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Modeling Marriage to our Youth

What is modern culture teaching our youth about marriage? Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore reportedly had an ‘open marriage’ but filed for divorce after six years or marriage. Kim Kardashian was married all of 72 days when she filed for divorce. And they’re hardly an exception in movie- and show business land.

Meanwhile, on popular TV series marriage seems to mean nothing either. People get married and get divorced just like that. Think Alex and Izzie and George and Callie on Grey’s Anatomy. Think Mr Shuester on Glee, or Gibbs on NCIS.

There used to be a time where the most popular series were about families, marriages…The Cosby Show, Growing pains, Family Ties. But these days are long gone. What youth now sees about marriage it’s that it’s temporary, fleeting, meaningless. It’s fun until it isn’t anymore and then there’s divorce. They see it everywhere, including in their own families.

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The power of vulnerability

Every now and then you hear a message that has a profound impact on you. The TED talk on the power of vulnerability I saw the other day is such a message. Brené Brown calls herself a researcher-storyteller and some years ago, she did research into human connections. That research quickly turned into research on shame and vulnerability. She made a discovery that changed the way she lived her life.

I urge you to take 20 minutes to watch this video of her talk about what she discovered on why some people seem to be able to live ‘wholehearted’ and why others can’t:

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Is it okay to mentor someone from the opposite sex?

A while back we had an interesting question going on with a group of youth workers on Twitter. One youth worker asked if we thought it was okay for her to mentor a male youth from her youth group. There was no one else available, yet her church had a problem with it. It was interesting to see everyone wrestle with this issue, because we all understood the risks, yet we also understood the urgency of him needing a mentor.

Is it okay to mentor someone from the opposite sex? It’s a hard question to answer, but here’s my answer: yes, it’s okay to mentor or coach someone from the opposite sex, but…And here come the ‘buts’ in the form of questions:

Is anyone else available?

I think we can all agree that same-sex mentoring or coaching is preferable. So if anyone else is available from the same sex and there are no pressing arguments why that person shouldn’t become mentor, that person should do it.

If you decide to mentor someone from the opposite sex, always meet in a public place

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What to do with a teen pregnancy in your youth group

It’s a tough one this week, the question of the week. Last week I got into contact with a British youth worker who was wondering how to approach the situation of a teen in her youth group being pregnant. I figured it was a good topic to write a bit about, since unfortunately it’s something we can all encounter. What do you need do when a teen in our youth group is pregnant?

There are a few practical things to consider and then there’s the more emotional and pastoral stuff. Let’s start with a few practical guidelines you’ll need to remember when dealing with a teenage pregnancy in your youth group. Continue reading What to do with a teen pregnancy in your youth group

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Peer groups and peer influence: does it matter?

A youth ministry friend of mine wrote me with the following question:

How much does peer group matter and can we overcome the ‘problem’ of not having a peer group within our small youth group? We have a group of about 6 or 7 from age 11-16 and none of them really relate very well to each other, despite most of them having been in the same church most of their lives!

It’s a good question, so let’s look at peer groups and peer influence and how important this is to teens.

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Why parents can’t understand their teens

I just googled the search term ‘why parents can’t understand teenagers’. The results were interesting. First of all, Google wanted to make sure I didn’t mean ‘why parents don’t understand teenagers’. I didn’t. But searching for the reason why parents can’t understand teenagers, I only came across reasons why they don’t. And in the top ten of search results, there were also some sites with complaint from teens that their parents ‘just didn’t understand them’.

But you see, it’s not just a matter of not wanting to understand, or not trying hard enough. It’s also a matter of not being able to. And that has to do with our emotional memory.

Can you remember what it felt like to be a teenager?

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