In the last year I read and was deeply disturbed by the book, Teen 2.0. If you are going to read a book in 2011, make it that one. It shook me.
One of the primary things that Epstein brought up in the book and has dramatically impacted my view of youth ministry is the concept of infantilization. For years, youth workers (myself included) have lamented about how students are less and less mature and less and less willing to make adult steps. Epstein points out and asks us, “Why are students less and less mature?” To that question I offer something to chew on, Maybe because we’ve made them that way? And maybe we like it that way?
I’d like to encourage you in the next 10 days to start recognizing infantilization in action.
- Where are points where we don’t expect adolescents to take responsibilities for their lives?
- Where are points in your ministry where you take away students ability to own their faith?
- What are ways parents are holding their adolescent children back from healthy adult behavior?
- What are words that you use which infantilize 12-18 year olds in your life?
Don’t do anything but observe. Write them down in Evernote or on a piece of paper so you can keep track.
And then, if you are so inclined, come back and share what you’ve observed.