White Picket Fences: Teaching that Singleness is OK to Our Teens
How many of us didn’t grow up believing or were encouraged to believe in the white picket fence dream? You know…the dream where we graduate high school, get our college degree, meet our future spouse whilst in aforementioned college, get married, work for a bit, have 2-3 kids, a couple of fish, maybe a dog, a walk in closet and a white picket fence.
There is nothing wrong with the life I just described. Many people are living it. The problem is when we tell our kids that this is THE life dream to have. The dream of the white picket fence. Because while that may be life for some, that is certainly NOT life for all. And even for the some – white picket fence living isn’t that neat, all wrapped up and tied with a bow.
At the end of each youth season, I have my students evaluate the past year. Somewhat scary, but also very enlightening. And to be frank – truly funny at times since teens can be hilariously and brutally honest. Keeps my ego in check.
One of the questions I ask is if there are any new or different subjects they definitely think should be discussed in youth group. Here is what one of my students said this year,
“Singleness – because some people don’t understand that it is okay.”
Negative Consequences of Not Celebrating Singleness
And yet as a single woman myself, I am not surprised. Our culture is swamped with how one simply cannot be complete without a mate. Case in point – about a year ago the #loveyourspousechallenge was trending like mad! However, I don’t think I have ever seen the opposite, #loveyoursingleness. And that’s sad for a number of reasons. One big reason is that we are blatantly or subtlety teaching our students that God didn’t really finish His work on them when He created them. That they are only complete once they say “I do.” That’s just not Biblical. The apostle Paul himself extols the virtues of singleness.
Another reason this is potentially harmful is that there are numerous students in every youth group not dating, but wish they were. So when culture says they should be in a relationship, they either feel they are less of a person or jump into a relationship just to be in one. By not celebrating singleness as a youth group and a church we are reinforcing that message.
A third reason we need to talk more about this and allow space for singleness is that it is a growing trend whether we in ministry want it to be or not. More and more young people are waiting to get married and the single population is growing, not shrinking. Churches and youth groups need to start adapting to this. However so far, a majority of churches at best are doing their utmost to ignore it and at worst, see it as a problem that can only be fixed via marriage. There is a great void when it comes to ministering to single, career-minded adults.
From when they are young children on, our teens have been taught over and over again about relationships, sex, marriage and kids – this is a GOOD thing. However, very little is said, if at all, about singleness in church/youth group. And it is a subject that can no longer be ignored.
Here are a few ways you can start to try and bridge that gap
- Have youth group volunteer leaders that are single.
- Bring single people into youth group talk about their experiences with singleness.
- If you have a lesson on relationships, have one on singleness also.
- Talk about ways a single person can live out their faith because they are single.
Singleness needs to be discussed in youth group since a good majority of your students will probably be single for some time or perhaps a long time. Giving them the tools to be a single in God’s kingdom is just as important as giving them tools for how to be married in God’s kingdom. The gap needs to be breached and youth group is a perfect place to start.
Sarah Vanderaa is currently serving as a full-time youth director in a church located in the south suburbs of Chicago. She is close to wrapping up her tenth year there and is excited to see what year eleven will bring. On her rest days, she can often be found behind a computer writing and updating her blog, while drinking lots and lots of coffee. In between naps, she still finds time to read novels. You can connect with Sarah through her blog at WWW.UNLOCKANDRELEASE.TUMBLR.COM or her Facebook page @UNLOCKANDRELEASE.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.