Category Archives: Advice to Parents and Other Adults Who work with Genera

Advice to Parents and Other Adults Who work with Generation X (Young Adults)

Advice to Parents and Other Adults

Who work with Generation X

(Generation in Crisis)

Generation X! Are you familiar with this phrase? It is highly probable that you have heard or read the phrase at least once. What does it bring to your mind? Does it provoke fear, confusion, despair, misunderstandings, or is it just another in a long line of such expressions used to label youth? Generation X has quickly entered our vocabulary as an easily recognizable moniker for the children of another definable generation: the “baby boomers.” Thus this generation of teenagers also has come to be known as the “baby busters.” “Xers” and “busters” normally don’t elicit positive thoughts about our youth. Is this a legitimate response? Or are we maligning a significant portion of our population with such terms?

Thus the concerns we have for our youth are concerns we have for ourselves. The “web of adolescence” touches all of us. As George Barna has stated, “taking the time to have a positive impact [on our youth] is more than just ‘worth the effort’; it is a vital responsibility of every adult and a contribution to the future of our own existence.”

First, they are serious about life. For example, the quality of life issues they have inherited have challenged them to give consideration to critical decisions both for the present and future. Second, they are stressed out. School, family, peer pressure, sexuality, techno-stress, finances, crime, and even political correctness contribute to their stressful lives. Third, they are self-reliant. One indicator of this concerns religious faith; the baby buster believes he alone can make sense of it. Fourth, they are skeptical, which is often a defense against disappointment. Fifth, they are highly spiritual. This doesn’t mean they are focusing on Christianity, but it does mean there is a realization that it is important to take spiritual understanding of some kind into daily life. Sixth, they are survivors. This is not apparent to adults who usually share a different worldview concerning progress and motivation. This generation is not “driven” as much as their predecessors. They are realistic, not idealistic.(14)

What About the Church and Busters?

Let’s survey a few other attributes of Generation X as we attempt to bring this group into sharper focus. These attributes should be especially important to those of us in the Christian community who desire to understand and relate to our youth.

Because of “the loneliness and alienation of splintered family attachments” this generation’s strongest desires are acceptance and belonging.(15) Our churches need to become accepting places first and expecting places second. That is, our youth need to sense that they are not first expected to conform or perform. Rather, they are to sense that the church is a place where they can first find acceptance. My years of ministry among youth have led me to the conclusion that one of the consistent shortcomings of our churches is the proverbial “generation gap” that stubbornly expects youth to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, socialize in a certain way, etc., without accepting them in Christ’s way.

Another important attribute of this generation is how they learn. “They determine truth in a different way: not rationally, but relationally.”(16) Closely aligned with this is the observation that “interaction is their primary way of learning.”(17) In order for the church to respond, it may be necessary to do a great deal of “retooling” on the way we teach.

Lastly, busters are seeking purpose and meaning in life. Of course this search culminates in a relationship with the risen Jesus. It should be obvious that ultimately this is the most important contribution the church can offer. If we fail to respond to this, the greatest need of this generation or any other, surely we should repent and seek the Lord’s guidance.

New Rules

George Barna has gleaned a set of “rules” that define and direct youth of the mid- and late-90s:

Rule #1: Personal relationships count. Institutions don’t.

Rule #2: The process is more important than the product.

Rule #3: Aggressively pursue diversity among people.

Rule #4: Enjoying people and life opportunities is more important than productivity, profitability, or achievement.

Rule #5: Change is good.

Rule #6: The development of character is more crucial than achievement.

Rule #7: You can’t always count on your family to be there for you, but it is your best hope for emotional support.

Rule #8: Each individual must assume responsibility for his or her own world.

Rule #9: Whenever necessary, gain control and use it wisely.

Rule #10: Don’t waste time searching for absolutes. There are none.

Rule #11: One person can make a difference in the world but not much.

Rule #12: Life is hard and then we die; but because it’s the only life we’ve got, we may as well endure it, enhance it, and enjoy it as best we can.

Rule #13: Spiritual truth may take many forms.

Rule #14: Express your rage.

Rule #15: Technology is our natural ally.(18)

Now let’s consider how parents and other adults might best respond to these rules.

What Do They Hear From Us?

Try to put yourself into the mind and body of a contemporary teenager for a moment. Imagine that you’ve been asked to share the kinds of things you hear most often from your parents or adult leaders. Your list may sound something like this:

· “Do as I say, not as I do.”

· “I’m the adult. I’m right.”

· “Because I said so, that’s why.”

· “You want to be what?”

· “This room’s a pig sty.”

· “Can’t you do anything right?”

· “Where did you find him?”

· “You did what?”

· “Do you mind if we talk about something else?”

· “I’m kind of busy right now. Could you come back later?”

These statements sound rather overwhelming when taken together, don’t they? And yet too many of our youth hear similar phrases too frequently. As we conclude our series pertaining to the youth of Generation X, let’s focus on how we might better communicate and minister to them. In his book Ten Mistakes Parents Make With Teenagers, Jay Kesler has shared wise advice we should take to heart and consistently apply to our lives among youth.(19)

Advice to Parents and Other Adults

Many people say there is a lot more conflict with parents when you’re a teenager. Conflict is a normal part of any relationship, but sometimes this is more intense because of change. Let’s face it, as we get older we change physically, emotionally and in the way we think about and see ourselves. Young people often move away from their parent’s beliefs as they are learning about the world, and parents can find this hard.

  1. Be a consistent model. We can’t just preach to them and expect them to follow our advice if we don’t live what we say. Consistency is crucial in the eyes of a buster.
  2. Admit when you are wrong. Just because you are the adult and the one with authority doesn’t mean you can use your position as a “cop out” for mistakes. Youth will understand sincere repentance and will be encouraged to respond in kind.
  3. Give honest answers to honest questions. Youth like to ask questions. We need to see this as a positive sign and respond honestly.
  4. Let teenagers develop a personal identity. Too often youth bare the brunt of their parents’ expectations. In particular, parents will sometimes make the mistake of living through their children. Encourage them in their own legitimate endeavors.
  5. Major on the majors and minor on the minors. In my experience, adults will concentrate on things like appearance to the detriment of character. Our youth need to know that we know what is truly important.
  6. Communicate approval and acceptance. As we stated earlier in this essay, this generation is under too much stress. Let’s make encouragement our goal, not discouragement.
  7. When possible, approve their friends. This one can be especially difficult for many of us. Be sure to take time to go beyond the surface and really know their friends.
  8. Give teens the right to fail. We can’t protect them all their lives. Remind them that they can learn from mistakes.
  9. Discuss the uncomfortable. If they don’t sense they can talk with you, they will seek someone else who may not share your convictions.
  10. Spend time with your teens. Do the kinds of things they like to do. Give them your concentration. They’ll never forget it.

This generation of youth, and all those to come, need parents and adults who demonstrate these qualities. When youth receive this kind of attention, our churches will benefit, our schools will benefit, our families will benefit, and our country will benefit. And, most importantly, I believe the Lord will be pleased.

Some Advice to Young Adults

Many people say there is a lot more conflict with parents when you’re a teenager. Conflict is a normal part of any relationship, but sometimes this is more intense because of change. Let’s face it, as we get older we change physically, emotionally and in the way we think about and see ourselves. Young people often move away from their parent’s beliefs as they are learning about the world, and parents can find this hard.

Some causes of conflict

Changes in thinking

As you get older you change and grow in many ways. One of the ways is in how you think deeper and more abstract. Questions we ask as teenagers become than as a young child. It’s a time when you start to think working out the world for yourself. Sometimes your values and beliefs can become different to your parents, leading to conflict.

Changing relationships

As you mature it becomes a more equal relationship where you all relate on the same level. This change doesn’t happen overnight. The process of moving from one type of relationship to another can be a real struggle and your parents are still responsible for you for, maybe even after you might feel you should be responsible for yourself – so lots of talking about issues is needed.

Individuals changing

We all go through developmental stages. While you’re going from being a baby, to a toddler, to a child, to teenager, to young adult – your parents are moving through their life cycle as well. They’re going from a young adult, to an adult, to middle aged. And we’re all having our individual “age related” crises along the way. Psychologists call it “developmental crises” and it’s normal for us all to go through these. You’ve probably heard of “the mid-life crisis”? Parents may be going through their mid-life crisis while young people can be going through their “identity crisis”. All at the same time – in one household.

Parents coping with changes in you

You grow and change so fast when you’re a teenager, your parents can find it hard to keep up. It’s a time when you want some independence. You want to think for yourself, to speak for yourself, to form your own values and opinions, to think about your life style and tastes, your emerging sexuality, to have some privacy, to be your own person. This is another one of those developmental crises – often the toughest to go through. It can be hard for parents to get used to these changes and the new emerging you.

Physical change

Apart from all the changes in thinking, emotions and identity, there are huge physical changes going on. Your body can change quite rapidly; it can be hard to cope with. Some people look mature and are treated like a man or woman before they really feel that way inside. Others are wondering why friends have changed before they have and when they’ll catch up. It can all be overwhelming.

Parents wanting to protect you

To your parents, your physical growth can be a powerful message that you’re about to go out into the world. They’ve probably learnt (often through making their own mistakes) that the world isn’t always a wonderful place. Your parents are probably very much aware that young people can be at risk of getting into difficult and possibly dangerous situations. It can be quite scary for parents not knowing what’s happening for you, not to mention imagining what could happen.

Your parents may feel a need to guide you and protect you from harm. It can seem like parents are interfering. What they more likely want to do is keep you safe. This mismatch of understanding can end up in hassles and arguments. It takes a bit of give and take on both sides to work it out. Parents need to realize that young people need to learn about life for themselves. This is also a learning time for parents – learning when to step back and when to step in (so be patient with them). Sometimes we learn best by our own mistakes but at other times it’s best to listen to other people’s wisdom. If it’s something that can affect your life for a long time to come, or if it will affect other people, then seriously consider asking your parents or a trusted adult for advice and information before making your decisions.

Situation changes

If there are other big changes going on in your life, this creates more stress and conflict. Some examples of other major change are: moving to a new state or a different part of the state, family breakdown, or getting a new step-family. Try and talk openly with your parents about how this is feeling for you. Also try some relaxation strategies.

Cultural change

When families move or migrate from one country to another the whole family faces massive changes. Apart from moving away from the familiar places, friends and family, there can also be huge differences in culture between two countries. Sometimes parents stick with the traditional ways, while younger members of the family begin to take on the traditions of the new country. This can mean a clash of cultures, values, ideas and ways of living life.


1. Barna, 18-21.

2. . Jan Johnson, “Getting the Gospel to the Baby Busters,” Moody Monthly (May 1995): 50.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid, 51.

5. Barna, 108-15.

6. Jay Kesler, Ten Mistakes Parents Make With Teenagers (And How to Avoid Them) (Brentwood, Tenn.: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1988).

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center

Most of this has been gathered information was from many sources and resources. I have attempted to give credit where credit is due.