“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.” –Robert Heinlein
Warning: if you don’t want my advice, don’t proceed!
Our theme for our church family yesterday was Generation to Generation. We focused on how each generation should be passing down their stories of achievements, challenges, over-comings, and failures. And most importantly, generations should be passing down the story of God and the stories of His presence. We also talked about how these stories should passed on with honesty, not pretending we know all the answers or that we understand all of our ways or God’s ways.
With that theme in mind, I wrote 5 pieces of advice and shared them yesterday. The advice is mostly focused on how older generations can relate to teens. That’s the angle from which I usually think of things since I spend most of my waking hours thinking of how I can help teens. So if you’re older than a teen, see if this advice can change or adjust your approach to things. If you’re a teen, read the advice and then decide to let the older people in your life tell you stories; in fact, ask them for stories! The stories of our lives strengthen the foundation of our life and make us real to each other.
If you’re a parent having trouble with your teen, this advice will help you. If you’re a teen having trouble with your parents, then try to encourage your parents to be more real to you; not easier on you necessarily, but more willing to share the stories behind their rules, decisions and expectations. Parents, try not to have arbitrary rules, but rather have your life experiences and your story help you decide appropriate expectations of your teens. And then share the stories and the reasons. Don’t leave your teens in the dark on your reasoning or you’ll make them feel victim to random rules.
Here are the 5 pieces of advice. These are a reflection of 13 years of watching teens and parents, of reading, of praying, of failing and of some succeeding.
~Future generations will forgive us for being flawed but they won’t forgive us for being dishonest. Tell your story honestly.
~One of the top complaints from teens about adults is that they try to appear to know it all and that adults expect respect instead of working to earn respect. Sharing your story will help both this things.
~This generation wants to know ‘why’. “Because I said,” isn’t good enough because there’s no story to it. Tell your story as it applies to guidance, discipline and spirituality.
~Don’t lean on your authority when times get tough. Lean into your relationships and into your story. People will lean back to you instead of leaning away from you.
~Build a culture in your home that’s strong enough to overcome popular culture. Your story must be more engaging and more real than the other luring stories of our culture. Whoever captures their heart, owns their attention, attitudes and actions. Their heart will be captured by whoever is most real to them.
Never forget that the people around you will value what you value. If you value stories and communication, they will too.