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Making connections: The social 'HELP' network

Voices of Religion

Posted: March 23, 2012 - 8:44am

There's an interesting, and perhaps alarming, trend developing with our youth/teens today. More than ever teens are deriving most of their values, beliefs and direction from Facebook. The social networking giant has revolutionized many different aspects of our daily lives; advertising, communication and dating. Yet, through all the positive development we have to ask the question "Who's getting lost in all this change?"

Today teens are shaping and developing ideas about sex, marriage and relationships from those commenting on Facebook. These ideas once formed by parents, are now an open forum for "friends" to comment on. Like a Golden Corral buffet dinner, the development of important ideas, based on "liked" profile statements or friends "commenting" on your status, is creating a melding pot of mixing ideals. It's these cyber counselors that are shaping the values of our teens daily.

Below are three ways to connect your teens and how it can open the door to convey Christian ideas about the topics listed above.

1. Willing To Listen

It's no secret that teens want and need to be heard. They have their own voice and desperately want someone to hear it. Unfortunately parents, if you're not willing to listen they'll find someone who is.

It's important to listen to your teens when they have something to say. Usually there talking because they want you to listen and possibly give feedback. Make sure you use those opportunities to give your teen the voice they want and eventually, if you listen enough, the guidance they need.

2. Honesty

Facebook has given those who would otherwise be timid, the opportunity to discuss topics honestly among peers. Teens are amazing at seeing through crap and identifying a fraud. It's why most of us have trouble talking with them. They know we're not being completely truthful. Yet, it's the truth that they're constantly seeking from us.

A great way to increase conversation, trust and future open discussion is honesty. Teens want to talk with someone who will give them honest and authentic answers. Sugar-coated responses are just that, coated! Teens want the truth no matter how difficult it may be to hear.

3. Willing to Share

Along with honesty, teens want to relate to you as parents. They may be seeking advice from others, especially on Facebook, because it's an easy way to receive validation quickly. Teens desperately want to know they're NOT alone.

Many parents feel they cannot connect with their teen regarding the issues they face today. It's simply not true. Most of the time it's because they don't want to "air their dirty laundry" more than a connection issue. However, teens respect and gravitate towards authentic and honest communication. Which are you willing to give up?

Teens are willing to give us the platform to speak into their lives on a daily basis. However, the question remains; Are we as parents, youth pastors and mentors, willing to invest the same amount of time, effort and energy as we're asking of them?
 
Scott Levesque is the youth pastor at Kenai New Life. For more information regarding New Life visit www.kenainewlife.org.

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