rebelling against low expectations

Study Shows: Teens Love Family


Teens Love FamilyA new study conducted by The Associated Press and MTV shows that family, friends, and religion make teens more happy and that (surprise, surprise) money and sex make them less happy. Family ties were the overwhelming winner and “mom” and “dad” were the most frequent responses when teens were asked to name their heroes.

It makes you wonder whether MTV will make the connection that they constantly bash the values and heroes of their target demographic while simultaneously promoting the very things that are shown to make teens unhappy. It makes you wonder whether us teens will make that connection as well.

Poll: Family Ties Key to Youth Happiness – Jocelyn Noveck and Trevor Tompson – 08/20/07

So you’re between the ages of 13 and 24. What makes you happy? A worried, weary parent might imagine the answer to sound something like this: Sex, drugs, a little rock ‘n’ roll. Maybe some cash, or at least the car keys.

Turns out the real answer is quite different. Spending time with family was the top answer to that open-ended question, according to an extensive survey — more than 100 questions asked of 1,280 people ages 13-24 — conducted by The Associated Press and MTV on the nature of happiness among America’s young people.

Next was spending time with friends, followed by time with a significant other. And even better for parents: Nearly three-quarters of young people say their relationship with their parents makes them happy.

“They’re my foundation,” says Kristiana St. John, 17, a high-school student from Queens in New York. “My mom tells me that even if I do something stupid, she’s still going to love me no matter what. Just knowing that makes me feel very happy and blessed.”

Read the entire article »

Once you’ve read the rest of the article come back here and join the discussion. For further reading on the topic of happiness you can check out one of our early articles called, A New Attitude Towards Happiness. Thanks for reading! Do Hard Things.

On a side note, thank you everyone who has been signing up for our Prayer Updates. We have the deadline for our book coming up at the end of this month. We are worn down from frequent traveling but need to make quick progress to finish on time. Please remember us in your prayers. It makes all the difference.

  • What aspect of the survey was most surprising to you?
  • What makes you happy? Try to come up with your Top Five things.
  • Who are your heroes? Try to come up with your Top Five heroes.
  • Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them? Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy?

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • I really agree with that. I wasn’t close to my parents during my teenage years and I really pushed them out of my life constantly. But they were the people I secretly admired, and did listen to. Most teens just won’t admit to being unsatisfied with what culture is telling us will make us happy.
    My top five things that make me happy:
    1. Being in a place in my relationship with God where I know that everything is in His hands and I don’t have to worry about it.
    2. Spending time with my friends.
    3. Being involved in some sort of ministry, like missions, church, leadership etc.
    4. Writing
    5. Helping people
    My top five heroes would include:
    1. My parents, for raising me in a Christian home and loving me when I was unlovable
    2. My first youth pastor Jim
    3. My second youth pastor Billy
    4. Marty and Sarah, a couple that I babysit for, but they have become like mentors to me.
    5. my brother and his wife…

  • That was a pretty neat survey! It’s sad that so many teens just keep buying the whole “mtv thing” just because it’s cool.

    What aspect of the survey was most surprising to you? The racial differences.
    What makes you happy? Try to come up with your Top Five things.
    Being completely open with God.
    Fellowship with my family
    being w. friends and growing with them
    journaling/writing letters/worshipping God in my music
    and feeling accomplished.
    Who are your heroes? Try to come up with your Top Five heroes. Hudson Taylor, Gladys Alyward, Isobel Kuhn, Elizabeth McCullough, and my parents, because they’ve stuck through so much, and not divorced.
    Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them? Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy? Because it’s cool, it makes you fit in, and, it’s easy.

  • What aspect of the survey was most surprising to you?

    It surprised me how highly teens think of their parents. To me, it seems like a lot of teens focus more on their friends than their parents and family, and it’s nice to hear that family comes first.

    What makes you happy? Try to come up with your Top Five things.

    1) Peace–God’s perfect peace that transcends all understanding (see Philippians 4:7).
    2) Stability–Knowing those I love won’t abandon me
    3) My family-I’m home alone all week, and it’s insane how much I miss my parents right now.
    4) My friends–especially being able to help them
    5) Listening to wise, humble men and women; especially Mr. Callihan

    Who are your heroes? Try to come up with your Top Five heroes.

    1) Monica (Augustine’s mother)
    2) My mom
    3) My dad
    4) Ruth Kim
    5) Cory and Betsy Ten Boom

    Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them? Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy?

    Because it’s seductive, and it gives temporary pleasure, and it appeals to our flesh, which is weak, and wants to give in to those sorts of things.

    For me, sometimes it’s easy to use music and television as a drug. Sometimes I watch/listen to mindless and potentially damaging music/shows because I want to escape my problems and not have to think about certain things that are bothering me.

  • What surprised me about the survey? The family part. I’m glad to see that.
    What 5 things make me happy?
    Going to church.
    Who are your top 5 heroes?
    My mom and dad.
    My pastor’s wife, Beth Pinckney.
    Alex and Brett, for going against the flow for what they know is right.
    John Piper
    Corrie Ten Boom, I guess. I never really thought about my heroes before.

    More later, perhaps.

  • Though I’ve been reading the blog for a long time, I finally decided to comment! The Rebelution is one of my favorite websites; keep up the great work guys!

    What aspect of the survey was most surprising to you?

    Probably the fact that 92% want to get married; that’s a good thing.

    What makes you happy? Try to come up with your Top Five things.

    1.) Spending time with God, 2.)Learning about God, 3.) Spending time with family and friends, 4.) Doing/finishing something worthwhile, 5.) Spontaneous, exciting things (like a trip, a debate tournament, or snow) 😀

    Who are your heroes? Try to come up with your Top Five heroes.

    1.) Jesus, the best role model, 2.+3.) Mom and Dad, 4.) My ninth grade tutor/debate coach, 5.) Missionaries and martyrs in general (there are so many stories; I can’t choose a favorite).

    Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them?

    It’s more marketable I suppose…

    Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy?

    Like Michelle said, it’s because our flesh really wants it…

    It is upsetting though, that family and friends were chosen as sources of happiness before God, and the examples the study mention were pretty vague/feel-good.

    “‘I just like believing in something greater than me and everybody else,’ St. John, who attends a Catholic school, says of her commitment to religion. ‘When I pray, sometimes it just makes me feel better, if I’m freaking out about things.'”

    It makes me wonder: a lot of teens might find happiness in good things rather than bad things, but are they finding true fulfillment in either (or, for that matter, in God)?

  • Wow! This was a great post! I truely hope more people will come to the realization that sex and money (and all of the other things that the media promotes) is not what will make you happy. I’m passing this along to everyone I know! Keep up the great work!!

    What aspect of the survey was most surprising to you?

    – That alot of teens actually love their parents so much! Sometimes, I even fool myself in to thinking that my parents aren’t that important to me, but in the end, I love them most.

    What makes you happy? Try to come up with your Top Five things.

    1. Knowing God will always love me no matter what, and having a great relationship with Him.
    2. Spending quality time with my family.
    3. Hanging out with my friends.
    4. Acting
    5. A good hard laugh!

    Who are your heroes? Try to come up with your Top Five heroes.

    1. God (he saves me everyday!)
    2. My dad
    3. My mom
    4. My best friends mom
    5. actors and actresses (or singers or whatever) who keep their morals and standards

    Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them?

    – I honestly have no idea why people promote all of these things. I guess alot of people are interested in a thrill. (even if they wouldn’t do it themselves.)
    – And perhaps: some people just don’t want to admit that the simplest things in life are what truly makes you happy.
    – It makes MTV more money to promote things like sex, money, style, etc.

    Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy?

    – Because the media constantly tells us that clothes, sex, money, good looks, boyfriends(girlfriends), etc, is what will make us happy. We (or most people) already know that those things won’t make us truly happy, but because the media tells us these things over and over and over again, it starts to stick. Suddenly (even without realizing it) we have this wisper in the back of our minds that lies to us.

    I’ve also just noticed that order of priorities can make a difference in happiness. Here’s my example: Clothes and looking nice makes me happy, because it makes me more confident with myself. But it’s not my #1 priority. If it was a high priority to me, I’d be miserable.

  • Hey guys!

    Thank you so much for this awesome blog. I only have one “friend” who thinks like I do on these issues, and she lives about 7 hours away. It’s hard to keep the faith and continue to “Do Hard THings”, but having blogs like this one helps alot.

    I was extremely surpirsed with this survey.

    I think that teens act like they don’t appreciate their parents, because someone, somewhere has made it look unpopular to like your parents, so no matter how much you love them and respect them, you have to act like you hate them to be popular. I know of so many teens who talk down their parents all the time, but their parents love them, and I know the teens love their parents back, but this culture makes it look unpopular to love our parents and respect them. I sure hope MTV gets a hint and will cut down on the trashy junk they play all the time.

  • I don’t have time to answer all of the questions; but I’ll try to answer a couple quickly. 😀
    Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them?
    I’d venture to say it’s because immoral subjects/shows sell. Once a person is enslaved to lust, they are caught, no matter how unhappy it makes them. Only thru Christ are we freed of these sins, and unless a person comes to Christ, they will remain in that state. Their sinful nature will always draws them back to their sin.

    Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy?
    Perhaps it is because we don’t see a superior pursuit; this is why we must keep our focus on Christ and not allow things of this world to draw us away from Him.

    What aspect of the survey was most surprising to you?
    The fact that so many teens admire their parents was very surprising to me. Unfortunately, even in Christian circles, I don’t see much of that in teens’ behavior or speech. 🙁

    That was an interesting article! I’ll have to think about it some more. 😉

  • I thought it was really interesting that the blacks and hispanics named their parents as their heroes more often than whites. I wonder how much of an emphasis is put on family in those cultures versus the emphasis in our culture?
    Top 5 things that make me happy (not an any particular order):
    1. Listening to an Opera song with just beautiful harmonies and voices 2. Listening to music and also being able to play it. 3. Discovering something new in my quiet time 4. Laughing really hard with my family. 5. Talking with my best friend at 2 in the morning 6. Dancing and reading a really good book. (sorry, I couldn’t fit all of my favorite things into a list of 5!)

  • Ooops! I accidently hit submit before I was done!
    Anyway, I think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what culture in general tries to sell to them because they are presenting things that just aren’t realistic for the average teen. MTV and corporations try and sell things like the perfect body, for example, which is in all actuality not achieveable, no matter how much money you spend on clothes, makeup and hair. I think teens go after what they know probably won’t make them happy because it’s easier to achieve those goals for momentary pleasure then to work for long time joy.

  • …What aspect of the survey was most surprising to you?…

    Well… I’m Not entirely sure… I don’t think there was anything exactly surprising…I did my best to not be insulted that they ‘classified’ the teen years from 13 years of age to 24: (“So you’re between the ages of 13 and 24. What makes you happy? A worried, weary parent might imagine the answer to sound something like this: Sex, drugs, a little rock ‘n’ roll. Maybe some cash, or at least the car keys.” ) I couldn’t help but think, “Excuse me? Did you just say twenty-four?” A guy or girl ought to be mature and responsible by the time they’re 13. Not long after. (Please take into consideration that I’m not saying someone as young as 13 should be able to drive a car, find a spouse, or anything of that nature that would reflect on him or her as being an adult. I’m thinking more of character growth and maturity here…)

    …What makes you happy? Try to come up with your Top Five things…

    Oh! What a question. Let me think….
    1. Well, chocolate makes me happy.

    …Okay. To be serious….

    1. Reading, studying and thinking about God’s Word
    2. Playing piano and singing
    3. Knowing that my family life is stable and secure
    4. Writing (I absolutely love writing!)
    5. Reading dictionaries and encyclopedias

    …Who are your heroes? Try to come up with your Top Five heroes…

    1. Christ- he’s a faithful friend
    2. My Dad- abnormally wise, mature, gifted, talented…etc…
    3. My Mom- She makes the best arroz amarillo! (Oh, there’s more, but too much to write…)
    4. Ravi Zacharias- The brilliance of this gentle man is astounding
    5. My wise friend Lauren- she claims she’s my hero… (And yet never did make the distinction between ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’… That’s okay!)

    …Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them?…

    Obviously, MTV is selling to teenagers something that they are looking for. Yes, it’s what they want, but it is definitely not what they need. Like other worldly outlets that offers a quick fix, or let you have it “your own way,” MTV takes advantage of the vulnerability imposed and magnified by the disorderly homes that leaves most teens searching in frustration or even hopelessness. They are offered junk food for the soul, an immediate relief from a symptom that many deny the root of.

    If a young person, (or any person for that matter,) does not have his or her legitimate needs met, (the security and significance that by God’s design comes through right relationships in a rightly-ordered family,) they will usually substitute temporal, carnal and worldly things that offer instant, though shallow and fleeting, gratification: things that offer a superficial illusion of the security and significance that they lack, but without the price it requires.

    For example, they pursue relationships that give them a sense of unconditional acceptance, but at the expense of the intimacy and commitment that would provoke the normal relational problems that they don’t have the skill or capacity for.

    Because they see their own family’s “problems” as having already cost them the love and acceptance they needed, they often believe that love and acceptance are always exclusive from relational problems . Consequently, unconditional love gets erroneously associated with unconditional acceptance. This seems to make sense, and sounds good to the world, but God’s love distinguishes between the person and their behavior. Without a proper picture of the father’s heart, that paid for sin instead of overlooking it, (a father who reaches out to help us in our trials,) and without the human example of our parents loving each other and us enough to resolve their conflicts and differences with respect, honor, and sacrifice, (instead of impatience and selfish demands,) we are left, not only with a distorted picture of love, but with an insecurity that comes from the sense that our performance has to earn it. Something that we know isn’t right.

    We so often hear the common cries of this insecurity in the reactionary statements, such as: “Love me just as I am,” “Love me for who I am,” or worse, “Love me despite what I do.” Those statements, however, do not reflect a biblical love. Fulfilling relationships require a loving commitment that works through the real problems, instead of overlooking them. The truth in this situation, then, is that it’s not those problems that are common to all relationships: (miscommunication, misunderstandings, having to make sacrifices and compromises, preferring others better than ourselves, and other situations that require mature relational skills;) it’s not the problems that separate people and leave them feeling insecure and unaccepted. Relationships are severed when the problems inherent in them are not properly resolved. Teens who come from dysfunctional homes feel insecure and unloved, and lack not only the understanding of real love and acceptance, but the skills required to cultivate it.

    This is why those teens seek alternative groups such as: gangs, cliques, clubs, or other social circles formed around a common cause, preference, or all too often, a common dysfunction. Usually trite and meaningless icons, such as: fashions, trends, music, etc. are used to establish belonging. (A cheap ticket in, and you get what you pay for…)Interestingly, these social groups, though formed because of a lack of unconditional love at home, are themselves conditionally based on adhering to the codes of dress, behavior and performance that define them. It’s approval by association: “Did you see what so-and-so has? I’ve gotta have it, too,” “She’s such a fashionista,” “My uncle is Steven Curtis Chapman,” “I’m with him,” “did you hear the latest?” “Do you have the latest?” It is by this performance-oriented participation that teens find their significance. However, and unfortunately, substituting superficial relationships and activities for what we really lack and need is like putting a band-aid on an oozing cut. Not only does it not stick, but it keeps the festering inside. You have to fix what’s broken first, and then clean the wound in order for healing to be complete and lasting. Just like our body has been designed to heal itself when it has the resources it needs to do so, so also can the wounded soul be restored to wholeness when it is restored to proper order and the wounds are healed with communication and forgiveness. This healing only comes through a restoration of right and orderly relationships, something that MTV, and every other substitution, cannot provide.

    … Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy?….

    Again, when someone is not getting what they need, which is the security and significance that is established in a rightly-ordered home, they will turn instead to whomever they can believe will “love them unconditionally,” and to whatever activities offer those stimulations that they feel that they need… Or at least whatever will make them feel better in the mean time. However, because these wounded and neglected teens don’t understand what true, godly love is, they envision finding “love with no problems,” and “love that accepts them as they are,” regardless of whatever that is, and they pursue meaningless activities that have no eternal purpose and require no real effort or commitment, but only provide conditional acceptance, personal pleasure, and entertainment, but all without personal growth, and consequently, no fulfillment, significance or lasting satisfaction.

    What they really need, first, is a right relationship with God and family. They need to understand God’s commitment of love to them, and they need to experience that same commitment of love in their own relationships with people, especially their parents and their family. This kind of love is a love that embraces them as a person, but does not excuse their weakness and faults, but rather challenges and helps them to press through them (together). It’s a love that offers true significance and security by proving that they are important enough to establish the boundaries and discipline that they need to guard themselves in the vulnerability of their weaknesses, and to challenge them in ways that give them the opportunities to grow in character by making decisions that restore them to wholeness in God’s design and purpose; restored to a proper identity found in His unconditional love and acceptance, and to a proper response of reverence and submission; and also restored to an experience of this love and acceptance in the primary relationships that God has ordained to meet those needs– the family.

    Additionally, there is a difference between the weakness that comes from having a wounded spirit and neglected soul, and the weakness allowed by the lack of personal character. We do need to be whole and complete. We also need to be sober, diligent, and obedient. That sort of easily distracted, looking over the fence, wandering spirit, that is unchecked by personal conviction and restraint, is often the result of having a lack of anything better to do, and more often, a good reason why. The conviction and courage required to take a godly stand and press against the tide towards a higher standard and a worthy goal, best comes from the example of having our fathers lead in a family vision. Equally important is seeing our mothers take up this vision as his wife and helper, and we also finding our own place in the work. It is not insignificant that one of the other functions of a well-ordered family is the leadership of the father who, in addition to his responsibilities for provision and protection– (physically, emotionally, spiritually,) also brings an eternal perspective and purpose that draws everyone else into a participation that helps to establish their own significance, and validates them in their identity as a valuable member, not only of their own household, but of the family of God. Without a vision, my people perish…

    So… That’s my take on that… A rather long one, too. 🙂

  • “What makes you happy?” Good food for thought. For me, the things on my list include going to church (we are part of the Sovereign Grace church in Kansas), hanging out with good friends, reading a good book, and, of course, chocolate. 🙂
    My heroes are 1st and foremost Jesus, and the runners up would be my parents, C.J. Mahaney, Abraham Lincoln, and Amy Carmichael. (forgive me if my spelling is off :))

  • Thanks for this article! The most surprising thing about the survey to me was how many teens thought of their parents as heroes. That was very encouraging, since I’ve always heard that most non-Christian teens didn’t respect their parents very much.

    The Top Five things that make me happy:

    1. hearing the gospel preached

    2. spending time with my parents

    3. writing well

    4. reading

    5. spending time with my friends

    My Top Five heroes:

    1. Jesus

    2. my dad

    3. my mom

    4. C.S. Lewis

    5. J.R.R. Tolkien

    I think that teens (and everyone) pursue things that we know won’t make us happy because we’re sinful. Our sin blinds us and makes us think that the things the world has to offer will make us happy.

    Thanks for doing the Rebelution! I love this blog!

  • Interesting in one of the posts above how someone said that many people are trying to substitute for a LEGITIMATE need. How insightful!

    We are born with a need to be loved unconditionally, a need to belong. Our parents represent God’s nature to us, providing a template for us to understand Him. We don’t need to work to EARN their love, but because they love us, they try to train us in the paths that will avoid destruction. That kind of love gives us a sense of security.

    But along with that security also comes responsibility, accountability, and self-denial. When that becomes too inconvenient or uncomfortable, many choose to look outside the family to meet their genuine need for love and belonging.

    But what does this world have to offer us? Instead of bringing stability to our lives, it does just the opposite. We become addicted to seeking attention and status based on what we have to offer (rather than what Christ already offered). When trends change and friends are fickle, we have to re-define ourselves in order to measure up. Suddenly we don’t belong anymore, and we have to change who we are in order to do so. We trade values for popularity. Looking to the world to find one’s significance brings a tiring roller-coaster ride. It’s rooted in self-indulgence, and self is never satisfied. It always wants more.

    Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1:15)

    MTV and today’s popular media are designed to foster and exploit that addictive self-centered nature. The very essence of marketing is to convince people that they NEED something and would be BETTER if they had it. When we are not satisfied in Christ alone, we’re always trying to fill that deficit with artificial substance rather than the real thing. Any temporary fix will do for now, until we move on to something else. The funny thing is that some even look to church activities and approval from men rather than a solid dependence on Christ and His Word. It’s a cleaner version of the same thing.

    Perhaps many are sick of the games and are starting to realize what they have in family. That’s good, and worth applauding. But my question is, do they ALSO realize what a blessing it is to be under their parents’ protection and provision? Do they value their parents’ direction and learn from their experiences? Are they ready to be challenged to maturity by those who are wiser and truly love them? Do they purpose to serve and love and endure difficult times, being conformed into the image of Christ through the trials? Do they understand sacrifice and honor God’s holy order more than just having their felt-needs met?

    If not, then one day they may get tired of family, and their itching ears will once again follow after the appealing calls of Vanity Fair. Then they are in danger of becoming just another statistic.

    Family is so much more than warm fuzzy feelings, as one of the girls interviewed alluded to. Family represents something far greater. A shadow and type of things to come. The commitment to each member’s best interest ought to be a model for the true selfless love that Christ showed, and prepare children to live of life of pouring it out to others, rather than just looking for the next thing that makes them happy.

    Sorry I didn’t really follow the format. 🙂

    As a consolation, I will say that one of my heroes is a friend of mine who has continuously shown this kind of Christ-like love to everyone who crosses his path, tirelessly working to cultivate it in his family, and even went out of his way to include me in the process.

  • One thing that surprised me was that they managed to get numbers for people who use illegal drugs.
    What makes me happy. Hmm. Interesting question. I’m afraid I can’t rank things, though, since most things that make me feel happy vary in their effectiveness depending on the situation, and the standard for neutrality is difficult to define. Plus I run a risk of giving “good girl” answers.
    Heroes–I’m not even going to try.
    The disconnect doesn’t surprise me at all. We’re being told (through movies, music, etc.) what should make us happy, so we can try those things and make other people think we’re happy, even if we’re not. This becomes a vicious cycle, until someone figures it out and breaks the pattern. Also, someone above mentioned that if you can’t get what really would make you happy, you’re more willing to try something else and hope it’ll work this time around.

  • Wow, that’s incredibly encouraging. It’s deeply saddening that media intends on subjagating youth with messages that even the kids won’t buy — a love of family, friends and religion are things that are engraved in our DNA.

  • What aspect of the survey was most surprising to you?

    I was most surprised by the teens saying their parents were their heros. I have to say that it was a very good surprise. I’m glad that even some non-christian (I’m assuming) teens appreciate and respect their parents.

    What makes you happy? Try to come up with your Top Five things.

    1) Spending time alone with God.

    2) Talking, laughing, and teasing with my family.

    3) Hanging out or talking on the phone with my friends.

    4) Being outdoors.

    5) CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    Who are your heroes? Try to come up with your Top Five heroes.

    1) God

    2) My parents

    3) My older brother Ben

    4) My grandparents

    5) My friend Bethany

    Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them?

    Because the stuff MTV is selling is earthly stuff. It is for the moment and then you feel worse after doing it. But the joy from the relationships with parents other people will last longer that all that.

    Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy?

    Because we think it makes us look cool, and that it will help us fit in. Plus we have the media telling us, ” Oh you just have to do this, and you won’t have any friends if you don’t do that.” It’s a lie that we just don’t see sometimes. I hope more teens realize that they really do need and appreciate their families.

    Thank you Alex and Brett for this wonderful post! Keep up the good work 🙂

  • Suprising part?

    Definately the family thing. It is so shocking that the world tries to focus teens on the things that won’t make them happy, when this truth is right in front of them. It is so sad, that they feed these lost teens with things that will never satisfy them.

    What makes me happy?

    I love to read my Bible, talk with other Believers (at church and on the Forums), knowing I have a family that loves and accepts me, singing praise to the Lord, hearing from teachers that love God.

    5 heroes?

    Yeah…mom and dad, definately. Also, Daniel, Jim Elliot, and many of the authors I have read.

    The disconnect?

    Well, if MTV told the kids to go to God, they would “never be thirsty again”…and everyone knows that the best way to market something is to increase demand. Its the supply and demand thing–and it is so sad that all these people are willing to lie to turn the market in their favor.

    Thanks for this thought provoking post!

    Carly D.

  • This is the first time I’ve done this so hopefully it works.

    What aspect of the survey was most surprising to you?
    The things that really surprised me was the difference of percentage rate of how happy blacks and Hispanics are compared to whites and how money had only a very few votes. Also, the fact about families being the most prominent was surprising at first, but when I thought about it and looked at my own life, it wasn’t so surprising.

    What makes you happy? Try to come up with your Top Five things.
    1. Worshiping the Lord.
    2. Having a God filled quiet time.
    3. Spending time with friends and family
    4. Playing the guitar.
    5. Feeling the presence of the Lord.

    # Who are your heroes? Try to come up with your Top Five heroes.
    1. Jesus (Who can do what he has done?)
    2. My parents (My dad for working so hard to support our family and my mom for denying herself day by day to serve us.)
    3. George Washington (His faith in God during difficult times and patriotism to his country.)
    4. Eric Liddel (His example of standing up for his beliefs)
    5. David Bendinelli [My Pastor] (For confessing stuff on the pulpit and setting us an example.)

    Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them?
    We were made to serve God and the stuff that those corporations sell serves the flesh.

    Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy?
    Because it appeals to our sinful nature.

    I just wanted to say thank you to Brett and Alex Harris for doing this blog while they hve their tour and are writing their book. It is so nice to read stuff like this from a Christian viewpoint . Thanks!

  • I’d have to agree with Penny that I am most surprised that they managed to get numbers for users of illegal drugs…;) (har har)

    “Why do you think there is a disconnect between what makes teens happy and what corporations like MTV sell them? Why do you think teens (including yourself) pursue things that we know will make us unhappy?”

    I think Caleb R. said it very well—the media sells to the flesh. If you are not a Christian, that is essentially what you are living for, even though at a heart level you may realize you love and value your family…the flesh cannot resist sin. MTV and the like are always going to sell to our desires to be cool and to fit in, and to feel good, because they know there will always be buyers.

    As a follower of Christ, I have no good reason (and definitely no excuse!) for buying into what the world promotes and honors, and yet I do from time to time. Why? Again, Caleb R. said it well…it appeals to my sinful nature. However, the closer my walk is to the Lord the more detestable the goods of the world become to my tastes. I read in 1 Corinthians 1:30 today, “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” As Christ dwells within us, He imparts to us His wisdom and righteousness, that we can discern where true value lies and so that we have no excuse for making dumb choices and buying into culture’s lies. What amazing grace!

    In Christ Alone,

  • I believe the aspect that surprise me most was who conducted the survey. The AP and MTV! Wow! Maybe we will see changes around here.

    My Top Five Happy Things Would Be:
    1. My times in prayer with the Lord
    2. My family
    3. Long distance e-letters
    4. Getting a lot accomplished
    5. Writing on my blog and for magazines

    My Five Heroes Would Be:
    1. The Lord
    2. My Mom
    3. My Dad
    4. My friends who encourage me
    5. The people who unknowingly have influence my life (authors, other blogs, preachers)

    I think why though we look for happiness in other things is because we are human. The world tells us what should make us happy, and often times, we listen. Even when we know what truth is. Yet God in His grace always reveals Himself!

    Thanks for the update on the book. You both have been in my prayers!

    In Christ ALONE,

  • That is very suprising that teens would be like that and not what at least I think they ussually are, selfish and unkind. This would be a very good way to humble myself and admit this.

  • I dont have a lot of time before I head off to school, so I’ll be quick! I really like the last question. If you think about it, we know that what we like is family time and things that the blog talked about, but as sinful creatures, we still long and lust after what mass media provides. They provide it b/c they know we as teens who struggle, will buy it! They target teens because they think we are more supseptable…this may be in many cases, but as christians, shouldnt we step out of the box; hate what sin is and what it offers, and flee from it? Media corrporations like MTV knows what sells…and they dont honestly care what it is if it makes them money…I enjoy sertain music and music videos, but if they promote sin, I cant justify them and I shouldnt try. As teens and young adults, we should run at Christ with all that we have and change the idea that teens all want what media has to sell. Those teens dont represent all of the teens everywhere, but that is what most ppl. think. Let Christ represent us and show others Christ no matter what the cost!

    oh…kind of went on a tangent! sorry!

    God bless,

    P.s. just a public schoolers point of view~

  • I’m not entirely sure what surprised me most… the racial differences definately were interesting, but I don’t know if I was truly surprised by any one thing.

    Five things that make me happy… (in no particular order unless you count alphabetical and numerical order… which I do)

    1. Arranging things in alphabetical, numerical, and rainbow (Roy G. Biv) order.
    2. Babysitting
    3. Getting so lost in worshiping God that you keep singing when everyone else stops and you don’t even notice until someone pokes you.
    4. Having heart-to-heart conversations with God that start at 11pm and go to 3am.
    5. Knowing that I have friends and family members who love the same God that I do + knowing I can go to them with anything, no matter how big or how insignificant and petty.

    Five heros of mine… (again… in no particular order unless you count alphabetical and numerical order… which I do)

    1. J. M. Barrie because his book (and all of the millions of spinoff sequels, movies, and Halloween costumes) changed my life. (If you don’t know what he wrote we have some serious issues…)
    2. God (aside from the fact that He… you know… CREATED ME AND THE WORLD AND EVERYTHING IN IT!!!!) He loves me even though I do some pretty low things sometimes.
    3. Kat McKeown and Matthew Silar (two of the greatest friends I have) The reason I put them down is because even though Kat is a year younger than I am and Matt is three years younger than I am, they keep me so focused on God and are so encouraging and uplifting and they have no problem whatsoever calling me out and telling me when I’m not on the right track. They have been there for me through “stuff” when no one else was and they don’t back down when the world pushes.
    4. Lolly (I’ve called my dad Lolly since I could talk) + Mommy because they treat me with respect and yet still call me out when I’m being naughty… (:
    5. People who put God first, others second and them last. (I don’t do this as much as I wish)

    The last one is tough, and I’ll most likely offend some people, but it’s what I truly believe…

    The public School System.

    (sorry guys… I still love you

  • grrr… the ending part of my comment was deleted… The reason I think public school is to blame is because Christians are negatively influenced by non-Christians.

    I had more to say, but my mom wants me off the computer, I’ll finish later…

  • This is an extremely interesting survey. It’s findings really contradict what most teens would have you thinking by their actions and attitudes. So maybe as sons and daughters we could learn to express our love toward our parents better? Your mom and dad can’t read your mind, as others can’t. You have to let them know how you feel and not neccessarily through words.

  • I read most of the article. It wasn’t all too surprising to me because I’m a teenager and I consider myself blessed to be in a family. I love my parents and my brothers. They bring happiness to my life. And…like the other kids who were in the survey, my role model is my mother =).

    Top Five things that make me happy:

    An accomplishment worth the time — for instance, my crafts project took what seems like forever and it came out really good =) I put a lot of time and effort into it. When I put my time and effort into something and it comes out better than I expect, I’m happy. =D

    Anything with little children. Holding them when they are sleeping, holding their tiny hand in mine…etc. If they make me a card, it goes on my wall. If they hug me, I feel like I’m the most loved person in the world. Today for instance, I went to drop off a gift at my neighbors house. I babysat their kids last summer. When I had spent like an hour and a half there, I decided to leave. But the almost 2 yr old clung to me. I felt cherished. Though it broke my heart to leave, I was really happy.

    I’m happy when God speaks to me. Especially when I know it is Him speaking. It brings such joy to my heart when He speaks because that’s when I feel the reassurance of His love in my life. I feel happy when I know that He is pleased with me…that I didn’t have to earn His love. I feel happy when I’m reassured that He isn’t mad at me as often as I think He is. I feel happy when He calls me his daughter =D

    I am happy when I recieve a thoughtful letter or an email…especially when I’m down. It lifts my spirits!

    I am happy when giving things to people. I love seeing their faces when they get gifts. I find such joy in taking my time to wrap gifts and making it look nice even though it’ll be torn up as it’s opened.

    Since my comment is really long so far, I’m going to just list my top five heroes: God (I am nothing without Him. I’m learning right now just how much I can’t live without Him! Being in a backslidden state is horrible and oh so terribly lonesome…No wonder why God pleads with Isreal to turn to Him.), Mom, Mom, Mom, and Mom. She is the only person I truly look up to. Her opinion matters to me. If she thinks I’m ugly in one outfit, I feel ugly. If she sees me as alright in the other outfit, I feel like a queen. This is not all the time…but most of the time. I really love her!

    I think us teenagers pursue things that make us unhappy because we want to be accepted by society. What they want, we want. What they think of something or someone, we think the same. What they have, we find it a necessity to own. That’s my two cents =)

    This survey is awesome!! Thanks for Posting it! Merry Christmas to you both!!

  • The most surprising for me was that MTV of all people did the survey!
    I think it’s Awesome that teen still look up to their parents even if they don’t always show or admit that they do.

    hmmm…Just five things!.. let me think…..
    O.k I think I’ve got it.
    1. Spending time with my family particularly playing Chess with my dad on sundays and talking with my mamma.
    2. Talking with Papa (God).
    3. Reading
    4. Cooking and baking
    5. lerning new languages

    My five heros and heroines.
    1. Jesus for doing what he did for us. You Rock Jesus! luv ya.
    2. My parents for their love, support and sacrifices for me and my siblings.
    3. Gladys Alward for folowing God and going to China despite what people said.
    4. Will and Tim missionaries from the show travel the road.
    5. Various christian music groups and artists( Pillar, KJ-52, Toby Mac, Third day, Kuttless, Sanctus real, Manafest …..) for bringing God’s word to the masses in creative ways.

    I think teens and adults are all constantly seeking somthing to fill the hole inside them that only God can fill but instead of turing to him they turn to MTV, drugs ecetera.

  • my 5 heroes::::

    1. Jesus Christ
    2. Mom and Dad
    3. Alex and Brett Harris
    4. Eric Liddel {I think that if I could be anybody else, I would have been him.}
    5. my pastor Mr. Lipton

    thanks for this article alex & brett!!!!!

  • The most surprising part for me personally were the racial differences. That was just too wierd. You would think living in the same culture, in the same nation it would be much more similar.

    My top five things that make me happy are:
    1. Praying and reading my Bible
    2. Riding horses
    3. Reading
    4. Spending time with my family
    5. Spending time with my friends

    My top five heros are:
    1. Mom and Dad
    2. Leah H.
    3. Jennifer H.
    4. Alex and Brett
    5. Beezie Madden

    I think we pursue things that make us unhappy because that is all that the world throws at us. So we think that is what we need to do to be accepted. When really being accepted is not all that important. When what we really should be worried about is whether WE have accepted Christ.

  • My comment was posted forever ago, but it was on my mind today.
    When I listed my heros I didn’t list my ultimate hero, CHRIST!! He
    is definately number one. Without him I am nothing. So yeah, I
    had to correct myself.

  • I have so many of my friends wanting to go to clubs and midnight bashes at the host whose parents are not home. They are very confused when I try to tell them that I rather stay home with my family than go out. It very much surprised me that MTV would give a report like that because of the songs and videos that they put on.
    5 Things That Make Me Happey:
    My Bible
    My family (especially my best brother)
    My friends who challenge me
    Books (testimonies)(Do Hard Things)
    My Mac (exploration and creativity)

  • uuuhhhh,….
    I’m a little nervious, I’ve never done anything like this before, but…do hard things!, so here’s my answers.

    Things that make me happy:
    1-People that are nice to me for no reason; just because they are nice
    2-The time I spend with my highlighter and pencil, “Do Hard Things”, my notebook and my Bible on my lap.
    3-Hanging out with my best friend, and her little brother.
    4-Being with my cousins and my reletives, who live far away.
    5-Babysitting hyper-active little kids!!!!

    My Heros:
    1-Jesus, definantly. Without Him, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be anything.
    2-My cousin Christy and her husband, Emilio, who are missionaries in Mexico, and Christy’s brothers, Mike, Tim, Dannie and Andrew.
    3-Alex and Brett. Someday I want to meet you both…your book changed my entire outlook on God, life, everything!! Without you, I wouldn’t be here writing this!
    4-My best friend, Amanda, and her little brother. Whenever I am frusturated, Amanda always talks to me, and offers suggestions. I would be in bad shape without her!
    5-My family; I don’t always act like it, but sometimes I invision myself without my chaotic family, and I would be a dull, boring person without them. Having 5 siblings makes you able to laugh at certain things that feel mild compared to others, and teaches you alot about patience at hyperspeed!

  • I have never done this before..its part of my homework so I’m going to do it.
    1)The most surprising aspect of the survey was the fact that Iunderstood it and that most of it has put me together to what I havent none before.
    2)5 things that make me happy:
    -when people are nice to me
    -when I get to hang out with my friends
    -when I get to travel with my family
    -when I get a new book to read and nobody bothers me its like my own world
    -when everyone in my family gets together for a big holiday or anyday at all
    3)5 hero’s
    -Jesus christ

    -My mother and father and there love for each other takes my breath away
    -Saint Katherine Drexal she was the one saint I picked for conformation at church school
    -Queen ElizabethI because she loved her country and people so much she married them instead of the one she truly loved
    -My family I love them forever..and I wouldnt be here without them
    4)This last question is really tough because the truth can be harsh to most people. We follow mtv and all the media because the only thing that they throw at us is unhappiness. We as teens follow things that make us unhappy because we want to be cool we want to be able to now that we arent outcast during high school and college. We follow things that make us unhappy because we want to prove that though we are rebellion against our parents and teachers we feel that we have to show what we are capable of and show what we truly are as teenagers.

  • I want to thank Alex and Brett for articles with discussion questions, because they make me think about things more than i would if i didn’t answer them.
    Question one: I think most surprising to me was spending time with family. it didn’t really surprise me that third was spending time with a significant other.
    Question two: Finishing things. i know that doesn’t sound big, but me and my family are really bad at finishing things that we start. Top 5 things that make me happy: 1) Being able to have wholesome talks with my parents. 2) Reading with my family. 3) Traveling with my family. 4) Sewing with my mother and grandmother. 5) Working on projects with my brothers and sister.
    Question two: Whoo are my heroes? Jesus Christ (the Trinity) definetly is/are my biggest hero(es). My mom and dad tie for second, my grandmother gets third, Abraham Lincoln gets fourth, Winston Churchill comes in fifth.
    First part of the last question, i’m not sure. I know for me, the reason i pursue things will make unhappy is it seems good at the time, or, it’ll make me happy for a little while.

  • The percentages for how many people said that their family made them happier than things like money, drugs, alcohol, etc. are amazing.

  • I am not so capable to be competent to write down cool stuff like you do but I am trying to pay it back so hoepfully this will occasion you a grin or make you belly laugh or at the very least give you a thought for the day : I is a college student

  • Reviewer…

    Hello!, I have gone ahead and bookmarked your page on Friendfeed so my friends can see it too. I just used your blog title as the title in my bookmark, as I figured if it is good enough for you to title your blog post that, then you probably would like…

  • I used to think that I needed my friends even more than I needed my parents while my parents got a divorce. But over the years God has helped me realize that my parents were trying to give me a Biblical foundation even while they were divorcing. My mom has helped me the most with my Spiritual walk with God more than anyone else. Love you mom!


rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →