Tag Archives: early adolescent development

pre-sale offer from adam on my new book: understanding your young teen

my sneaky partner in The Youth Cartel sent out an email to our email list recently. being more gracious than adam, i’ve decided to share it with a slightly wider audience! here’s the email i got from adam (since i’m on our mailing list!)

An insider deal
Hey mark, Adam here.

I want to let you know about a brand new book Marko has coming out from our friends at Zondervan. It’s called, Understanding Your Young Teen. If you do middle school ministry, this book was written with the parents in your ministry in mind.

I’m a little biased, but I think it would be an excellent book to buy for some key parents and host a discussion group. I’m convinced that as you develop a partnership of understanding with parents in your ministry your impact in the lives of young teens will become even more significant than it already is.

To read the full description of the book, click here.

A Special Pre-Sale Offer
Here at The Youth Cartel we just launched our online store. For you, what that means is that we can pass along some exclusive stuff for our Cartel friends. (You know– keep it in the family.)

Marko’s new book doesn’t start shipping until some time in December. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pre-order it from us and get some bonus stuff when it releases.

Here’s what I’m thinking:
The book itself is $11.99 in our store. (Retail is $14.99) So just on price we’re already hooking you up. But let’s add some fun to the equation, get all Cartel-y.

Pre-order 1-9 copies – Marko will sign one copy & Marko will send along a note of encouragement.
Pre-order 10-29 copies – You’ll get the signed copy, a note, and we’ll schedule a 15 minute one-on-one time with Marko to talk about whatever you want.
Pre-order 30+ copies – You’ll get the signed copy, a note, and we’ll schedule a 15-20 minute time where he’ll Skype into a parent meeting.
Pre-order 100+ copies – You’ll get all of that. And I’ll buy Marko a puppy. Because he loves dogs. (NOT!) Seriously, if you want to buy that many copies we’ll do something awesome and no animals will be harmed.

One of the fun things about our new store is that any order over $65 automagically gives you free shipping. In this case, that’s just 6 copies of Understanding Your Young Teen. Cool, right?

To take advantage of this pre-sale deal, click here.

Thanks for your partnership! Viva la revolucion!

~ Adam (whyismarko editor’s note: the less gracious one)

middle school culture, part 4

i have a new book releasing in december for parents, called Understanding Your Young Teen: Practical Wisdom for Parents. the book is a significant rewrite of some of my chapters from the book scott rubin and i co-authored a couple years ago, called Middle School Ministry. In this series, i’m excerpting portions of one of the chapters, called “White-Hot Temporary (Early Adolescent Culture)”.

my first post in this series covered a culture of information, and a culture of immediacy. the second post in the series included a disposable culture, and a culture of consumerism. the third post included an intense but temporary culture, and a networked culture.


A Driven yet Sedentary Culture
This is an interesting, paradoxical tension among young teens today. On the one hand, the pressures on middle schoolers are greater now than they’ve ever been. Today’s young teens are driven in ways that are almost scary. Some of this drivenness comes from their own choosing; but most of it is an external drive from parents and schools.

Not all kids play sports, of course; but for those who do, involvement in sports seems to be less about having fun and getting exercise. Instead, involvement in sports often carries with it a sense of the future: What doors will this open? Sports are seen in a utilitarian sense, as a means to get somewhere in life. In other words, the pursuit of the American dream (financial freedom and career success) is more competitive and fleeting than ever. And sports are seen as one of the many Lego pieces that will build an edge over others, increasing the likelihood of “success.”

Yet sports are only one example. We see this driven reality play out in the lives of countless nonsporting middle schoolers, too. The message seems to be: You must be the best at something if you hope to be successful in life.

Of course, this plays out academically also. Not every kid is college-bound, but the pressure to succeed academically permeates much of teenage culture–including the culture of young teens. I’m pretty sure there was no such thing as SAT prep for middle schoolers when we were that age.

But with all this pressure and drivenness, there’s an odd tension at play in the lives of young teens: They are more sedentary than ever. They don’t move as much. They watch more TV, sit at computers, sit in their rooms and text their friends, and sit in front of gaming systems for hours on end. The notion of a pick-up game of stickball in the street has little more than an old-timey Norman Rockwell vibe to it these days. When the young teen guys I know get together with friends, it’s rarely for any kind of physical activity; young teen guys typically get together to play video games.

the 12 year-old loser

heard a story and a comment some time ago that got me thinking a handful of random thoughts. first the (true) story:

a 12 year-old 7th grade kid and his parents sat in the office of a youth worker. the parents were agitated; the kid was in tears. he had, once again, gotten in trouble at his private school. it wasn’t for big things. he got in trouble for little things, like day-dreaming. in fact, the kid seemed to have that 12 year-old boy personality that is — to be honest — annoying, but common: distracted, not fully present. you know, the kid who hears a long list of important instructions, then simply asks, “what?”

well, he had done something a bit more serious this time. not serious by public school standards; but apparently more serious by this private school’s standards. he’d called the teacher — the one who seemed to have it in for him and was always sending him to the principal’s office — a bitch. he didn’t call her that to her face. he wrote it on a note that got intercepted. now the teacher was demanding the boy be expelled from the school.

here’s where the story gets interesting. the kid seemed to have genuine regret about what he’d done. the youth worker told me it didn’t seem like he was only sorry he got caught — he seemed to genuinely be experiencing remorse over writing that in a note in the first place. but when the teacher, student, parents and principal all met to consider whether or not he should be expelled, the teacher’s primary case was not the bitch note. her primary case, voiced through seething rage, was that “he is a loser. he always will be a loser.”

the youth worker told me this story just after she’d met with the parents and kid. and her comment really caught my attention. she said:

“there’s no such thing as a 12 year-old loser – they don’t exist.”

i’ve been ruminating on this for a few months, and i have a collection of partially formed thoughts:

1. i love, love, love the heart of a youth worker for whom that comment is her first response. really, that comment alone revealed more to me about the character of that youth worker than anything else in the few days i’ve spent consulting with her church.

2. i don’t think my heart is as pure as that youth worker. i have worked with 12 year-olds for about 30 years, and i love them. i’m called to them. i sincerely hope i’ll have some kind of regular connection with 12 year-olds 30 years from now (well, that would put me at 77, so maybe i should say 20 years from now!). but if i’m really honest, the reason her comment so caught my attention is because i’ve totally thought (this is hard to admit) that some 12 year-olds were losers. i might not have been as volatile as that teacher who clearly needs to retire; i might not have ever screamed it in the presence of a kids’ parents; but i’m quite sure i’ve thought it. so, an interesting thing happened when the youth worker made her off-handed comment to me: i felt convicted. that’s why it’s stuck with me. my own deficiency was revealed, even if only to me (and now, to you!).

3. in addition to the heart of a youth worker, and the hope of a youth worker, i like the developmental accuracy of the youth worker’s statement. i was thinking of this again last week (which is what brought me to write this post, finally), as i was writing “understanding your young teen” for parents (a book that will come out way too long from now). a 12 year-old isn’t a clean slate, to be sure. but being 12 implies, almost, a do-over. puberty, that fascinating god-designed…
change expeditor
conviction softener
worldview warper
possibility awakener
doubt provoker
identity reflector
…means that anything, almost, is possible. and if i’ve seen anything in 30 years of working with young teens, it surely includes the reality that a 12 year-old making “loser choices” might not, even remotely, being an adult who makes loser choices. and the most go-getter non-loser 12 year-old, might, just as easily, end up making a lifetime of self-destructive, lazy, or otherwise stupid choices.

now, the wording might be harsh, unfair, un-grace-filled, and never to be used: but by 16 or 17, it’s often more obvious what kind of choices a teenager will make for the rest of his or her life. in other words: if the youth worker had said, “there’s no such thing as a 17 year-old loser – they don’t exist”, i doubt i’d still be thinking about it. i’d merely have chalked it up to her generally sweet, rosey perspective of teenagers.

but, yeah, the 12 year-old loser — that’s a mythical creature.