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Labelling Our Youth Rebellious

by Janice S Ramkissoon  
9/09/2008 / Teen Issues

When your youth are reluctant to do things you ask of them or when they blatantly refuse, don't just label them as being rebellious. Try to find out where the rebellion is stemming from. Be concerned if your sweet little Mary from the Sunday school years suddenly turns into a bully, in the youth group. Or your special little Daniel, whose future was predicted to be a preacher, is now reluctant to participate in anything that you do.

As parents and leaders we can sometimes sit on a high throne instead of coming down to their level and try to understand them. Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario 1:

1. Mary could easily be a victim of bullying at school but instead of reaching out to her; providing the comfort she needs to stay strong, and the encouragement to rebuild her confidence, you add to the problem by:

a.) Giving her that look of disapproval to let her know you expected better from her and that she should be setting an example to the others;

b.) Being more interested in what the neighbours, the rest of the family or the church members think, than how she is feeling and what triggered such reaction;

All Mary needed was a shoulder to cry on, an understanding adult (be it Mom, dad, uncle, aunt, grandma/pa or youth leader) who will comprehend her struggle and make a helpful suggestion to move forward. Eventually she becomes withdrawn, soon suffering from depression and you can't see it because: "She's only a child. What could she possibly be worrying about?"

Scenario 2:

2. Daniel is a casualty of his parent's miss-behaviour {direct & indirect neglect}. There was domestic violence which brought on separation and later a divorce. Daniel witnessed a parent being mistreated, then had to share his mom and dad with other partners. He's often spending the weekends with one parent and the week with another. He doesn't like it, but he can't do much about it. His parents went through counselling but no one thought for a moment that he was affected by all that took place. He wants to cry but 'boys don't cry!' He reasoned with himself 'especially now that I'm a teenager.' So he goes through the motion just praying for each day to be over, so he cold get through the next.

a.) You 'tell him off' about being a 'hoodie'; 'What will the neighbours think! Seeing you dressed like that?'

b.) You ignore him because he is being disrespectful; 'He's so rebellious.' You say.

All Daniel want is to come to youth group and do some macho things; fun things anything! As long as it takes his mind off what's going on at home and so he won't have that low feeling hanging over him anymore.

Both Mary and Daniel just wanted to reclaim their youth for awhile. Instead, they get ignored because they are 'acting up'. Soon, Mary turns to the first guy who says: 'You're pretty.' Or 'I love you' and then she's excluded from society. The church wants nothing to do with her because she is pregnant out of wedlock. She is no longer welcome at home. She is now left to struggle on her own. She naturally turns her back on the church. Daniel soon turned to the gang scene, based on the falsehood that there is protection from the gang. So he turns to the street in the hope that they will offer him what we as youth leaders or parents failed to offer.

Two souls running straight to hell, we no longer have control, and so we pray. We beg them to come back to church but why should they? They were there all along and we ignored their cries for help. Now that they have lost faith in us all we really have left is prayer. We need to stop the cycle while we still have the opportunity to contribute to and effect change. Our future depends on it.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:14)

2008 Janice S Ramkissoon

Janice, a freelance writer, lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with her husband, Vince and their son, Javin. She uses her gift to encourage others towards a deeper relationship with God, through her inspirational pieces while her travel articles provide general advice for the holiday-maker.

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