March 04, 2010

10 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You (Part 3)

Written By Cary Schmidt

This is the third and final part in this series of articles. Click here to read part one or part two.

7. I’m as confused as you are about my problems. The truth—when you, in frustration, ask—“What wrong with you!?” They honestly don’t know the answer. If you feel like you are confused about what’s going on inside their minds and hearts—join the club—so are they. This is partially due to a complete brain rebuild that’s happening between the ages of 12 and 20, but it’s also due to spiritual battle for a young heart. Be willing to work through problems together and find biblical solutions with patience and prayer.

Quote: “Teens need answers to their problems and if they can’t talk to you about them and get answers, they are going to go somewhere else.”

8. God only needs a moment to change my life, and I need you to help me be there for that moment! We’re so quick to let less important things take the place of the teaching/preaching of God’s Word to our children. Soccer league trumps Bible Study. Birthday trip trumps church. Studying for  a test trumps Sunday School. Cost savings trumps teen camp.

These, and all like them, are just very bad choices. There will always be a reason to miss the teaching of God’s Word—and before you know it, your family has missed dozens upon dozens of opportunities for spiritual growth and development. Make the Bible your first priority, and everything else can find a place around it—or not happen at all. Your kid can miss a few soccer practices—or the whole season for that matter—and be just fine. Miss the Bible and you invite disaster.

Quote: “I was 15 and had just come back from teen camp where God completely changed my life. The whole week climaxed to the final night where I know God called me to serve Him for the rest of my life. My parents never discouraged me from going to a camp or activity, and when I came home that Friday and told my dad, his response with a smile was, ‘I knew God was going to do something like that in your life.’”

9. Along with discipline, I really need to know you accept me in spite of my failures. Firm discipline must be coupled with acceptance. Discipline isn’t rejection. Discipline should be restorative not merely punitive. Teens can handle discipline that flows from a compassionate heart and ends with a hug and prayer. Be sure you provide biblical discipline that corrects behavior, nurtures the heart, and fully accepts the child all at the same time.

Quote: “While there needs to be a punishment when you do something wrong, there also needs to be forgiveness, and a learning process from it.”

Quote: “My parents showed no mercy when it came to discipline, however, they always emphasized that they new that I was ‘better than that’ and how much confidence they had in me. That kind of faith is what has kept me from quitting as a young adult. If your parents don’t believe in you, who does?”

Quote: “My parents not only helped me to realize that I am extremely imperfect, they helped me realize that I don’t always have to be perfect to be influential in life.”

10. More than anything I need your affirmation.  Let me know when I’m doing something right! Teens generally go through life feeling like they are always in trouble. In most cases, they over-exaggerate our discipline and feel like complete failures. For this reason, it’s important to create the right context—if something is small, let them know it’s small. And when you deliver discipline, balance it out with tender love, encouragement, and unconditional acceptance. For every one time you deliver a reprimand, try to deliver ten affirmations. That ratio of 10 to 1 will keep you constantly challenged to find the good and praise it!

Quote: “When you are a teen, you get in trouble a lot. It always seems to a teenager every time they do something wrong they are always caught and always punished, but when they do something good it is just expected and nothing is ever said. Often, the only time you get attention in your home is on your birthday or when you do something wrong.”

Quote: “Sometimes it seemed like my parents paid much more attention to everything I did wrong, then anything I did right. This was extremely discouraging, and there were times when I became very bitter towards them.”

Quote: “I think this may have been my parents’ one weakness.  It’s really easy to pick out the negatives in a person/situation and forget the positives. This can/did take its toll on a me emotionally.  Personally, positive reinforcement is more motivating than negative reinforcement.”

So there you have it—ten things teens won’t tell you. Pray for wisdom as you seek to love those young hearts toward a life-time intimacy with their Heavenly Father!