Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teenagers are Human Beings

"We come in peace!" are the most common words spoken by aliens before they turn on you, scavenger human flesh and then blow up planet Earth.  This is the standard  script for alien invasion movies.  It is also the way adults often view their relationship with teenagers.  The somewhat manageable "we come in peace" days of childhood change overnight into a strange wasteland of alien activity, raging hormones and destruction of planet home life.

As a dad of a middle school son, I get the analogy.  However, brace yourself, teenagers are human beings.  They are not to be endured, they are to be cherished. They are not to be dealt with, they are to be parented.  I believe adults often treat teenagers with suspicion and contempt (I get that as well), but we need to remember they are little humans in need of adult "First Contact" (I had to continue the alien theme--sorry) in order to get from childhood to adulthood.  I am a big fan of Christian Smith and his research of students.  I recently ran across an interview of him published in the new MORF Magazine (  Check out what he said he personally took away from his study of students:

"One thing I learned from this research--which is a pretty stupid thing to have to learn as an older person, but I thin is really important--is that teenagers are people. They are not from another planet.  They are not another species.  They are just immature people just like adults are.  I think t is really important that young people have relationships with older people, real relationships, and that older people don't just think they have to survive teenagers or tolerate teenagers, but enjoy teenagers, to engage them, to have teenagers as part of their lives.  I think that's good for adults and good for teenagers. Out culture doesn't tell us that much.  If anything, it tells us the opposite and I think that that's wrong. I think what is really important and good is to learn to connect with teenagers because they are people that belong to the human race and need adults." 

Did you check out the last, highlighted line?  Students need adults!  As an adult, chances are you have a student living in your home or you know a student that needs positive adult influence.  Go ahead and start a conversation. Make first contact with this alien race of human beings and you will realize they really do seek peaceful relationships with earth's adult population.

Question:  The Smith quote contains a lot of powerful statements.  What is your favorite statement and why?  What way's are you interacting with today's student population?


  1. Fraze, I attribute any success I might have in youth ministry to you. I, too, have read this magazine and have been teaching parents from it for the past couple of weeks. Thank you so much for all our your ministry, heart and passion. You're the man!

    Curtis Thomas

  2. Well thanks Curtis! Blessings to you my friend!

  3. Ditto on both! Loved MORPH and Fraze your the Paul in the faith to me when it comes to YM!

  4. So kind. I appreciate you Timothy! Blessings Cody!

  5. Probably the most important thing is to be proactive and not reactive if humans or teenagers are behaving immaturely. Teens often wonder what happened to their parents when they become reactive instead of proactive.

  6. They are people! I get frustrated at "Adults" treating the teens like slime creatures from outer space but in all reality the teens think of adults as aliens too because the adults alienate the teens. I notice that Jesus never said anything about teens in his ministry. It was children and adults. Everyone needs nurturing in their life whether young or old. Thank you for posting this brother! I still remember the things you taught me in my short time at LCU!

  7. I love your words Matthew and agree that everyone, young and old, need mentoring. I still learn from those who I trust to speak truth into my life. The days at LCU are fond memories.

    Tanner, I agree with "proactive" in our response to students. When we focus on the proactive it gives credibility for those "reactive" moments with students.