Media is a good reflection of culture and while the dysfunctional family life of The Simpson's once seemed to be shocking now almost seems almost like an unrealistic depiction of family. Many teens would see the Simpson family as not being dysfunctional enough.
Today's family is better depicted in the show "Modern Family". Ill be posting a review of that show later on in the month so keep your eyes open for that.
The truth is that today's youth have already redefined family as my young friend Morgan wrote about in my last post: (http://proyouthworker.blogspot.com/2010/09/to-this-teen-family-is.html). Of course many would argue that all adolescents tend to go through a period of centering their life in their peers as opposed to their families, and I would agree. However the trend that I've been noticing goes much deeper than friendship. The question to ask is why.
Perhaps it is because frequently home is a place of uncertainty and instability. There are depressing statistics about young people that have been physically or sexually abused by family members. For others their house is only a place they reside. And many as their parents are not together are split between at least two houses. This is so common I don't assume that young people have parents but instead I will simply ask who lives in their house with them. There are some students that show more life maturity than their own parents. I might go so far to say that the teens often parent their parents.
Because of the lack of security young people get emotionally dependent on their friends, however as normal teen drama enters into the relationships they don't have a home to return to for acceptance and strength. I also have found graduates weeping and broken in the hallways feeling that leaving highschool is the splitting of their family.
So we see that friends may help compensate for a shaky family life they cannot replace it. Time and time again I have listened to young people explain why they aren't friends with whom they were best friends the previous day. They usually say something about having trust issues.
So young people are told about finding a spiritual family. However for those that are used to being abandoned wounded and not accepted see the faults of our churches much better than we do. The arguing, the unwillingness to change and the judgmental attitudes are way more apparent than the grace, hope and love that we day were about.
Another common issue is the segregation of age groups so that youth have little to no contact with the rest of the congregation. The thing about family is it is not segregated. So why is the church? Of course the youth learn to relate their lives to a youth pastor. The average life span of a youth worker in a church is a year in my city. If these youth workers don't leave the student are told that they must transition out of the group that has given them the security and into a "Comunity" where they have no sense of belonging. Again losing their sense of family.
So rather than worry about defining family as Christians why don't we start by just being family for those that have none.
Langley Area Director
Greater Vancouver YFC / Youth Unlimited
I love being married to April