Youth Problems With Parents

Talk given at a Conference organized by the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka




Ajith Fernando and the Youth for Christ Staff, October 2000





  1. The Pain of Mother Being Abroad


“She doesn’t love me.”  “Saudi kids”  “I wish I had a mother’s love”

Father taking money > often stops work > drunk

Grandparents or aunt looks after.

Uncle abuses sexually.


Mother sends a lot of things – often too much – a lot of freedom

Mother comes home for a month – smothers with concern – protects too much

Used to freedom and therefore a nuisance – relieved when she leaves



  1. Rich Parents Don’t Have Time  


Pursuing ambitions and goals

No time for caring for children

Give too much to them – often to silence them to silence their conscience


It’s a different world therefore can’t get involved

Therefore go out for the night – let children have a party at home


  1. Parents Must Get Involved


Too much pressure on children to do it alone

For example – must know what they are exposed to

The music they watch, the TV programmes they see – totally different worldview


Much more powerful than – one hour in church.  Therefore must listen – watch with them and talk about them

For example New Age – must learn to discern – worldview shaped by philosophical Hinduism

Anti-Christian morals – for example sex outside marriage – the norm

Bible – adulterers, fornicators – hell for eternity

Vast difference

But this presented very attractive

Therefore cannot abdicate role



  1. The Pain of Favouritism and Comparison


A lot of expressions


  1. One child favoured over the other

When they grow up – they will fight

Hidden wounds emerge and when property divided – what a pain to parents!


  1. One child – weak – handicapped – therefore not given full place by parents

Neglected – useless – inferior

“I’m a burden”

Sometimes because of handicap – all the attention given to the child – others neglected


  1. Comparison

You’re not like your sister

That’s what Bible teaches – it is good!

Each has strengths and weaknesses

Exam results – how did neighbour fair


I wish I could shout it out loud



Each child doesn’t do as well as the other in everything

God can give a significant place for each


PNF/NSF – The pressure!!  We tell her: don’t be worried – you do as best you can!

What pressure!  – no need to add to it

But the major problem – our values – downright sinful!


The legacy of this

Unhappy people without a sense of vocation

Work – not to be enjoyed.  Rich but discontented – always comparing

  • beget unhappy children


1 Corinthians 12 must be preached

All important – not all equally prominent


  1. Christian Principles of Children Exploited by their Parents


Don’t ask for dovory therefore leave house for the deep hurt – but very real







  1. Unrealistic Expectations by Affluent Parents


They want to achieve their ambitions through their children

Often what they couldn’t achieve


Sports and studies and vocation

Therefore push the children too much

Severe pressure

Fear of displeasing parents

Terror of not making it

Anger over having to do what they don’t like and over being pushed

Note  wisdom   very helpful AF and Univ. with all the pain

At the same time they want to please their parents

Worst thing – often – capability somewhere else – therefore go to the wrong field

Often – status determining factor

Why a nurse?  Why not doctor?  Why a physics teacher?  Why not an engineer?  Why a primary school teacher – paediatrician?  Why YFC?  Why not a minister?  Why someone from such a poor family as your spouse

This is not kingdom thinking

We are too exalted to have such low thoughts!

Our eyes get our values from there

Preachers have a responsibility to expose this low-downness


  1. Underestimated Expectations in Poorer Homes


When children want to do something big apita oyaawa hari-yanne naa

Often family is drifting without any plan

Often – had too many children in the first place – can’t educate

Parents want children to stop studying – work – get married

Study – too much of a burden

YFC – scholarship schemes / tuition – centres – study halls


  1. Responsibilities which are too much for the Children


Sent to work young

Look after smaller children

No time to play – too much work

Work that the parents should do – the children are forced to do – often children sent to work at 14, 15

Father drunk – comes home late

AF surprised – mother watching TV – chatting at water tap – daughter does the work

When girl becomes 18 – now it’s your turn to take on responsibility.  I’ve suffered enough.  I was exploited.

Often mother never really had fun.  Got married very early.  Husband ill-treated her – A lot of bitterness.

Can’t see why daughter should have fun.

There is the idea that the girl must work often like a slave

Sometimes they get children to work and use the money for themselves – drugs – house

Deep pain! – D.W.

Often girls who feel starved of – vision – ambition – love

  • run away with the first person who shows them concern



  1. Plantation Youth in Revolt


Estate workers – downtrodden for 1½  centuries – sub human – therefore look up to masters etc

No ambitions – just live for the day

Children grow up highly restricted  kotu vela

Very small house

Both work, both drink

Drink, of course, a common problem with downtrodden people – helps numb the pain of dehumanization

Keep children at home  viz very small

Yet to day – all this talk of equality exposure to rest of the world

Anger is growing – about home situation – about how society looked down on them

So when they get to about 14 – turn violent

Assault parents and leave home

Join groups like the LTTE




  1. Entertainment and Fun are Important Values Today

Idea: “It is our right to have fun – to be entertained.”

A multi-million rupee industry to cater to this


  1. For many Children, Home is not a Happy Place to be at

Always advising – criticising – scolding – ignoring – no fun in the home therefore look outside

Therefore home doesn’t know about fun

Don’t talk about that aspect at home

Even Christian homes

Home for serious things like – studies – religion

Outside to have fun

But what the world offers: often sin

But today – world not even calling it sin

If you really want to be happy – you must do this

Therefore two lives – religious life – fun life – viz sinful – no Shalom – therefore no fun



  1. As God Created our Capacity for Fun, Only through Him can we truly Enjoy Fun


That looks like silly nonsense

English Language Ministry – fun-filled fulfilled life

Many youth very, very surprised

AF principle: if you can’t do it in a Christian setting – never do it

Therefore YFC programmes – “shallow”

Comes from a biblical theology of pleasure


  1. Christian Homes Must Demonstrate this


Children should know – we’ve had some of our happiest times at home

Parents have a big responsibility

  • to enjoy their family life and do so with their children


Also to show – father and mother enjoy each other

Today films and TV – sexual enjoyment in marriage – not fun

The real fun – outside marriage

A whole book in the Bible to demonstrate that sex in marriage is fun

Therefore parents have to work at their relationship – to demonstrate to their children

Promiscuity – adultery – fornication – not worth it – can’t be happy really this way


We also need to show that John 10:10 also encompasses the celebate life

You can have fun and be single!

Therefore wait till marriage

Be content with singleness – from world – most people – sexually active – not related to marriage – that’s a different subject – not to Christians

Sex love and marriage go together


  1. The Home is the Best Place for Sex Education


Of course to young people sex – a very important topic

World gives a totally different picture

Christian parents have to talk to their children

Alas – only prohibitions – therefore sex is – enjoyable – but sinful


Most urgent message parents need to give

  • sex is God’s beautiful gift
  • God intended it to be a source of great pleasure
  • This is how he intended for us to handle this gift


Very embarrassing – you’ll perspire

But plan it and do it

Teach our Christian parents to do it

If they care enough they will study

Then at different times – children will come and ask

What about masturbating

What does this word mean?

Who is a prostitute?


Because sex is a very important topic of conversation among youth

It will be a common topic of conversation in a healthy Christian home


Of course: we wisely decide when something needs to be brought up.

Of course: you’ll be surprised how much they know

Father with son.  What do you want to know?



  1. The Tragedy of Sexual Abuse  


A huge, huge problem in Sri Lanka

Every camp – AF & NF preparing people for marriage – many have therefore deformed view of sex


Various forms

  1. mother gone abroad – uncle, father, step father
  2. bus or crowded place – boys – girls – AF – But now much more – therefore must prepare our children
  3. peeping Tom
  4. saw mother have sex with someone else when he/she was small – – severe confusion. Sexually stunted.  Feel guilty / unclean    result – frigid – promiscuous


don’t’ talk therefore always warned

“If you tell – you’ll be punished – you’ll ruin your family”

yet today – a common cause for ruined families.  Especially because sex is so important

Trauma – therefore can’t enjoy sex – partner frustrated – divorce – unfaithfulness


God can heal – but they must bring it up

Must encourage people to bring up and subject it to God’s healing grace


Glenda’s story

RBC when trust is Lost





One of our major challenges – teaching youth to respect their parents


  1. Often Respect is Lost Because of Poor Examples


  • not ambitious for their children in a good way
  • not moral
  • don’t practice what they preach
  • the way they discipline – so bad – more harm than good (rage)


2. Are Youth No Longer Idealistic?


A great tragedy

I hope I’m wrong

Youth no longer idealistic – asked staff – impossible to live a principled life.  We haven’t seen it



YFC – desperately looking for heroes.

For example Jonathan Edwards, Jonty Rhodes



3. Some Examples


Some examples

  1. parents laugh / scoff / persecute children when they point out a wrong
  2. they get very frustrated when parents don’t change behaviour when they are told
  3. some parents talk freely about what’s in their heart – only when they are drunk

That’s when children find out what the father thinks are their faults

Unfortunately the neighbours also hear – strong anger with their parents

  1. children are sometimes used by parents to do something wrong, like – tell a lie –hurt an enemy of the family


YFC parents worried that children getting too religious – try to get them to drink liquor – encourage them to get a girl friend



4. The Need for Parents to be Examples and to Accept their Shortcomings


To accept it when they are wrong

Don Rubesh:  Four hardest words –

Everyone knows he’s wrong – we think we keep our status.  But we lose the respect.



In a Christian home – “sorry” – a word often heard





How disharmony affects children – some examples of its seriousness


  1. Children Blamed for Problems in the Marriage


Very serious –

A stray statement “All this is because of you”

“only after you were born” – grows inside after long forgotten


Even without such statements: imagine they are the cause for the problem


They aren’t strong and mature enough to handle such a trauma


  1. One Parent Tells Bad Things about the Other Parent to the Child


Grow up with bitterness about that parent

He made my mother miserable

Grow up – sometimes – take revenge


For stability and security of the child

Must respect both parents


Despite problems: if they refuse to put down other – better chance of healthy recovery


Statistics / studies conclusive – children most hurt by divorce

must find ways to reduce the pain

one way to reduce pain – refuse to talk ill of other


Note:  therefore guilt   “I had to do this”  “He was so terrible!”

RAB and Chryshantha



  1. The Worst Damage is when One Leaves the Spouse for Another


My mother / father was not good enough.

What are they teaching us about marriage – not of repair work to do



  1. The Inability to Bring Friends Home because of Conflict in the Family


Can’t bring friends home therefore because of that

Friends offended – they are angry with parents



  1. Children Get Used to Living Outside the Home Because it is not Peaceful

To road, friends, relatives, trips, sports

  • children get used to not being at home

They may  seem to enjoy their freedom – deep down



  1. The Scattering of Families in the North and East


Families have got scattered because of the unrest

Some in un-cleared areas and some in cleared

One in Trincomalee, India, Germany, Canada


No family sense – all sorts of problems

At a funeral outsiders have to do much of the work – guilt added to sorrow





Family is important

Therefore it calls for our utmost effort

Faithfulness – sexual fidelity

  • trying to practice Christian principles in the home


calls for strong ambition – to make our home Christian

strong commitment – to pay the price


therefore such a serious problem

  • Bring it up all the time in teaching – preaching – pastoral care
  • When wanting an illustration for a Christian principle – see how it applies in the home


Jesuit Priest:  “Give me a child before he is five years old, and I don’t care if the devil gets hold of him after that”