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“Youth is like a cider. It cannot hold. It has to ferment and overflow.”

Martin Luther

Youth: let them make their own experiences
Youth: let them make their own experiences...

In autumn, when the pear and apple harvest is underway, you can squeeze juice from the fruit. This sweet juice tastes delicious. If you store the freshly squeezed juice on a cool place for a few weeks, the juice ferments, the sweetness (the sugar in the juice) becomes alcohol. Fermentation has produced a cider from the sweet fruit juice.

Since fermentation produces gases and foam which will surface, it is crucial that the bottled juice is kept open. Under no circumstances close the bottle or the barrel completely. Otherwise, the gases cannot escape. Eventually, the bottle would blow up.

Martin Luther compared adolescents with cider. I like the effigy of the cider. Young people, you cannot hold in, coope up, put a lid on and be finished with them. It takes time to develop. Who doesn’t know that from himself? And yet, as soon as it comes to our kids or students, we are impatient with them. Some would like to “imprison”, tell them what to do and throw away the key. Some parents, educators, teachers, youth leaders think: Only well-behaved kids are good kids. However, the dangers of repressed temperament, suppressed behaviour by telling them what to do and keeping them down are just as explosive as the fermentation process. The consequences, however, come much later. - Dependent, insecure, anxious (young) adults.

A young person needs the freedom to develop, to make his own wrong choices and decisions so he can expand, grow and eventually mature. Even negative experiences are good experiences. No “fermentation” can take place, if every step is planned out for the child, with nothing left to do.

The young people want to apply themselves, make their own mistakes, their own experiences. The energy that the kids sometimes develop is impressive, scary, exhausting, but it is part of the process of maturing. Having the necessary patience is what Luther want parents to know. Just as you need patience to wait until the cider is fermented and ready, in the same way, teenagers need time for growing up, mature and develop a self-confident personality.

Tips for the youth leader

Have the sympathy for the young people, accompany and encourage them, so that they can develop independent personalities. This also means that you are lenient, willing to compromise when they are just “overflowing”. Of course, it is not always great what the kids come up with, but that all is part of the fermentation.

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