Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Challenging Youth

I took my son to a conference on global poverty today. There was an excellent program and I will share some of the solutions discussed in future blogs.

Today, I want to talk about challenging teens and respecting their intelligence. I know some people who do this very well. I also know that there are many groups, organizations and people who take the idea that adolescence should be a good time or a chance to blow off steam before the responsibilities of adulthood. I wonder, though, how well prepared such kids will be for those responsibilities.

My son was the only child at the conference. I took him as part of his schooling. He heard people talk about subsistence living, compassion, and the dream destroying effects of real poverty. He learned about biosand filters, medical missions, microfinance, farmers' cooperatives and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ has changed lives and communities in various contexts. He would have asked a question of one of the speakers but someone else asked that same question first. It was a good question. He made comments about some of the visuals.

My son seemed to grasp what was being discussed, except when the keynote speaker gave his talk. That man was discussing "fiscal restraint," "austerity measures," and "debt liquidation." Challenging concepts even for adults, especially those who haven't studied economic theory. Still, the boy listened, only fidgeting a little, and maybe learned something. At one point, I told him he could go hang around outside during the rest of the final speech. He chose to stay.

This was an adult conference and Jordan did fine. Much as the proud Momma in me wants to think that Jordan is exceptionally bright (he is rather smart) he really isn't all that unusual. Teens can handle a lot. They just need the opportunity and, like all of us, the encouragement not to be intellectually lazy.

A pastor I know has repeatedly stated, "Don't talk down to teens." In our homes, schools, communities and, perhaps especially, our churches we need to encourage kids to reach their full potential. In fact we need to push them. It's part of parenting and part of youth ministry.

That's my opinion any way. What's yours?


The academic program at the Christian Youth Conference at Ocean Park has been raising the bar, working with the kids to give them a solid foundation in Biblical literacy, basic doctrine and church leadership skills. (We do throw in some fun during the two-week conference, too.) In August, on the beautiful southern coast of Maine. Check it out!


  1. I knew a couple who did not believe in talking "baby talk" to their babies. They spoke to their children (from day one) as they would talk to each other. I haven't seen them in years. I have no idea how their children turned out.

    1. I talked baby talk to Jordan. It's too fun to resist. :)

  2. I think its fantastic that Jordan did so well! While I agree with you that teens can handle more than we think, I believe a big part of Jordan's intellect and maturity is because you homeschool him. (The state of our public school system is a topic for another day!) Its something David and I want to do with our child.

    When I was a kid, I went to public school but I was still considered pretty smart and advances topics were a lot of fun to me. I think its because my parents didn't baby me. I asked for information and it was given to me. They knew I could handle it. More teens need to be given that same chance.

    1. Homeschooling may play a part, but I know dozens of kids who could have handled it. It's good your parents didn't coddle you. In my opinion that should be saved for when they are sick or grieving. (and even then for a limited time.)

      I think you and David will love homeschooling.