellion against low expectations by the teenage twins Brett and Alex Harris? they are amazing, really challenging teens to step up – check out their website at therebelution.com and and see their stuff on youtube. GREAT STUFF!!!

  5. I know! There is an entire youth culture that we’re losing because we don’t know (or don’t want to know) their perspective. I’ve heard about the beads.

    @Kisha, I knew you’d get it. You do such a good job with the youth department at church.

    We’ve gotta wake up and support them vs. trying to control them.

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