Building the Bridge: The family issue

bridging the gap

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“UNDERSTANDING THE YOUTH and Building Parent-Youth Relationships”

This presentation is based on the Family program broadcast on Alpha Radio 106.5 fm nnobi, Anambra State, Nigeria. This program is hosted by Queen-Esther.

Youth is the time of life when one is young, but often means the time between childhood and adulthood or a time of the formation of maturity. It is also defined as “the appearance, freshness, vigour, spirit and other things often characterized in the young people. There is no specific age range of the youthful stage… that is to say; there is no chronological definition of youth.

The UN defines youth as persons between 15-24 years; many other countries define the youth as persons between 15-35 years. In Nigeria, the youth is a person from 18-35 years. Naturally, by design, youth is a social position that reflects people transiting from childhood to adulthood, from dependence to independence. It is a stage of perfecting careers and discovering great potentials.

Youthfulness doesn’t end with specific activities such as getting married and even having children. However, most times, our focus is usually on the teenagers and young youths. Let me just say that “youth” is an experience. That experience may shape an individual’s level of dependency; this experience is greatly affected in different ways by diverse traditions and cultures. This experience determines how they rely on their family emotionally and economically. For example, what a youth experiences in America may not be the same in Nigeria because certain rights may be deprived of the youth in so many areas based on the culture and tradition of the region.

People often use the word “youth, adolescent, teenager, kid and young person” interchangeably, but they are occasionally not the same. They are all diverse stages of youthfulness but they cannot be defined as the same.

The term “Youth” can also be a particular mindset of attitude often attached to being energetic and free. People may say “he is very youthful” while the subject isn’t a youth.

The relationship between the youth and the parents or the elders is not usually smooth. Parents commands less authority than they do when the youth was a child while the youth seem to become more stubborn and self centred.
Misunderstanding between parents and youths always arise in the cases of challenge of authority, career, marriage, cases that the youths consider “their personal issues” and things the Parents consider as “matters of authority”.

Old people are now seen as very weak and much dependent people. Youths however view themselves as more educated people not by certification but by enlightenment gotten from self scholarships. Youths feels they understand the world even better than the old people because they seem to be more literate as regards to modern inventions. However, despite the knowledge, youths often behave less matured in tackling issues and handling emergency. They therefore make lots of mistakes without the guidance of the Parents. Elderly people themselves often display high levels of morale, satisfaction with life, and feelings of self-worth.
A youth is like an adult who still have traces of childhood in him, he acts like a child on some cases and acts like an adult on other cases! He can do everything an adult can do but may be guided on how to do it. Sometimes, elders expects a lot from young people and when they don’t see it forthcoming, they become really disappointed and therefore treat the youth like a child. On the other hand, no matter how the youth acts, when he looks at a mirror he doesn’t see a child but a grown man. On that case, he becomes easily offended when regarded as a child.

CLOSING THE GAP: On the Parents side.

GOOD TRAINING AND CARE IS EXPECTED: An expected quality of every parent is embedded in the parables of Jesus in Matthew 7:10-12.

“Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?”If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

You see, even wicked fathers are expected to give good gifts to their children. They should learn to treat their children and not just people the same way they would want to be treated! That includes in the matters of making decisions towards career, marriage and friendship! Wise counsel is expected from parents but not an outright control over all the affairs of the youth. The least thing expected from the worst parent is “good gift”, which involves quality parental training. Parents must learn to take care of their household. Paul said in 1 Timothy chapter 2:8

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbelievers.”

Why is he worse than unbelievers? Because even good gifts are expected of wicked fathers!

The bible even asked us to train up a child in the way he should go so that when he is old, he will not depart from it. The process of training involves providing for and taking care of the youth… “When he is old” signifies that when the child is of age he is not to be controlled like a doll… That is one of the ways to enhance the parent-youth relationship. It will come to a point when the youths will depart from elders but not from what they were trained in.

There has to be good communication between parents and youths. The youthful age is the age of near-freedom! What you don’t tell them at that moment, you may not tell them again later. In Joel 1:3, we see what it is designed to be. They were asked to tell their sons and their sons will tell their own sons! Deuteronomy 11:19 explains in a greater way the level of communication expected of parents.

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

They shouldn’t be tired communicating to their children… Without that closer intimacy, they can’t pass on legacies to their youth-child!

The communication methods of the biblical parents never pictured “mean and moody” parents! Abraham would call his children to bless them, Isaac would do the same. Jacob had his children surround him for Prophecy. Even when Reuben slept with his wife, he didn’t chase him away. He had them surround him before he die, so you see that they had strong communication at that time and it helped kept them together.

Parents also have problem with the youths in making marital choices. But it shouldn’t be so… Parents ought to guide their young ones in the process of making choices but the choice remains absolutely that of the children and not the parents. Genesis 2:24 says that

“A man leaves his father and mother to be joined to his wife as one with him.”

So the choice is definitely for the children and not the parents! Some parents think that they have an absolute right over the emotions of their children. I think it is a very wrong idea and concept of parenting.

In Ephesians 6:4, Paul advised parents not to provoke their children to anger, but to bring them to training. The context of that verse shows that Paul was talking about “offspring” not just literally a little child. That means there is a difference between correcting the youth and provoking them! In this part of the world many people don’t know the difference. When the youth makes a mistake, they have to be corrected in love and not condemnation! They have to be brought to training and not to condemnation. You have no right to even rebuke a child you did not train.

Obedience is the only requirement. Ephesians 6:1-3 says
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.…”

It is very right to say it is “Obedience” because the youth derive their being from their parents; they are fed by them; they are trained by them for the duties of life. The duty of the youth is summed up in one word “Obedience” but there are many elements to it.

Love: Yet we are not to love our parents more than the Lord; we are rather to love them in the Lord.

Honour: This is only another form of obedience: “Honour thy father and thy mother.” Hebrews 12:9 says, “We have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence”

Gratitude: This implies that we are to do them good (Matthew 15:4). We ought to remember their love, their care, their concern for us. Joseph provided for his father Jacob in old age.

Subjection: “Children, obey your parents in all things;” that is, in all things falling within the sphere of a parent’s authority. If parents command their children to steal, or lie, or commit idolatry, they are not to be obeyed. They are to be obeyed “in the Lord.” There are several reasons to make obedience natural.

The habit of obedience is good as a discipline. It is even good for the health of a child, as a desultory and dawdling obedience breaks its temper and injures its health.


Good parent-Youth relationships include respect, understanding, trust, and concern.
We can build good relationships with our teens by spending time together, keeping promises, using humour, and appreciating their efforts and strengths.
Youths are less likely to take risks if they have good relationships with their parents.
Youths must also understand that when they are disciplined, it is an act of love! And not hate!

Everything is summed up in just 3 verse of the new testament of the Bible according to the letter of Paul. It all to be on the doors of every family, it ought to be their guiding principle. Colossians 3:19-21 says,

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.…”

I believe you learnt a lot from this article? Remember, this presentation is based on the Family Radio program on Alpha Radio 1o6.5 fm and is hosted by Queen-Esther.

God bless you!