Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge

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.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Urban vs Suburban Youth: Same or Different?

I have worked in both wealthy parishes as well as in inner city parishes. I think that in many ways, kids are alike, but in many more ways, they are different.

While every kid want to be loved unconditionally and be "cool" they also have a lot of crazy feelings running around inside of them. They are unpredictable, moody, dreamers, and hip (since our society turns to them for all things acceptable).

But while these things are universal, I find the two groups to also be vastly different.

When working in the inner city, I found that kids problems were often more severe-that is, they were just trying to survive. Their problems were right in front of their nose and most of their friends had significant issues as well. Life really was pretty bleak and getting out of the "hood" was usually unlikely. Their vices were ways of dealing with what life had handed to them, even if those vices often meant rehab, jail or worse, death. In the inner city there is little privacy and no where to go but the corner or the streets. If you put rats in that close of proximity to each other they'd eventually eat each other up.

However, in suburbia I find an astonishlingly amount of entitlement. Where parents had a hard time keeping track of their kids in the inner city, I had parents who were overly involved with the tracking of their kids in suburbia.

For instance, I would tell all of the kids in the program for Confirmation that they, themselves were to call me if they could not make a meeting, class, service event or retreat. How many do you think I heard from? 4. All the rest were parents.

I also had parents insist that their kids' soccer practice/musical rehearsal/cheerleading camp/ came before anything that we as a Church were asking them to commit to. I've had programs that demanded that they make every meeting and parents went HAYWIRE! It's ok for Coach to make that demand but not the teachers of their faith? huh?

Don't get me wrong-there are many many wonderful kids and parents in both places. Many more than the complaining, irritating kind. However I almost always heard from that last group.

I have learned a great deal from both, but I will tell you that if it were up to me, the inner city kids would see the world, and the suburban kids would be the ones giving it to them.


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