(I have not written on the blog in a while mainly because I have been working on an exciting new book that I will tell you more about in the coming weeks. While there has been blog silence I have had some time to observe youth ministry around the country as well as in my own context and have decided to write an open letter about what I have observed. This letter is not from all youth ministers and it is not to all parents, but I think it speaks to most)
We love your kids.
We love them enough to send you this letter.
Your youth are in a bad place. We have never seen a generation of teenagers who are more stressed, full of anxiety, depressed, suicidal, over committed, over medicated, over worked and over extra-curriculared, and it is killing them, sometimes literally. We know you want the best for them, the best grades, the best college, the best teams, performances, standardized scores, friend groups etc. We all want the best for them. But they are not the best at everything and they will never be the best at everything. I was not, you were not and they will not stand atop the podium in every area they compete. As I watch the Olympics I have thought a lot about what it takes to get to the Olympics, let alone what it takes to get to the top of that podium. It takes incredible amounts of raw talent, dedication, work, and single-mindedness about that discipline. Unfortunately we see many parents pushing these standards and unrealistic expectations of every area of their kids lives. They cannot do it all, they cannot handle the stress and are being crushed under the weight of the expectation. Now, please hear me, it is not just your expectation, it is the expectation of their coaches, teachers, administrators, colleges and the expectations of each other. Expectations are good, they cause us to rise above where we, alone, would usually strive. But they must be realistic expectations based on each student. Continue Reading…