Are They


or What?


by Barb Shelton



TEEN - the collective, generic term for persons having the suffix "teen" at the end of their age, as differentiated from people in their 20's or 60's. In some circles the terms "teen" and "teenager" are somewhat abrasive- sounding, even disdained to the point of not being used. Instead, the terms "youth" and "young adult" are used.

In my choice of using the word "teen" or teenager," my intent is not to offend, to be contrary to such perspectives, or to be "trendy." I realize that the heart behind wanting to avoid those "worldly" terms is only to respect and "consecrate" (meaning "to set apart unto the Lord") those young people who might otherwise be unrightfully or incorrectly (mis)labeled, being lumped in with a group whose values are less than godly. 

However, I personally believe that Jesus wants to "redeem" many areas of our lives, and take back "territory" that belonged to Him in the first place; and I believe that this includes the word teen(ager). That term, in reality, refers to nothing more than an age or stage of a maturing person. The term "typical teenager," on the other hand, indicates an element of worldliness that assumes certain negative things about this age of people. "Rebellious," "superficial," "boy-crazy," "irresponsible," etc. So I avoid the "typical teenager" term entirely!  (By the way, God can even redeem teenagers who are caught in such elements; read "Changing the Heart of a Rebel.") 

I have chosen to not use the term "youth" to refer to people between the ages of 13 and 19 because it is vague and can just as accurately refer to a nine-year-old. Nine-year-olds, however, are not in high school; they are not in their last years of influence at home; they are not thinking about college, careers, or (hopefully or usually) the opposite gender. Teens and teenagers *are.*

I personally do not use the term "young adult" either because I don't feel that teenagers are "young adults." If anything, they are most accurately "pre-adults" because an adult, by definition, is "full-grown," and, in our society, 21 years or older. So, to be a "young adult" you'd need to be at least 21, 22, or 23.

When you think of it, even the term "adult" has been "slimed on" in our society. "Adult movies"; "Adult book stores"; "For Adult Audiences only"... In each of these the pornographic nature of the content is perfectly understood! So do we stop calling ourselves "adults" because of the world's tainting of the word? Well, I'm not; I'm just helping to redeem the word by being (becoming) what God intended an "adult" to be.

I just prefer the term "teen" or "teenager" for those persons between thirteen and nineteen. It's quick, it's accurate, and it's getting redeemed by some wonderful kids that I know. (woops sorry; "kids" is another term disliked by some! See definition earlier in this Glossary.*) So now that you know my reasoning behind it, you won't have to cringe every time you pass it in this book! 

Back to now... In Biblical times, the average age to marry was between 15 and 18, sometimes earlier by arrangement, but seldom later. So there was an entirely different focus at that time. For whatever reasons, kids are marrying later now. I totally agree that we don't want our kids between 13 and 19 to be "typical teenagers"; I just prefer to use the term because it's handy and it's accurate, and instead be part of redeeming it. :-) (And in case you didn't read my previous post, I'll reprint my comments from that here...) "I don't mean to sound "contrary" to the thoughts presented here (on the WWOL list), but you might be interested in considering my perspective as you ponder this whole issue and formulate your views. Our hearts are the same, but I think it's really just a matter of semantics. (And for those of you on SHFL who don't know what I'm talking about, there has been some very good discussion on the WWOL list about what to call our children in the "teenage years.") Anyway, it's certainly not anything to argue about. That's not my heart at all!   :-)   I just have a little different perspective.



I got my border at Helena's



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