Leave Me Alone, but Don’t Leave Me Alone

In his book, Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers, Chap Clark reveals the harsh reality that “today’s adolescents have largely been abandoned by adults and left to fend for themselves in an uncertain world. As a result, teens have created their own world to serve as a shield against uncaring adults.”
Clark’s findings are not theories; he shares what he learned from six months of participant-observer research at a California public school. Here’s the long and the short of what he discovered: adults have systemically abandoned adolescents. Several decades ago, multiple organizations were launched to help guide young people into adulthood in a smooth and healthy manner. Some wonderful programs were developed and led by schools, sports leagues, and youth ministries. By the 1990s, however, a foundational shift occurred and the programs stopped serving the teens and began instead to serve the adults, their organizations, and their expectations.
These are harsh, convicting truths to consider, but they are truths nonetheless. I must acknowledge my own actions that have contributed to this problem. For example, my daughter’s summer schedule (that’s right, summer, when school is out and free time should abound!) included weekly church responsibilities, music lessons, youth group meetings and functions, and multiple basketball practices and games every week. I also need to admit how easy it is at home to let my girls hang out in their rooms and do their own thing while I focus on whatever chores and tasks I have to complete.
I want to be honest about my problems and my shortcomings, but I also want to tackle them and come up with solutions. Life is all about relationships; the Bible is summed up, essentially, by these five words: love God and love people. I need to change and grow when it comes to loving and actively engaging in the relationships I have right inside of my own home. Here’s my promise: I will spend more quality time and have real, face-to-face conversations with my daughters, even if they think they don’t want it, because the alternative is unacceptable.
Young people often want us to leave them alone, but that’s not what they really want. And it’s certainly not what they need. Will you join me in cultivating and strengthening the relationships you have with your kids, grandkids, and other young people under your sphere of influence? It could seriously change the world.
Troy Burns