I do a lot of reading and research on issues related to youth ministry, teenagers, the development of young people, parenting, etc., and I like to share helpful information that I come across.
I am currently reading Chap Clark’s Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers. It is a pretty well-known book in youth ministry circles, and in it, Clark engages in extensive qualitative research to enter the world of teenagers today and seek to understand and describe the pervasive sense of isolation and abandonment they feel from the adult world as a whole.
The book is a challenging read, in large part because of the disturbing claims it makes. I have some questions about some of Clark’s research methods and conclusions (especially the very generalized nature of the latter), but I think he has some really good things to say, and he brings up issues that should make anyone who works with teenagers pause and reflect (parents, youth ministers, teachers, coaches, etc.).
Any parent of a teenager knows that conflict with your kids is an inevitable thing, and I thought the following quotation provides some helpful thoughts for ways in which the inevitable conflicts of parenting can be dealt with in a way that doesn’t damage the parent-child relationship at the specific developmental time when teens need their parents the most:
“Research has shown that parent-child conflict increases during adolescence, especially during midadolescence [ages 15-18]. These conflicts are often rooted in how a parent deals with a growing adolescent rather than in a specific issue.
What matters most in the lives of adolescents, then, is how parents deal with conflict. Most midadolescents rapidly get over the day-to-day conflicts they experience at home, especially if they feel close to their parents. But parents are not as resilient. For many parents, even simple conflicts can push their buttons and drive a wedge in their relationships with their children. Over time, midadolescents pick up on this general sense of separation. This causes them to pull away from their parents.
Parents have a tremendous responsibility not to be thrown off or emotionally entrapped by parent-adolescent conflict. Adolescents know that their parents are supposed to be the adults, those who are to lead and guide them, without letting any conflict or emotion get out of hand. Far too often students described their parents as “out of control,” “always mad,” or “totally upset.” They responded by backing down to avoid conflict and becoming relationally disengaged. When pressed, few midadolescents wanted a distant relationship with their parents, yet most feel they have no choice but to distance themselves from emotional entanglement with their families.”
–Chap Clark, Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers (99)