Youth Ministry Assumptions


Another Tuesday has arrived, meaning its time for another Top 5.  This week’s focus is assumptions we make as youth leaders and as parents.  There is only room for 5 on this list, so I have tried to focus on the major ones I have seen lead to trouble down the road.  Here we go…

1. “My kid(s)/the kids I work with are not interested in the opposite sex yet, so why talk with them about sex?” – In my work with families I have come across this a number of times.  The danger present in this assumption is that the information children receive will likely come from their peers, with a very low level of accuracy.  With the increased sexualization of culture (see here…), children are exposed to sexually saturated media earlier en mass then ever before.  Having a conversation with your children about sex and sexuality is vital if you are to help prepare them for the world they are entering outside the comfort and security offered by the home, and hopefully, by the church.  DO NOT assume they are too young.  Broach the conversation with them, as awkward as it feels…

2. “My son/daughter would never look at pornography” – This is a terrible assumption, in that it allows for a potentially debilitating addiction to fester unaddressed.  Here are some stats.  The prevalence of pornography in our culture, along with the ease of access, makes it very difficult to avoid exposure to it.  So while it may seem that your child would never look at porn, chances are very strong they have to some degree.  DO NOT assume they are not interested.  I have worked with a number of families who only became aware once addiction had set in.

3. “Our children think drinking/drug use is foolish, so they won’t do it” – Hopefully this is the case, but doing nothing in the way of prevention would be foolish.  A false sense of security can set in when assumptions are made.  Keep up with your children’s friends.  Have regular conversations with them about their thoughts about drugs/alcohol.  Model appropriate use yourself.  If your kids are exposed to drinking/drug use, have a discussion with them about what they witnessed.

4. “Our kids are too young to understand the challenges present in our relationship” – Families going through separation and/or divorce often assume their children are too young to understand what is happening, and do not give them straight answers to the good questions they ask.  Until children have developed the ability to view situations in an abstract manner (not generally until adolescence…) they are only able to consider things as they appear.  Many children of parents going through divorce have thoughts about the divorce that would seem ridiculous to adults, such as “It’s my fault my parents are getting divorced; If I just behave better my parents will love each other again; My parents don’t love me anymore; etc.”  Grant children the respect you would give an adult – let them know what is happening.

 

5. “Church and youth group will teach our kids about God, so we don’t really need to talk about it at home.” – Hopefully church and youth group will do a good job teaching our kids about God, and what a relationship with him can be.  Modelling what this relationship can be in the home is vital in addition to what kids learn at church.  If they learn one thing at church and at youth, then see something different in the home, especially if there is no discussion about the differences, confusion will set in.  Confusion will give birth to doubt and disillusionment, which is fertile ground for disregarding the worth of faith.

This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch.  The above are assumptions I have seen lead to problems down the road not only for the children and families I work with, but also the adults I see struggling to cope with life.  Those of you that are working with youth, do your best to avoid the assumptions we often associate with kids, both good and bad.  As always, send any questions you may have.  Take care, all…

Andy Lundy

Andy Lundy is a psychotherapist working in private practice (www.junipertree.ca) in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.  He can be reached via email at andrew.lundy@junipertree.ca.  Please send him your questions…

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