Was he right?

caitlyn-jenner-bruce-jennerIt’s the most effective question provoking discussion with teenagers. Three simple words: Was he right?

Whenever you encounter something debatable or controversial, just ask the question. Don’t lecture. Just ask and be quiet. It gets young people talking and adults listening… something beneficial to any adult/kid relationship.

It’s like this:

You read an article about Bruce Jenner… like this one: The High Cost of “Sexual Freedom” on “Caitlyn” Jenner’s Family, an article sure to stir up a discussion with opinions on both sides. Then ask the question.

Was this author right?

Maybe throw another article in the mix, an article with a slightly different tone. Like this one: How Should We Respond to Caitlyn Jenner?

Was he right?

I love the question. It’s short and it makes them think. It can stimulate discussion for an hour.

I use it for any subject. In fact, I used this question this past Sunday when I taught about fellowship in the college group in my own church. I borrowed it from my book, The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Their Pocket. It’s a quote from actor Will Smith:

“The best thing that anybody ever said to me is that you’re only as good as the people you associate with. Look at the five friends that you spend the most time with—that’s who you are.” – Will Smith, Teen People, August 2004, p. 102.

I gave them that question, then asked:

Is he right? Explain.

This simple question provoked a ton of discussion. Of course I then followed up with some of the other questions I had laid out in that book:

  • Explain how someone’s five closest friends would slowly change him.
  • Do you think most people would admit that this is the case? Why?
  • What are some good traits you have absorbed from your friends?
  • What are some bad habits you might be gleaning from your friends?
  • Why do you think he calls this the best advice anybody ever gave him?
  • Who is someone you know who you probably should spend more time with?
  • How can you initiate that this week?

(the book also dives into some scripture on the subject)

Try this technique with your kids.

I did it with my daughters a few years back… I actually already blogged about it. We watched a funny video on YouTube of a dad overreacting to his daughter, pulling out a 45 and shooting holes in her laptop. After watching the video and laughing, I simply asked:

Was he right?

The conversation lasted 45 minutes.

It’s a simple principle I used countless times in my book, Get Your Teenager Talking, presenting a news clip, study or intriguing fact and then asking for their opinion. Controversy is a great discussion starter!

What has provoked good discussion with your kids?

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Was he right?

  1. Chris says:

    Just an editorial comment, we might want to clarify our pronoun use in the question “was HE right?” Are we referencing the author of the article or Jenner? I would argue that using the latter would become a leading question.
    I absolutely agree that these type of single questions are a great way to get students & adults talking!