I like surprises... most of the time. With these words, I'm about to spring one on my silver-haired generation, about the teens in our radar. Our list, “Things adults don't know or understand about teens”, is a long and colorful one. We'll touch on just a few of the important ones toward the top.
Teens most often are visual feeders. Because their reading, writing, and typing skills are not always up to par, they go for the video/audio resources. Besides... video and audio is faster, louder, and flashier. They like to create things, put their own imagination to work. It's like they want their creation to have their stamp on it, that somehow says, “Hey. I'm no dummy!”
They love challenges. Boys on games, girls on multitasking conversations and being the fastest 'news' reporters of their on-line network. Today it's a gigantic phenomenon called, “Social Networking.”
More specifically, boys like loud, messy, high energy, construction, and competition.
The girls like feelings, fashion, communication, and companions.
One bit of a surprise, you'll learn with a bit of investigation, is that the older youth like to have things organized, but don't know how, much of the time. With that, they crave a bit of control in their lives. One teen corrected my understanding of why youth (called 'emos') repeatedly cut themselves. He said cutting themselves produces the only pain in their lives they can control. Otherwise, their view of the world is like much of the news portrays.
Those of my silver-haired generation feel mankind is so out of control, that only God can bring peace and order to the world. The phrase 'peace and order' has such a calming force to our thinking. It so often draws me to the serene scenes described in Psalm 23.
With visions of teens in their loud high energy competition and communication, I spent a couple hours with some close relatives just about to step into their teenage years. I thought somehow I had been teleported onto another planet. Those youth were working jigsaw puzzles! Yes, you heard me right – jigsaw puzzles! I thought their parents had given them some kind of 'downers' pills, but that wasn't the case, at all.
I identified with them right away, as they turned all the pieces face up and separated out the edge pieces. Then, referring to the picture, the four corners were put in their approximate position. I watched their eyes and looked for any phoneyness or 'staged' actions for our benefit. There was none.
How I loved watching them involved in one of my favorite hobbies - working jigsaw puzzles. Long ago I thanked the hobby for reminding me the importance of order and especially paying close attention to the subtle differences of the pieces; when I so often thought two pieces were identical. I now use that same technique in observing youth and looking for the personality differences God has given each of them.
I'm just amazed how God has given us so many tools; so many ways, to interconnect with those souls around us, that are crying out for someone to listen, and deeply about their needs and interests. Sure we can connect with youth in the on-line social networking computer programs, but for those not so computer inclined, He's given us jagged pieces of cardboard to teach youth the peace and calm of putting things in order. We place things in the order of His will for our lives as we reach out to teens close by us.