I really enjoyed the 2016 sci-fi movie Arrival. It was not a typical blast-‘em-up kind of movie, but one which focused on language and communication. The heroine, a linguist, was recruited by the American government to try to communicate with aliens who had arrived in different parts of the world. She became concerned when another country tried the same thing using vocabulary from a games, or win/lose perspective. She commented that this approach was dangerous, for it brought opportunities for significant misunderstanding, which it did. The movie revolved around this misunderstanding and her breakthrough in finally being able to translate the aliens’ language.
In a church I served, one dad had this to say about 8th graders: “It’s as if your smiling, happy-go-lucky child is abducted by aliens one night, and an alien who looks like your child is put in their place. Then, a year later, you get your child back.” And just like the aliens in Arrival, these 8th grade youth have their own language. If we, as adults, try communicating from a win/lose perspective, it can lead to misunderstandings.
Given that youth in this age/stage will hopefully always be in our churches, the Arrival movie reminds me to turn to the book, Teenage as a Second Language by Connecticut residents Barbara Greenberg and Jennifer Powell-Lunder. Here is the Amazon description:
What are you to do when your cheerful, friendly family members morph overnight into sarcastic, sullen, teens? How can you get through to these hormonally challenged strangers when all you get in return are sighs and eye-rolls? Thankfully, this book reveals the groundbreaking strategies you can use to maintain good communication, healthy interaction, and strong connections to your teen, no matter how rocky the road to puberty becomes. You’ll learn how to:
Let your teens help set the rules – and the consequences for breaking them
Realize that “me, me, me!” is actually age-appropriate
Put honesty above all else
Try not to criticize, judge, or become angry
Based on the latest research, this book works as a Rosetta Stone to help you hear what your kids are really saying-and makes sure nothing is lost in translation!
I have found the book to be accurate based on my own experiences, and helpful. As we walk through the year with our really neat 8th graders, may the Force be with us.
To learn more: Teenage As a Second Language and Middle School Ministry- Faith Forming Junior High Ministry: Beyond Pizza 101 by Drew A. Dyson
Ms. Georgette Huie has served for a number of years on CAUCE as the treasurer. She is the Minister for Children and Youth at the Rocky Hill Congregational Church and is currently enrolled in a program of doctoral studies at Hartford Seminary.