Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teens Still Need...

I have three teenagers now...and I love it! Sure we have our moments and our mood swings (I have mine, they have theirs!). But overall, it's a great ride. I've always loved kids in the Jr. High/High School/College Age range. I love their energy and their drive, their enthusiasm and their dreams. The whole world is stretch out before them and they know it...

We all know that being a teen is also an unsure time. There are huge decisions to be made. They are deciding what they truly believe and where they want to place their faith. They are seeking to separate a bit from their parents and stand on their own. They are trying to make some heavy life decisions (Thanks to adults that fool them into thinking that a 17 year old is suppose to know what they are going to do with the rest of their lives...really do adults believe that?? Did WE know?).

This unsure time plays tricks with their minds and hearts, deceiving them into believing that they are not *enough*...not smart enough, pretty or handsome enough, skinny enough, muscular enough, friendly enough, strong enough...that they are not *worthy*...not worthy of love, of friendship...

I am sure many of us would readily admit that we still have many of the struggles that mark the teen's life...

As I was in the car with two of my teens yesterday and thinking how much I just ENJOY being with them and laughing with them I started thinking of things that I believe that teens still need despite the fact that they are growing up fast...

They still need to know...

~That parents answer to God for their parenting. There are times I have had to say, "I know that you disagree with me on this decision (maybe a movie they want to watch or music they want to listen to or any number of more serious things), but I have to stand before God for this decision and to the best of my ability I think this is the right choice. Please understand that standing before God to give an account for my parenting is not something I take lightly." 

~That they are fiercely loved. They need affection and "I love you's". Even if they run away from it, laugh about it, make you think they hate it, they still need it!! Even if they say, "I hate you", they need to hear you say back, "I love you." 

~That they are safe. Teens need to be taught how to stay safe and they need to know that as they try out their wings that we are there to catch them. Where ever my kids are at whatever time, if they call me and need me, I am going to drop everything and be on my way! I always told them when they spent the night at a friend's house that if they were uncomfortable for any reason they could call and I would come no matter the reason. If they were to afraid to say they wanted to leave, I told them to go in the bathroom and call me on their cell phone and I would come. Those of my kids without a cell phone have mine when they go somewhere with few exceptions. I think this is important, especially with the sorts of abuse possible, that kids know that they can come home whenever they are uncomfortable. It helps them to trust the icky feeling you get when something isn't right. Uncomfortable can turn bad fast. Even if they are at a church event and have that feeling or are uncomfortable they are to call me immediately.

~That our faith in Jesus is our first priority! Pray with them, pray for them, pray over them. Share God's Word with them. Read to them and with them. Give testimony of how God has worked in your life. Tell them when you've blown it and need to ask forgiveness. Teach them how to make it right when they blow it and be a part of God's grace to them. Make gathering with other believers a priority (Sunday sports and such are a great controversy and many of us fall in different places on it. It's been a struggle in my own house. But I have told my kids that every family I know that goes to church as long as nothing *important* comes up has kids that grow up and leave church behind. If it is never that *important* priority above other things, then we have taught that it is unimportant. Not that we've never missed, we have. But we have tried to prioritize it ABOVE other less important events. The coach may not always be happy but hopefully he is happy with the player with the morals he learned in church!)

~That we're on the same team. Often times I am trying to help and my motives and what I am doing are misunderstood. I often remind, "We are on the same team here," or "I am on your team." They need reminders that as parents we are trying our hardest to give them what is best. We might mess up and totally blow it, but in our hearts we're on their team. In keeping with that, we must be careful what we say about our teen to our friends and on places like Facebook. How crushing for them to hear that their parent posted, "my kid is driving me crazy" on a social network. Seriously, if our husband posted that or our kids about us, would that make US happy?? It's just hurtful... 

~That what is important to them is important to us. Romans 12:15 says to "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Proverbs 25:20 says, "Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda." There have been times when my child is upset that I try to make them feel better by offering the perspective I have from being much much older. But I end up making them feel like they are wrong to be upset or that their problems are small in my eyes. And I hurt them. I am trying to learn to LISTEN and comfort. If there is a lesson they need to learn in that area, I find it best to teach it at a separate neutral time (in most cases). Also going to their games, their performances and cheering them on is a joyous thing. If they're involved in something positive or healthy do everything you can to show them you're excited about it. Invest in it... 

~That we are interested in their interests. Sit and watch the movie they pick out, go to that ballgame or concert that they want to attend when possible. Listen to their stories, their music. Of course these things are easier if you've held them to boundaries of decency... In a flash they'll be grown and gone and you'll be so glad you shared what they love with them.

~That family time is important. Teens can easily get in a pattern of withdrawing and isolating themselves. It's important to route them out and not let them spend too much time alone. Having a movie night, a game night, a night out for ice cream or whatever, can really help that. Sometimes when they're playing a video game, I'll just go in and sit and do my knitting or reading there just to be with them. Or if they're watching a sporting event I'll invite them to come in the family living room to watch it. If it's a big game, I might buy some special game time snacks and make it an event. 
I also keep TV's, computers, laptops, IPOD touches OUT of the bedrooms. That makes the bedroom pretty uninteresting and they might spend an hour or so reading in their bedroom but fortunately it gets old fast!

I am sure there is more I could put here. As I have written these out I have felt convicted on certain points of areas where I need to improve or things I have let slip. I need to get working on those today!! I am far, far from perfect...just ask my kids...second thought, don't... ;) I love, love, LOVE my kids. Doing these things as I have mentioned FOR them has really helped me find new interests and hobbies, as well as new favorite bands and singers and such. As I have failed, I've been humbled. I have some regrets. I am trying...and I am going to keep trying. I am going to succeed and I am going to fail. But I am going to LOVE...

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6


  1. Dear Karen,

    This is a wonderful post. I, like you, have so enjoyed (and are still enjoying) the teenage years with my boys. Our children are such special gifts...who doesn't enjoy a gift given in love?

    Have a blessed day,

  2. I am not enjoying the teen years very much. It has been a real doozie and it is a really hurtful time in general for me. No matter what I do , it is never good enough, yet I am accommodating in general to him. We have chosen to let him ride the wave of what he wants to do/needs to do. We are not going to have war in our house anymore.He is a strong willed young man, that is very smart but just gets by in life . He is ONLY almost 17. He has had the foundation that we have laid for him. If I did not have a husband we would not be able to coexist together , and I am not exaggerating!He is angry a lot and loses it,breaks things. I would hear people say that the teenage years can be wonderful with your kids. Well it is not wonderful and in general it is a hellish experience.It is the way everyone said it would be except for people we hear on Christian Radio and family and a few friends.He is so selfish, hurtful, and he wants to be left alone no matter how hard we try.We are hoping that it is a phase.

    He does make some decisions that I am proud of, but he is very hurtful to my Husband too.I will not go into all the stuff ....you and I would never have said things or done things as he has, to our parents or broken things you knew they cherished.
    I am not going to go crazy like phyco over this anymore.We are "progressive" as my Mother says and if that means you can swear when you talk to me so I can get what the deal is go ahead.
    He knows it is not right but he knows we love him still . We will go all the way with him and love him no matter what. Bullying is out of the picture for a parenting style.

    On a positive note, I will say that the prom was a very nice bonding experience for me, and he truly needed me.He was accommodating to picture taking,and me helping him get ready!

    Like me he is headstrong, yep ,unfortunately or fortunately, but it is what it is. I believe down the road he won't be afraid to be different . I believe he is a people / kid/ elderly person. A helper,compassionate,and wants to see justice, and will advocate for people. Right now he just lacks confidence, and he maybe is looking for it in the negative right now.

    He told me he likes his longer hair because not many people have it, and he also got a white tux because not many would have them at the prom.

    Thank You for your blog today as your words have been so insightful.It has shown me a few things and has been convicting in ways.

  3. Irishmum (I won't use your real name here as you didn't just in case...).

    I will be praying!! I would like to suggest a couple of books I think you would find encouraging:

    Prodigals and those Who Love Them, by Ruth Bell Graham
    Rebel with a Cause, by Franklin Graham

    I myself went through some tough, rebellious years so I understand the dynamic. Our Good Shepherd leaves the 99 in search of the one!! Keep praying, keep loving, don't give up!!!!


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