How to have conversation with the new generation


(Clarence Ooi Seng Yok) #1

I have a sister-in-law who just reached 20. Although she is attending church through the efforts of my wife, I can see that her attitude with life is not changing. Recently I tried to have a conversation with her but it did not turn well. She like most of the new generation today, does not want anyone to tell her what she should or should not do. She believes that she knows what is right by following her heart and her heart only. She does not want people to treat her like a kid that need to be taught.

I started the conversation by telling her although I am already 40, I still make stupid mistakes no matter how well I tried to planned for my own. And if I made a decision that is base on my heart desire that is against what God has told me, the result many times is a bad one. And only through God’s mercy that I will be able to get out from the mess after I repented. Therefore I encouraged her to follow God’s way rather than her own way, and tried to explain to her that no one is perfect and what the world has been telling her (about happiness, love, sex etc) are not the truth when we look at God’s way.

Then the conversation spiral down by having her pointing to me that I am not in the position to tell her what to do because I also has done something not right. And I should not take her as a kid as she knows what she is doing and she will do the right things as she think fits.

That’s the end of the conversation. Because obviously she (or the new generation in general) does not want to seek any advice from anyone. Even she knows about God, but she think that going to church and follow God’s way is not making her happy, therefore she should not do it. And during the conversation she will tend to exaggerated what I have said and make it sound very unreasonable (Straw Man), such as if you say those who trust in God do not worry, then why you worry me. Or if God has a plan for everyone, then what I am doing now is also part of His plan, so you there is nothing you should change me.

What can the old generation guy like me help those new generation? I got another friend who also asking me to help talking to her daughter at 19, now I have no confidence to try talking to them anymore. Logic does not help, listening does not help. Any help please?

Thank you!!.


(Kathleen) #2

Hi, @clarenceooi! I can hear your heart breaking as you tell this story, and I am very sorry for this tough spot you are in. Before throwing out answers to you though, can you help us understand what cultural context you are coming from? :slight_smile:


(Clarence Ooi Seng Yok) #3

HI Kathleen,

Thanks for responding. We are Asian, Chinese origin but born and grown up in a multi-racial society. Our traditional teaching Obedience and Respect are highly regarded. However the new generation are brought up comfortably (parents almost do everything for them without lacking any material needs), and under the influence of all the latest media and concept that it is cool to be yourself.

From the conversation I gathered a few thoughts from her:

  1. Nobody should tell me what to do, I am in control of my own life
  2. It is okay even everyone is saying you are wrong, you just need to be yourself
  3. Don’t need to be afraid for being wrong, because you just follow your heart desire and even you suffer, that is the way how we learn and grow anyway.
  4. Nobody has the rights to tell me what to do, because they had done the similar thing before, it is unfair/hypocrite for them to tell me not to do it now.

I believe she has been touched by God (cried during altar call), but somehow the earthly desires are pulling her back to the world and she feels frustrated and disappointed to God (she kept saying if God… then…) and herself that she somehow decided it is easier/better just to follow her own heart.

Thanks for any advice that can allow me to continue to help the new generation.

God bless!


(Marco) #6

I dont go to Church but i Love my Brothers and Sisters Sincerely so i ask them Questions about their Well Beings, Sons and Daughters, Friends, Health, Problems and Experience “we don’t see each other that often”, because i Lean on Jesus during these Converstations, im more Sensitive, Understanding, Patient, Wise, Calm, Peaceful, Wiser, Stronger, Focused then without him, because i love them Sincerely and Jesus loves them Sincerely i find myself asking them Questions or put them in a Position that gets them Thinking Deeper about Various Issues in there Lives then i could ever ask or Do without Jesus.

My Main Goal when meeting Family members is to Love them and ask them as much as possible about there Lives, Listen and give them Compliments about what they are Wearing, or if they handled a Situation really well, or share my Excitement if i hear they had a great Feast at there Home.

Remember you are a Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Church isnt the only place to taste the Goodness of God, but she should also taste the Goodness of God who should be in you.

She has Questions, Troubles, maybe even Confused and is Struggling with Subjects that Frustrates her. It seems like all she Hears from you is Change, Stop, Do this and Dont do That, go here and Dont go there…while on the other Hand, especially within the Social Network “Family” all she Hears and Reads are “Wow i love that Dress, Wow i love That Picture you Posted, Wow Thumbs up because the Comment you made was Great, Wow your a Great Person, never Change” "Wow i read what you are going through, dont worry, stay strong, it wasnt your Fault.

Im afraid like me when i was in her Age i was More attracted to Affirmation and People who Approved and Accepted me how i was, then Judged me or Tried to Change me. Its more Attractive and more Desirable. My Suggestion to you is to Pray, Experience the Love Jesus has for her in yourself during any kind of Conversations or Interactions not just Biblical, Give her Compliments about what she is wearing, her Hair Cut or a Certain Attribute, Celebrate with her even in her Smallest Victories with a Handshake, Laying a hand on a shoulder with a Big Smile :smiley: saying well done!, or if she made a Wise Choice in her life, listen, when i mean Listen i dont Mean Listen and then Give an Answer or Judge but Listen, then Listen some more, after she is done talking, Listen even More.

Show her, Teach her, Start Building up a Relationship with her that No Matter What Subject, no Matter what she has Done or Didnt do, no Matter what she is Planning to Do or Dont do, she Feels, Believes or even Knows she can come and Talk to you About it and Share it.

She knows your Know the Scriptures, she knows that your Answer will come From the Scriptures, maybe even She knows the Scriptures and is Bracing herself to hear from you what she already knows. Show her you want to Listen, your Highly Interested and Concerned about her life,while at the Same Time be Open to Jesus Christ incase anytime he wants to Jump in and ask her a Question, Smile at Her, Put his Hands on her Shoulder, or Offer her something to Eat or Drink. 99% of my Conversations with my Family is Non Biblical, But sometimes Jesus comes and that 1% he is capable of making such a very long Impression that Changes how Person thinks about Themselfs, Himself, or Someone Else.


(Brittany Bowman) #8

It is so encouraging to hear of your heart for the young people in your life. :smiley: I’m looking forward to hearing @Kmac’s thoughts more. In the meantime, one thought you shared sprung my mind into pondering.

She believes that she knows what is right by following her heart and her heart only. She does not want people to treat her like a kid that need to be taught.

Perhaps a conversation could start in allowing her to dig more deeply into her desires. If she sees the world through the lens of her heart, this could be a kind way to show her dignity and provide her a sense of autonomy. This C.S. Lewis quote has been so illuminating in my own life. For example, why do our human hearts long for freedom, and what could that foreshadow? Why are our hearts never content with the human freedom we find on earth?

I may fit into the “new generation,” of which you describe. :smiley: So often, I have to re-check my own heart. I certainly have way more than one of the dreaded “millennial” traits. Yet, I don’t know of a corner too dark for God’s love to reach if it is let in. As your sister-in-law struggles with understanding the longings of her heart, it may be helpful to actually help her understand what they are stemming from. This Thinking Out Loud podcast on millennial burnout was especially helpful for me. There are so many other millennial longings that ultimately stem from a yearning for God, although your sister-in-law may not yet realize it is even possible to have these longings truly fulfilled if she does not know Christ.

Perhaps we must also acknowledge culture rarely changes in an instant, but rather is a gradual progression over time. In a previous conversation with Sean and Carson, I have returned several times to a quote they shared from Ravi’s book, Recapture the Wonder.

“In the 1950s kids lost their innocence.
They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term —the generation gap.

In the 1960s, kids lost their authority.
It was a decade of protest—church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self.
Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion…It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference.

In the 1980s, kids lost their hope.
Stripped of innocence, authority and love and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.

In the 1990s kids lost their power to reason. Less and less were they taught the very basics of language, truth, and logic and they grew up with the irrationality of a postmodern world.

In the new millennium, kids woke up and found out that somewhere in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination. Violence and perversion entertained them till none could talk of killing innocents since none was innocent anymore.”

I’m curious- rather than bemoaning the losses this new generation has caused, can we brainstorm ways these shortcomings can be an entry point for Christ in conversations? What would be your all’s thoughts on places to begin?


(Clarence Ooi Seng Yok) #9

Thank you for all the replies!!

I think the most difficult part is to get them to talk, before we can even try to listen and understand. They normally do not want to talk to the older generation if they have doubts.

The question is how to get them to talk to us or want to seek advice. They believe it is ok to have doubt, it is ok to make mistake, it is ok to just follow what they want to do even they may suffer later. With these mind set, there are almost nothing they would want to talk to us. Normal small talk is easy, but how to get them to ask any life question if they don’t think they need to? As some of you pointed out, building trust is the most important thing for them to talk, however it is not always possible if we don’t live close to each other or very long term relationship. .

If they don’t share or ask any life question, it is very hard for me to start any serious conversation. However the moment we try to have deeper conversation, it will be assumed as a lecture to them already. I guess that is why the resistance is there from the beginning of the conversation. What can we do?

Thank you.


(SeanO) #10

@clarenceooi One thing I would add is that not all lectures go unheard :slight_smile: I think sometimes we forget that even if kids act perturbed when they are being given advice / boundaries, their ears still function perfectly fine. And if we are talking to them in love, they can tell. And even if they don’t listen right away, I think our persistence in speaking truth is a way of showing love. If we didn’t care, we would just let them do whatever they wanted and destroy themselves.

Jordan Peterson says that we need to be ‘merciful proxies of the real world’ to kids. He is not Christian, but he recognizes that the real world hurts sometimes and we need to communicate reality to kids, just more mercifully then it will be communicated if they suffer the actual consequences of bad decisions.


(Stephen Wuest) #11

Thinking about all the troubles that the younger generations face, is not a bad thing. But I have a gut level feeling that they need to see Christian families that actually work, and are loving, and get along. I think that they need to see Christian families that are safe, and where there is freedom to talk about all sorts of topics, without politics and taking sides in a war.

I think that so many young people are growing up in families that are war zones, that they almost need alternate Christian families that would show them that there is a very different and safe and meaningful way of life. This is a form of being light to the world, without speaking a word.

I think that Christian congregations need to act as extended families of stable “aunts” and “uncles,” who have gone through the hard times, and know God’s faithfulness. As American society breaks down more and more, Christian congregations need to solidify as a completely different society, that is stable, and is not based on constant judging of status. We need to show a very different option, for living.


(Kathleen) #12

Hi, @clarenceooi! Apologies for taking so long to get back. Both @Brittany_Bowman1 and @SeanO have chimed in with some helpful stuff, so I’ve not much else to add. But I just wanted to note that a good conversation needs at least two willing participants. If she does not want to speak about things, then she won’t; there’s no forcing her. I know this, because I was this teenager not that long ago, and I still carry a bit of this with me today. :smirk: As soon as felt like my mother was lecturing me, I immediately switched off. And while I didn’t really want to be told what to do, I did want to be encouraged. And even though I may not have engaged that much with authority figures during that phase, I later came to realise and appreciate that those adults who showed me steadfast love during that time were the ones that I have deep relationships with today. So don’t give up…especially out of exasperation! If she doesn’t ‘need’ you now, she most likely will later. :slight_smile: