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  • Writer's pictureJUT

We Gotta Be Real...

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

In the eyes of our children, we are an open book...

I admit, I am not a scientifically qualified expert on young people and have not conducted countless surveys, however over the years I have spoken to quite a few young ones and if I had to pick just one short conclusion or summation, it would be, 'be real'. One common issue I have head often is that when some of the older generation try and relate to them, they see pretence, but they want us (parents, teachers, adults) to be real.

Children are so intelligent and often underestimated. They see and hear a lot. They are also great emulators, who then grow into teenagers…and then, well, let's just say it becomes twice as difficult to fool them.

'Our young people are looking for us to be real, normal and honest. They are looking for authentic and relevant- not relevant in fashion terms, but in life terms....Young people simply want a relationship with someone who is genuine in their actions and genuine in their love. Someone who is trustworthy, challenging and real.'

{Chris Rogers, All Hallows Bow}

The quote above really makes sense on all levels. But I’m going to bring this to the church level…yep, I’m going there. I remember growing up and observing people who seemed to have split personalities; behaving all holy in Church on Sunday morning, then on Monday, behaving…well, very differently. Enough said! I remember though that I started losing respect and very quickly withdrew any moderate attachment I had formed with any ‘fakers’. Fast-forward to now as an adult and a mother, I realise that losing respect for adults who are not ‘authentic, genuine and trustworthy’ is actually quite a common thing for teenagers to do. We see this ‘loss of respect’ happening in homes, schools, churches and in society in general.

Stretching this topic a bit further, I have noted that in some cultures, there is a strong demand for respect from our children and an equally heavy failure to show them respect. I believe it is important to realise that respect is mutual, regardless of age. As a reminder, below are a few dictionary definitions of respect:

Oxford Dictionary Definition: A feeling of deep admiration for someone or

something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements

Due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others

I do not believe children should be excluded from the above definitions. Age should not be a prerequisite for having due regard for the feelings, wishes or rights of another. Before you say it, I know there is more we can say on the general topic or argument of the ‘lack of respect’ of young people today. That is an issue of discipline and will perhaps be discussed another day. In the meantime, surely our duty is to teach our young to show respect and surely the best way to do this is not by demanding it, but by showing respect to them ourselves. Remember, our children want us to be real, not hypocritical. They want someone who they can look up to, without being ‘put down’. They want someone who will love them genuinely, without pretence.

Bottom line is, as adults, we are an open book for our young ones to read. Question is, what type of book are they reading?

Please share your thoughts or experience with working with children or raising your own.

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