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Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Sitting Apart?

In the discussion about Teen Masses that are floating around, I read with interest a parent's annoyance that there are special "teen seats" -a place for the teens to sit together apart from the family.

I was dismayed that this invitation was viewed as negative-on the contrary, I am always hoping to make sure that kids feel welcomed by me. When I was in high school there was a select group of kids that seemed to circle around the youth minister and he knew their names and they all had these inside jokes. My goal is for every kid to feel comfortable around me-not because this is about me, but so that they feel comfortable partaking in any aspect of the things I offer through this office.

I guess I viewed the "teen section" as something that would let the teens grow in independance, but mom and dad would know that they were in a safe place where their faith and values would be supported maybe even enhanced. I can say things that teens will hear that they might not be able to hear from mom and dad, or they may hear good things from their friends.

At any rate. From this youth minister, parents-that's what I want for you and your family. Simply, to support you. Not to break you up!


Blogger said...

Honestly . . . what does sitting next to each other have to do with mass? There are families that sit apart because of a cry room, wheel chair section, space limitation, anger, special occasion (confirmation, first communion, etc.), and even just personal preference for some in the family of being near the back, or near the restroom, or whatever . . .

Don't parents have more important things to worry about?

1:25 AM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

As the Jewish saying goes: From your lips to God's ears...

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to Being or Nothingness.

Sitting next to each other doesn't have anything to do with mass, but it has a lot to do with being a family.

In a world where the secular culture applies presure to fragment families, Church is a place where parents would like to have their family unity reinforced. In the case of older teenagers, Church might be one of few opportunities each week that parents have to spend with their children, whom they love.

Or maybe they just want help keeping track of the little ones?

Ben Naasko

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Ben. Sunday morning Mass may be the only time all week that my family is together. I look at my 3 teenagers and realize that our time together is growing short. Also, I think it's kind of a Protestant thing to separate families: the wives from the husbands, the kids from the parents. And finally, when teenagers sit together at Mass, are they paying attention to Father, or are they distracted by each other?

10:47 AM  
Blogger said...

Ben, I understand why parents want their kids to sit with them, but I think it's sentimental, and, if it's only time all week that you sit together as a family, then it's also fake. And the kids know it.

Being a family isn't about proximity on a pew. Granted, if they need help with the little ones, this is different. It's this mentality that in my mind is just not normal.

If the kids were serving mass, would this be a sign of family disunity? Would you feel less close to your son if he was assisting father on the altar? Of course not. If one of them was in the choir, would this strike at unity in your family? Doubtfu.

And with this in mind, it seems to me that the problem isn't where a kid is sitting, what stings parents in these situations is that their child would rather sit with their friends than with them. But this is exactly where a PARENT needs to grow, not a teen. Their independence and personal responsibility should be encouraged, they shouldn't be made to feel guilty for it.

I am grateful to my parents, and we have a great relationship today, and it didn't matter to them where I sat. Granted, I usually chose to sit with them, but if I didn't, it was never a big deal. Of course, we weren't using the Sunday mass as only spot of family unity for the week either.

10:52 AM  
Blogger said...

never post when it's late . . . Ben, I didn't mean to suggest that the post was directed at you . . . more like, responding to what I see in my life . . . as I re-read it, I sound pretty harsh . . .

2:29 AM  

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