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?