Thursday, September 13, 2007

Taming the Teens; at least for a wee while

Reading to our children ... we all know the benefits. When my son was young, his favorite stories were from the Uncle Remus collection, particularly Brer Rabbit's adventures. The edition we owned had the original dialect and so, each night, I read aloud in Plantation Southern dialect just as it was written in the book.

One summer we attended a family reunion. The cabins had no telly nor radios; in those days there were no iPods either. The children stayed together in the cabins making for a two night "slumber party" atmosphere. As was my custom, I went to my son's bedside that first night and started Brer Rabbit. The cousins who shared his cabin became quite still, listening to the story of Brer Rabbit and the tarbaby. Ever so quietly, one teen, then another crept into the room and listened to the tales unfold. By the time I had finished three of the tales, I looked up and the room was filled with at least a dozen teens. Not a sound came from them and their attention was rapt. When it was time for lights out, the teens begged me to come back again the next night and read, which I did.

What did the teens find in that simple story hour? Aye, they enjoyed the stories told in the dialect but I believe tis something more; a human connection with an adult willing to take the time to entertain them, to talk to them about the morality tales and the meaning of life's boundaries and rules. Research tells us that among teens, their second greatest fear is "not knowing what the rules are". Life is complex in it's expectations and the flotsam of society is frightening with its ever changing fads and behaviors.

Research also tells us that children raised with consistent Christian ethics and morals are more stable, mature and better able to handle the flotsam of society. They are anchored. All the more reason to give our children a thorough grounding in Christian ethics and morals from a young age.

Every teen who has had trouble benefits from a wise adult; St. Benedict calls this advisor a "senpectae"; someone who is nonconfrontational and willing to gently guide the teen back to sensibility. Once upon a time the grands fulfilled this role in extended families. Now the isolated nuclear families have to depend upon Scoutmasters, Youth Ministers, and other nonfamily members to fulfill this necessary role. Which brings us to the next question: who is the "advisor" of your teen? Do you approve of this advisor's ethics?
That's me away.

2 comments:

PandaBean said...

This is a very good point. People think that once a person has reached a certain age, it is too late to "fix" things (My mom with my 19 year old brother). If people take the time, anyone can be taught good things (values, morals, etc.) no matter what the age. All anyone really needs is more Jesus! :) And the rest of the Holy Trinity, of course.

God Bless!

PlainCatholic said...

Oh aye; Jesus makes it very clear that we are all salvageable at any age. His Love endures forever!


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