At the time of writing, Philippe Mayhew was the father of a 16-year-old daughter and two boys aged 14 and 12. For several years, he was director of the A.E.E. France (Gospel and Children’s Association) and was in charge of developing the work of this association with pre-teens in France and other European countries.
Imagine that the preteens you teach talk about you in your absence. “Philip, he is… ». How do you think they would finish the sentence? He’s very cool! It’s lame! He’s a nice guy. He’s serious! He’s old! How would you like them to finish it? He’s an example! He’s a friend! A good teacher! … Their perception is significant of the relationship we have with them.
Illustration: In Mc Do, young people were talking about me in my absence. Comments reported by another official who could hear them. “We have a great time with Philip, but when you study the Bible, it’s serious!”
We will reflect on our relationship with the preteens we teach, on the balance to be sought. I will give practical ideas to build this relationship.
1. Relationship: A Necessity
Fundamental principle for the teaching of 11-14 year olds: the impact of our teaching depends very much on the relationship we have established with young people.
If contact is made, if the current passes, we can bring a lot to them. Conversely, if the pre-teens do not hook up with their teacher, they disconnect, no longer really listen to the teaching given. You may have experienced this or seen this: preteens who look on the floor, or talk with the neighbor, totally disinterested in what the leader of the group says.
Relationship is essential. That’s the platform we’re going to be able to work on. If it is not established, perhaps it is better to go bowling first to weave the bonds that will then guide these pre-teens on a spiritual level.
2. He is no longer a child
A young child accepts his teacher (usually) and the teaching he gives. He naturally places himself under the influence of the adult, receives his words as true. But the preteen is no longer a child who receives an education without flinching. He doesn’t respect the monitor because he’s an adult, but because he brings something to him.
He is on his way to adulthood. He is in a phase where he exercises his critical sense, examines the teaching received, forges a more personal opinion. It no longer has the same relationship with the adult.
In the school setting, he is expected to bend and listen. He has a hard time accepting it. Often a power relationship is established with the teachers. Outside of school, in the club or church, we would like to avoid the same balance of power. We would like to see the new needs of preteens taken into account. We should be able to become spiritual guides for them. It is not easy to establish a balanced relationship.
Pre-teens should be considered adults in training: they do not want to be treated like children. Moreover, the preteen is in a period where he forges convictions that will mark him for life. He is in a period where his body is in turmoil and he receives all kinds of influences. And it’s not innocent that marketing is very interested in this age group in its advertising.
The preteen does not passively receive teaching. He asks questions to forge his own convictions and questions what he has learned. In what we bring to him, he wonders if it makes sense in his life. The questioning of preteens is normal, it is even healthy and should not scare us. On the contrary, we must take their questioning as opportunities to help them, to accompany them in the process of building their conviction.
3. A balance to be found between buddy and leader
If you lean to one side, you are too authoritarian, distant. We may be able to impose order, but contact and teaching do not pass. Preteens do not share their experiences, do not open up and are impervious to our influence.
If you lean to the other side, you are too “buddy-buddy”. We’re having a good time with them. We tell each other a lot of things. But as soon as you want to teach the group, lead it, give it direction, you can quickly get eaten. There is no respect necessary.
– > Fragile balance to find.
4. Biblical lighting
Consider a passage from Scripture: 2 Kings 6.1-7 . They are Elisha and the sons of prophets.
We do not know how old these disciples were, but their behaviour suggests that some of them must have been young. Let us be especially attentive to the nature of Elisha’s relationship with them.
6.1-2a: What do you notice?
Proximity: He taught them in a small place.
Listen: Elisha was accessible. The disciples could talk to him, give him their opinion. He accepted the dialogue.
6.2b: Thinks of preteens getting excited about a project. What do you notice in Elisha’s attitude?
Flexibility: Instead of giving them 36 caveats, he lets them “live their experience.” The rope is there, but it’s long. Elisha is flexible, ready to review her plans, ready to accept initiatives from the disciples.
6.3 – 4a: reminds us of the reaction of preteens: “Yes, but we still need you!” Full of ideas but inexperienced and still dependent on the adult.
One can imagine Elisha following the enthusiastic group. For now, he is at the back, back, but his presence is essential.
6.4b-5 Typically preteens: borrow and then misplace.
Relief in difficulty: Elisha is present and will be able to intervene.
Man of God: Notice that the text no longer speaks of Elisha but of the man of God. It is close to the Lord. It is the instrument of a miracle that has undoubtedly changed the lives of these young disciples. He is an example to them.
Leader: See the authority with which he intervenes when the problem arises, and the obedience of the disciple who had brought down the iron. Elisha is respected by this group who consider him their spiritual leader.
– > Nice balance between flexibility and authority.
– > Challenge for us to do the same.
– > Seek above all spiritual authority. We are teachers of the Word of God and spiritual examples.
5. Notes and suggestions for building the relationship
Take the time to build the relationship
Connecting inevitably takes time. In our busy schedules, are we ready to make room for the preteens we teach? Our efforts will be greatly rewarded.
An illustration: David, a totally closed young man, refused the discussion for two years while I was taking him home. My perseverance was proven. One day in the car, when we were coming back from a weekend, there was a first opening. Later this young man joined the church and played the piano on Sundays. Building the relationship is worth it!
Young people live in a world of communication in which modern means have a great place. Let’s think about how to network with them without trying to become one of them.
Taking an interest in their lives
You have to take the time to talk to them. What do we know about their studies? their sports activities? Musical? Why not discover the characters they embody in networked games – a whole facet of the preteen life that adults don’t see, when it’s very important for many preteens today.
What’s the point of discovering all this? Show the value you give to pre-teens; Understand what they are, what they are going through; be able to better apply our teaching by taking into account the context of pre-teens…
Be prepared to share their difficulties
Pre-adolescence is a period of great turbulence. They’re very shaken up. They’re looking for identity. Their convictions are formed. External influences are numerous: media, friends… And they inevitably make mistakes. These errors have more or less serious consequences. Many preteens suffer and need to be surrounded, loved, accepted. You have to take the time to hear these difficulties, these fears.
Illustration: an extreme heavy case to bear: a 15-year-old girl, at the end of the meeting, comes to me to tell me that she slept with a boyfriend, is pregnant, has not told her parents but wants me to know…!
Working with young people can include difficult situations, sleepless nights…
Visiting young people at home
A short visit by families at the beginning of the year to announce the resumption of the program and planned activities – or a visit as a weekend or camp approaches to advertise and answer questions.
What’s the point of going to their homes?
- show our interest in the young
- build the relationship also with the parents
- discover the young person in his frame
- better apply our teaching later on
What’s not to be done?
- stay too long (unless requested)
- make the young person uncomfortable
- not respecting the confidentiality of certain things that happen in the group (beginning of relationship between a girl and a guy)
- discuss with parents a controversial subject (politics, papacy…)
Combine teaching and outings in the curriculum
It is not by conducting a study that you will get to know young people best, but rather by going to play a great game in the forest.
- give ideas for outings
- build the program by taking into account their ideas, their wishes
- Make a list of activities, possible meals and study themes
- to hold a vote at the beginning of the year. Give the preteens 3 cartons 0, 1, and 3 that they will brandish. So you’ll know what the band wants to do.
They will see that you have taken their opinion into account. This reinforces the feeling that this group is theirs. They then want to invite friends.
- to live Bible studies interactively. Consider that they are moments of sharing, of exchange around the Word of God.
- learn how to prepare questions – they are the main educational tool with this age group.
- vary teaching methods to the maximum:
. case studies: form small groups that reflect on one subject and present the result to others. Then intervene.
. role-playing games. Be vigilant about what role is attributed to whom because some may not live their role well.
. The studio: bring a person from the church. And a preteen asks him questions like in an interview.
. Symposium: Young people prepare presentations that they present to others.
. brainstorming: young people write what goes through their heads. Either on scraps of paper. Either on a tablecloth that is rotated.
. Photos: Start discussions from a series of photos. Young people choose a photo and bring their thoughts from this medium.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the young people said: Philip is my friend and guide who helps me move forward with God?
An article by Nicole DENIZOU.
The teenagers who are they? Beings in the making, under construction, helpless, I would say in construction.
They therefore need mandatory security measures.
To live in safety, you have to accept rules that are sometimes binding and that you don’t always understand. But unseen dangers can be sustained. Only the specialist knows why. We, as adults, have a responsibility: to warn of danger! Unfortunately, we often know him from experience. Violation of the rule carries risks and risks that can be fatal. The rule is made to be respected, it protects us and ensures our safety.
Our life is precious, we have only one and we must teach them to take the utmost care of them. We can also teach them to take refuge in the rock, where the enemy cannot go. But they also need to equip themselves and they need to know why this equipment is necessary, indispensable:
The helmet of salvation: it will be beneficial in many situations. It will protect the head from all projections, shocks, external attacks.
Wearing shoes: they protect from pitfalls, splplplests, stones of the path, cold, heat, bites of beasts that we can encounter, they help to achieve the goal that we have set ourselves with zeal.
The shield of faith: it serves to protect the body, it stops the poisoned arrows of the enemy: AIDS, bad company, drugs, sex.
The sword of the spirit: it is an offensive weapon, it is used to defend itself; it is very important to teach a teenager to defend himself, because he is in this period of transfer so defenseless.
The Belt of Truth: Truth makes you strong. It allows you to stand upright, to keep your body straight.
The role of the adult
We do not always have the answer to their questions.
We do not always have the solutions to solve their problems.
We cannot always prevent them from going through difficulties.
It is up to them to find, to seek, to learn. Nothing beats personal experiences, which you understand for yourself.
Our only imperative: to be referents, to set a framework, limits not to be crossed. Set rules, negotiable and non-negotiable. We all need security, freedom, signs that point the way.
It’s hard to understand teenagers, their behaviors and their strange world! A major national survey looked at the profile of these emerging adults and was able to distinguish five groups. From anguished to attentive to satisfied, discover these young personalities to see them with a new eye.
Teens “all bathe”
They represent 30 of the young people. They feel good about themselves, and don’t feel too much pressure in their daily lives. They have a positive view of society, and are confident in their personal future. In fact, they are rather ambitious and optimistic about their future achievement. They place a special place on the family and moral values.
The typical teenager: high school students in vocational courses, children of workers.
They represent one in four teenagers. They have a realistic and critical view of the society around them, and they know that they are rather privileged. Their future is focused on family and leisure rather than professional life. They want to get involved to make society move (like enrolling in associations for example).
The typical teenager: high school girls in general courses, children of senior managers.
They also represent one in four children. They are undecided about their future and actually do not ask many questions about their future. They let events happen, waiting to see. They are also undetermined in their opinions. Nevertheless, they have good academic results.
Typical teens: boys children of senior managers or civil servants.
Just over one in six are worried teens. They have difficulties at school or with their families. They’re in a bad way and they’re under pressure. In their priorities, love is more important to them than academic results. Moreover, they are quite pessimistic about their future in a rather unequal society.
The typical teenager: daughters of employees and workers, in professional fields.
One in twenty are so worried about their future. It must be said that their situation is worrying: they do not have many friends, do not talk with parents … They feel disadvantaged and find society unfair. They have no plans and live day to day.
Typical teenager: middle school or high school student whose parents are separated.
Teens: The New Forms of Unhaps
Teenagers have changed a lot today… and the famous teen crisis took on new forms, often more difficult to recognize and more brutal. Depression and self-harm in girls, beatings and drug use in boys… What are the new risky behaviours and expressions of violence?
Today, teen behaviours have evolved and ill-being is no longer expressed in much the same way. These expressions are specific to young girls and boys.
Boys: station at the scrapyard
Among boys, fights, runaways, school absenteeism are the behaviors that will express ill-being. Violence is generally directed towards others, rather than towards oneself (suicide attempts among boys have remained stable). But there is a significant increase in the damage to the property of others, especially public goods. “This has doubled in four years,” says Marie Choquet, an epidemiologist at Inserm. And drug use is a predominantly male phenomenon, increasingly widespread. On the other hand, it should be noted that alcohol consumption has not changed despite appearances. According to Marie Choquet, “Young people today are less consumers than their parents. Today, the only mode of consumption that persists among young people is drunkenness. However, France remains one of the countries in Europe where drunken behaviour is the least widespread. It is the way society has looked at it that has evolved…”
Girls: Inner Violence
As psychiatrist Dr Xavier Pommereau points out: “20 years ago, the main disorder in young girls was the spasmophilia attack. Today it has all but disappeared. Instead, we will find other disorders such as self-harm.” For among adolescent girls, ill-being is expressed above all by a greater tendency towards depression and self-oriented violence. Suicide attempts have increased in a few years among girls. Eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia, are other forms of violence projected towards one’s own well-known body. “But it is impossible to know whether these disorders are progressing or regressing, we have no data” stresses Marie Choquet. On the other hand, self-harm seems to be increasing among young girls.
Soon parity of risky behaviours
This difference in behaviour between girls and boys seems to have widened: “There are more differences in behaviour today between girls and boys than 10 years ago” points out Marie Choquet. But the trend may well be reversed: there are specific attitudes for boys in girls. Thus, violence directed towards others also progresses in their homes, as reflected in some of the facts. Similarly, figures on cannabis use show a significant increase among adolescent girls. Often this “reversal” of the disorders is even more dangerous, because it is done in a more violent way: a boy who scarifies himself will do so in an even more serious way, a girl who drinks alcohol will do so in a more extreme way.
Has society been able to adapt to this changing behaviour of teenagers? Not really. Thus, today the state is increasing security measures and actions against the degradation of public property, instead of trying to prevent behaviour. And the major information and prevention campaigns mainly concern the use of cannabis or drugs, mainly male behaviour. Teenage girls are thus the great forgotten of the public authorities. Where are the campaigns for the prevention of suicide, anorexia or self-harm…
Re-emergence of child problems (oral and stage)
The oral side results in bulimia, anorexia, and greed in every respect. impulses return through aggression, the no, altering all its relationship with order, power. There is also a return of phallic and edipose impulses, resulting in a crisis of physical and mental originality, and œdipal reactivation of edipal impulses towards parents, creating feelings of “parental shame”. The more dependent he feels on parents, the more aggressive he will be towards them. Parents can’t help him because it’s their very presence that creates the conflict.
Teenager creates family novel
There are two couples of parents, one rich, noble, powerful and protective, assimilated to deities. They are the parents of the past, idealized by the child. The other couple is humble, common, subject to daily limitations. These are the parents discovered by the teenager. These two couples of parents clash in the imagination of the teenager. He thus embroidered a family novel in which he regained his rights and privileges. This reveals the regressive process towards the reassuring relationship of the early childhood and the gradual process that allows us to accept reality.
Fantasy of role change
The adolescent wants to take the place of one of his parents by usurping the rights of the adult. He is an adult instead of the father or mother. He judges his parents, advises them, infantilizes them. This is a condition for becoming an adult. The teenager identifies himself with images of wall parents.
An article by Nicole DENIZOU
For me I find that what adolescence looks like most is at birth. At birth, the child is separated from its mother, between the child and its mother, there was an extraordinary binding organ: the placenta. The placenta provided everything necessary for its survival and filtered many dangerous substances circulating in the maternal blood. Without him, no life is possible before birth, but it is absolutely necessary to leave him to live.
The adolescent will gradually leave family protection as he once left his protective placenta, to in turn assume responsibilities, become an adult.
The Lobster Complex
Françoise Dolto speaks of this period as a period of extreme fragility. More child, not yet adult, period when danger is present because it is vulnerable, Françoise Dolto speaks of this fragility and illustrates it very well when talking about the lobster complex.
Lobsters, when they change shells, first lose the old one and remain defenseless, until they make a new one. For teenagers, it’s a bit the same. “Making a new shell costs so many tears and sweats that it’s a bit like “oozing” it.
As the teenage lobster secretes its new shell, parents should also renew themselves and renounce being, as before, the parent of a tiny child. If their child is in the process of being born to adulthood, they too should be born as parents of young adults. It’s not comfortable every day! You have to agree to “put yourself on hold” while remaining completely present whenever the young person needs it!
Meanwhile, there is always a congre who prowls to devour the teenage lobster.
The teen congre is all that threatens them, inside and outside, and what we often don’t think about.
“Congre may be the baby the teen was, who doesn’t want to disappear into him and is afraid of losing parental protection. He holds him back in childhood and prevents her from being born into adulthood. »
This will manifest itself in a lack of self-confidence, hence the importance of giving them responsibilities, encouraging them, setting goals, adopting language, behaviour that suits adults.
Valuing what it does well
- To be able to ask, receive, refuse, give to avoid frustration.
- Developing one’s ability to be present, to listen: to teach him that listening and hearing does not mean endorsing.
- Knowing how to say real yeses and real nos
- Avoid personal projections and value judgments
- Recognize him as a person in the making and able to progress
- Let our discourse be consistent with our actions.
- Avoid unfulfilled promises; commitments should not be one-way.
“Congre can also be the angry child who believes that by “eating” the adult one becomes an adult. It is the desire to assert oneself. It is essential never to take for yourself the aggression of a teenager, it belongs to him and is the sign of something he does not know how to say otherwise. It is essential to tell him:
“What you’re doing touches me, but it doesn’t destroy me and it doesn’t destroy our relationship. The teen needs to find in front of him an adult who stands, who exists, who is clear and consistent in his beliefs and his functioning. To the extent that the adult is a safe haven, the young person recognizes his or her authority.
Our responsibility is limited to the message that we send, the way we send it, the way we receive what is being emitted from the other. The more security we give a teenager, the less aggressive he will be.
Need for benchmark and authority
“Congre may still be these dangerous, sometimes profiteering adults who are prowling around teenagers because they feel vulnerable.”
Without experience, without protection, it is an easy prey. He will sometimes tend to compensate for his lack of defense by sudden and varied changes in attitudes, excessive behaviors, even deviant.
Let’s teach him to protect himself, to defend himself. Let’s set rules, limits, safeguards. Let’s be here! It is essential to meet your needs:
- Need for independence and listening
- Need for emotional and psychological security, and therefore benchmarks to overcome the future
- Need for self-esteem
- Need for structure, organisation
- Need for recognition: need for dignity (humiliation is always a harmful and ineffective tool)
Dialogue and communication
They are indispensable; even if it is painful for them to accept, to listen. It will be necessary to find a serious means of communication, without being moralistic or aggressive, without blackmail, playing rather the card of trust. The three pitfalls of communication to avoid (usually): flight, aggression and manipulation.
Empower him, treat him like an adult. Responsibility means accountability, accountability, coercion, vigilance… the authority will sanction if the rule is broken to provide protection. These are the acts that need to be rectified; never touch the person.
The secret of the harmony and the opening climate of this period lies in every word of this sentence: encouraging it to achieve independence while imposing reasonable rules.
“Children, obey your parents… And you fathers, do not irritate your children, but raise them by correcting them and instructing them according to the Lord.”
Correcting a child is to bring him back to the rule, to what is reasonable, just, to ask him to rectify his actions, his behavior, his words, not to accept what is contrary to propriety, respect, politeness, respect of the republican law.
To resume sometimes with severity but also with a lot of love, is by no means to kick, to strike. Will I hit my own flesh? When I hit, I unload my aggression, but I don’t solve anything. No to wounds, humiliation, violent, misplaced words, anger, these are things that will not change anything and will make the climate worse. On the other hand, to have acts rectified, to seek redress, to return to non-negotiable rules, to be firm, to ask forgiveness for words spoken, that is a good correction.
Then teach, learn, pass on. You can only transmit what you know, what you have understood, what you control, what you think is reasonable, what you experience. What did the child learn in the home?
I like to read Paul’s greetings to Timothy: “Timothy my beloved child: may grace, mercy and peace be given to you by God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord!” Do we ever say these words to our children? Do you know that they need to hear them, and we need to formulate them?
In any circumstance, our adolescent will remain our beloved child, and we will desire for him that grace, mercy and peace be given to him by God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord, for this is vital for a successful life.
A life force
Adolescence is also a movement full of strength, of promise of life, of a forepour. This force is very important, it is the very energy of this transformation. Like shoots coming out of the ground, we need to “get out.” Maybe that’s why the word coming out is so important. To go out is to leave the cocoon that has become a bit stifling, it is also to have a romantic relationship. It is a key word that reflects the great movement that is shaking young people.
In bands they feel good, they have the same cues, a coded language of their own that allows not to use that of adults.
There is no adolescence without suffering, it is perhaps the most painful period of life. It is also the time of the most intense joys. The trap is that you want to run away from anything that is difficult. Fleeing outside of oneself by embarking on dubious or dangerous adventures, driven by people who know the fragilities of teenagers. Fleeing inside, barricaded behind a false shell.
In the early years, the child’s thought was magical. In the latency period, he acquired a concrete logic. Around the age of 12, the young teenager will be able to reason in a deductive way, making assumptions and responding in the abstract. It is thanks to the birth of formal thought, or “hypothetico-deductive.” Having acquired this formal thought, he will use it to excess. He doesn’t need experience. This is the period when we remake the world, a very creative period but without support in reality. He acquired the adult intellect.
The adolescence of Jesus
Luke 2.41. In this passage, Jesus is twelve years old and we see all the concern he has aroused in his parents. Jesus skewed company for three days to his parents without warning them. “Here your father and I were looking for you with anguish.” He said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Don’t you know… but they did not understand what he was saying to them. »
Twelve years is the age at which Jewish children became religiously adults. Jesus did not escape, he acted like a teenager, he did not think to tell his parents that he was going to the temple. For him it made sense for them to know. But Mary and Joseph were not prepared for it; Jesus to them was still the child.
We will experience situations like this with our teenagers, situations that will surprise us, that will make us live in anguish. For them, it will seem natural to them, they will not understand that we are worried. This passage may be in the Bible to tell us parents that their behavior sometimes can surprise us, worry us, anguish us, but for them it is in the logical approach to adulthood and in this phase of self-assertion.
Hence the importance of establishing a relationship of trust, dialogue, in the family, in school, in society, it is a new life that begins and we will have to learn to manage it, it brings hope. Tell them that from now on we will no longer consider them children, BUT BIG, trust them: they are very sensitive to trust.
Adolescence is the last chance to address childhood conflicts and resolve them spontaneously. If these same conflicts subsequently occurred, it would be the domain of the pathological. The person would get seriously entangled in it. In fact, most adult pathologies hatch in adolescence. The structure of the personality is done during the first 5 years of life, but it can be redesigned in adolescence most often alone, i.e. with the immediate environment. Otherwise it falls apart in adolescence and the future adult will need public health help.
Understanding and guiding
The best way to manage the transition to adolescence is of course to try to understand the teenager! Parents, you’ve probably already told your child everything you expect from him at school or at home, but have you ever asked him what he’s looking for? Do you know his doubts, his problems? And it’s not just about understanding it, it’s also about helping it to see it more clearly. The adolescent does not necessarily see how he will find his place in this world, in the midst of unemployment, insecurity, precariousness. The parents and the animators are then there to explain to them the rules of the game of this adult world.
Understanding a teenager doesn’t mean accepting everything. For example, it is normal that he seeks to differentiate himself from his parents, often by actions that you will disapprove of… that is what he is looking for. No doubt if you found the piercing he wants to put on, it would immediately be less interesting! In any case, feel free to tell him that you do not accept certain things and set limits. Many parents are afraid of losing the bond with the child when he becomes a teenager, and they say nothing to avoid upsetting him. As a result, they sometimes end up with terrorists at home! The same is true for animators.
Another important point: to be positive! Because with people who live in disillusionment, who have a negative view of society, it is difficult for the young person to conceive his future. Of course this does not mean masking reality, but having constructive criticism with the teen, and thinking about alternatives so that he finds a place in a better world.
Ipsos Health 2006 survey
According to this survey, contrary to popular belief, teens are doing pretty well! Did you think the kids were lonely, lonely? 95 say they have many friends. Do you think they have problems with communication and understanding in the home? 80 say they speak “totally and freely with their parents”. And overall, 71 say they are satisfied with their lives. Finally, 75 of the teenagers feel more socially advantaged. So there is no real exclusion, even if the recent phenomena in the suburbs may suggest that the situation is not homogeneous in France.
And teens don’t feel excluded from the education system, on the contrary. 79 of them say they feel good at school. Of course, 42 say they often live under pressure because of the demands of academic performance. And parents and teachers are directly accused of pushing young people too hard, focusing on grades and academic results. Because we made them understand that it’s about succeeding in life! Despite these pressures, children have their feet on the ground: they put family, friends, love and health before school results into their lives.
Yes, but with a smile
The fact that teens are doing well according to the survey may seem paradoxical, when one sees the extremely critical view they have of society and which is reflected in some of the responses. They do not think that the world of tomorrow will be better than today, they are convinced that money is the engine of society and they know that not everyone has the same chance of success. But they keep smiling because 85 think that the D system and the sense of resourcefulness make it possible to get by in life. And most of all, they feel they can make a difference.
Unbe how to be
Of course there are a few black spots that need to be emphasized. Thus, in addition to the pressures of school performance that are pointed out, one in four teenagers has difficulty reaching out to others and one in six does not feel well about themselves. And if we look at the adolescents who add up the problems, we have a worrying fringe of 5 teenagers who are isolated, have no plans for the future, etc. For these, it is necessary to act, to prevent them from switching to solutions that are not. Because even if teens are doing well, you have to recognize the signs of problems to prevent them from tipping over.
Céline will say: “It’s difficult, this passage of life. It is so tiring to live in uncertainty and doubt, it is hard to want to die with what surrounds us, revolted, unhappy in a skin that we do not feel to ourselves, unfortunate also because we no longer understand what is happening and because we are alone, because you scare us a little! »
Gilles: “Adolescence is bonos! There are some that block, that’s for sure. I find it amazing, we can do a lot of stuff like grown-ups but we have no responsibility. I have to say that my parents are cool, I’d like it to last. »
Christophe: “It’s the age when you’re afraid to experience failures, but since it seems that it’s chess that makes you grow and mature, it’s difficult.”
Sophie: “I cried so hard that my eye was red. I’m sad and upset and I don’t even know why. I’d like to be away. It’s like a path with steps and at every stage there is a reward, but if you die, you won’t get the reward. I’ve been dead. I feel bad to think, I have a pain in living, I have too much pain not to be able to encourage myself or console myself. It’s hard, it’s life, but I love it…”
The concern and responsibility of any society is therefore at the level of promoting an ability to empower them to succeed.
The church’s approach
I believe that for us, as a church, we must have the same approach. We have a great responsibility and we have to work to be able to:
- to listen
- to communicate
- giving responsibility
- be an example in word and deed
- setting rules, limits
- have to know how to do it
- give our time
- a lot of love
- enable access to different practices (cultural, sports, science, technology), different activities that are all diverse inputs for knowledge acquisition and personal development
- to be at their side models of faith so that our investments will bear fruit
- and finally, give themselves the means to create a network of listening, support and support to parents who need it.
Excerpt from the book “Pais my lambs” (exhausted) by Wendy HANNA, with permission from the author.
||Application to teaching:
|Rapid and irregular growth is often caused by fatigue and clumsiness.
||Take this into account when entrusting him with tasks to perform.
|He is concerned about his external appearance.
||Be sensitive to this fact and help him to accept himself.
|He discovers sexuality. Maturity appears faster in girls than in boys.
||Ensure that he understands these transformations in the light of God’s Word.
||Application to teaching:
|He experiences emotional instability, with mood swings. He criticizes easily and makes hasty judgments.
||Not being affected, not feeling hurt. Do not impose one’s own convictions, but agree to listen to their point of view.
|He has an awakened sense of humor.
||It’s best to have them too!
|He tends to indulge in self-centered daydreams.
||Often give him opportunities to succeed and be praised.
|His general knowledge extends. He will find himself in front of the realities of existence and the truth of the Word of God.
||Discuss and present the biblical point of view.
||Application to teaching:
|He became more and more independent from his family. He has a burning need to be seen among his friends. He has a group spirit.
||During a discussion, he will first be reserved for fear of being different from his friends.
|He is wary of the adult.
||It will take time to give his confidence and share his problems.
|He’s attracted to the opposite sex. This is particularly noticeable in girls.
||Teach him the divine principles of purity.
|He likes to act as he pleases and can be felt as rebellious.
||A gentle but firm authority is necessary for him. Lead him without forcing him.
|He aspires to be an adult.
||Give him the opportunity to participate in the development of a program. With young people of this age, work more with them than for them.
|He often takes as a due all that is done for him. He can be felt as ungrateful.
||Teach gratitude, but not be hurt if he does not immediately express his gratitude.
||Application to teaching:
|He questions the teaching he received as a child. It is accessible to doubt.
||Be understanding and allow him to express his doubts. Bring him back to the truth of God’s Word.
|He is capable of a real consecration to the Lord.
||It’s time to train him to make him a manager. Get him into work for God.
All self-taught, none knew the music and yet the cassette that we recorded at the time for the benefit of CVA was made only songs of our composition. I saw these teenagers go to work to buy their musical instruments, drums, bass guitar, piano etc. I really realized then that we were meeting a need. We touched a lot of teenagers whose parents were not Christians.
So to tell you that I am convinced that today, investing in teenagers is necessary or even indispensable, is not difficult for me. It has been part of my daily life ever since. Biblical classes, listening, expression workshops, singing group, musicals, plays, sports, holiday camp, etc. Meeting a need in any way is an investment.
But don’t expect me to give you “recipes,” I don’t have any! On the other hand I have secrets:
- I have always loved them as they were, without judgment of values. It’s important to tell a teenager “you’re unique, even if you need others to build yourself. That’s why you’re valuable. You have a future even if everything seems closed around you. Someone I know intimately loves you with immense love. He accepts you without judgment of value, he understands you perfectly, to him you can tell him everything, he wants to become your confidant. He’ll never disappoint you.”
- My source of inspiration: God. Everywhere I went, I never reproduced what I had done in the past. We had to constantly renew ourselves, because the needs were never the same. When inspiration did not come, or when I did not know how to respond, prayer was my solution.
- The important thing is not to do, but above all to respond to what teenagers expect.
If we are interested in the form that adolescence can take, we can say first of all that there is not “one” but adolescence. There are as many, if not more, ways of being a teenager than ways of being male or female, since adolescence is a period of multiple trials and errors for everyone.
“A story of your own,” said Françoise Dolto. “Neither good nor bad, made of happiness, misfortunes, incidents, accidents, joy and suffering.”
The family, the school, the society, the church, promote or inhibit (delete or slow down) this construction. Are we among those who favor it, who facilitate it?
From one era to the next
How many times have I heard from adults, “It must be hard to deal with teenagers?” My answer has always been: “But so motivating!”
Or: “Today’s young people are not the same!” If we ask ourselves whether today’s teenagers are better or worse than those of yesterday, quantitative statistics of any kind cannot suffice. Indeed, there are no objective criteria for trans-eras to answer this question, even if we can observe epidemiologically an increase in suicides, dropouts and addictions. In fact, these studies reveal how teens go wrong and encourage new solutions without saying whether one era is better than another.
Tell me, you adults, were you so different from those teenagers today “with pants too big, with their fists in their pockets and their eyes on their sneakers?” With the passing of time, we forget our youth, our hesitations, our revolts. So we observe them, we study them, at the same time they fascinate us they frighten us, they frighten us sometimes, and that’s how we go to war against our children. If the world has changed with its way of life, its means of communication, education, its culture, families often broken up, recomposed, single parents … the adolescent remains a human being who must mourn his childhood and be born to his adult life with all that it entails. We know that there is no reference to this period. The more man puts a distance with his creator, the more evil will progress.
What do we think of teenagers?
Some will say they are young rebels, secret, sullen, self-centered… But do these qualifiers really portray the typical teenager? Should we talk about problems between teenagers and their families? School? The company? Not necessarily.
Many studies on the subject report that many parents do not have any serious difficulties with their teens. They live in harmony with them in an open climate and encourage them to achieve independence while imposing reasonable rules on them.
The term adolescence today is a word with a negative connotation that weighs heavily on the shoulders of young people. How many times have I heard from teenagers: “My parents say I’m back in the stupid age” … But teenagers are not a distinct species, but human beings just like their parents, their teachers, their animators, their neighbors etc. They too face the day-to-day problems that arise in a complex and changing world. It is up to us to help them in an intelligent, reasonable and responsible way.
Do you know that adolescence is not a disease!
Many parents fear adolescence and its crisis. But the child doesn’t suddenly turn into a monster! On the contrary, it is a step that can go well, provided you have some benchmarks and avoid conventional wisdom. Does the teen crisis have its name? Because when a child becomes a teenager, he inevitably changes… But it is not always a crisis. Some child psychiatrists prefer the term “mutation.”
This transition period often creates tension in the home. Young people ask themselves all kinds of questions: “Who am I?”, “What am I going to do in life?”, “How am I going to get along with others?” They often try to respond by defying authority and testing the rules. Parents can help them by encouraging them to take more responsibility for their choices and actions while continuing to look after and guide them. Although the adolescent frequently complains of being treated like a baby, he still needs structure in terms of expectations, routines and values to ensure his safety and well-being.
Parents sometimes feel overwhelmed, and rightly so, by the tension of adolescence. However, there is a way to improve things. We can start by waking up our memories and asking ourselves, “As a teenager, how much did I confide in my parents?”, “Was I very critical and inclined to argue?”, “What were my dreams and fears?”. The answers to these questions can help us better accept the behaviour of our teens. Some realities remain the same at all times and in all cultures. Adolescence is always a struggle for independence, a period of affirmation and opposition to parents.
Just like us at their age, adolescents face significant physiological transformations, emotional ups and downs, unknown sexual urges and pressures from their peers; their identity is acquired, they have to make important decisions and they have to deal with the loneliness and anxiety that comes with it.
It is another problem. With fewer families, increased mobility and high divorce rates, adolescents can no longer rely on close relatives to deal with difficult situations. When the tension rises, there may be no one to turn to for help and advice, no one to intervene and defuse the crisis.
What is the place in society?
Teenagers have no status, no place for them in society. They are no longer useful as in the past for chores such as milking cows and cutting wood, and their gains are generally not essential to the family’s livelihood. Today, few jobs make young people feel useful and appreciated. In the past, young people quickly matured. Now we ask them to be dependent and disciplined until they get the training they need to find a job in a performance-oriented society.
The world is changing rapidly; in many ways, it is different from the one we grew up in. Teenagers today live in a more complex and impersonal society. They also face AIDS, violence and job scarcity. The pressure is high. Teenagers have become the target of advertising agencies and the media, which encourage them to burn the steps and experiment without waiting
The influence of comrades
It is often perceived as negative when in fact it is largely positive. Teenagers often help themselves stay on track. Parents, on the other hand, can help their young people by encouraging them to bring friends home. Making your home a welcoming place gives your teens confidence.
It is important for them to relate to others; hence the importance of connecting them with Christian friends. When they move away from their parents, teenagers seek acceptance from others and want to be able to create their own social environment.
The sensitive link in society
Adolescence is indeed the moment when the young person tests family and social ties, tries to find his place by integrating the symbolic values and abilities of the world around him. It is therefore by no means surprising that “youth” proves to be the most sensitive link and, therefore, one of the best indicators of the health of a society, a witness to its fragilities and its wealth. Adolescence is a kind of test of truth about the effective symbolic effectiveness of social constructions.
Thus, the resurgence of school disorders can be seen as an inquiry directed at the actors of education as to the meaning and usefulness of knowledge, and as to the adequacy of their mode of transmission. Similarly, the increase in suicide attempts and suicides among young people without personal psychiatric problems forces society as a whole to consider the crucial issue of a dead end in the creation of meaning from the difficulties of existence.
Youth violence still questions the failure of the structuring role of laws. The resurgence of eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia, questions the ambient fantasies of control of each one on life, death, the body.
Teenagers and faith
“I keep the memory of your sincere faith, that faith that was already in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. Now she also lives in you. The Apostle Paul had noted the remarkable role of Lois and Eunice who had succeeded in passing on their faith to Timothy. This faith then became a reality in his life.
What had they done to ensure that Timothy followed in their footsteps in the faith? They had taught Timothy since childhood the Holy Scriptures, because they knew they could give him true wisdom and lead him to salvation in Jesus Christ.
Our children know us. They see our attitudes and our actions. Our own conduct must be in harmony with our teaching.
Be careful not to project on them a negative image of Christian life! Maybe they don’t want to live like us?
Our primary responsibility
… as an adult: loving them as they are and communicating to them what we believe is good, this is the first reasonable action. If we invest in the field of faith, we will never regret it. And the first investment we can make is indeed the transmission of the word and the lived testimony of a sincere faith, alive and, accompanied by prayers. The wish of my heart and prayer for them is that they be saved. Let us pray for our children. “You will be saved and your family.”
The mission of the church
I think the most important thing is not to be a spectator, but as an actor. What are we able to communicate to them, to give them, how can we help them, empower them, give them confidence so that they can in this period of change where they are weakened to feel with them adults who have benchmarks, referents on whom they can rely. In taking care of them, I always had the feeling of participating in a construction, of bringing my stone to it!
This beginning of the 21st century is marked by profound changes in society, where the benchmarks are absent, children and adolescents, by various forms of behavior, challenge us on their relationship to the world today and encourage us to reflect on the answers to be provided to accompany them towards adulthood.
I am convinced that we would like to put in place a set of measures, means that constitute a plan that is up to the task of the circumstances in order to make this very singular period of life as passable as possible, so that the adolescent ordeal is done in the best way, in a society where there is no longer a landmark.
The mission of Christians and the testimony of the church are important. Human beings are neither worse nor better than they were yesterday. He remains the same, I believe, his nature has not changed, and what really delights me is that God loves us and loves teenagers of the 21st century in the same way as those of the first century. It still has solutions and a future for them. In this world where we tend to see everything in black, where it seems that nothing goes, what happiness to say to a teenager: God loves you, he understands you, He is a future for you, He gave Jesus his son so that you may be saved. If you pray to him and trust him He will be your strength, your help, it will not be every day easy, but he will be with you and you can count on and with him. And that’s great!