The Seven Cries of Today's Teens
- Friday, April 25, 2003
A Cry To Be Heard
Millennials are very comfortable living in today's Information Age. Technology is as familiar to them as their pacifiers were. Yet, in the midst of this torrent of input, their voice is drowned out. Many millenials feel they "don't have a voice" and want to be heard above the noise. They have high hopes for the future but feel "so-so" about the present. Most teens would welcome a serious discussion with a caring adult. They are eager to share their opinions and are looking for compassionate adults to interact with. Millennials are crying to be listened to.
A Cry To Be Valued
We live in a culture that is increasingly antichildren. Boomer parents, on the road to success, have sometimes embraced the values of the culture over the value of addressing their teens' needs. Many of our teens feel alone. They haven't pulled away from their parents as much as their parents have pulled away from them, leaving them a tribe apart (as Patricia Hersch describes them in her book of the same title). How will our teens discover, test, and embrace the values that are important to us if we aren't around to pass them along?
Our teens are generally doing well. They are in the right place at the right time, but they aren't coming to the right conclusions. They need mentors and guides to protect them and to help them process ideas and shape values. Our teens are looking for rites of passage that affirm their progress as they develop.
A Cry For Support
The African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child," could be adapted to say, "It takes a community network to raise a teenager." Our teens are eager for support. They are quick to admit that they need it. They want to be connected and are open to learn from those who have gone before. They want to be included and to make a difference. They feel supported when they are included in our processes and allowed some autonomy to make decisions. Because of our culture, teens are more at risk. We need to compensate by developing networks that build community and help our youth. We need partnerships between parents and schools, between businesses and after-school programs, between the private and the public sectors, and between the church and the home. We need to strategically plan support for our teens, because many of them feel that we spend all our efforts at work and that we have little to offer them in their aspirations.
My prayer is that this book will inform you about the need to connect with your teenager and inspire you to work at it. Our culture races along with shocking images bombarding our teens. They have learned to cope by operating in extremes. To them, what they experience is normal. The blurring of the boundaries makes them want clarity and decisiveness. Their spiritual longing prepares them to be devoted in their quest for God. It is time for parents and youth workers to seize the day - to capture our teens while they are seeking God, to build trust, express love, and provide a safe place to help our teens discover purpose and meaning. Our teens are crying out.
Will you respond?
Tim Smith, the author of The Seven Cries of Today's Teens, works with children, youth, and family members at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California. As an author, he has written a dozen books for teens, parents, men and families, and is also an in-demand speaker for these audiences. He is currently presenting a national seminar based on the Seven Cries and is a Research Fellow with the George H. Gallup International Institute. He and his wife have two daughters.
Excerpted with permission of Integrity Publishers, Copyright 2003 by Tim Smith. Visit Integrity at http://www.integritypublishers.com
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