Do you consider the timing of your message? What do they need most right now?
It’s time we think about these issues, whether we are parents, teachers, coaches, employers or youth pastors. Kids mature at different paces and need certain messages at specific times along the way if they are to become the best version of themselves they can be.
For instance, during the first eight to nine years of their life, specific messages should have been sent their way, as young children:
1. You are loved.
2. You are unique.
3. You have gifts.
4. You are safe.
5. You are valuable.
Unfortunately, many kids are not convinced of these truths by a caring adult and spend years of their life attempting to fill empty spaces in their heart with artificial “fillers” that these unsent messages left void.
Just as sad, however, are the unsent messages that students need by the time they reach ten to twelve-years old. Adolescents migrate through their teen years with a false sense of themselves — believing lies about themselves — until reality strikes them. No adult had enough backbone to sound the wake up call they needed.
I met a new friend who spoke to me about “initiation rights” that teens must experience as they move from childhood to adulthood. These rites of passage occur when an emerging (young) adult receives and embraces new messages:
1. Life is difficult.
2. You are not in control.
3. You are not that important.
4. You are going to die.
5. Your life is not about you.
I know those statements above may sound harsh, even sadistic, but they are not. They are words that so many adolescents need to hear today. Of course our students are unique, loved, and valued. But once that message is established, maturation means they must embrace a world much larger than themselves and one that doesn’t revolve around them either.
P.S. Those five statements above were created by Richard Rohr as a list he calls “Five Messages of Initiation” into adult life.