Do Teens Really Have it Easy?
Statistics show parents tend to think their teens have life so easy. I can see why some would; teens are often given cars, cell phones, computers, and a host of gadgets that connect these relationally driven young people to the world. Even though they may have more technology most parents just don’t understand the struggles teens face every single day. I recognize their struggles may not be as complex as what adults have to work through… but to our teen, it’s just as difficult.
Teens are bombarded with information on a continual basis. Yet having the ability to fully process all that comes their way is more than they are usually able to handle. In some ways, it is like giving a 12 year old the keys to the car when they haven’t learned the rules of the road and can’t see over the dashboard. They may think they can drive, but I doubt many parents would agree.
Teens don’t have the processing capabilities that their parents have. While they want to have more and more freedom, they simply might not be ready for it.
So what’s a parent to do? I encourage you to try and understand how you can help them!
I’ve listened to the experts, read reports and articles, and reviewed statistics on just how important You, the parent, is in helping teens mentally and emotionally develop.
This shouldn’t be any surprise though, because God intended it to be this way. In fact, there are many places in scripture that speak to the parent’s role of teaching and training their children.
Knowing you have the single greatest influence on your teen’s life means you also have the greatest opportunity to help them grow.
This easy acronym is what I came up with to help me understand those tough teen years. I assigned one letter per finger, that way if I could sense conflict coming I could remind myself what I needed to do.
Teach– Teens are learning more complex thinking, reasoning, and processing skills during this time. So while you don’t teach teens the way you did when they were younger, you are still teaching them. It is more subtle and not as direct. By this I mean, helping them to understand and even overcome difficult experiences and failures. They need your input, wisdom and support. They need you to show them how to get through the difficult challenges in a healthy, biblical manner. They don’t need you to fix them. The best way to do this by looking for windows of opportunity.
Encourage– Teens need your encouragement. As previously stated, you are their single greatest influence in life. You have the ability to help them achieve big goals as well as overcome major obstacles. Encouragement is not a pep-rally, it’s deeper than that. It’s the act of giving someone support, confidence and hope. I know it can be hard to do this at times, but if you purpose to encourage them you will see a change in your relationship with them.
Engage– This is very important. Teens are relational people, which is why all the social technology is so attractive to them. But with their lack of maturity, this same technology can wield severe damage. The rejection they encounter can be quite overwhelming and hurtful. As a parent you need to participant and become involved in their lives. They want to share their world with someone, so make that someone you.
Nurture– To nurture is the process of cultivating growth and development, caring for, bringing up, and looking after. As a parent you need to understand teens feel valued and respected when they are nurtured. I’m not talking about coddling or hovering, or smothering. But something different, like allowing them to stretch their wings, make mistakes, take chances, and figure life out all while knowing you are there for them.
Serve– Yes, I mean serve. Serving is what we are called to do. I can’t find anywhere in scripture that tells us to stop serving our teens in order to help them grow up. Before you react, let me define this. To furnish or supply with something needed, answer the needs, contribute or conduce, to treat or act toward in a specified way, or to provide a service that benefit or help. I’m not referring to being someone’s servant or not making teens accept more responsibility. Accepting more responsibility is a natural part of growing up. However, it is in being served that our tender teens learn the art of serving others. By serving this way you are teaching them how to really live a full life — one that is not focused on self.
No matter where you are in the parenting journey, know that your investment in your family is the greatest work you will ever do.
If you have teenagers, what have you done to better understand them? Make a list for yourself or share what you do that might help others. We can help build stronger families together.
Read more about parenting teens on my website.