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Monday, December 20, 2004

Millennials

The challenge in starting a new blog is that I'm full of things I'd like to see talked about-but would like a broader audience to address the several issues that cross our paths in ministry.

However, I'm going to jump in and begin a convrsation on a generation definition called "The Millennials" -that is, kids born between 1984 and 2002. George Barna from the Barna Group calls them Mosaics there is a wide variety that describes them, but also some characteristics that define them as a whole.

(Again, I admit I'm not sure I want to post this yet, but due to recent developments here at the home front, I thought I'd try to put some thoughts out there)

One of the people I work with is the Dir of Faith Formation. While he does oversee all of the RelEd program (pre-school-12th grade) I discovered something that I almost choked on.

It seems he wants all of the catechsits to wear nametags. Some of the teachers are not getting respect and so he decided that they should all wear nametags.

I think it is a horrendous idea.

It has been my experience that, with this generation, respect is never demanded, it is earned. If I enter their world, they will more willingly listen to me and consider entering mine. A name tag says "I'm in charge, obey me" . A catechist who can reach beyond themselves and into the mind and life of a teen says "I am attempting to understand you because I love and care about you. How 'bout we see where this journey takes us, 'cause I'm all about getting to heaven and getting you there as well".

When I was teaching, I'm sure there were some catechists who couldn't believe how relaxed I was. However, I was not as relaxed as they assume. I merely told the kids that in this room, they respect themselves, other and whoever is talking. I had great patience, but also very high standards when it came to behavior. And more often than not, they began calling each other on to higher standards. They knew what was expected of them and rose to the challenge because they DID respect themselves, others and myself-but because I chose to FIRST respect them.

That is, how is it that adults first disrespect kids by not entering their world to understand them, then punish them for being disrespectful?

What do you think? Are we, as adults, able to demand resepct? or is it more wise to earn respect? Is that the role of a catechist to a teenager? What part-if any-does the teen have?

PS I'm considering lobbying to have RelEd be under my direction-but that's another post!

7 Comments:

Blogger Jaime said...

Nametags... It seems like every time I hear a church story about "bringing people closer", "getting more respect," etc. Somebody always suggests the brilliant idea of nametags. What is the mystique about them? What power do they wield? Maybe Tolkien missed the boat. Maybe it should have been "Lord of the Nametags".

Nametags do nothing but put holes in good shirts. You're right that respect is earned. Also there is a difference between rudeness and disrespect. (Albeit slight)Kids come by rudeness naturally. It takes a while for them to connect rude behavior and respect. That whole being patient thing? Dead on accurate!!

Oh and some commentary on George Barna. There is a school of thought called Generational Psychology. Its a fascinating field. The thumbnail version is that there are 4 essential generations that repeat. the rule makers, the rule breakers, the angry generation and the creative. Historically they have followed in order (except in the US during the civil war. They skipped one) I'm not sure I have the order correct on the first two. But the last one, the creative one is this upcoming generation. Gen psych points out that all major scientific and social advances are made when the creative generation hits its stride. The expectations of this upcoming generation are pretty staggering. The supporters of gen psych say this generation will do more to advance humanity then any other generation in history.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Walter Babetski said...

Respect does not have to be earned. It is deserved just by virtue of the office. For example, I teach my children to respect all priests, regardless if they are wacko's or solid guys. It is trust that needs to be earned. When an office-holder does something to lose people's trust, sometimes we call that "losing respect" for them, but is is really a reduction of our trust in them.

That said, nametags are a stupid way to try to get respect. The best way to earn and maintain the trust of youth is by being truly humble, and always being honest with them.

9:43 AM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

With all due respect, Walter I disagree.

You may teach your kids to respect persons in such positions, but your average teen does not come with that sensibility programmed into thier adolescent selves.

Make no mistake, I'm not saying that we should ok them when they are totally out of control. Not a chance. But if they suspect that they are not being respected-that is, if you come off like a know-it-all-you-will-obey-me-because-I'm-the-adult, they most likely will turn right off-and we can't afford that. There are to many other things that they are hit with to not be listened to.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Walter Babetski said...

Being "truly humble" precludes an attitude of "know-it-all-you-will-obey-me-because-I'm-the-adult". So I'm not sure what it is that you disagree with in my comment.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Walter Babetski said...

Also, fwiw, the Catechism in n. 2197 says "We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority."

"Obliged."

5:17 PM  
Blogger Jaime said...

I'm with Catholic, Young and Minister on this one (wow you may want to pick a shorter monicker)


The Catechism says lots of wonderful things. However,
Its hard to get teens to live by the catechism prior to their learning the catechism. Their parents are most likely practicing with a 6th grade understanding of Catholicism so the kids ain't walking in with much. I remember how often I had to add "Train the parents" to my ToDo list.

11:28 AM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

Walter,
I agree that they are obliged-but how many parents are training up their children in the way of the Lord?

I just read an article in our local paper the other day about discipline and parents. It talked about how parents worry too much about the "pschological damage" they think will be done if they discipline their kids-when in fact they are letting moral damage be done when they don't.

You seem to be someone who DOES and IS training his kids according with proper respect. However so many of these kids-and I work for an upscale parish-are not brought up this way.

Even the "good" kids, if you will, know that I need to have an ear open to them, not to be on their level as in, be just like them, but be willing to give them the respect that I expect from them.

They WANT adults to be adults,-but not just because they are adults. Long gone are the days that respect came inherent with being an adult. Ever since the "don't trust anyone over 30" days adults have had to earn their trust-and rightfully so because adults have made a mess of many things.

4:05 PM  

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