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Think. Discuss. Act. Family

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Understanding Teen Self Concept

For leaders to gain an appreciation and understanding of the effects of family structure on teens’ self-concept.


Leader Preparation

  • Access the following research review: The effects of family structure on institutionalized children’s self-concepts. (1989, Summer). Adolescence, XXIV(94). (It is included in the topic of FAMILY.)
  • Obtain a tape player and cassette tape with a song related to family and family structure. (See group presentation for examples.)
  • Prepare a handout of questions for small group discussion.
  • Prepare songs that stress or emphasize love, nurturing, or care.

Group Building

Sing songs or perform icebreakers. Anything that is relational will be helpful.

Group Presentation

  • Listen to song related to family. (e.g., “Cat’s in the Cradle,” “What’s Forever For?” or any song that denotes a break-up or stress in family structure.)
  • Divide into small groups and handout the research review. Allow them time to read the report.
  • Handout questions to discuss what they just read. (See Group Discussion.)

Group Discussion

  • What does nurturing, love, and care have to do with a child’s self-concept?
  • How do you view the effects of the family structure now that you have read this review? Will this change the way you reach out to kids in blended or divorced families? Why or why not?
  • How can youth leaders play a valuable role when hearing that a kid has had a loss or been hurt through family problems, school, or a break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend?
  • What are your initial thoughts as you hear that one of the kids in this youth group is experiencing his or her parents’ divorce? What do you think the effects will be on that child?


  • Allow the participants to share their specific answers as a group. Affirm their answers; allow them to express their feelings.
  • After discussion, note that family break-up does not imply that the self-concept of the child will change.
  • Emphasize the need for love, care, and nurturing amidst the change of family structure.

Evaluation and Follow-Up

  • Focus on nurturing, caring, and loving for kids at the next leadership meeting. Role play tough situations that may arise.
  • Show leaders how to love, nurture, and care for kids after they hear about a family break-up.


  1. Leaders need this kind of knowledge, as divorce, separation, and blended families are continually increasing.
  2. We must be aware that the family structure that breaks down does not have to break down the self-concept of that teen. A relationship with a significant adult can have a positive effect on that teen’s self-concept in the midst of family turmoil.

Linda Mohlman
© 2018 CYS

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