Take Me Seriously

Tom Arthur

I recently stopped by our youth-led weekly ministry, FYBY (For Youth By Youth), to ask the teens some questions about when, how, and why they have experienced adults not taking them seriously. We had a great conversation, and I think you’ll be interested in some of the things they had to say.


About Honesty

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Teenagers feel as if all young people are painted in a negative light because of the poor choices a few of them make. Reanna said, “One person does something bad, and a whole new policy or rule is made for everyone.” She went on to say, “Teens have been known to lie, so adults assume all teens lie.” Jacob gave an example: One time he didn’t realize he had homework to do; and when he explained the situation, his teacher thought he was lying to cover up. “It makes you feel inferior and dumb.”

Teens feel that they aren’t being taken seriously in their families either. Aiden said, “I was watching TV, and my mom turned on the news.” He felt his preferences weren’t taken into account. Julia said that teenagers are often “joking around, so even when they are serious, adults think they’re joking.” Jacob understands this because he has trouble taking his younger brother seriously. “My bro does things in a funny or silly tone even though he’s serious. I’ve lost a lot of trust in him.” The theme of lying crept back into the conversation as Noah said, “My mom, dad, and brother think I’m lying even when I’m not; it makes me angry.”


About Family

But the teens at FYBY also pointed out a lot of positive things that they experience in their families. Jacob said, “In general, your parents understand you better than other people. You can tell your parents things, and they know when you’re telling the truth.” Devon appreciates his mom’s straightforward approach: “One time she said, ‘In four weeks I want this grade improved.’ That’s all she said—and I did it.”


Advice for Teens

The teens also offered some helpful tips for their peers who want to be taken seriously by adults.

  • Build a track record of doing a great job. Gaelen described the first time he played drums in the church band. He felt as if the adults in the band expected him to make a lot of mistakes. “This made me really want to prove them wrong—and I knew that I could. When I played well, they all saw that they were wrong about me.”
  • Be patient. Reanna described how she worked her way up to a position of responsibility and authority at her dance studio. At first she wasn’t taken seriously; but “now I’m an assistant, and soon I’ll have my own class.”
  • Treat adults as you want to be treated. Reanna said, “To get respect you have to give respect.” She added, “You can’t make judgments against teachers or adults.” Along the same lines, Noah explained that you need to be the kind of person who can be taken seriously: “Be more truthful, and do what you’re supposed to do. And if you don’t, admit it rather than lie.”
  • Ultimately, trust God. Jacob commented that only “God can change the way someone sees me. Society is sinful, and we can’t change it overnight. Only God can. Pray to gainrespect.”



Arrange to meet with an adult you trust to talk about what you can do to be taken more seriously. Consider using these questions to guide your conversation:

  • devozine dv1644054Are there things I’m doing that keep adults from taking me seriously?
  • Are there things I already do that help adults take me seriously?
  • When and how do you experience my giving you respect?
  • What can I do differently so that my voice is heard and respected?
Tom Arthur is the pastor of Sycamore Creek Church in Lansing, Michigan.

—from devozine (September/October 2012). Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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