The Surprising Secret to Connecting with Students


Many adults think the big idea is to stay hip, cool, relevant, and in touch with culture. While all of these are good, they’re not the key to winning the hearts of students if you are an adult.

As I interact with thousands of faculty, coaches, youth pastors and parents each year, I hear a lot about what adults think is the “key” to relating to young people. Most of their ideas are noble—but much of the time, they are missing what’s most important to the students themselves

Many adults think the big idea is to stay hip. Cool. Relevant. In touch with culture. While all of these are good, they’re not the key to winning the hearts of students if you are an adult.  I have a term for parents and teachers whose aim is to stay cool and close to students.. I call it: Karaoke Parents. Karaoke Teachers. Just like at the karaoke bar, these people want to sound like their kids, dress like their kids, talk like their kids…they want to be a buddy to their kids. We hide behind the excuse that if we’ll do this—we will stay close.

Today—let me offer some reasons why I think we do this. Do any sound familiar? 

1. We want to be liked.

What parent doesn’t hunger to have their kids want to spend time with them? We all desire to be like by our kids; we have a natural desire to be wanted and needed by them.

2. Our culture pushes us to stay hip.

We see ads everywhere aimed at adults to stay young (Forever 21) and cool. I just read about a mother who spent $10,000 on cosmetic surgery to look like daughter.

3. We are afraid we won’t stay connected with our kids.

We want to be the cool teacher, youth worker or parent who’s liked by our kid’s friends. This means that we’ve not lost our relevance. We don’t want to lose touch.

4. We have an emotional need to be filled.

At times, it’s our own need that drives us. We need attention from others; we need to be popular; we need strokes. We have emotional deficits and need affirmation.

5. We want to stay close to keep them safe.

We are afraid to let our kids out of our sight. Perhaps we’ve failed to prepare them for the world. We’re so afraid of losing them, we are fear-based in our behavior.

6. We don’t want to embrace our own aging process.

Finally, aging is connected to slowing down; boring and snoring; drooping and stooping. We don’t want to admit this is happening so we work to stay young.

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