Children are growing up sooner these days. Child development experts say physical and behavioral changes that would have been typical of teenagers decades ago are common among children age 8 to 12.
Younger kids are going on “dates” and have cell phones. They listen to sexually charged pop music, play mature-rated video games and spend time gossiping on MySpace. And girls wear makeup and clothing some adults consider beyond their years. They are watching R movies and sexually explicit content on Internet. Sexual experimentation has also begun earlier. At 12. they even think that they have now “grown up.”Their bodies are developing faster; with more girls starting menstruation in elementary school. Doctors attribute it to improved nutrition and, in some cases, obesity. With reduced parental involvement, increased peer pressure, greater social permissiveness etc. may have contributed to this trend. Technology and consumerism have accelerated the pace of life, giving children easy access to influences that may or may not be parent-approved.
What does this mean for youth ministy, parents or church? Identity formation and confusion will begin early. Faith shaped lifestyle, making choices, discipleship has to beging early. We simply cannot leave kids between ages 8-10, to sunday school approach to ministry – story telling, kido curriculum and teachers who have no clue whats on the mind and hearts of todays kids.
‘Who am I’ question is best answered along with two other questions – Who are you, God? (Exod 3:13) and Who are my people? (1 Chro 29:14). The popular identity formation theories of western psychologist are often secular, individualistic and humnanistic. Will we recalim who we really are in relationship to God and a community.