The Double Life Syndrome
recognizing the challenge youth face
By Mike Shaughnessy
The double-life syndrome says that youth live one way in a one context and quite differently in another. How accurate is this?
Some youth want to be Christian. They live a double life because they don’t know how to handle the challenging, secular situations they must be in, like school or work.
Some youth are nominally Christian at best . They act Christian when they must, such as at church or youth group, but only in these situations. They may not say it, but they probably want out.
Some youth don’t know what they want. They flip between these two modes constantly. The double-life behavior they manifest is similar, but the underlying realities differ.
Even Christian environments give conflicting moral signals. My family's approach to dating or media may differ from that held by my church, my youth leader, my Christian friends or school, or another Christian family. So, who is right?
Christian youth face constant moral
pressure: to live a consistent life in environments they
do not choose or govern.Unlike adults, youth have little say
in their moral environments.
They are just expected to get along – nor can they simply leave the moral environments they don't like.
What Can We Do?
Next let's equip our youth to handle well their multiple moral worlds. Let's help them see their challenge and then work through any specific situations with them.Let's provide more help, not more pressure.
TO THE POINT
[Mike Shaughnessy is an elder
in The Servants of the Word
and the Director of Kairos in North
America. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high
school, university and post university aged people.]
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